Fat loss is easy to measure. The logging of a successful muscle build-up is more difficult. In a calorie-reduced diet, the level shows weekly progress, while the muscle growth is slow and hardly recognizable once you have left the beginner stage. Here one moves at intervals of weeks and months.
Due to the impatience of many athletes this leads to a problem. Of course one would like to see optical progress quickly. But because they do not come overnight, it is difficult to assess whether the current training approach is also effective and really bears fruit.
Without thinking big, most hobby athletes rely on the scales. That makes sense at first. If you are in excess of calories and your weight increases during training, you have a good chance that at least some muscles will be built up may as well your input here.
At the same time the body will also build up fat. So how can you assess whether the ratio of built-up muscle mass to stored body fat is acceptable?
#1 – The scales
The number on the scale is still the means of choice when it comes to evaluating progress, but has no unique selling point. The fact is that little or no muscle growth will take place if the weight does not increase.
In order to prevent an enormous amount of body fat from building up, it makes sense to set the increase at 0.25 to 0.5 percent of the current body weight per week. While beginners can orient themselves at the upper end, the potential for fat-free muscle growth decreases with increasing training experience.
A completely fat-free build-up of muscles is almost impossible because fat is always stored in the calorie surplus. However, this is not bad, because the fat loss can be reached much faster, if after a mass phase the calories are reduced.
Weight measurements should always be made under the same conditions. It is advisable to choose the same scale, the same floor and the same time of day when taking a measurement. Ideally, the weighing should take place immediately after getting up on an empty stomach.
#2 – The relative force
Relative force means the progress of the individual force values in relation to the current body weight. The weight on the bar should increase faster than the weight on the scale.
One way to measure the relative force is to analyze the force development in the large compound exercises. If, for example, you weigh 90 kilograms and can bend 140 kilograms for six repetitions, this means that you move your own body weight about 1.6 times.
Logically, this ratio should remain identical with increasing weight on the scale, and ideally even increase further. Two kilograms of weight gain on the scale should therefore go hand in hand with a twelve kilogram increase in strength on the barbell.
Body weight exercises also provide information about progress. If you increase your weight by five kilograms in the mass phase, you will be able to do the same number of pull-ups at the end, and you will probably have built up muscles.
#3 – Stronger in hypertrophy repeat range
To monitor the progress, the range of six to twelve repetitions is also suitable. There is a reason why this area has been the first choice for bodybuilders for decades. It is effective when it comes to using a meaningful number of repetitions to set sufficient muscle stimuli.
If one can increase continuously in this repetition range and becomes stronger in the individual exercises, a higher volume automatically arises, which leads to a muscle increase in the end.
In this way it can be objectively evaluated how much hypertrophy is caused by the current training design. If the force values increase constantly for eight, ten or twelve repetitions, this means that muscular gains are achieved.
#4 – Training with increasing volume
An increase in the total volume is an important indicator for successful muscle building. The more muscular work can be done while maintaining the ability to regenerate, the more likely it is that muscles will be built. At an advanced stage it is of course difficult at some point to steadily increase the weight on the dumbbell.
There the volume has to be adjusted by other means:
More repetitions with identical weight
More sets with identical repetitions and the same weight
More exercises for a specific muscle group
A higher frequency for a specific muscle group
In addition, intensity techniques can also be used to increase the volume. Here a drop sentence at the end of an exercise is recommended. After the work set has been completed, the weight on the bar is reduced in order to perform further repetitions.
#5 – The tape measure
If measurements of the arms, chest, thighs and calves shoot up without the abdomen growing at the same time, muscle growth can be assumed.
Here, too, one can orientate oneself on a ratio. The arm-hip ratio provides information as to whether the growth consists largely of muscles. Assuming one can show a 38er upper arm to the start of the mass phase, while the hip circumference amounts to 76 centimeters, then a 2:1 ratio is present.
As time goes on in bulk, it must be ensured that this ratio continues to exist and does not change in favour of a higher hip circumference.