Weight and Resistance Training - skin fold calipers

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05-01-2009, 03:54 AM
I wasn't sure where to put this, so I thought I would try it here.

Anyone have any info on how accurate the skin fold caliper technique for measuring body fat % is?

I had my personal trainer do my last one, but was thinking about buying some myself and attempting this.

Any info is appreciated. :)


05-01-2009, 07:54 AM

Calipers are less accurate than the dunk tank test (and autopsy), but more accurate than body fat scales (e.g., Tanita's) or weight/hip ratio algorithms.

There is a skill to caliper testing -- you need to know where to test, how to relax, how hard to squeeze, etc. And some protocols require you to measure BF over the scapula, which is a bit tough to do yourself! Caliper readings will vary from tester to tester on the same subject, and also depending on the subject's level of hydration.

My point is that if you're just looking for a way to track your progress, it's fine to test yourself. But, don't take these numbers as "real" in any absolute sense -- just pay attention to the change from month to month or year to year. (BF% also changes more slowly than weight, so don't get discouraged!)

Be strong,

05-01-2009, 08:43 AM
With a skilled, experienced tester, a 9 point skin fold caliper test is really quite accurate. However, the emphasis is on skilled, experienced and 9 point. You CANNOT do a 9 point test on yourself, and if you do the three point, self-testing inclination is to squeeze as tightly as possible. For TRENDS, the body fat scales or hand held gizmos do just fine. So does a tight pair of jeans :)


05-01-2009, 01:34 PM
Thanks for the info. :) I've read about the dunk tanks. I really want to use it as a guide as I'm approaching my goal to determine how much body fat I have remaining. I'd like to see if I do have excess fat/skin, whether continuing to cut and lose additional fat would be necessary or if it'll just be a waiting game to see what my skin will do.

I may try to find somewhere to get a dunk tank measurement later on. Right now I'll probably just stick to keeping up with my measurements.

Thanks again :)