When I write an article, I try not to refer to two things in the title—cardio and the scale. When I do, guys tend to ignore the article much like they ignore their wives when asked to stop by the store to pick up tampons. I'll leave cardio out of this one but not the scale, and what I have to say pertains to the guys as much as it does to the ladies. It sounds cliché to say, and I hate clichés, so I won’t say that all scales should be thrown out. OK, I said it. The point is valid though, as scales get far too much attention by the gainers and the losers. Let me expound...

The weight scale as well as weighing yourself daily are typically thought of things that fat people do. They step on the scale every morning and then the rest of their day is staged by what the scale says. Down in weight equals awesome day and great mood. Up in weight or stable and you're probably going to want to avoid the bitch (and that could just as easily be a man) standing on the scale. Nothing could (or should) be further from the truth. If you don’t want to throw your scale out and you want to use it as a tool to gauge progress, fine. However, at least understand how to use the damn thing correctly so that it doesn’t negatively impact your day and the day of everyone around you.

It's important to understand that everyone with physique goals should weigh themselves daily in the morning after emptying the “pipes.” This is the best way to get the most accurate read of what your true body weight really is.

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Most people think that you should weigh yourself daily to see how much fat you've lost since yesterday. That isn't how it works at all. Weighing yourself daily primarily sets patterns for weight loss so that you can set those patterns to variables that you have in your training and diet. Weight loss is different than body fat loss, of course, and the patterns that you'll find over time are invaluable in predicting and insuring that your weight loss ends up being body fat loss over time.

What patterns are we talking about here? Because you don’t lose one pound of fat from one day to the next, when you see your scale weight down a pound from Tuesday to Wednesday, it's a good idea to find out if there are variables that play into a consistent drop in weight when these variables take place. For example, if you have two low carb days in a row and you lose one pound of scale weight, this is a pattern that will benefit you, and you'll be able to predict weight loss in the future. On the other side of the coin, you can almost always count on gaining weight the day after a really hard leg workout. Why? Soreness in muscles is essentially water retention in those sore muscles. They're inflamed and swollen with water. If I had a dime for every client who has ever freaked out the day after a gut-busting leg session because he or she was up in weight and not down, I'd be spending time with your hot wife on a yacht somewhere in the Caribbean laughing and talking shit about how you have nothing better to do than post negative comments after my articles. However, I digress...

Because body fat isn't lost in any measurable fashion on a daily basis, these patterns or fluctuations in weight are important. When you lose weight after two days of low carbs, that loss will translate days later into a loss of body fat. Why? When you deplete carbs, you deplete glycogen, and when you deplete glycogen, you burn body fat at an efficient rate. Depletion has to come first, and when you deplete, you lose water weight. Water is combined with carbs to form glycogen, so when you deplete, you lose water weight initially.

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How does the scale factor into a situation where you aren't concerned with body fat but are looking to add as much muscle as possible? It's still a tool, no more or less than when you're trying to decrease body fat. Just as the scale can't tell you how much body fat you're losing, it also can't accurately tell you how much muscle you're building. The scale tells us only how much weight we gain or lose. This is exactly why guys who want to gain muscle end up being fat asses but swearing on the internet that they're “growing like a weed” and have grand illusions of jumping from a middleweight to a heavyweight during their six months in the off-season. It doesn’t matter that as soon as they get knee deep into their prep they realize otherwise. During that fat fest that they call the off-season, they're thoroughly convinced that they have the genetics to destroy people on stage with this absurd amount of mass they've recently acquired.

The scale has magical powers. The scale has the ability to distort what is seen in the mirror to the point that the image seen is nothing like what the image is before it's refracted. The scale works its magical powers not on the mirror but on the psyche. Most people tend to feel that they look better if the weight is down (provided that's their goal) and those of us who want to get “hyooge” think that we look so much more muscular if the scale says our weight is up. Essentially, many people allow the scale to propagate these lies. It isn’t the scale’s fault. It's your fault. You're giving the scale the power to convince you that it has the last word and it most certainly does not, or at least should not.

Body fat isn't lost in one day. It's lost over days and weeks. Muscle isn't gained in one day but is gained over weeks and months. Body fat and muscle aren't lost or gained in pounds but in grams or ounces, and we all know that no one is weighing themselves in anything but pounds. There are so many fluctuations in weight on a daily basis that it would be impossible to try to gauge body fat loss or muscle gain daily.

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Water intake, volume of food, types of food, sodium intake, supplementation (either starting or ending), cardio intensity and duration, weight training intensity and duration, and even what particular muscles are worked that day all play into fluctuations that occur with body weight on a daily basis. Let us not forget hormone fluctuations, and if you think that this only applies to women, some of you guys reading this are far more PMS-y than most women.

If you can’t use the scale as a tool to gauge progress, you can always get rid of it. No one knows your weight when you step on stage either oiled up in a banana hammock or sliding under a barbell for a record bench. They won’t know your weight when you show up at the beach or look badass riding your Harley (the latter clearly pertains to me). Weight matters little unless it is weight on a bar. Most of us know more than a few people who can start a diet and end a diet looking completely different but weigh almost exactly the same. It isn’t what you weigh but how you look. I've seen welterweights look better than super heavyweights. The scale might lie but the mirror never does. Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day. (Sorry, I felt that I had to end with a really bad cliché’.) Just sayin’.