How to Measure Body Fat So You Can See Real Progress

Weight loss is a good goal to have, but fat loss is what we're really after. Unfortunately, the scale isn't going to be able to show you changes in body composition. It will only show you changes in mass (weight).

In order to measure your body composition, you need to take skin fold measurements. This will show you what amount of your body is fat, and how much is lean body mass.

This information is extremely valuable to have, as you could very well be losing fat without losing any weight. The scale can't show you this.

To take skin fold measurements you are going to need a skin fold caliper. The process involves pinching fat in various areas of your body and measuring it with a caliper. You then take this information and enter it into a calculator (provided at the end of this article) to see your total lean body mass and fat mass.

When pinching body fat at the various sites, you want to grab both the skin and fat between your index finger and thumb. Make sure you aren't grabbing the muscle. Then, place the caliper about 1cm below your fingers and take a measurement.

Skinfold Sites

Triceps

With your arm hanging to the side of your body, take a vertical fold halfway between the shoulder and elbow.

Chest

Take a diagonal pinch halfway between the armpit crease and nipple. (females use 1/3 of the way to the nipple)

Midaxilla

With your arm perpendicular to the floor, take a vertical fold where the nipple line intersects with center of the armpit.

Subscapula

Use a diagonal fold on the upper back just below the shoulder blade.

Abdomen

A vertical pinch about 1" to the right of your belly button.

Suprailiac

A diagonal pinch taken just above the protrusion of the hip bone.

Quads

Using a vertical fold, pinch halfway between the upper knee and hip crease.

Body Fat Calculator

The following body fat calculator will help you determine your body fat percentage, lean body mass, fat mass, and bone density. It uses a combination of the Jackson/Pollack and Siri formulas for its calculations. Enter your measurements into their corresponding boxes below.

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