The Definitive Guide to Tracking Progress

This article isn’t for casual trainees. It’s for those of you that are putting in a serious amount of effort with your training and nutrition. You owe it to yourself to take the 10-15 minutes each week to track your progress seriously, to ensure you get the results you deserve.

Without proper tracking data, you won’t be able to gauge whether or not you are progressing as hoped. You won’t have objective data points from which to base your decisions off of when you stall in some area, and there is a good chance that you will get stuck spinning your wheels not knowing what to tweak to get yourself back on track. Perhaps you’ve already experienced this frustration?

Consider the following:

  • A lack of weight change does not necessarily mean that body fat hasn’t been lost.
  • A weight increase doesn’t necessarily mean that body fat has been gained.
  • Weight gain when bulking won’t be from muscle alone.
  • A lack of training progress doesn’t necessarily mean that a training plan is to blame.
  • Body fat measurement methods all have accuracy issues, so they can’t be relied upon to gauge progress in the short term.

If the way you’re currently tracking isn’t sufficient to tease out the differences, then you need to improve it. Fortunately, this article is here to help. It will guide you through the art of proper progress tracking that I’ve developed over the last five and a half years from working with clients online. It is easy to understand, quick to implement, and I’ve included a spreadsheet tracker you can download also.

The tracking mistakes most people make:

1. Don’t weigh yourself just once a week. Your weight will fluctuate from day to day, and across the course of a day.

2. Don’t rely on the mirror. Your condition will change as your water balance and gut content fluctuate. Also, the brain plays tricks by adapting perceptions to new levels of stimulation through a phenomenon known as “perceptual adaptation.”

3. Don’t try to gauge progress by measuring body fat percentage. Body fat measurement methods all have accuracy and consistency issues. (I’ve written more about this here.)

Over longer time frames, this is sufficient. In the shorter time frames where all the decisions need to happen, this is woefully inadequate, and will more than likely just leave you in the shit.

The Art of Proper Diet Progress Tracking

There are eight key ways I now get clients to track progress. The data points taken together will help you determine whether an adjustment to your diet or training is necessary. It’s not perfect, but it will help you navigate the fluctuations in weight when dieting and bulking, help you determine whether you need to make an adjustment to your training, and stop you from doing something prematurely, screwing yourself up.

This is how your data will look if you track as per this guide:

Client tracking showing measurements, lifts and fat loss levels

Many of the points I will make here may seem very obvious in isolation, but they are things easily missed or forgotten when making decisions in the heat of the moment. For extra detail, click these →1

1. Weigh yourself every morning upon waking. Note the weekly average.

Do it after going to the toilet. You can choose to do this at night, but most people will find a morning habit easier to stay consistent with.


Scale weight will fluctuate day to day, and throughout each day. You can expect to lose 1-2% body weight overnight through the moisture lost when breathing. Here are other things that cause fluctuations in weight:

  • Water & glycogen, due to a change in carb intake.
  • Water, due to the stall-whoosh effect.
  • Water, due to hydration status.
  • Water, due to a change in salt intake.
  • Water, due to stress or the menstrual cycle.
  • Bowel content, because some foods have a higher ‘gut residue’ (they stay in the gut for longer).

Click for more detail.2

2. Take circumference measurements in nine places, once per week, noting the measurements to the nearest 0.1 cm.

9 key measurements spots on the body

As with the scale weight, I suggest you measure in the morning when you wake up, after going to the toilet. I get clients to do this on a Saturday. Do it yourself rather than relying on a partner, as you are the only person that will always be with you. Two different people measuring with the same tape will get a slightly different result.

To help with consistency:

  • Consider getting a Myotape/Orbitape (pictured below) as it will make self-measuring easier.
  • Tense your muscles.
  • Use the widest part of your legs.
  • Measure at the nipple-line for the chest, being sure to not get the tape at an angle or twisted behind your back.
  • Curl your biceps in a pose like Arnold to take your arms at the widest point.
  • To gauge 2 inches above and below the navel, just use three finger widths.

You can find a picture and video guide to using this kind of tape here.


When used in combination with the scale weight, this will help you to gauge muscle growth and fat loss in different areas.

Click for more detail.3

3. Take two photos, front and side, once every four weeks.

Use the same lighting conditions, camera, camera angle, time of day, and pose.


Being able to see changes in definition month to month can be very useful for motivation. I’ve experimented with weekly and fortnightly photos with clients and I’m convinced that every four weeks is best as the changes are often too small to be noticeable at higher frequencies.

Competitors should consider adding a third picture from the back, as this can show major changes in lower back and hip+ass fat which the front and side photos will not towards the end of the diet.

Due to the subjective nature of photos, I prefer relying on data for decision-making purposes. There are three exceptions that come to mind. Firstly, when making a guess at initial body fat. Secondly, gauging whether a competitor is lean enough for competition or whether or not we are on, ahead of, or behind schedule. Thirdly, helping people turn things around into maintenance, and then a bulk, without unnecessary fat gain.

Click for more detail.4

4. Track subjective feelings of sleep quality, stress levels, hunger, and fatigue, each week.

Rate all of these on a 0-5 scale.

  • Sleep issues? (0 = no issues, high-quality sleep. 5 = insomnia.)
  • Stress levels (0 = no stress, 5 = divorce or a death in the family.)
  • Hunger issues? (0 = no issues, 5 = extreme hunger.)
  • Fatigue/lethargy? (0 = no issues, 5 = exceptionally fatigued.)

Everything affects everything:

  • Sleep quality will affect training performance as well as recovery, and muscle retention when in a calorie deficit. Sleep quality affects hunger and energy levels. So, if you are hungry, your training has been shitty recently, or you’ve been feeling lethargic but you see that your sleep quality had been poor, sleep duration or quality is likely the cause and cure.
  • Stress will negatively impact training performance as well as recovery and can cause water retention. Stress can also affect sleep. So, if your weight hasn’t been coming down in the last few weeks, but your stress levels are exceptionally high, then water retention masking fat losses may be to blame.
  • Chronic hunger can be a sign that the caloric deficit may be too high and needs to be raised. However, high stress levels or poor food choices can sometimes cause this. So, if you are hungry and stressed, the one may be causing the other and you need to work on the root cause of the stress.
  • Energy levels affect workout performance and muscle mass retention (or growth). If energy levels are low it could be a sign that you need to raise caloric intake. However, it could also be due to poor sleep or high stress, so consider these things before making an increase.

5. Rate your diet adherence as a percentage of the number of days you adhered to your calorie or macro targets each week.

For those that are new to tracking their food intake, I suggest you aim to hit your daily protein intake target to within 20g, and hit your calorie target to within 200kcal.

More experienced trainees will benefit from a higher standard of accuracy. This is what I usually use with my clients. Aim for “best” 75% of the time and the other days can be “better” or “good” targets:

  • Good: Hit your calorie target to within 100kcal.
  • Better: Hit your protein target to within a 10g, and your calorie goal to within 100kcal.
  • Best: Hit your protein and carb targets to within 10g, fat to within 5g.

Those toward the end of a contest prep will benefit from tighter targets. Those in a bulking phase should consider looser targets.


Perfection is not a reasonable or realistic target to aim for, it will just set you up for failure. You need to choose an accuracy target that is both appropriate for your experience level and current situation. It’s important to build flexibility into the system to make things sustainable or your life will revolve around your diet.

When bulking you can (and arguably should) have looser accuracy targets than when you are cutting. Life needs to be lived, you cannot be on point all of the time or you will burn out.

Click for more detail.5

6. Rate your training adherence as a percentage of the number of workouts completed each week.

This figure is not how well you thought you performed. Fluctuations in performance are normal and to be expected.


If you haven’t been sticking to your training plan then you can’t expect to progress with it. However, without the data staring you in the face it’s sometimes easy to miss the fact that you haven’t been faithfully following the program well enough to gauge the efficacy. If this number is consistently below 80% (meaning you’re missing one in five workouts) then you need to re-prioritize your schedule or adjust the number of days in your training plan (while making an effort to keep training volume the same) so that you can stick to it.

7. Keep summary notes on your key lifts.

List each of your main compound lifts. Every two weeks, write one of the following three things to summarize the period:

  • ‘Progressing, recovered.’
  • ‘Not progressing, recovered.’
  • ‘Not progressing, not recovered.’

‘Not recovered’ in this sense means you are unusually sore when you next hit that body part, or if after your warm up the weights feel heavier than usual for that exercise. This shouldn’t be considered good or bad, so don’t attach a meaning to it.


It is normal for strength to fluctuate as fatigue builds and dissipates across the training cycle, and as work-life stresses come and go. Keeping summary data like this separate from the full training log helps to avoid clutter, and helps you get the relevant ‘big picture’ details without being overwhelmed when making decisions.

If you see that you aren’t progressing as reasonably expected in certain areas, or are unusually sore, despite sleep, stress and adherence all being on point for a couple of consecutive periods, then you know you need to take a deload, tweak something in your training program, or perhaps raise your caloric intake.

8. Keep a detailed training log.

Either in a notebook or a separate tab of your tracking spreadsheet, keep a full training log noting all sets and reps completed along with the weight used for all exercises. Avoid clutter, don’t note warm-up sets.

This is how I get clients to note things:

Training Data Log Sample - PL Novice

If you have a copy of The Muscle and Strength Training Pyramid, you’ll see that this is a version of the novice powerlifting sample program on page 153.
If you’re not familiar with the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) notation, it is a method to help match the load used each day to your readiness. This will help you manage fatigue more effectively and make faster gains. Eric Helms and I have put a free email course together explaining how to implement it here.


1. This allows you to dig into the details of your program when you have determined that you need to make a change. Putting it on a separate spreadsheet keeps the main summary data from getting cluttered.

2. It allows you to focus. You need a record of what you lifted the week before so that you can choose what you lift this week. I keep a screenshot of my training program on my phone. I put the phone on airplane mode. This serves the dual function of making sure I’m not disturbed when lifting something heavy and keeping me away from social media distractions.

You can download a copy of the progress tracker spreadsheet immediately for free, here.

(Check your browser’s downloads folder after clicking.)

Some Advice on Interpreting Your Data

With the client work I’ve gotten pretty good at assessing whether changes are needed. I’ve written a whole book on this subject. The following points should be enough to get you going.

Key advice

  1. Gauge progress by looking at data over a four week period. Analyze the trend, not the fluctuations day to day or week to week. Yes, this means you’ll have to wait for four weeks after setting things up. It’s during this time that people typically experience the most fluctuations.
  2. You’re looking for minimum confirmation that you’re progressing, not any single point in the data that suggests you aren’t.


  1. When around 15% body fat or lower, fat comes off the upper abs first, so you’ll see the mid and upper stomach measurements drop before the lower ones. When bulking the reverse will happen.
  2. Don’t forget that you store fat on your chest and back, legs and arms. So, if these measurements decrease when you are cutting, it doesn’t necessarily indicate muscle loss.
  3. Conversely, all your measurements increase when bulking. Unfortunately, this will not all be muscle gain, there will be some fat. More details concerning this in my bulking guide.
  4. If your weight is slowly increasing and your stomach measurements slowly decreasing, this indicates simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain. Muscle growth will hide fat loss so don’t just rely on the scale. Think very carefully before changing anything as this is the domain of novice trainees and won’t last forever.
  5. If your weight suddenly increases (which it will on occasion), don’t panic, this will not be fat gain. Check your stomach measurements – you will likely notice little change. This will be due to an increase in glycogen, perhaps from some extra carb intake or saltier food intake. The reason this does not show in the stomach measurements is because these changes happen throughout the whole body (mostly the muscle tissue) rather than under the skin.
  6. Ladies, your weight will fluctuate with your menstrual cycle due to water retention. Only compare data points at the same time point in your cycle.
  7. An increase in neck girth is probably a good indicator of lean mass gain as not much body fat is stored there. This is used in military body fat estimation methods. Consider taking this when bulking. The changes will be slow, so only compare over long time intervals.


  1. Strength maintenance is a good sign of muscle maintenance, however, the leaner you get, the less mechanically efficient you’ll be at many lifts because the bar has to travel further. Thus, for experienced trainees, drops in strength for the same total training volume should probably be expected when getting very lean. (For more details see this article on training program choice, the section, “The Difference Between Bulking and Cutting.“)
  2. Experienced trainees using a form of periodization (non-linear progression) can assess strength changes with periodical as many reps as possible (AMRAP) or 1-rep max (1RM) testing with your main compound lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift, etc.). If you’re a powerlifter, 1RM testing makes sense. For all others, the AMRAP is a safer and less fatiguing option. Just choose a weight you could only get x reps with y weeks prior, and see if you can get any more reps. For example, if you could get 5 reps of 200lbs 6 weeks ago, but you can get 8 reps at 200lbs now, that’s progress. If you’d like to get an estimate of how that would carry over to a 1RM use this tool I’ve added to the Muscle and Strength Pyramid books site.

Warning: More data is not always better

Looking at data is something I do half of my working week. How I get clients to present it to me is something I have thought very long and hard about. Think carefully before adding other data as it can overwhelm you with detail.

That said, the one additional item I would suggest you track is motivation, rated weekly on a scale of 1-10. This is something I have clients write in their email updates along with any questions or concerns because I want them to explain the reason they feel this way. Also, as a coach the text dialogue at the update points can provide invaluable insights.


Thank you for reading. This article is an excerpt from my book on diet adjustments, The Last Shred. My books are where you’ll find my best work, so if you’re finding the site useful and would like to support it while getting more great content, please consider buying those.

Thanks to fellow coaches Alan Aragon, Joseph Agu, Russell Taylor, and Børge Fagerli for sharing their experiences and methods and providing feedback to improve this.

If you don’t feel ready to do that yet but would like more info on diet adjustments, I’ve put together a free email course which you can sign up for below.

Thanks for reading, questions welcomed in the comments! – Andy

Top image credit, Brandon Wells photography.

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  1. Good job! Look for these throughout the text.

  2. Scale Weight Obsessors – Weighing once a week is not ideal by any means as it leaves you as a coach open to random fluctuations in weight happening and screwing up your analysis.

    The downside of this needs to be weighed up with the stress from daily weighing that certain personality types feel. Educating the client on the causes of weight fluctuations is a cure in most cases, but not all. Perhaps showing several data client sets with the daily weigh-ins and the trend line noted would help.

  3. Accept nothing less than a 0.1 cm degree of accuracy, regardless of what system (metric or imperial) they are used to. Not only is it exceptionally useful for noting small changes and trends in the data, but it also sets the client up with a mindset on precision, and that they need to take the data seriously.

    Without the data, you are blind after all. I hammer this point home to clients at the outset – no data, no assessment. People sometimes screw this up, so it’s worth checking that they have filled out the tracking sheet correctly in the first week so that there can be no misunderstandings at the time of the first update.

  4. If someone comes to you with an initial set of photos where they have their stomach forcibly sticking out, get them retaken. Varying degrees of stomach flexion will lead to a dramatically different appearance from one minute to the next. Remind them that the goal with the photos is not to have the most striking before-after shots, but to have a reliable visual gauge of progress.

  5. Some people are going to screw up their counting of things. Short of requesting a complete list of the client’s meals and their ingredients (which I think may be overbearing, and possibly counterproductive), there is no real way to check for this, you just have to be aware of it. So, if someone isn’t losing weight as it seems they should for the macros you’ve given them, miscounting may be a factor.

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About the Author

Andy Morgan

I am the founder of, this is my sincere effort to build the best nutrition and training guides on the internet. Some readers hire me to coach them, which I've been doing online, via email, for the last six years. If you're interested in individualized, one-on-one nutrition and training coaching to help you crush your physique goals, let's start the conversation.

353 Comments on “The Definitive Guide to Tracking Progress”

  1. Simone says:

    Hi Andy, is almost 5 weeks now that I’m following your protocols, my weight is essentially the same, while my measures are better (belly is 4cm less) should I lower my calories? what do you think?

    1. Hi Simone, thank you for the comment and sorry for the delay in replying. (I had been unable to do so while the website went through a big update over August.)

      Sounds like you are leaning out while gaining muscle. If you drop calories, that will put the focus on faster fat loss, but the muscle growth will be compromised. I’d consider staying where you are for now.

  2. Rocky says:

    Hi Andy! I have a few questions regarding the progress photos:

    1) Are they done flexed or relaxed? I know you can take both, but I’m curious what is typically the most helpful.

    2) If relaxed, what would you suggest to do to keep stomach flexion consistent? For instance, would you suggest exhaling and relaxing your stomach (not sucking it in or sticking it out)? Would you suggest tensing your abs to any degree?

    3) For the side photos do you suggest arms at the side or sticking straight out?

    4) Does any of this change depending on your body fat %? E.g. if you’re more muscular / bulking, would it make sense to flex so you can see more definition? Or is it harder to take consistent photos that way?


  3. Kelsey says:

    Hi Andy – female here that has been practicing IF 16:8 for 7 months now. Just started my cut.

    I eat from 11:30a-7:30p. I train at 4-5am each day and consume 10g of BCAA’s at 7am and then have coffee with a touch of creamer around 9am.

    Am I getting the full benefits of fasting? Is training in the morning and not eating right away hindering my weight loss?

    Thank you!

      1. Kelsey says:

        So if I decide to have coffee no creamer? But certain BCAA’s have calories. In the timing guide it says no calories but to consume 10g of BCAA’s. Please advise. Thank you!

        1. That’ll be from ingredients other than the BCAAs. If you wish to follow the Leangains protocol, aim to keep your calorie intake during the “fasting” period to around 50kcal or under.

  4. Deonte Manning says:

    Andy , I love your content . Always informative. Infact I have all 3 of your books .

    I began my 2 weeks of eating at matinence using the calculations from the nutrition pyramid program . I have been within 95% adherence . I have lost 10 lbs in the first week and a half! Should I be concerned ? I should note that before I was eating fast food and junk food every meal before I started cooking and eating at the calculated maintenance calories .

    With this big of a swing , should I continue experimenting with my main amount for another week so I can get more reliable data ?

    Thanks .

    1. Hi Deonte, thank you!

      This is just the initial whoosh. You know this. Let’s calculate it out: 1lb of fat loss requires a 3500 kcal deficit. You have lost 10lbs in 10 days, so you’d need to have a daily deficit of 3500 kcal for that to be fat, which isn’t remotely likely.

  5. Grant says:


    I have purchased both your books and have found them to be very helpful. Do you have any articles or podcasts detailing how you found your way into the fitness industry? I’d love to know more of your background.


    1. Hi Grant, thank you for getting the books. Glad to hear you found them helpful. Here’s a podcast interview I did on Danny Lennon’s show where I talk about that at the start. Alternatively, in the sidebar you’ll see a category option. Just choose “News and Site Introductions” to read me posting about things as they happened over the years.

      Have an awesome Christmas!


  6. Kyle says:

    Hey Andy,

    2 years after landing on your page I still find myself coming back from time to time. Quick question in regards to your site design. When I clicked into this page there was a “modal” that came up asking for my email address, once I clicked that I already had this information it slid away bringing me to the site. If you know, could you point me to that plugin? I’m looking for something like that on my own site and love the functionality and look of that.

    Thanks for all you do and all the content that you put out. There’s not a site that I have found that compares.

    1. Hi Kyle, sure thing.

      The popups and sharing buttons are doing with a plugin called SumoMe. It’s the best one I have found, highly customizable and 90% of the features are free. The email software I use is Convertkit, which is easy to use, has the ability to go very deep, allowing tagging of people in your email list so that you only send people the kind of information they want.

      Hope this helps and good luck with the site!


  7. Antony Giggins says:

    Hi Andy. Cant thank you guys and 3dmj enough.
    My question is with regards to the amount of weight you should expect to gain in the bulking phase. I have cut and bulked several times and am always disappointed with the cut. I am 6ft 2 and only look like i lift when im 15.5 – 16.5 st lol
    my last cut was 6 months long and managed exactly 1 lb p/w literally every week. Im now at 14 st and have reversed back to gaining again. (took nearly 2 months to go from 2400 kcal to currently 3450 kcals a day, Managed to get leaner than ever but due to the length of the cut i lost a lot of strength. Diet was at 100% adherence. Same with 6 training days a week – no mistakes- absolutely nothing missed. I know i must have overshot the bulking phase as to make the cut so long. So if i am lean at 14 stone what weight would you imagine i should look to bulk to?
    Again thanks so much for the info!!

    1. Hi Ant, thanks for the question.
      Depends on your training experience and how close you are to your genetic potential. Unfortunately, these are things that can’t be exactly measured. At 6ft2, 196lbs, if you were sub 10% body fat at the end of your cut, you’re likely of an advanced training age. You’re probably best shooting for 0.5-1lbs of muscle growth a month, so something like a 1-1.5lb weight gain target per month.

      However, this is making a few assumptions, like body fat percentage, your being average, etc. If you have data from your previous bulk-cut telling you how much muscle you gained over that period, then the answer to what you can likely gain this time around is, a little less.

      Have you seen this guide of mine? It’ll likely be helpful.
      How To Adjust Your Diet To Successfully Bulk

  8. Igor says:

    Hi Andy,
    I have read both the The Muscle and Strength Nutrition Pyramid and The Complete Guite to Setting Up Your Diet, and I noticed that there was a different approach about gaining muscle in both ebooks. In the ebook that you wrote with Eric you used the 3500 Kcal rule per pound of muscle per month, but in your ebook you said that it is important to aim gaining muscle and fat at same time to get the best progression. What is the approach that you use today?

    1. Hi Igor, thanks for the question.

      The former is the hypothetical situation where you’re gaining muscle only. As that isn’t likely, you need to add in extra calories on top to account for the fat gain that is likely to come with it. I’d suggest you 0.5-1x it.

  9. Kris says:

    Hi Andy,

    Awesome stuff!
    Question: which poses should I use when I take my progress pictures?


    1. Kris, thank you. You’re few to choose of course, but I just have people do the front post with arms by the side, and the side pose with the one arm slightly behind the body line so that it doesn’t obscure the view of the midsection.

  10. Maciej says:

    In description of best adherence to macro there is a misprint. There are two target ranges for protein but none for fat.

    1. Thanks Maciej, fixed it now. 🙂

      1. Maciej says:

        No problem 😉

  11. Simone says:

    Hi Andy,
    sorry for the silly question, you wrote:
    “Tense/flex your muscles for each measurement as this enables more consistent results.”
    Is this valid for the belly as well?

    1. Yes, absolutely. This will help with consistency. Not a silly question, thanks for asking Simone.

  12. Tani says:

    Working as a HIIT couch I have lost a lot of weight. Now I want to gain more muscle with no fat. What do you think how much more (in percentage) should I increase mine TDEE to be able to get more lean muscles?

    1. Hi Tani, thanks for the comment. You’re not going to gain a considerable amount of muscle mass without fat gain coming with it, unless you’re exceptionally skinny right now. Check out my guide to bulking.

  13. Rodrigo says:

    Hi Andy! First, Thank you for your site and e-mails!

    I have a doubt: You said that the initial adjustments should be made for the 4 week trend, and after this, each 2 weeks. What you by mean?

    1. Hi Rodrigo, thanks for the question.
      For the initial assessment you’ll wait until you have four weeks of data (weeks 0-4). Every two weeks after you’ll reassess based on the prior four weeks of data. So, the first reassessment will be based on the data points in weeks 2-6, and then the second based on weeks 4-8, etc.
      Hope that clears it up.

      1. Rodrigo says:

        Perfect! Thaks a lot!!!

        1. Most welcome Rodrigo.

          1. Rodrigo says:


            Let’s say that after the initial 4 weeks of data (week 1-4 and ignoring week 0-1 because of initial jump), you have to make an adjustment to go back to the target (week 5).

            How would I reassess the data? I should wait until week 7 and calculate the trend of week 4-7? Or week 5-8? (the adjust was after the end of week 4)

            1. Either should be fine after that point.

  14. Mahmood says:

    Hi Andy. Thank you for the valuable information.

    When coming from a bulk to a cut. How to calculate the new maintenance? And should there be a straight jump to deficit of gradual steps?

    1. Mahmoud, thanks for the question. I’ll put up a new article on that at some point. For now here’s the quick and dirty method: take a look at the scale weight trend over the last weeks. Average it. Multiply the difference between what you’re gaining and aiming to lose by 3500 if using pounds, and 7700 if using kilos. Subtract that from your weekly intake.

      So, if you’re gaining 1lb per week during your bulk and want to lose 1lb per week for your cut, reduce your weekly calorie intake by 7000 kcal (2*3500). This is the equivalent of reducing your daly calorie intake by 1000 kcal.

      Now, your metabolism will adapt, so track for a few weeks to see how far you are off. Then make gradual cuts downwards to bring yourself in line with your target.

      Hope that helps.

  15. Florens says:

    Hello Andy, I have a question. It ‘important to the quality of carbohydrates taken in the different hours of the day or it is important to respect the daily quota with respect to the type? If I have to lose weight can eat a serving of rice cakes in the evening (which fall within the macro level) even if they have a glycemic index a bit too high?thank you so much.Flor

    1. Hi Florens. Have a read of this, you’ll find all the theory covered here:
      The Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Diet

  16. Gabo says:

    Hi Andy, I can’t thank you enough for your online effort in teaching, but to keep my post short in consideration of your time here is my question:

    Do you have any experience with people that work night shifts? Is the shifting of your biological clock detrimental in progress (in terms of rest)?

    I have been working night shifts for 10 years already, I already accustomed myself to it in the sense that I sleep say from 7am to 2-3pm. Even on my days off I keep the same sleeping schedule. I feel very used to it mentally and physically, but I wanted to ask in your experience how can this affect despite my established sleeping pattern.


    1. Hi Gabo, thanks for the compliments and the question. As you have regular sleep patterns then there will be no detriment.

  17. Bryan says:

    Hi Andy,

    What should a person look for in particular when self-coaching and taking progress pictures every 4 weeks? I was hoping you could provide some insight as to what coaches look for when clients send them progress pictures


  18. Sean says:

    Hi Andy! I have just recently stumbled on to your website and I am officially a convert! Thank you so much for all of the useful and free info! I have lost 100 pounds in the last year but I am officially stuck in the realm of not being big and not being cut enough (estimate about 18% bf). After reading your website I am definitely going to be following your diet advice and following the big three workout. Previously I have been doing a five day split and working out each session about two hours but I am not seeing any results and it is seriously disheartening. I think that I was not allowing my body to recover and I am hoping that this is the right path for me and I will update you with my progress. Just want to say a huge thank you!

    1. Most welcome Sean, thanks for reaching out and good luck!

  19. Adrian88 says:

    This is hands-down the best fitness site I’ve ever seen!

    I do have one question about measuring, just to make sure I’ve got it clearly:
    When measuring at the navel and above and below, should I also tense/flex for those measurements?

    Thanks for providing so much valuable information, Andy. I’m truly blown away by what you’ve built here.

    1. Hi Adrian, thank you for the compliment, most appreciated!
      – Tensing will give you the most consistent measurements so I’d do that.

  20. Vincent says:

    Is it a red flag if you don’t see any progress after the first week. On a cut, I started the week 183.8, my weight kept fluctuating throughout the whole week between 183.8 to 185.6. End of the week I am at 185.6, when I was just at 183.3 the day before.

    1. See “the number 1 rule” Vincent.

  21. Nathan says:

    Perfect, understood. Sounds like a plan! Thanks a bunch Andy, have a good one!

  22. Nathan Lee says:

    Hello Andy,
    To begin my comment/question, I must first say that everything you have posted on your website is golden, and im too addicted to this site. You’re the man! Firstly, i’ve been on a cut for 8 weeks now using all the info from your site and books without a diet break(yet). Weight is being lost at a steady 1lb a week, although i did experience a stall and whoosh effect around week 5, which i was completely ready for thanks to your amazing book “The Last Shred”. It has been on my mind that sort of worries me just a bit, and that is.. with 8 weeks of cutting, should i be estimating my new bf% and setting a new average weight loss per week in order to progress onward with my diet without risking any muscle loss? Considering I started around 11% initially. I mention it’s a silly question mainly because i probably missed something in the book. Thank you so much again Andy!

    -Nathan L.

    1. Nathan, thank you. Glad you’re progressing well and taking a lot from the book.
      “Should i be estimating my new bf% and setting a new average weight loss per week in order to progress onward with my diet without risking any muscle loss?”
      Technically yes, but I dont think there’s any need to be anal about measuring it. Just half your original rate of fat loss. Here’s my logic: If you started at 11% and have lost ~8 lbs so far (ignoring any initial water whoosh), you’ll be sub 8% body fat now and closing in on truly shredded. Progress needs to slow and at that range you’d set it conservatively at around 0.5-0.7 lbs. The other option is to go by percentage of total body weight as a target (you’ll also see that listed in the book as a suggestion from Eric Helms), and you’ll see I’ve suggested <0.5% per week at that stage, which will line up well whichever way you look at it.

  23. Cj says:

    Hey Andy,

    I started my cut in late October at 6’1 at 201lbs and calculated my TDEE at 2700 cals and subtracted 500 which gave me 2200 cals and was losing weight rather slow at about ~.5 lbs a week. I took a diet break at 197lbs in December due to illness which lasted around 3 weeks and I ended up at 208lbs. I dropped water weight to about 203lbs and dropped cals to 2100 and haven’t lost weight. I just feel that being almost 4 months in I haven’t seen much change on the scale. I do notice a little bit a difference around my waist but still am a bit frustrated with the overall progress.

    I did a cut about 2 years ago at 185lbs and ate 2400 cals and was losing weight rather steady. I am unsure if I need to keep dropping the cals or am I eating too little and need to bump them back up.

    Thanks again

  24. Charlie says:

    Hello Andy,

    Fantastic site. Haven’t stopped reading since I stumbled upon it.

    I have probably messed up my metabolism over years of training, eating way too little with the majority of calories consumed sugar based. I want to change this. I want to lose fat. The TDEE calculated on the site is much higher than i have eaten for a long time. About 600-800 calories a day more than I have been eating for several months. Should I just jump in and start at the recommended TDEE? I feel I am going to put fat on straight away even following the recommended macros.

    Thank you for your time.
    Enjoy your evening


    1. “I have probably messed up my metabolism over years of training, eating way too little with the majority of calories consumed sugar based.”
      – Probably not. You’ve more likely read some anti-sugar, metabolic armageddon nonsense online. Don’t worry Charlie.

      “About 600-800 calories a day more than I have been eating for several months. Should I just jump in and start at the recommended TDEE?”
      If you know your current maintenance calorie intake and want to lose weight then just calculate your deficit off of that. A drop in metabolism in normal when dieting (various reasons covered When and How To Adjust Your Diet | Manipulating Macros), as it over calculating.

  25. Kandi says:

    Hi! I just want to thank you for all of your free info. I stumbled across you from researching IF because NOTHING seems to work for me losing weight. I pretty much summed it up to me not eating enough while doing workout programs from I’ve never looked at or understood the importance of hitting your macros until finding you. I’m working on finding my right calculations. It was a bit overwhelming when I first read it. Lol but I’m going to give it ago again today. Sorry I don’t have any questions as of yet just wanted to comment and say thanks????

  26. RP says:

    Hi Andy, what is the exact process you used for online training? How did you manage progress of your online clients i.e. is it just the 3-4 weekly progress photos? How exactly did you go about this for online clients and do the necessary adjustments in diet etc.?

    Thanks and great info

    1. Hi RP. I wrote a book all about it earlier this year:
      The Diet Coaching & Adjustments Manual

  27. Holden says:

    Hi Andy,

    So it’s Friday morning where I am, and I just woke from another night of lackluster sleep… I don’t feel very rested. Here’s a quick run-down of my evening schedule: I eat my second meal around 20:30, then go to bed at 22:00. Both Wednesday night and last night I woke up and fell back asleep two or three times before 6:00 (when I get up): 3:30, 4:30, 5:30. The frustrating thing is that this is the second week of my cut and I’ve been sleeping like a baby up until now with the same exact schedule. The only thing that I can think of are two things that I’ve done: I drank a preworkout (first one I’ve ever had) before my 6:00-7:00 training on Wednesday (which was the first night I had a bad sleep), and I was almost an hour late to my dinner that same night. But that shouldn’t have affected my sleep Thursday night. Thank you so much for your help.

    1. Hi Holden. I think you’ve answered your own question on what the issue was the first night. (Stimulant drinks in the evening are not conducive to a good sleep.) The second night is probably just be a coincidence.

  28. Prad says:

    Hi Andy,

    Great article. I will start measuring and taking notes. I have a quick question. I recently got a Dax scan it said my lean body mass was 110 lbs. (29.2% fat). I was surprised at how little lbm I have since I consider my strength to be above average. To give you an idea for some compound lift I’ve hit recently: dead lift 355 x 5; squat 225x 8; bench: 215x 5…
    Do you have any explanation as to why my lbs is so low? Is the Dax scan off? If my lbm is so low, will this affect my fat burning capabilities? They say more muscle more calories burned…..

    Thanks for your help. I really enjoy the info on your site.


    1. It might be off a little, but in all likelihood you’re probably just fatter than you thought. You could check with another method of estimating body fat if you wish, guide for that here:
      A Quick Guide To Estimating Body-fat Percentage

  29. dan says:

    hi Andy. my question isnt on tracking so apologies for that but i wanted your advice on health screening. what do you use? i was planning to use the acsm’s risk stratification as it seems more comprehensive than the par-q (which only gives the green light for light to moderate intensity anyway). In the acsm risk stratification i would need to know cholesterol and blood glucose levels as well. do i take them or does the client need to know this info already? thanks andy

    1. Sorry Dan, this isn’t something that I know about.

  30. Cian says:

    Hi Andy,

    I was just wondering about the specifics of what to look out for in weekly measurements. You recommend taking 9 different measurement once a week, Which of these measurements would you ideally like to see change (and in which direction) during either a bulk or a cut and what changes might indicate a move in the wrong direction?

    Is it simply a case of during a cut everything should gradually come down and during a bulk everything should increase, or is the application more nuanced?

    I would probably put myself as an intermediate lifter, I know this probably influences things.

    Thanks so much for your help, the site looks great and I love the new changes, they definitely make the information even more accessible!



    1. Hi Cian, thanks for the question.
      Pinch the fat on your stomach, on your back at chest height, and on your tricep. Compare these three points. If you’re cutting (and muscle mass is remaining constant) you can expect that these measurements will come down in approximately this proportion on your way to shreds. Also, bear in mind that fat loss generally happens top down, which is why we have 3 points of measurement on the stomach.

  31. […] How To Track Your Progress (As You Shred or Slow-Bulk) […]

  32. […] rest of this guide assumes that you have calculated your macros and have been tracking your progress over a few weeks minimum. You therefore know your average rate of weight change over the last few […]

  33. Robin says:

    Hi Andy.

    First of all, two thumbs up for your articles, very educating.
    Secondly, when you write tense/flex for each measurement, do you mean that you should tense and flex the muscles a couple of times before measuring, or the you should write down two numbers for each place, a tense number and a flex number?

    1. Hi Robin, thanks for the question.
      You want to measure yourself under the same conditions to get consistent data. Whatever helps you personally to do this is fine. I can’t see there being any need to tense multiple times before taking a measurement though – you don’t want to purposefully increase blood flow to the area.

  34. […] Important:All of these methods have inaccuracies and inconsistencies, so save yourself the heartache and DO NOT USE THESE DEVICES TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS. They are fine for the purpose of making these calculations but not for tracking progress. (My guide for that here.) […]

  35. Jeff says:

    I am on a calorie deficit and doing the sample 3-day split RPT routine that you have listed on your site. I am at the end of my 4th week. My strength is up, body weight is the same and my belly measuremeants have not moved up or down and more importantly I just “feel” softer or fatter. I don’t know if I need to increase my volume because I can’t go much lower with my calories. Any general suggestions?

    1. How about a detailed guide Jeff? 🙂
      When & How To Adjust Your Macros

  36. Cian says:

    Hey Andy,

    This may seem like a bit of a silly question but how does tracking body measurements help exactly? What extra info does it give and how do you know what warning signs/ thumbs up to look out for when tracking during a cut?

    Thanks so much

    Your site is really awesome btw, really cool


    1. Cian, thanks for the question.
      1. It keeps you motivated: Sometimes the scale weight won’t change but the measurements will. This keeps you motivated and let’s you know you’re on track.
      2. It tells you where the weight changes are happening. Did you gain muscle? Did you lose fat? This is especially important for beginner and early intermediate trainees who can expect a degree of both.
      Make sense?

      1. Cian says:

        Hey Andy,
        Thanks that makes perfect sense to me.

  37. […] *For ease and simplicity we’ll assume fat loss is linear and any scale weight change reflects pure fat loss in a cut, or weight gain (muscle and a little fat) in the slow-bulk. That probably won’t be the case, so I’d recommend you track body changes more thoroughly. You can see how I do this here: How to Track Your Progress When Dieting […]

  38. […] How To Track Your Progress When Dieting | […]

  39. Newton says:

    Great article! How did I miss this?

    1. Ah, glad you liked it Newton. If you have an answer to this and have a recommendation, I will happily make an edit to the site to make it more prominent.

      1. Newton says:

        Sure, Andy.

  40. William says:

    I notice that you give a recommended frequency for weighing (daily, take the weekly average) and progress pics (every 4 weeks), but how often should you take measurements? Is weekly too often? Did I miss something?

    1. Once a week. Thanks for pointing that out William, I’ve added it now.

  41. katie says:

    How do I know if I am eating too much protein, in relation to the other macros, carbs and fats?

    1. You will start to grow a beard.

  42. Patrik says:

    Hi Andy.

    Quick question: Is it possible for you to give a comment on progress if I would just give you some numbers to look at? The reason for asking is if my progress is a solid/normal one or if there is something that can be tweaked.

    // Patrik

    1. Sorry Patrik, too many thing stop ask. It is beyond the scope of the comments.

      1. Patrik says:

        Ok, Andy not a problem.

        Then I’ll leave it be at that and keep on going.

        As always, thank you for the quick replies and all your help. I think I have all the things/info I need now and hopefully will not need to keep terrorizing you with questions.

        Have a nice day.

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