How do I measure my body fat percentage with a body-fat calliper?

Postdate: 03 April 2018

Body fat percentage of your body sounds like something vague or abstract. Let alone that it is measurable in terms of numbers and size. However, this can be done with a skinfold calliper or bodyfat gauge. Tsuru Expert and cardiologist Dr Ruud van Langeveld explains what steps you need to follow to get the correct result.

Measuring fat
The skinfold calliper is a very handy and cheap gadget that can monitor changes in quantities of body fat very accurately.

Such a simple measurement can give you surprising insight. How much fat do you really carry with you? A small, skinny male can have more bodyfat than a taller, more muscular person. At a number of points of the body you gently measure the skinfold that the skinfold calliper – not much more than a small set of pliers - is holding. It is enough to do this in 3 different places on the body.

How do you take these measurements correctly?
1. Do it regularly: practice makes perfect. You will be able to do this quite reliably after a while.
2. Take a skinfold between two fingers and make sure that this includes your fat layer.
3. Pull the skinfold away from the underlying muscle tissues.
4. Place the calliper at 1 cm below your fingers that are holding the skinfold.
5. Don’t press too hard on the fold as you measure it. Gentle pressure is enough.
6. Always take the fold of skin along the same direction as the underlying muscle.

The most accurate way is to measure every fold 3 times. You then take the average figure.

Where to take the measurements?

For men:
Men can measure at various spots, namely at the chest, stomach and upper leg. For the chest, measure at the point halfway between the nipple and the armpit. Hold the skinfold slightly diagonally here.

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You can also do a vertical measurement on the stomach, 2 cm to the right of your navel.

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Finally, you can measure on the upper leg at a point halfway between the knee and the hip. Put your pinkie at the top of your knee and the tip of your thumb of the same hand above it. That is halfway vertically.

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For women

Women can measure bodyfat on the triceps, hip and upper leg. On the triceps, measure vertically halfway between the tip of the elbow and the upper edge of the shoulder.

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On the hip, measure diagonally at the edge of the pelvis.

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On the upper leg, measure vertically halfway between the knee and the hip.

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When you have done these measurements, you can determine if your level of body fat is healthy, too much or too little. What a ''healthy'' amount of body fat is, depends greatly on your gender and goals.

A reference tool to calculate this is this body fat calculator for instance.

References: Bodybuilding


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