Here are pointers for measuring the relevant sites. We recommend you measure them all if you’re going to measure any. Some guys get fixated on one spot or another—usually abs and biceps—and fail to notice improvements in other areas.
Also, we recommend you take these measurements first thing in the morning, after you’ve gone to the bathroom but before you eat or drink anything. That’s when they’ll be most accurate, since you’ll probably be holding the least amount of water in your skin. If you measure yourself after a workout, you include the blood you’ve forced into your muscles, not how big they are without the pump.
Stand up straight with your hands at your sides. Have a helper wrap a measuring tape around your back and across the middle parts of your shoulders before finishing at your breastbone.
Raise your arms as your helper wraps the tape around you from back to front, crossing under your shoulders and finishing at the nipple line. Lower your arms before finalizing the measurement, making sure the tape doesn’t slip down your back. It should cross your shoulder blades behind you. Breathe naturally—don’t inflate your chest with air to get a more Charles Atlas–like measurement.
Wrap the tape around your torso, making sure it crosses over your belly button. This tells you the size of your midsection at its thickest point.
This measurement reflects the narrowest point of your midsection. It’s good to know both your abdomen and waist measurements, because you may see improvements in the former before the latter, and anytime you lose abdominal fat is a cause for celebration. (Just remember how you got that fat on your midsection in the first place, and celebrate accordingly.)
Hips and Buttocks
Measure the widest point of your hips—around the biggest part of your butt.
Make sure the tape goes around the largest part of each thigh.
Target the largest portion of each calf.
Measure the thickest portion, up near each elbow. A lot of guys skip this one, preferring to judge arm girth solely by biceps size. But if this part of your arm grows, regardless of what happens above it, you know you’re putting on muscle.
Flex and measure the meatiest part of each arm, at the biceps’ peak. You can also measure your unflexed arms.