Lately I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Austin Green from No Nonsense Fitness Tips. Austin has a passion for helping men and women from all over the world get the body of their dreams without wasting countless hours at the gym. Austin kindly offered to write a guest article for noeXcusefitness, which I am sure that you will all enjoy. Here is Austin’s article on ‘How to find out your body fat percentage at home’.
You’re doing everything right, it’s your number 1 priority to get a better body. After a long week of healthy eating and proper exercise, you hop on the scale to see how much weight you lost. Your jaw drops, you cannot believe the number that’s staring back at you. After doing everything correctly, you somehow gained weight! Sound familiar? For someone that doesn’t measure their body fat percentage this can be extremely frustrating. You’d have no idea whether the weight gain was due to unhealthy fat or pure lean muscle. Well, it’s a good thing that measuring body fat percentage is extremely simple. No doctors needed. No expensive machines.
What is the Ideal Body Fat Percentage?
Men and women were created equal, but they were not created the same. Therefore men and women require different amounts of fat. Whether they choose to have children or not, evolution has designed the bodies of females to be able to support a fetus. Below is a chart originally published by the American Counsel on Exercise:
As you can see, there is a significant difference between men and women. It’s very possible that a woman can have more body fat than a man and still be in better shape.
The Best Way to Test Body Fat Percentage at Home
They now make scales that cost about 50-100 US Dollars (40-80 Euros) that supposedly measure your body fat accurately. They use something called Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA) for measurement. This is accomplished by sending an electrical signal through the body, that has difficulty passing through fat tissue. By using this reading, your gender, height, and weight, the scale can calculate your body fat percentage.
Although these scales sound practical, they are horribly inconsistent. Drinking a glass of water before stepping on the scale can alter your results by a few percentage points. Until the technology gets better, I would stay from these things.
Luckily, there’s another way to measure that’s cheaper and more effective. It’s called a skinfold caliper.
Using a Skinfold Caliper to Measure Body Fat
A skinfold caliper is a plastic device that measures the amount of body fat in a skin fold. It works by measuring the thickness of the fold of your skin in various locations. For a more accurate measurement, you’ll need someone to do this for you.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, this is the procedure for using the caliper:
- All measurements should be made on the right side of the body
- The caliper should be placed 1 cm away from thumb and finger, perpendicular to skinfold, and halfway between crest and base of fold
- Pinch should be maintained while reading the caliper
- Wait 1 to 2 seconds (and not longer) before reading caliper
- Take duplicate measures at each site and retest if duplicate measurements are not within 1 to 2 mm
- Rotate through measurement sites or allow time for skin to regain normal texture and thickness
To get the most accurate reading possible, it’s recommended to use the device on your chest, midaxillary, bicep, abdominal, suprailiac, thigh, calf, subscapular, tricep, and lower back.
Once you’ve measured all the necessary skinfolds, it’s time to get your results.
Using the calculator featured on this site you can see your results.
Use this % to track your progress
Remember, even the best body fat calipers aren’t 100% accurate. If the percentage is going down a little bit each week, then you’re doing well! Progress = Success.
Forget weight, for the next few weeks and only track this number
Instead of using your weight to determine success, for the next few weeks only measure your body fat percentage. You must be very consistent when doing this. I advise you to only take a measurement once a week at the same time of day.
For example, get measured every Saturday morning before you eat breakfast. Record this number and see how it changes from week to week. Some of you might find your weight going up and your BF% dropping. This means your putting on lean muscle and losing fat at the same time. Awesome!
If you still have some questions I recommend checking out this short video. It basically highlights all the info in this article.
The main point of this article is that weight does not always tell the full story. Most people don’t realize that you can track your progress by simply checking your body fat once a week. If you want to get even more simple, you can see your progress just by looking in the mirror.
The bottom line is if you look healthier and feel healthier, then you’re doing the right thing. Don’t feel discouraged by that number on the scale.
About the Author: Austin Green is a fitness fanatic and founder of No Nonsense Fitness Tips where he helps men and women from all over the world get the body of their dreams without wasting countless hours at the gym.