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How to measure body Fat %

Body Fat % – fitness tests.

Measuring body fat percentage is a good way to get an indication of someone’s  body fat. However it is important to know that all the tests are only an approximation. There is no 100% accurate method for measuring someone’s body fat percentage.

The best two methods available to a personal trainer or fitness professional is:

  • Calipers Body fat %
  • Electronic body fat %

Measuring body fat% using calipers

Body fat % Calipers

The skin fold calipers measure the thickness of a fold of your skin and its underlying fat. By taking skin fold measurements at four specific sites on the body you are able to estimate the body fat %.

When using the calipers first pinch the skin with your free hand and with out releasing the hand measure the skin fold with the calipers.

Be consistent with all your measuring techniques, come up with a method and stick to it.

Skin fold measurement positions for calipers:

Body fat % caliper points

  1. Triceps – Take the measurement halfway between the elbow and the top of the arm, measure the mid way point accurately with a tape.
  2. Biceps – again taken halfway.
  3. Sub scapular – taken just below the shoulder blade at a 45 degree angle
  4. Waist – This is taken just above the protrusion of the hip bone (the iliac crest)

Body fat % results table

Not total up the number if millimeters of skin folds across all 4 points you measured above. Use this number plus the age and gender of your subject to determine a accurate estimate of their body fat % from the tables below:

Body fat % table

Measuring the body fat% using an electronic tester

This method is very straight forward and the machine will usually talk you through it. It works on electrical impedance and is an accurate method for estimating body fat %.

I will talk you through using the bodystat 1500 which is one of the best in the industry:

Body fat % electronic

First connect the electrodes, this is really simple and you add two to the wrist and to the ankle. Next follow the instructions on the machine, I recommend watching the following video.

What does your Body fat % mean?

The following table will give you a rough idea of what your body fat % means. But remember use common sense when interpreting your body fat % results.

Body fat % results table