My friend Mike recently visited me in Santa Monica.
Because I’m the “fitness guy” among my friends, people love talking to me about fitness.
As we’re hanging out in my apartment about to go to the beach, Mike kept on looking at himself in the mirror shirtless while flexing.
“I’m looking pretty muscular, right? I’m looking strong” he asked me.
He was working out 2x per week, sometimes 3. His diet was hit or miss and he drank quite a bit on the weekends. He was feeling really good about his results.
I wasn’t sure how to respond to his question. I mean he was easily 25 pounds overweight. And relative to when he was a college athlete at his fittest? Probably 35 pounds heavier.
“Umm, yeah, sure” I said.
Then I thought for a moment how I could help Mike without actually telling him. He had to learn the truth for himself.
“Have you measured your waist recently?” I said.
I found a cloth measuring tape and wrapped it around his stomach 1-inch above his belly button.
He asked surprisingly, “Why are you doing that? That’s too high!”
I replied, “That’s your waistline, not your hips where you wear your pants.”
His waist measured 38 inches.
I told my friend Mike instead of sucking in his stomach and puffing out his chest when he looked at the mirror head on, I wanted him to face the mirror sideways and relax.
He turned sideways towards the mirror, but was still sucking in his stomach.
I said, “Relax your stomach, Mike”.
He yelled, “Holy —-, I’m fat!”
A thin woman will look in the mirror and think she’s fat. Some overweight men will look in the mirror and think they look like Conan the Barbarian!
Fortunately, this experience – in combination with some eating “laws” we established together – has helped Mike drop 7 pounds in a little over a month.
3-Steps To Measuring Your Waist
- Get a cloth measuring tape, or a MyoTape retractable tape (affiliate link).
- Wrap the tape around your stomach 1-inch above your belly button
- Relax your stomach, breath out the air (mid-breath), then write down the measurement.
That’s your waist measurement.
Remember, do not suck in your stomach. For most guys, it’s hardwired into the brain to suck it in.
What’s A Good Waist Measurement?
For most men 6’2” and below, 34 inches or less is considered normal.
The “Metabo Law” in Japan establishes max waist circumference for men at 33.5 inches, which is measured annually by employers. Failed waistline tests among the workforce can cost employers millions.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime bodybuilding days had a 30-inch waist and 50 inch shoulders.
Famed health guru Jack Lalanne used to say, “Your waistline is your lifeline.”
Your waist size is an indicator of health status, so it matters. If your waist is above 34-inches, it may be a good idea to take a look at your eating habits.
How Often Should You Measure Your Waist?
Once a month can work. The scale is a good proxy for fat loss and it’s easier to discern changes.
If you’re a lady trying to get your husband in shape, or simply a guy who is living in denial like my friend Mike, measure the waist.
It’s a data point that is more objective than the mirror.
It’s time to reclaim the health & vitality you deserve!
Great article! That’s my hubby, flexing and sucking it in lol. Is there a waist circumference for women? Or some kind of ratio?
Thanks, BK! I don’t know of a certain waist size for women or a specific ratio. The World Health Organization defines abdominal obesity as being a waist-hip ratio above 0.90 for men and above 0.85 for women. You can check out the calculator here along with some more information about the calculator (waist-hip ratio calculator). Interestingly, the “metabo law” in Japan adds an extra couple inches for woman (33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women).
Great article. I’m a 41 year old new dad and my clothes have been feeling a bit tighter lately. This is a good wake up call.
Thanks for the kudos, Luke and glad the article was helpful for you.
Great article Marc, it helps cut through the misinformation that plagues the health and fitness industry
Marc – you’ve inspired and educated me for a long time. Thank you for all you the information. This guy (Ogie Shaw) on TED.com, if you haven’t seen it, you’ll like it as he discusses fitness/weight and cancer. Cancer is rampant in my family so at 63, I’m 15% body fat and following your advice to stay fit.
Enjoy… and thanks again. Keep up all your great work. Thanks again.
Thanks for the comment, Daniel! I’m excited to hear you are enjoying the articles and videos we’ve created and they’ve been helpful for you. I’ll check out that video, thanks for sharing. More articles / videos / podcasts coming soon.