Body Fat Calipers: When & How To Measure

There are a number of ways to measure weight loss progress, and the most commonly used methods are the bathroom scale and a tape measure. However, there are other body fat reading indicators to consider using, including body fat calipers.

Losing Fat Means Gaining Muscle Weight

By exercising, an individual will lose fat weight and gain muscle weight. This is beneficial since muscle burns calories faster. However, this change will not be reflected on the bathroom scale reading. It will actually show a weight gain, not loss.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is one method for measuring a person’s body fat percentage by using height and weight measurements. It is reportedly 98 percent accurate by experts.

Skin Fold Measurements

Calipers are devices used to measure the thickness of skin folds at various parts of the body. The body fat percentage is calculated using a basic mathematical tabulation. The use of body fat calipers is  a highly accurate method for determining body fat loss. This method is also simple, requiring just one skin fold measurement above the right hip bone and consulting a body fat caliper chart to estimate the body fat percentage.

A skin fold measurement is done by pinching the skin, pulling it away from the body and with slight pressure and applying the caliper until it clicks. Although only one reading is necessary to calculate the body fat percentage, a more accurate determination of weight loss is done by measuring several locations with the help of a trained expert.

Measurement Formulas

The following areas are used to calculate the body fat percentage:

  1. Supra-iliac – a diagonal fold 1 inch above the hip bone
  2. Triceps – a vertical fold halfway between the elbow and the shoulder
  3. Biceps – a vertical fold halfway between the crease of the elbow and the crease of the shoulder
  4. Sub-scapular – a diagonal fold 1 inch below the lower angle of the shoulder blade
  5. Thigh – a diagonal fold taken in the middle of the thigh between the crease of the hip and the upper knee cap
  6. Abdomen – a vertical fold 1 inch to the side of the belly button
  7. Mid Auxiliary – a horizontal fold under the armpit in line with the upper sternum
  8. Chest – a diagonal fold taken halfway the distance between the nipple and the armpit for men and a third of the way for women

An accurate body fat percentage calculation can be done by using just the first four measurements in the above list.


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