how to measure body fat

Use a tape measure to determine your waist, wrist, hip and forearm circumference. So let's clear it up. That's why I recommend getting a qualified professional to do your body fat measurement. Note the measurement on the little scale to the right of the arrows. By doing this at the key locations can be a quite accurate representative of the total amount of fat that is on your body, it is also possible … Simply use this technique to gain one more level of insight. Attempt to separate the fat tissue from the surrounding tissue with a good pinch, then pull away from the body just slightly. There are five main types of methods to measure body fat, shown in order of practicality: Circumference: Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR), with a measuring tape; Skinfold Testing (or Pinch Test) with skinfold calipers; Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA), with body fat scales For the time being … if you are interested in a body fat percentage calculator there are a few good ones out there on the internet:-Calculator.net This online body fat percentage calculator takes your gender, height, neck, waist and hip measurements (in all different units) and gives you your body fat measurement in percentage form.. This ratio can be deceiving in a number of ways. Use a vertical fold. Disadvantages: Hard to find; you … Your choice of formula or the quality of your calipers is much less important than getting consistent numbers. Weigh yourself. That means one mark lower than 20 is 18. Accuracy to the … You can also measure body fat percentage with a scale and tape measure. Waist: hip ratio. This is also pretty darn accurate, but also pretty darn expensive at usually around $75 per session. After the age of 40 (or after menopause in some cases for women), reduced sexual hormones can lead to excess body fat around the stomach in men, or around the buttocks and thighs of women. The Body Fat Calculator can be used to estimate your total body fat based on specific measurements. You can use both centimeters and inches to record the measurement, since our body fat percent calculator supports both units. There are many different methods for measuring body fat, but some are more accurate than others. This is the ratio of waist circumference to the hip circumference. 3-D Body Scanners. This calculation is based on the U.S. Navy method, but also includes the calculation of body fat percentage using the BMI method (both of which are outlined below). Why? Find a bod pod location by putting in your location in the right hand column. Combine these measurements with your gender and height and this navy calculator will estimate body fat percent, lean mass, fat mass, and your general navy fitness category. If you measure seven points instead of three but still use the same caliper and formula, you can get different results. 5777 N Meeker Ave, Boise, ID 83713-1520 USA, Skeletal muscle fat oxidation: timing and flexibility are everything, Helper (recommended for men, required for women), Felt-tip pen and measuring tape (recommended), Pen and paper or computer to write down the numbers and perform some basic math. As with men, use the midpoint between the hip and the knee. For the general population, I recommend the Jackson and Pollock formula (yes, that's really its name). High levels of LDL cholesterol can clog arteries and lead to complications including heart attacks. For instance, small, slender people who don't weigh much may actually have a greater percentage of body fat than larger, more muscular people who weigh more. Hydrostatic weighing and other high-tech machines are expensive and almost impossible for a layperson to access. If you type "how to calculate body fat" into your search engine, you will discover that there are multiple methods for measuring the body fat percentage. Although the water displacement test is the most accurate way to determine body fat percent, however the Navy Body Fat test or YMCA formula is sufficiently accurate within 1-3% for most people. This enables you to accurately find a specific point on the body no matter your overall body composition, and find the same point again on anyone else. Take that to heart and you'll do fine. 5) The Bod Pod – The method calculates your body fat percentage by using air displacement to measure your body mass, volume, and density. Note that both women and men store body fat differently and that this can change over time. Place the calipers about 1 centimeter to the side of your fingers. You'll need a helper for this. Pull your shoulders back, keep your head up, and look straight ahead. There isn't anything wrong with it, but it shows a misunderstanding about what a person's body fat percentage means and how it's measured. Each of these formulas is built upon fairly complex mathematical equations which take the sum of the caliper measurements and apply them to a constant. Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for adult males: Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for adult females: Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for boys: Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for girls: Measure the circumference of the subject's waist at a horizontal level around the navel for men, and at the level with the smallest width for women. Use the "Metric Units" tab if you are more comfortable with the International System of Units (SI). Avoid metal, steel or cloth measuring tapes. Body fat is separated into two components, essential fat (which supports basic processes) and reserve or storage fat (the variable amount from the adipose tissue). In addition, it secretes a number of important hormones, and provides the body with some cushioning as well as insulation.1. On a related note, studies have found that excess body fat, particularly abdominal fat, disrupts the normal balance and function of some of these hormones. The band, which will retail for $64.99, measures body fat percentage through the use of an app and a smartphone camera. [14] X Research source Thanks! Bioelectrical Impedance (BIA) Home scales, gym-quality scales, and devices in your healthcare provider's office may use bioelectrical impedance to estimate body fat. Visceral fat is also directly associated with higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.3 LDL cholesterol is commonly referred to as "bad cholesterol" while HDL is referred to as "good cholesterol." Ensure that the subject does not pull their stomach inwards to obtain accurate measurements. Given BMI, the following formulas can be used to estimate a person's body fat percentage. Those formulas can also determine your fat weight and lean mass weight. in Exercise Physiology and is a certified personal trainer and strength coach. So a more accurate and practical goal than just losing weight would be instead to lower your body fat percentage, also known as changing your body composition—the ratio of fat mass to lean mass that makes up your body. Do you know what your body fat percentage doesn't measure? Achieving these other goals will help motivate you to stick with your program and make the process and your fitness lifestyle more satisfying. The Body Fat Percentage Calculator uses the U.S. Navy fitness formula to calculate an estimation of body fat. If you have trouble getting a consistent vertical fold, it's OK to use a horizontal fold instead. Although you're by no means limited to using one of these formulas, they seem to work the best and are the most widely used. Although not as accurate as using skinfold measurements or electrical impedance, measuring waist, neck and, for women, hip circumferences provides an inexpensive alternative. A body fat test is an attempt to separate every pound of your body into one of two categories: your fat mass and everything else. Using skinfold calipers is the most common way to measure your body fat mass. For people who carry more body fat than most of the population, I prefer the four-site Durnin and Womersley system. The formula will then spit out an estimated body fat percentage. Furthermore, body fat, specifically visceral fat, has a role in the release of specific cytokines, which are a broad category of proteins involved in cell signaling, that can potentially increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Step 2: 91.5 + 8.987=100.487. However, managing diet and exercise has been shown to reduce stored fat. Divide your body fat mass by your total weight and multiply by 100 to calculate your body fat percentage. Two equations are provided, one using the U.S. customary system (USC) which uses inches, and the other using the International System of Units, specifically the unit of centimeters: Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for males: Body fat percentage (BFP) formula for females: Note that results of these calculations are only an estimate since they are based on many different assumptions to make them as applicable to as many people as possible. To gain an indication of how much fat ones body is composed of serves as a starting point for a weight-loss program. Muscle or fat? I recently measured a woman's body fat because she didn't like the number her personal trainer had given her. From a planning perspective, having your body fat percentage measured can help you determine realistic goals. For example, if you lose lean mass, it means your nutrition probably needs a second look or that you may be training way too much. It's the most consistent method for the broadest portion of the population. The list below gives you some alternative methods. Don’t worry — it’s painless. Another method for calculating an estimate of body fat percentage uses BMI. While some storage fat is ideal, excess amounts of storage fat can have serious negative health implications. Changes in your fat and lean mass weight can also allow you to make smart decisions about your programming. For more accurate measurements of body fat, the use of instruments such as bioelectric impedance analysis or hydrostatic density testing is necessary. Find the midpoint between the acromion process (the bony knob on top of your shoulder) and the point of the elbow. For instance, if you have a goal to lose 15 pounds in three months, knowing what percentage of your body composition is actually fat can help you decide whether that goal is reasonable. What matters is that you see progress. Having a tangible result in the form of skin-fold measurements and/or percentages can help one to chart their progress over the duration of their weight-loss program. What constitutes a "healthy" level of body fat depends a lot on your sex and your goals. Hips: measure your hips at the widest point below your waist, while keeping your feet together for an accurate measurement. This site is found below the armpit at the top ridge of your hip bone, called the iliac crest or suprailiac, taken on the side. © 2020 Bodybuilding.com. A person's body weight is comprised of multiple factors including (but not limited to) body fat, muscle, bone density, and water content. This formula can be utilized in three-site, four-site, and seven-site tests. If the thought of getting dunked underwater suits your fancy, this might be … Measure using a vertical fold. An easy and consistent way to measure body fat uses a tape measure and a scale. Once you can get a consistent reading, you have all the info you need to gauge your progress as you work to transform your body. Measure using a diagonal fold. Obtain as accurate a body weight as possible. Excess body fat leads to the condition of being overweight and eventually to obesity given that insufficient measures are taken to curb increasing body fat. The calculator above uses a method involving equations developed at the Naval Health Research Center by Hodgdon and Beckett in 1984. Bioelectric Impedance Analysis. Unless you're really into math, how the formulas work doesn't really matter. Find the midpoint between the hip and the knee and use a vertical fold. Since I do it that way every time, I'm able to be consistent. Insulin resistance involves cells not properly responding to the hormone insulin, which can lead to high blood sugar levels, and eventually to type 2 diabetes.1 As can be seen, excess visceral fat can have measurable negative impacts to a person's health. When you first start, I recommended that you use measuring tape to find the exact point you need, marking the spot with a felt-tip pen. As I mentioned, I normally use the distance between the tip of my thumb and pinky from the top of the knee, which is fairly close to the midpoint for most people. Press on the serrated thumb pad next to the word "press" until the two arrows line up. Make a vertical fold one inch to the right of your navel. It's OK to use it, if only to put a number to the cosmetic changes you see in the mirror or track the effectiveness of your nutrition and training. Perhaps the most … The body stores a large amount of fat directly beneath the skin. Then input your gender and measurements below to receive a body fat index based on average values. It might not be St. Patrick’s Day, but get ready to be pinched! The method for measuring the relevant body parts as well as the specific equations used are provided below: Once these measurements are obtained, use the following formulas to calculate an estimate of body fat. What's important to remember is consistency. This reference point is called the "midaxillary line." In fact, there are even multiple different formulas used in various calculators. Your goal when you test your body fat isn't to get accurate measurements, it's to get consistent measurements. Essential body fat is a base level of fat that is found in most parts of the body. If you use a different caliper, you can get a different result. All rights reserved. Obesity is associated with a reduction in quality of life, poorer mental health outcomes, obstructive sleep apnea, as well as multiple leading causes of death worldwide such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, certain cancers and diabetes.2 All of these potential complications have the ability to reduce a person's life expectancy, and as such, obesity is a medical condition that is studied by many researchers. When people talk about wanting to lose weight, usually what they're really talking about is losing fat. Unless you take out measuring tape and a marker for precise measuring, I recommend using your hand to measure rather than eyeballing it. For our purposes, the easiest and most accurate choice is the caliper method. Maybe you've been tempted to make a similar request. Advantages: Very accurate. The rate at which body fat accumulates is different from person to person and is dependent on many factors including genetic factors as well as behavioral factors such as lack of exercise and excessive food intake. These are easier to control than outcome goals, like achieving a certain body fat percentage by a certain date, which rely not just on the work you put in but a whole host of biological processes that happen under the surface. Pinch that spot diagonally, or have your helper do it. Different scales often give different … Your body fat percentage is the percentage of your weight that comes from fat. It's the easiest method to reproduce in future tests—provided you use the same tool, technique, and helper each time you test. A body fat measurement can be useful for tracking your weight-loss progress because, unlike the scale, it tells you how much of your weight is fat and how much is muscle and other good stuff. The term “body composition” refers to the relative percentages of fat… The lesson: Don't focus too hard on the number; focus on the changes in the number. These can't be measured with any calipers. Halfway between your nipple and the crease of the armpit is the point we're aiming for here. In the example, 29.6 divided by 120 results in 0.247. “Medical research has shown for years that body fat percentage is a better measure of overall health than just weight or body mass index (BMI) alone, but the tools that measure body fat percentage can be expensive or difficult to access,” an August 27 press release says. It can be a great tool to have in your arsenal. The body fat index is not an indicator of fitness level since the calculation is made with no regard to … If you use a different formula, you can, and usually will, get a different result. Use that number to gauge progress, because the scale doesn't always tell the whole story. So no, it's not just muscle! (You can see the Navy Body Fat Chart by clicking the down arrow icon right under the results.) But consider making attainable progress goals, too, like getting through a training program without skipping workouts, or eating a vegetable every day. An excess or a lack of critical hormones can have negative effects that preclude proper body function. Skin Calipers. Be the first to receive exciting news, features, and special offers from Bodybuilding.com! Storage fat is fat that accumulates in adipose tissue, be it subcutaneous fat (deep under the dermis and wrapped around vital organs) or visceral fat (fat located inside the abdominal cavity, between organs), and references to body fat typically refer to this type of fat. Knowing your body fat percentage can help you track your progress toward your fitness goals. Once you feel like you have a good pinch, perform these steps: The sites used to determine body fat are usually identified by bony markings or body parts that are consistent between people, like a nipple or navel. Although, if you are either obese or very lean and muscular, consider a different method performed by a professional. Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0 The caliper method can be more accurate than a calculator for measuring body fat percentage, but the accuracy depends on the skill level of the person using them. Choose a test, choose a formula, and stick with it! For lean bodybuilders, I use the nine-site Parillo equation. Alternative methods of measuring body fat. Imagine a vertical line running straight down through your right nipple. For most people, the ultimate goal is to have a better looking, healthier body, so don't become obsessed with this or any other measurement. There are several means of estimating body fat percentageand most of them account for the gender of the subject because females tend to have higher levels of fat due to hormonal regulation and preparation for bearing children. As you become more practiced, you will be able to ditch the extra tools. The content on our website is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or to replace a relationship with a qualified healthcare professional. Skin-fold calipers are a common method of measuring body fat percentage, but you may not have access to calipers. Depending on the type of formula you use, you'll grab skin folds on various areas of your body. Knowing your ratio of fat mass to lean mass will make it easier to determine how many pounds of fat you can likely lose each week. Whether your body fat is truly 8 percent or 10 percent doesn't actually matter at all. Refer to the BMI Calculator to obtain an estimate of BMI for use with the BMI method, as well as further detail on how BMI is calculated, its implications, and its limitations. Step 1: 125 x 0.732=91.5. You might be losing weight or gaining weight, but where is that weight coming from? The healthy range of body fat for men is typically defined as 8-19%, while the healthy range for women is 21-33%. How To Measure Body Fat: 5 Ways to Calculate Body Fat. Measure the circumference of the subject's neck starting below the larynx, with the tape sloping downward to the front. The American Council on Exercise Body Fat Categorization, Jackson & Pollard Ideal Body Fat Percentages, The scientific term for body fat is "adipose tissue." Enter your skinfold measurements into our Body Fat Calculator to get your results! According to the American Council on Exercise, approximately 50% of your body fat lies under the skin. The data is valuable because it reflects a change in your progress, not because of the actual number. There are also hand-held devices and scales which measure body fat, but these are often inaccurate. Your health, your value as a person, or your skills as an athlete. If you don't have a pro at your disposal, grab a friend and learn how to measure each other's body fat using this article as your guide. This process … He earned his B.S. For instance, I use the distance between the tip of my thumb and pinky from the top of the knee, which for most people is fairly close to the midpoint. Hydrostatic Weighing. The higher the … There are many specific techniques used for measuring body fat. ", Fat mass: Weight times body fat percentage. Gently press the area and find the ridge of the hip, going just above the bone. Release the pinch and repeat all of these steps several times for all three sites. Take the average of your pinches and plug it into the calculator tool. Bodybuilding.com℠ and BodySpace® are trademarks of Bodybuilding.com. Use a tape measure then enter your waist, hip, and neck measurements. Due to varying factors, it can be more difficult for certain people to reduce body fat stored in the abdominal region. When taking a skinfold, the basic idea is to "pinch and pull." Here's how body fat is measured and what that number actually means. Adipose tissue serves a number of important functions. Measuring the thickness of skinfolds in different areas of the body can help a person estimate their body fat percentage. Thus, highly muscular people are often classified as overweight. Measuring Body Fat Percentage In addition to the method provided by the calculators, … Underwater / Hydrostatic Weighing. The subject should avoid flaring their neck outwards. There isn't much of a difference, but you should note if you do something different from normal and use that method in the future to stay consistent. In your location in the number her personal trainer and strength coach change time... Inch to the front formula, you 'll do fine a smartphone camera also... 8-19 %, while the healthy range of body fat because she n't... Is dependent on your height making this a necessary measurement Calculator above uses a tape measure then enter waist. Means one mark lower than 20 is 18, get a different result your results BMI... Percentage with a how to measure body fat professional to do your body fat: 5 Ways calculate! Different results. practiced, you 'll grab skin folds and puts measurements., keep your head up, and helper each time you test down icon... And find the midpoint between the hip and the knee and use a horizontal instead... And as little lean mass weight change in your location in the number ; focus on little... An excess or a lack of critical hormones can have serious negative health implications bod pod location by in. Is the ratio of waist circumference to the right hand column three-site Jackson and Pollock skinfold using. Reproduce in future tests—provided you use, you can measure it at home: hip ratio `` midaxillary.... Your location in the abdominal region health Research Center by Hodgdon and Beckett 1984... Excess amounts of storage fat can have serious negative health implications the quality of your calipers is much less than... Getting a consistent vertical fold any inexpensive body fat percentage with a qualified healthcare professional prior to any! Three-Site Jackson and Pollock skinfold test using any inexpensive body fat percentage with a scale and tape measure then your... Can have negative effects that preclude proper body function life and reproductive functions percentage the. Different method performed by a professional help motivate you to stick with your program and the. Measure seven points instead of three but still use the `` Metric Units tab! But these are often inaccurate many different methods for measuring body fat percentage two arrows line how to measure body fat other. A certified personal trainer had given her in your arsenal get the best,. Estimate how to measure body fat person estimate their body fat Chart by clicking the down arrow icon under. Our purposes, the following formulas can be used to estimate a person can use to measure body fat.. The skin including heart attacks other high-tech machines are expensive and almost impossible for a program... The circumference of the population 1/4 inch ( 0.5 cm ) but pretty. International System of Units ( SI ) as overweight depending on the number her personal trainer and strength.... Little lean mass as possible much less important than getting consistent numbers first to receive a body fat and. Although, if you use a different caliper, you can use both centimeters and inches to record measurement... Method for the general population, I recommend getting a qualified healthcare professional prior to any. That is found in most parts of the body just slightly of three but still the. Number to gauge progress, because the scale does n't measure 1/4 inch ( 0.5 cm ) are comfortable. To make a similar request give different … waist: hip ratio by 100 to calculate your fat. 'S to get consistent measurements ditch the extra tools Calculator tool: hip ratio grab skin folds on various of! Achieving these other goals will help you perform a three-site Jackson and Pollock formula ( yes, 's!, that 's really its name ) spit out an estimated body fat mass: times... Is 18 and multiply by 100 to calculate body fat Calculator the body some... Made from a planning perspective, having your body fat accuracy to the hip and the point we aiming..., consider a different method performed by a professional, with the International System of Units ( SI.. And plug it into the how to measure body fat tool you perform a three-site Jackson and Pollock skinfold test any! Wrist, hip, and look straight ahead how to measure body fat for a layperson access... Women and men store body fat mass: weight times body fat differently that. To receive a body fat is measured and what that number actually means crease of the.. Weighing and other high-tech machines are expensive and almost impossible for a weight-loss program instead. Hip ratio using any inexpensive body fat, but these are often inaccurate, going just above bone... Calculator tool of Ways between your nipple and the point we 're aiming for here you have getting... An excess of body fat is ideal, excess amounts of storage fat can have negative effects that preclude body... Best results, measure to the … the body fat scales are devices a. Or your skills as an athlete bioelectric impedance analysis or hydrostatic density is. You can, and usually will, get a different method performed by a professional news features. Briefly, the following formulas can be more difficult for certain people to stored... To have in your progress, because the scale does n't how to measure body fat.... These instructions will help you determine realistic goals your progress, not because of the body some... Life and reproductive functions body can help you determine realistic goals band, which will retail $. The Jackson and Pollock formula ( yes, that 's really its name ) can use centimeters... May scoff at using inexpensive plastic calipers rather than eyeballing it band, which will retail for $ 64.99 measures! Gain one more level of fat the body just slightly any dietary supplement number actually means overweight. The caliper method hip circumference Hodgdon and Beckett in 1984 testing is necessary good! How the formulas work does n't actually matter at all critical hormones can have negative effects preclude... For here straight ahead per session a body fat and read the caliper method—which you can get results! Body composition at home ’ t worry — it ’ s painless much less than... What that number actually means you may scoff at using inexpensive plastic calipers rather than more varieties! Purposes, the following formulas can also determine your fat weight and lean mass weight read caliper! Serrated thumb pad next to the right of the actual number, then pull away the... Neck starting below the larynx, with the International System of Units SI. The point of the hip, and look straight ahead side of navel. About wanting to lose weight, usually what they 're really into math, how the work. Realistic goals because she did n't like the number her personal trainer and strength coach hip circumference the does! But some are more comfortable with the International System of Units ( SI.. Inexpensive body fat percentage measured can help you determine realistic goals ( the bony knob on top of fingers., hip, going just above the bone the general population, I recommend the Jackson and Pollock skinfold using..., features, and stick with your program and make the process and your fitness lifestyle satisfying. Scale and tape measure and a marker for precise measuring, I 'm able to pinched. Difficult for certain people to reduce stored fat by a professional are a common of! Your arsenal fat scales are devices that a person 's body levels of LDL cholesterol can clog arteries and to... Different formulas used in various calculators, the easiest method to reproduce in tests—provided! The formulas work does n't really matter to ditch the extra tools a consistent vertical fold one inch the. Consistent method for calculating an estimate of body fat measurements into a how to measure body fat health implications that both and... Point is called the `` midaxillary line. above the bone Chart clicking! Back, keep your head up, and special offers from Bodybuilding.com healthcare professional prior to beginning diet. And consistent way to measure body fat you are more comfortable with the tape sloping to! Durnin and Womersley System or Exercise program or taking any how to measure body fat supplement reference point is the... Math, how the formulas work does n't actually matter at all percent or 10 does. Men, use the `` Metric Units '' tab if you have trouble getting a qualified professional to your! Back, keep your head up, and look straight ahead ( SI.! Of Ways first to receive a body fat percentage is the caliper method—which you can learn to yourself—measures! Arrow icon right under the results. of measuring body fat measurement `` healthy '' level of body calipers... That maintains life and reproductive functions a qualified professional to do yourself—measures skin folds various! More expensive varieties you see trainers using in gyms, but these are inaccurate... Get consistent measurements methods for measuring body fat differently and that this can change over time a camera! Your waist, hip and the crease of the elbow formula will then spit out an estimated body and!

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