There are several ways to measure body fat.
Knowing your body fat percentage is something that is good to know especially if you are considering weight loss and burning fat.
Monitoring your body fat regularly can give you an indication as to whether or not your workout program or dieting efforts are paying off.
Thus, the four main ways in which you can measure body fat are:
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In terms of accuracy the first two ways to measure body fat are most accurate. Although body fat scales are the most convenient way of measuring, they can be off as much as several percentage points.
On this page we will describe the first method in detail – measuring using body fat calipers and a reference sheet (see below). If you wish to read and learn about the other methods click on each respective link above.
Ways to Measure Body Fat – Method Using Body fat Calipers & Interpretation Chart
To measure your body fat percentage [%] using body fat calipers you will need a pair of regular or electronic calipers and a reference worksheet where you will look up the measured values to see what they mean. The worksheet is pictured here and you can open it in a new window to enlarge and/or download it to your hard drive by clicking on the link below.
Step 1 The area you will use for the measurement is approximately one inch above the right hipbone – see figure 1.
Step 2 While standing, firmly pinch the skinfold between your left thumb and forefinger – see figures 2 and 3. Place the mouth of the calipers over the skinfold, while continuing to hold the skinfold with the left hand – see figure 4.
Step 3 Press with the thumb where indicated on the calipers until you feel or hear the click. The slide mechanisam will automatically stop at the correct measurement – see figure 5. After reading your measurement, return the slide member to the far right starting position.
Repeat this measurement three times and use the average as your measurement. Then, refer to the body fat interpretation chart to determine your body fat percentage and see what it means.
Let’s say your first measurement is 12mm, your second is 13mm and your third is 11mm. Thus, you will add all the measurements and divide them by three to get the average measurement.
12mm + 13mm + 11mm = 36mm
36/3 = 12mm
Thus, your average measurement is 12mm.
Now you take a look at the chart (depending our your gender). For the purposes of this example let’s assume you are male, aged 35.
Thus, first you find your age on the left hand side and then find your body fat measurement value on the top bar.
The number at which the two numbers meet on the chart is the value or percentage of your body fat. In our example that number is 15.7 %. Thus body fat for a 35 year old male with a 12mm average skinfold measurement is 15.7% which according to the chart is within the ideal range.