Are Gym Scales Accurate?

I think I can speak for us all- we’ve all had a weird reading at the gym scale.

How many of us have been in this exact situation? You’ve just finished your workout, and you’re excited to finally weigh yourself and see how much weight you’ve lost.

So, you rush over after putting down your dumbbells. You take off your shoes, and heroically step on the scale- expecting to see a number much smaller than it was last month.

Unfortunately, the number suddenly reads +10 lbs and you’re incredibly disappointed in yourself. But you start thinking, is there any way this is right? What if it’s wrong?

Are gym scales accurate?

Well, yes. Gym scales are accurate. Most gyms are not intentionally deceiving you. However, most people’s weight is actually way different after completing a workout, so the weight will actually be somewhat inaccurate. Furthermore, not all brands of scales are accurate compared to others- so it depends on what brand your gym uses.

And if I can add quickly, it’s best to weigh yourself right after you wake up and get out of bed to get the most accurate weight.

But, let’s explain this all in-depth and get to the bottom of, are gym scales accurate?

Are Gym Scales Accurate? Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels
Are Gym Scales Accurate? Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Your Weight is Way Different After A Workout

Most people don’t realize this, but your weight is heavily influenced by a workout.

First of all, how much water are you drinking or NOT drinking during a workout?

If you’ve ever wrestled (like I did)- you’ll know to NEVER drink water before your wrestling weigh-ins because of how much weight it adds to the scale! Just drinking a few cups of water during your workout can add 4-5 lbs to the scale.

That’s no joke. People don’t realize how much water weight really does add to your body!

So, what’s the solution, Tommy?  Should I stop drinking water when I work out?

No, personally I don’t drink water when I workout because it makes me feel sick- but for most people, it’s perfectly okay to keep drinking that water.

In fact, many people benefit from staying hydrated during their workout. So, no- keep drinking your water if you like it.

What I’m trying to get at is the idea that your water actually affects your weight on the scale way more than you know it does. And I want you to keep that in mind when you go to weigh yourself after the gym. You didn’t suddenly gain 5 lbs even if you’ve been in a caloric deficit and tracking your weight with MyFitnessPal. 

The truth is, that water you were drinking just added a ton of weight.

NOT Drinking Water Also Influences Your Weight

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t like drinking water during my workout.

But people don’t realize that when you sweat during your workout, you lose a lot of water weight too.

This means if you’re dehydrated after a workout, then go to weigh yourself every day- things will look really inaccurate if you weigh yourself at another time when you’re at normal hydration levels.

I mean, sometimes our gym schedules can be wacky or we drink some pre workout before we lift.

Now, your weight is going to look really skewed because you were dehydrated the last time you weighed in- and now you’re super hydrated. This can even be as much as a 10 lb difference depending on your hydration levels.

Keep all of this in mind before you step on the scale at the gym.

Your Pre-Workout Snack Can Add a Lot of Weight on The Scale BEFORE It’s Digested

How many of us eat a short meal before the gym? I do. I typically stick with something small like Chobani Flips– but some of us don’t realize how much weight that pre-workout snack can add to the scale before it’s digested.

That’s something people never talk about in the fitness industry. You always hear about calories and how that affects weight gain- and that’s completely correct.

But, people forget to mention that all of that food still WEIGHS a lot BEFORE it’s digested!

So, if you eat 1-2 lbs of food an hour before your workout (which, honestly isn’t that much food). It will add roughly 1-2 lbs onto the scale.

Keep that in mind before you hit the scale.

Some Gym Scale Brands Can Be Sketchy

While most gyms will have a decent quality scale, some gym scales can be sketchy.

Now, it really doesn’t take much at all to get a decent scale. In fact, I found one on Amazon for cheap that is just as accurate as the ones I had to step on for my wrestling competitions. (And they take weighing so seriously at wrestling competitions, even allowing you to challenge scales for being inaccurate)

But, one of the local gyms in my area had a scale that was just always so wrong. We are talking like a +/- 30 lb difference. One time it registered me at 192 lbs, then the next day it told me I was 145 lbs. I mean– what?! I was 175 lbs at the time for reference.

Typically those Weight Watcher scales are just horribly inaccurate. I had one tell me I was 15 lbs over on MULTIPLE occassions. (And I’m not the only site who’s complained about their scales)

Many of these scales require a flat, hard surface. So, they won’t work well if they are on a carpet or if they shift/move at all.

Be careful that the scale doesn’t move at all when you step on it. While many high-quality scales won’t move at all- some cheaply built ones will- and they will provide a number that will just not make sense.

Stress and Other Factors, Too

Stress and other things can make your weight fluctuate. Just keep that in mind. Oftentimes we go to the gym to relieve stress, so some of that stress that has built up can really affect your weight.

Trust Your Gut

Look, if you have been weighing at 150 lbs for a long time and suddenly it spiked to 170, trust your gut and just reweigh another day.

It’s not a big thing to stress about, and that stress is only going to make your weight fluctuate more.

If you know you typically weigh around 145 lbs and you go to a new gym and it says you’re 170- you can safely say that scale is inaccurate.

Just trust your gut on some of these things. 

It may just be that you ate a little more in literal WEIGHT at lunch than you realized. (A pizza can add a lot of weight on the scale before it is digested).

It might be that the scale is completely off.

Regardless, trust your gut. Remember: weight loss is a marathon NOT a race!

It’s Best To Weigh Yourself At Home Right After You Wake Up

As we’ve learned in this article, weighing yourself at the gym- while technically scientifically accurate- just isn’t the best idea. There are too many moving parts and factors.

It’s best to weigh yourself at home right after you wake up. This way, most foods will be digested, your water levels will be moderate-low, and it will be consistent if you do it every day like this.

This will help avoid any sudden weight gain because you wanted to quench your thirst or eat. 

The Verdict is In: Are Gym Scales Accurate

The verdict is in, gym scales are accurate. However, sometimes your weight will be affected by the water you drink during your workout, the food you eat beforehand, and stress levels.

It’s best to just weigh yourself when you wake up for consistency and to just skip weighing yourself at the gym just because there are so many variables.

Keep it simple and consistent and just hit the scale in the morning- it will be a much better measurement of your progress.

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