Author: Damien K. Krantz

CSCS, NSCA-CPTPersonal Fitness Trainer, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

How to become a runner

Whether you are preparing for a 5K, a half marathon, or the Army Physical Fitness Test, the road to improving your cardiovascular performance is relatively straightforward. There are many aspects of cardiovascular training that are often ignored and/or overlooked, but with the right approach you can avoid injury and become the runner that you always hoped to (or never thought you could) be.

The mental aspect of running can be the most challenging hurdle to overcome. Despite what you may have heard, the human body is built to run. Yes, this includes yours. It may feel like your body is not well prepared for running, and admittedly some of us do have more of a mechanical advantage than others, however that said, with the exception of those with permanent disability we all have the potential to become very successful runners. Physically we are capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for, and when you begin to run your mind will play tricks on you. Your head will be filled with frequent suggestions to slow down, alarms telling you that you are breathing too hard, and a voice devilishly reminding you that you can always head back a little early. I have found that the best way to overcome your running-averse inner voice is distraction. Find something interesting to do and take your mind off of the desire to quit. Try listening to music or podcasts, finding a beautiful outdoor route and focusing on the scenery, or even counting breaths and steps to make the time pass more quickly. Anything to keep your mind off of the desire to quit!

Now that we have discussed the mental aspect of running, let’s take a look at the physical aspect. There is a lot to consider, so let’s discuss things from the ground up:

  • Foot strike. Your foot should land lightly and in a relatively neutral position when it strikes the ground. Avoid landing primarily on your heel or your toe. Also if you can hear your foot slapping against the ground you are wasting energy and causing undue wear and tear on your joints.
  • Leg stride. Avoid bounding, as it is also a waste of energy. Your goal should be to move completely rectilinearly, and to spend no energy traveling up away from the ground or absorbing the impact of a dramatic downward descent. Also try to take long, smooth strides. Lengthening your stride is a great way to improve the efficiency of your run as it will ultimately take fewer steps to arrive at your destination.
  • Hips. Positioning your hips can be pretty subtle, so you may need some help from a friend or the mirror. Running with dramatic posterior pelvic tilt (sticking your booty out) slows you down and can create hip and/or low back pain as you progress. Instead try and keep your hips directly underneath your shoulders by tilting them forward.
  • Core. Another subtle point, one for which the mirror will be of no assistance. The importance of maintaining a strong core cannot be understated, although it is often ignored because it can be difficult to explain. For runners, good core position begins from the deep support musculature near your spine. You can practice maintaining a tight core by standing, contracting your pelvic floor, imagining a rope connecting your hips and your neck and pulling it straight up (to engage your multifidi) while also pulling your belly button in toward your low back (to engage your transversus abdominus). This should feel markedly different from “flexing your abs”, and while it is a lot to think about it is worth the practice as it will pay dividends down the road.
  • Upper body posture. Keep your shoulders back as well as your shoulder blades seated to help lessen the intra-abdominal pressure on your lungs and make it easier for you to breathe.
  • Lungs. Breathing is obviously critical to successful cardiovascular performance, but let me assure you that you can relax. You have enough oxygen and you will never run out. In fact, we are swimming in more oxygen than one would ever need to facilitate a cardiovascular workout. The limiting factor regarding oxygen is our body’s ability to utilize it effectively, not a lack of supply. Maximizing oxygen utilization comes from training, not from rapid breathing. All of that said, it is important to maintain a relaxed, rhythmic breathing pattern. The side aches that plague us arise for a variety or reasons, the most common of which is arhythmic diaphragmatic contraction (chaotic breathing). Take slow, deep, and even breaths throughout your run.
  • Arm swing. Do not pump your arms. Pumping your arms is a critical aspect of rapid sprinting, but it will do little more than waste energy during a long run. Instead relax your elbows and wrists, and try to minimize their swing. Also take care to swing your arms in the sagittal plane (straight forward along your sides). Swinging your arms across your body lessens your ability to move rectilinearly and is inefficient.
  • Head position. Hold your head high, directly over your shoulders to avoid neck stress and assist with good torso posture. Look straight ahead, but below the horizon. This will help assist with your rhythmic breathing and keep you moving forward safely without distraction.

So now you know how to run! Time to discuss the finer points of program design. Let’s take a look at how to decide where to start and also how to manage your workouts.

Selecting your start point is a very important aspect of making a successful running program. While we are all built to run, that does not necessarily imply that you have the ability to tie your shoes and go for a five-mile run this very moment. If you run too much or too fast without giving your body time to adapt injury is inevitable. For some, the best way to start preparing your body to run may be to begin walking on a regular basis. For some others, you may be ready to run but not prepared to go very far or very fast. Start off by running no faster or farther than you can handle, and focus on making cardiovascular exercise part of your regular routine. Once you are running consistently (at least three times per week without fail) then begin to work on increasing the volume and intensity of your workouts, but not before.

We also need to discuss the three big variables to consider when planning your runs: intensity, duration, and distance. Intensity can be measured in a variety of ways, the most common of which is via heart rate. For textbook cardiovascular improvement you need to keep your heart rate elevated at a level of 65% to 85% of your maximum heart rate throughout your workout. Measuring your heart rate throughout your workout can be difficult, and as such likely requires a heart rate monitor. Since not everyone has access to the equipment required I will leave it at that. If you want more information about how to use your heart rate monitor or calculate your maximum heart rate please email me ( For the rest of us, intensity can be measured on the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale and with some commonsense. Using the RPE scale of 0-10, where 0 is no standing still and 10 is sprinting for your life; you should be working out between the levels 6 and 8. You can also measure intensity by paying attention to your breathing. During your workout you should be breathing hard enough to prevent you from maintaining a conversation, but you should not feel like you cannot catch your breath.

Duration and distance are both ways to measure the volume of your workout, and you should incorporate training that focuses on each. Some of your runs should be all about distance (e.g. running two miles as fast as possible), and some should be all about duration (e.g. running for 60 minutes). Incorporating runs that approach volume from each perspective will help you see steady improvement and avoid boredom. One of the biggest mistakes runners make in training is to train at the same intensity all of the time. To see improvement in your running performance it is important to vary your workouts. For example, if you are running three times per week and you can comfortably run two miles, it would be appropriate to plan three different runs: one one-mile workout at an RPE of 8, one 2-mile workout at an RPE of 7, and one three-mile workout at an RPE of 6.

Once you are performing cardiovascular exercise regularly and you have a handle on how to approach the requisite intensity, distance, and duration of your runs, it is time to think about progression. Appropriate cardiovascular progression is approximately 10 percent per week. I recommend you round to the nearest tenth-mile for ease of execution.

It is important to differentiate between increasing your workouts via percentage of distance and increasing via an absolute amount of distance. Using the example of three runs per week from before, an example of 10% progression is illustrated in the table below.

To prevent overtraining and give your body time to adapt to new levels of volume it is most effective to increase your volume in an undulating fashion, illustrated in the table below.

Lastly, here are a few general tips that you may find useful along the way:

  • Pace yourself. While interval training can be an effective way to improve your speed, add variety to your workout, and break through those pesky plateaus, varying your speed during competition will burn you out during longer runs and ultimately reduce your performance. Instead try and set one brisk pace for your events – you will do much better.
  • Warm up. Always warm up before you run, especially before you compete! Conduct dynamic movements like lunges and deep knee bends, and jog around a bit. Never conduct static stretching prior to a run, it reduces the ability of your muscles to produce force and increases your propensity for injury by creating micro-tears in your muscle fibers.
  • Treadmill running. Treadmills are great tools, particularly when the weather is bad! However they create an artificially perfect running environment, which can be misleading. If you regularly train on the treadmill but conduct your test outdoors you may be disappointed with your performance. In order to mitigate the impact of the treadmill on your competition performance always run at a minimum of a 1% grade.
  • Supporting activities. Although improving your run is best accomplished by running, resistance training and flexibility work will help you avoid injury and dramatically improve your performance. Resistance training (e.g. lifting weights) helps keep your joints strong, promote muscular balance, and makes you a more efficient runner as lean body tissue takes less energy to move around. Flexibility work (e.g. static stretching, yoga) will help improve your active range of motion and in turn increase your stride length, also improving your efficiency.

With the aforementioned approach and some dedication coupled with hard work nearly anyone can call themselves a runner.

Fasted cardio…Good idea of bad?

What is it?
A type of cardiovascular training that has become popular recently is commonly referred to as fasted cardio training. The term “fasted cardio” refers to the practice of performing low intensity cardiovascular exercise immediately after waking up, before eating breakfast.

Why does it sound like a good idea?
Those who choose to conduct fasted cardio typically have two hopes: First that your body will turn to its adipose tissue for stored energy in the absence of fresh glucose in your bloodstream (i.e. you will burn more fat). Second, that exercise done in this fasted state will also target the “stubborn fat stores” on your body, typically hips and thighs for women, stomach for men.

Does the idea hold water?
Regarding your ability to access stored fat on an empty stomach, fasted cardio comes up short. Unfortunately you cannot effectively control where your body is pulling stored fuel from. While some of the energy you will utilize to fuel your fasted cardio session will indeed come from adipose tissue, some energy will also emerge from glycogen stores in your muscles and liver, and still more will come from protein stored in your muscle tissue. Additionally, fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate, and without fresh glucose in your system your metabolism will be operating at a reduced capacity, lessening your ability to burn fat in general, as well as your general capacity to power through your workout.

As for targeting those stubborn areas on your body, that should sound too good to be true, and it is. Body fat is gained and lost at an equal percentage rate all over your body. While you store fat in certain areas more than others, if you lose 1% body fat you lose 1% of the fat stored in your hands and you lose 1% of the fat stored in your hips. That is the way your body works, irrespective of the frequency, intensity, duration, and mode of exercise you choose to participate in.

In the end, fasted cardio is a bad idea. It is ineffective, metabolically inefficient, and has the potential to be dangerous, as your risk of slipping up during exercise increases dramatically when you have not eaten. Always eat your breakfast, and if you are interested in improving your body composition hit the weights, not the treadmill.

Does muscle weigh more than fat?

This question has been circulating amongst the fitness community for as long as I have been a part of it. It is one of the more popular questions I receive from my clientele, and I overhear people discussing it in the gym every once in a while (sometimes somewhat argumentatively). Recently I noticed it bouncing around the weight room, and as a result it occurred to me that it might be useful to put the matter to rest once and for all.

The discussion surrounding whether muscle weighs more than fat boils down to a matter of terminology more than anything else. Typically the opposing sides are mostly speaking past one another; one side convinced that “a pound is a pound”, while the other tries to explain that lean muscle tissue in fact does weigh more than an equivalent amount of adipose tissue.

I am reminded of the riddle which asks: “Which weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?” A trick question, of course, but one that actually illustrates this controversy quite well, as the disagreement over muscle and fat is not much different.

At the risk of delving too deeply into the issue, let us look at the question a little more closely.

By itself, the statement “muscle weighs more than fat” may or may not be true. It depends upon the method of measurement; we need more information to be sure. Here are two examples that will hopefully illustrate my point:

False: [ A gram of ] muscle weighs more than [ a gram of ] fat. A gram of adipose tissue weighs as much as a gram of muscle tissue, which in turn weighs as much as a gram of feathers.

True: [ A liter of ] muscle weighs more than [ a liter of ] fat. Muscle is more dense than fat, so a smaller volume of muscle tissue will weigh as much as a larger volume of adipose tissue.

So, does muscle weigh more than fat? When compared volumetrically, yes it certainly does.

In my opinion, this argument is entirely semantic, as whomever pointed out that muscle weighs more than fat likely did not intend to get themselves into a riddle comparing grams and liters. Instead I would venture to guess that they were attempting to explain that the scale is not an effective indicator of overall fitness. Instead of focusing on your weight, you should pay attention to your body composition, a much more important indicator.

After all, would your rather weigh a certain amount, or fit comfortably into your best jeans? The choice is yours.

How Many Calories am I Burning…Really?

Calorie counting tools are becoming increasingly popular. They are available as part of many fitness apps, on heart rate monitors, and most commonly, they are attached to cardio machines that adorn our basement as well as the gyms we frequent. But, how accurate are they?

In two words: not very. Do not be completely disheartened, though, as there is more to the story.

The accuracy of your calorie counter is impacted in part by how much information you make available to it. The more info you provide, the more accurate the results will be. Data like height, weight, age, gender, and heart rate can all improve the accuracy of your calorie measuring tool of choice. If your elliptical does not ask you for the aforementioned data, or if you choose not to provide it, it will make some assumptions for you. The equations that these devices use vary somewhat depending on the manufacturer, but most use statistical averages (often based on a 150 pound young male). Therefore we recommend that you provide as much data as you can.

Unfortunately, even if you provide all the data your particular device asks for there will be some critical gaps that will impact its ability to accurately estimate your caloric expenditure. Metabolism is a very unique and individual thing; as such it is hard to estimate accurately. In addition to the variance caused by questions that are answered easily (age, gender, height, and weight), variables like body composition, the time and structure of your last meal, as well as even your stress level can have a dramatic impact on your metabolism.

Also it is worth mentioning that some companies have been known to intentionally provide positively-skewed data, assuming that the more calories you perceive to burn, the more you will enjoy (and recommend) their product… just something to consider.

Ultimately, you cannot really trust the calorie readings on your cardiovascular equipment. However that does not render the data is useless; rather it implies that you should be careful how you use the readout to make decisions. Since the estimates are largely inaccurate and vary from machine to machine, it is probably not a good idea to compare what you burn on the treadmill with what you burn on a stationary bike in order to decide which machine is more effective. The same goes for creating comparison between individuals – what a machine tells you and what it tells your friend may not be the same, and that says nothing about you or your friend’s level of fitness. Above all, do not estimate your weight loss expectations, or reward yourself with calorie-dense foods based on the readings provided by your calorie measurement device (not that using food or food-like substances as a reward is a good idea anyway).

What you can use these devices for is a measurement of relative intensity and/or performance. If you are using the same piece of cardiovascular equipment every time you work out, the calorie’s burned readout can help you compare your performance from day to day. This will allow you to set goals relative to your previous workouts, and can be a good way to push yourself to work longer and harder.

Above all, remember that cardiovascular exercise is aptly named, as it primarily impacts the function of your cardiovascular system. The road to body composition improvement rolls through the kitchen and the weight room. The low intensity, long duration work you put in on the elliptical is mainly for your heart, blood, blood vessels, and lungs. If you are headed to the treadmill with the idea of burning calories on your mind, you are missing the point.

Weights Before Cardio or Vise Versa?

This is a question that we are asked quite a bit. “Should I do my cardio first, or hit the weights?” The answer is somewhat ambiguous, as it depends on your goals. So…we always discuss it.

Firstly, we need to define what is meant by the term “cardio”, because you should be participating in a light cardiovascular warm up prior to executing your resistance training routine. Appropriate warm up consists of three to five minutes of light cardiovascular activity, which will help get your heart pumping, pushing fluid to your extremities and in turn simultaneously preparing your body for optimum performance and injury prevention. However, do not go much longer than a few minutes, as you will begin to waste precious energy!

For most individuals (i.e. those interested in improving overall fitness, preventing injury, maintaining joint strength, improving body composition, and the like) the weights should come first. We have a limited supply of energy to commit to each workout, and thus as you progress through your routine you have less and less energy to spend. Lifting with less energy means less repetitions and sets performed, which translates to less results. The consequences for your cardiovascular routine are not nearly as dire. While running with less energy means you may not be able to go quite as fast, you will still be able push yourself to a level of exertion relative to that which is possible at the beginning of your workout. An equivalent level of exertion means an equivalent heart rate, which means…equivalent results.

From the standpoint of injury risk, the weights win out as well. Technique is critical in the weight room, and our ability to maintain correct form decreases as we become increasingly exhausted. Attempting to lift with reduced energy impacts our ability to maintain appropriate form and tempo which increases the likelihood of an injury occurring.

The only real exception to this rule is if your primary goal is to improve your cardiovascular fitness (e.g. you are in the final training phase for a marathon). If that is the case, working on your cardio after you have already spent some of your energy in the weight room can impact your ability to train at the level that you must in order to make the anatomical adaptations requisite of your culminating training event.

All of that said, ideally you should separate your resistance and cardiovascular training! Separating your cardiovascular and resistance training workouts (e.g. performing them on alternating days, or perhaps one in the morning and one the other in the evening) will give you time to rest, recover, and replenish your body (via rehydration and eating healthfully), and in turn receive the most from your workouts. So if you have the time, split up your training! If not, do what is best for you based upon your individual goals.

Strong is the new SEXY! Women and resistance training.

Many women have similar goals and fears associated with resistance training (i.e. lifting weights). Most commonly we find that women express the desire to lose fat and improve muscle tone, but fear getting “bulky.” This often leads women to avoid the weight room altogether, and in our opinion is one of the primary reasons why there is a gender barrier between the cardiovascular and resistance training equipment (stereotypically boys lift weights and girls take cardio classes). This is a minor tragedy, as cardiovascular exercise is an ineffective and inefficient means to losing fat and improving muscle tone. Regular cardiovascular exercise is critical to maintaining overall health, but it is called cardio for a reason: it is primarily for your heart.

The fear that many women have regarding becoming “bulky” is unfortunately dynamic and deeply rooted, but we can overcome it. There are two primary sources of this trepidation: a general misunderstanding of female physiology and psychosocial stress.

The physiology is relatively straightforward. Put simply, lifting weights gives women the tone look and feel that they desire. Resistance training (geared toward improving muscular hypertrophy) increases metabolism and improves muscle tone. Women receive a tone look (as opposed to a bulky look) not due to a difference in training methodology, but a difference in physiological tools. Women are born with less muscle fibers (typically about 70% of that found in men). Additionally, the female endocrine system plays a significant role in keeping women small. Primarily responsible is the lack of testosterone, but also hormones like estrogen and progesterone generally prevent dramatic increases in muscle mass.

The psychosocial aspect of why women want to look a certain way is a little more complicated. Pressure to be small and skinny comes from all around us (e.g. family, friends, television, and fashion magazines). Whatever the source, they are largely sending a similar message: women should be small, un-athletic, and devoid of muscular definition. Sadly the picture that is commonly painted of what is, or what should be, a desirable feminine form is generally unattainable and is incompatible with fitness. Healthy women are not frail and skinny. Healthy women have curves and definition. Healthy women are strong, fit, and well-built. Healthy women can do a push up. And healthy is sexy.

Cardiovascular exercise is great for your heart, but the rest of your body needs attention too; some of which can only be attained in the weight room. So ladies, we urge you to set aside your misgivings, ignore the looks and the naysayers, and set a new trend. Join the increasing amount of women who believe that “strong is the new skinny” and that being fit is sexy.

Kettlebells 101

Recently I have noticed a resurgence of kettlebells in the world of fitness, and as a result I have been getting more questions regarding their origin and utility.

So, “What is the deal with kettlebells, and should I be using them?”

Just for the record, training with kettlebells is not a new idea, just newly popular. Kettlebells as we know them today have existed for around 350 years. Originally they were used as handled counterweights for use in public markets, later were put to use for entertainment, and eventually for they made their way to the weight room.

Fun facts: In 1948, modern kettlebell lifting became the Soviet Union’s national sport. In the 1970’s kettlebell lifting became part of the United All State Sport Association of the USSR, and in 1985 national rules, regulations & weight categories were finalized, and the first National Championship took place in Lipetsk, Russia. To this day, the Russian Military requires its recruits to train with kettlebells. Additionally, the US Government and law enforcement personnel have been using kettlebells for physical training for decades.

Put simply, a kettlebell is just a dumbbell with the weight in the middle and below the handle instead of on the ends. Most exercises that I see the average exercise enthusiast attempting with a kettlebell can be easily performed with a dumbbell, including power exercises like the snatch, hang clean, and push jerk. That said, kettlebells are unique in that their center of mass extends beyond your hand, unlike the dumbbell, which does facilitate ballistic and swinging movements.

Kettlebells are most effective when used for power (e.g. clean, snatch, jerk) and deceleration (e.g. the kettlebell swing) training. If you are wondering whether or not kettlebells are for you, you need to first answer the question “am I interested in power training”. Power training is best for those individuals looking to increase their quickness, jump higher, or generally become more explosive. If you are trying to improve your first step on the squash court, or get closer to the rim in basketball, power training is for you. If your primary goal is to look better or improve your cardiovascular endurance, kettlebells may not be the best answer for you. And always remember that power training can be dangerous if you have not built up an adequate level of muscular strength with less demanding exercises. If you have an injury, particularly in the hip or low back, or a weak core, power training can be a very dangerous activity. Please, if you are recently returning to the gym, start with resistance training exercises that are less ballistic in nature. You will be better off in the long run.

All in all, if used correctly, kettlebells can be easily and safely incorporated into your workout routine. As with all trending fitness modalities, take their rise in popularity with a grain of salt and do not throw out your traditional exercise routine for an exclusive “ultimate kettlebell bonanza”. If you are interested in using kettlebells, try incorporating an exercise or two into your existing routine. Forgo joining a kettlebell-only gym, or suffering through an hour of kettlebell-only training.

For more information on how to utilize kettlebells safely please contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway.

Cardio vs. Lifting Weights: Which burns more calories?

There is a great deal of confusion surrounding body composition improvement. Conflicting information saturates the media concerning what methodology is most appropriate to help us reach our goals, which leads to many of us expending unnecessary time and energy in the gym doing the wrong things. Approaching our goals from the wrong direction, unfortunately, keeps them out of reach.

First, we need to get a few things straight. Body composition is the comparison of adipose tissue (fat) to lean tissue (everything else). Those of us who desire to shape, tone, and define our bodies often mistakenly identify our primary goal as simply “weight loss”. In reality, our goal is more accurately described as “body composition improvement”. Losing weight alone will not produce the result we strive for. We also need structure – in the form of lean muscle. To put the bottom line up front: Lifting weights (resistance training) is a better way to improve body composition than cardiovascular exercise. Disagree? Read on…there are two main reasons resistance training is so effective – one occurs in the short-term, one in the long-term.

The short-term can seem a little tricky, and is often misinterpreted. While you are actively exercising, cardiovascular exercise burns more calories than resistance training of the same relative intensity. This fact alone causes a great deal of confusion and feeds misinformation to popular fitness media.

There is more to the story than how many calories we burn during a workout. How many calories are expended post workout is relevant as well. When our cardiovascular routine ends, it takes the body merely a few minutes to return to resting heart rate, and therefore resting metabolism. However, when we finish resistance training, our metabolism is positively affected by tissue repair and growth for up to 72 hours. When we finish with cardiovascular exercise, our metabolism returns to normal before we hit the locker room, while after a resistance training workout we continue burning extra calories for several days. Still not convinced? Consider the long-term.

The long-term picture is a little simpler. Resistance training over time will cause the body to create additional lean muscle mass. Lean muscle is more metabolically active, that is, it requires more calories to maintain itself than adipose tissue does – so the more lean muscle mass we have, the higher our metabolism. Elevating our metabolism causes the body to burn more calories during everything that we do, day and night.

Restated simply: Resistance training is a more effective way to improve body composition than cardiovascular activity, both in the short-term and the long-term. Cardiovascular training is still critical for good health – the heart is the most important muscle, after all. But we call it “cardio” for a reason: it is primarily for the heart. The road to train the rest of the body runs straight through the weight room.

So stop worrying about weight, step off the scale, and pick up some dumbbells.

If you have questions about how to plan your workouts based on body composition measurements, please feel free to contact Personal Fitness Trainer Damien K. Krantz.

Effectively Utilizing the Body Mass Index

What is your Body Mass Index (BMI), and should it concern you?

BMI is as a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. Basically, the higher your BMI, the greater your risk for the aforementioned health problems.

The BMI is generally considered to be successful as a health screening tool (particularly when considering large populations), but unfortunately BMI is not a very accurate body composition measurement tool. BMI does not measure body fat directly, it merely estimates using your body weight and height. Thus two individuals of the same height and weight will carry the same BMI rating regardless of their personal comparison of adipose tissue and lean muscle mass.

The bottom line is that while the BMI may be very effective at producing a general assessment of the obesity level of a given population, it fails to accurately estimate body fat levels for the average person. If you are interested in getting a body composition test consider a measurement of your subcutaneous fat using skin calipers, jumping into a hydrostatic underwater tank, or simply paying attention to how your clothes fit. All of these methods will fair better than the BMI.

If you have questions about how to plan your workouts based on body composition measurements, please feel free to contact Personal Fitness Trainer Damien K. Krantz.

It is not all about losing weight.

Throw out your scale. You should not be concerned with how much you weigh, as it is a very poor indicator of overall fitness, particularly when it comes to measuring body composition.

Body composition, or the comparison of your fat mass to your lean mass, is the true focus of your concern. When presented with the choice between weighing a particular number and having our jeans fit exactly as we want them to, most of us would gladly choose the latter.

You can note improvement in your own body composition simply with how you look in the mirror, or how well your clothes are fitting. Both are a much better indicator than a number from a scale.

If you are interested in having your body composition accurately assessed, stop by the fitness department to get a seven-site skinfold test. Just remember that you will need to be tested prior to working out and do not forget to wear loose clothing!