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New Measures: Change Your Tracks, and Track Your Changes

By Billy Polson

So, we've all spent the summer worried about looking good in a bathing suit, and focusing our workouts around the cardio and body building workout programs that we know will keep us fitting in those board shorts. But it's a new season, and the ideal time to break the monotony of the routine you've been doing for the last few months with something new.

Get a Baseline
For some of you, the toughest part of this idea is your fear that you will either lose your muscle mass or gain body fat. I refer you first to RealJock's nutrition plans—if you maintain the correct nutrition plan based on your metabolism you should never have trouble maintaining appropriate body fat or appropriate muscle mass levels as long as you are continuing with some style of workouts. But, there's one way to be really sure you keep the same body through a variety of different workout programs: take some measurements. Get a baseline of exactly where your body is before you try a new program. All you'll need is a tape measure (the flexible kind found in sewing kits) and a little know-how. Here are the spots you want to hit:

  1. Belly button: Measure straight around your waist, passing the tape right over your belly button.
  2. Chest at nipples: Measure all the way around your chest, with the tape straight (not drooping anywhere) and on top of your nipples.
  3. Chest at armpits: Measure straight around your chest, with the tape up tight in your armpits.
  4. Shoulders at armpit crease: Measure around the outside of your shoulders with the tape right at the crease in your armpits in front.
  5. Biceps: Measure the peak, or thickest part, of your bicep while it is flexed.
  6. Thighs: Measure around your thigh exactly half-way between the top of your knee cap and the bony front part of your hip.
  7. Calves: Measure straight around your calves at their largest circumference when they are flexed.
  8. Hips: Measure straight around hips, passing the tape around your butt at its further projection.
To keep track of how your workout program is effecting you, re-check these measurements every four to six weeks, and keep records of what you find. You'll be able to track your gains and losses and adjust as needed. Don't panic if things seem to have changed—with consistent measuring, you'll be on top of changes early, and can adjust your workout program to suit your needs.

Get in Gear
Now—drop the fears, and take the steps towards trying something new! All of our bodies get used to workouts after just a month of the same program, so trying something new will not only challenge your body now, it will also give your body a break from your current routine and allow you to make more advances when you come back to body building again in a few months. Here are four ideas you can try to change things up while keeping what you've got. Try one or all in the winter months—and get creative!
  1. One in three: Take one third of your workouts each week and try a totally new style of workout. So, if you workout six days a week, two of those days should be something you've never done before. Like what? Try swimming, yoga, rock climbing, pilates, any one of the endless group exercise classes offered at the gym—the options are endless. Start exploring!
  2. Go multi-muscle: Switch the focus of your gym workouts from isolated muscle movements (exercises that isolate single body parts, and especially machines) to only multi-muscle, full-body movements—for example, do squats and dead lifts instead of the leg press machine; standing heavy cable chest presses or stability ball dumbbell presses instead of flat bench presses, and real pull-ups instead of any seated pull downs.
  3. Take a hike: The fall season is a perfect time to get outside for workouts—so try to make sure at least one workout a week is outdoors: blading, biking, running, and hiking.
  4. Kill the crunch: Change the focus of your abdominal work to core strengthening instead of the body builder abs workouts. That means planks instead of crunches, slowly controlled lower abdominal leg raises instead of fast, out-of-control leg lifts, and side pillar lifts instead of machines.
Fall is a time of change—and it should be for your workouts as well. Take the changing of the leaves an opportunity to change your workouts. You can look just as good, and feel even better.

About Diakadi Fitness Tips: Diakadi Fitness Tips is a series of weekly features and interviews with Billy Polson and Mike Clausen, founders of the award-winning Diakadi Body personal training gym and creators of RealJock's 12-week Workout Programs. Billy is a certified Exercise Coach through the Paul Chek Institute as well as a Certified Personal Trainer through The National Academy of Sports Medicine. Have burning questions about your fitness that you want them to answer? Send an email to