People will often come up and tell me that they have been working out for weeks but haven’t lost any weight. As I begin talking with them I find out that their clothes are fitting better and they feel healthier, but the scale isn’t giving them the numbers that they want so they feel frustrated and discouraged. This is not uncommon. The important thing to remember is that when you are exercising there are many things going on inside your body and the scale isn’t going to tell you the whole story. Any exercise is going to require some level of muscle activation. Even if you’re only doing cardio, you are still working muscles. As those muscles begin to adapt they are often going to increase in size and density. You always hear the old saying that “muscle weighs more than fat” and that is very true, muscle is more dense than fat. It would be like comparing a measuring cup filled with rocks to one filled with Jell-O, the rocks are going to be heavier even though they’re taking up the same amount of space. That is why two people of the exact same height and weight can have two completely different body types based on their body composition. Your body is basically composed of three things: dry lean mass (proteins and minerals), fat and water. It’s how your body distributes these things that determines your physique. Many individuals would like to lose 10 pounds, but if they lost all 10 pounds in muscle they probably wouldn’t be too happy. That’s why losing fat, not just weight will have a much greater impact on your health, fitness and physique. If you are unsure of what your body composition is it would be beneficial to find out. Once you know where you are at, you can retest every few months to monitor your progress. There are several ways to test your body composition. Air displacement, underwater weighing and MRI’s are traditionally the more accurate methods but are also traditionally more expensive. Over the past several years BIA (Bioelectric Impedance Analysis) devices have become increasingly popular. The tests are relatively inexpensive and the good models have shown to be comparable to the more expensive methods. Knowing your body composition will give you a more detailed look at how your weight is distributed. You will know how much muscle, fat and water is in your body and some tests will also be able to calculate your basal metabolic rate. Knowing and monitoring your body composition should be an integral part of any fitness program. A comprehensive body composition test will give you a wealth of knowledge that can help you better understand your body and allow you to fine-tune your training. If you are feeling healthier and your clothes are fitting better, you are likely doing something good. Instead of being frustrated with the scale, test your body composition and be able to feel good about the progress that you’re making.