In the business world, you're always growing or dying. There is no sitting still. Your firm is always either grabbing a larger market share or growing consumer value, or it is losing market share to competitors and losing customer value. However small the increments, there is always either a loss or gain cycle occurring – there is no standing still.
Likewise, when it comes to bodybuilding, the same motto holds true. You are always either getting better, or worse. Improving or regressing, Growing or shrinking, Bodybuilding requires separate classifications for measuring progress or lack thereof. Here are some categories and rubrics, which can be used to measure the level of hypertrophy vs. atrophy occurring at any given time for a bodybuilder.
Are you winning or losing muscle mass? If you are steadily increasing lean body mass (LBM) and your muscles are growing, then you are improving. If your LBM has lowered, or your muscles have lost some size, they are being regressing. Change your training or diet protocol immediately to put yourself back on the right track.
Have your body fat% measured once per month using a reliable machine. If you find that it is rising, then take immediate action to curb it. Add cardio or reduce total calories by lower carb and fat intake. If your body fat level is remaining constant while you are adding muscle, then that can be considered positive. You should remain at a constant level. And if your body fat is going down slowly, this is very positive news. You should "hold course" and keep things constant until LBM suffers – then reconsider what you are doing.
Overall health and function
This aspect of bodybuilding health is harder to measure, but more important than the other two aspects combined. Are you remaining healthy as you train, eat, and work to make improvements? Have blood work done regularly to ensure you are keeping healthy while reaching your bodybuilding goals. A finding of no long-term diseases or injuries is definitely a positive, and considered the ultimate goal of life, much less bodybuilding!