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How To Measure Your Bodyfat Percentage

There are several methods used for measuring body composition. These techniques may have a varying margin of error due to the skill of the tester, conditions of testing, equipment, etc.

Skinfold Measurement

Skinfold measurement is a method where fat fold measurements are taken and calculated into specific equations based on gender and age.

Using skinfold callipers is the least expensive and most convenient way of measuring bodyfat and tracking your progress.

There are numerous formulas used to measure bodyfat, some are more accurate then others. However, the main thing is to focus on improvement and adjust your eating training accordingly.

For example, if you were to measure your skinfold thickness on your triceps, hip, belly button, and thigh in millimetres and the total number of all measurements was 70 millimetres. If you measured again in a couple of weeks time and the total number was less then 70 millimetres then you know that you have lost bodyfat. Or if the total number was greater the 70 millimetres then you know you gained bodyfat.

Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a method of comparing height and weight on a chart to determine if a person falls into a low, moderate, or high category of risk for developing health problems.

The BMI only measures bodyweight compared to your height. So a muscular individual who has a very low bodyfat will show up on the BMI as being obese and unhealthy. At the same time another individual who has very little muscle mass and a high level of bodyfat may show up on the BMI as ideal and healthy.

The BMI is not an accurate method of measuring bodyfat and I do not recommend it.

Hydrostatic Weighing

Hydrostatic weighing is a method of determining bodyfat percentage from body density. Density is the ratio of body weight to body volume. Volume is determined by submerging the person in water and calculating their weight on dry land compared to their weight in water. Lung volume must also be measured during the actual weighing.

Hydrostatic weighing is a fairly accurate way to measure bodyfat, but it can be very expensive and it is not practical for use on a regular basis.

Hydrostatic Weighing

Infra Red & Electrical Impedance

This is a relatively new method for measuring bodyfat. It uses an infrared beam to measure the amount of bodyfat in your body. It is very accurate, but it is also very expensive.

How To Measure Your Bodyfat Percentage

The most practical method is the skinfold measurement. Here is the formula that recommend. Like I mentioned before, there are other formulas and if you wish to use them go right ahead. The main thing is to focus on improvements rather then the precise percentage.

Take skinfold measurements in millimetres at the following sites, you should get someone to help you take the measurements.

Triceps (directly on back of the arm)
Hip (one inch above hip bone)
Stomach (side of the belly button)
Thigh (right on the front of the middle thigh)

Calculate the sum total of all measurements.

Formula for men:

Bodyfat Percentage =
0.29288(sum of measurements) - 0.0005(sum of measurements)2 + 0.15845(age) - 5.76377

Formula for women:

Bodyfat Percentage =
0.29669(sum of measurements) - 0.00043(sum of measurements)2 + 0.02963(age) + 1.4072

Fat Weight = Bodyfat % X Scale weight

Lean Body Mass = scale weight - Fat weight

Measure your bodyfat once a week at most. When you weigh yourself and take your bodyfat measurements, take them the same time every week (i.e. every Saturday morning after using the washroom and before eating). Have the same person help you measure your skinfold measurements each time to ensure the most accurate reading.

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