Changing your balance of fat to muscle tissue is the goal of most people who workout. It’s another way to measure the progress you’ve made. You have to measure body fat as accurately as possible, but still keeping within the easy access to that technique, so you’ll do it. Consider how much more frequently you weigh yourself, rather than take measurements. You need an easy, yet accurate technique to assess the amount of body fat so you’ll stick with a schedule.
One of the simplest ways to measure body fat is with body circumference measurements.
Certain measurements can tell you approximately how much body fat you have. There’s a formula that’s used in the military for calculating body fat that uses height, age and circumference measurements. The neck and waist circumferences are measured in men, while the hips, neck and waist are measure for women to calculate body fat. This technique is easy to do and has relatively accurate results.
Can you pinch that inch?
Consider skinfold calipers if you want an inexpensive, yet still relatively accurate way to measure your body subcutaneous fat. Skinfold calipers measure just how much fat is underneath the skin at three to seven sites. The sites differ based on sex. For men, the site include the chest, thigh and abdomen at a minimal and can also include the triceps, area under the scapula and chest. For women, the minimal site measurements include the triceps, hip bone and abdomen or thigh and can include the chest, armpit and shoulder blade area. You can take measurements quickly, but does take a little practice learning the right spot to measure.
You won’t be able to take measurements at home if you use the multi-compartment testers.
You’ll get a whole lot of information from a multi-compartment type of tester. It assesses the body by dividing it into three or four compartment types of models. The testing takes the body volume, water, bone content and mass by using other types of testing, such as hydrostatic weighing. It then combines all the information to a more in depth picture of body percentage. This is the most accurate way to take a measurement of body fat, but also not normally available to the public. That amount of accuracy isn’t normally necessary for most people. It’ normally used only for medical facilities.
- 3-D body scanners are simple to use and relatively accurate. However, there are few consumer grade models that are available and affordable. As they grow in popularity, expect that to change.
- Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis–BIA, Bio impedance Spectroscope—BIS—and Electrical Impedance Myography—EIM—all use electric current to help predict the amount of body fat you have. All three are quick and easy, but only BIA and EIM has devices you can purchase.
- Consider hydrostatic weighing. Hydrostatic weighing submerges you under water after you exhale and then weighs you. It requires you to hold your breath under water after exhaling all the air in your lungs. It’s not normally available, except at medical centers.
- Air Displacement Plethysmography, such as the Bod Pod, is accurate and uses air displacement to measure the amount of fat. It measures air pressure and volume. These machines are accurate, but not readily available.