How to measure your body fat percentage

If you’ve ever been to a gym, the topic that most of people talk about, after how much they lift, is body fat percentage. But what is it and why do people keep mentioning it? Well, the answer is simple; body fat percentage is one of the best indicators of progress when you’re exercising. In fact, most of people start a routine or a diet because they want to lose fat mass, not weight in general.

Measuring body fat percentage is not as easy as going up on a scale and read a number, but don’t worry, keep an eye on this reading and learn how to do it.

First of all, don’t expect something awesome. Depending on the method and the kind of caliper you use to measure, you’ll get a different result each time, so the best advice is to stick to the same method and use your first measurement as a reference point. The progress is seen in the change of this number, not in the amount per se.


The Formula

The most used and consistent method is the Jackson and Pollock Three Site Formula because is one of the easiest to perform and reproduce in the future. So get a nice fat measurement calipers and follow the instructions:

  1.   Pinch and pull a skinfold, this is because you need to “separate” fat tissue from the surroundings.
  2.   Put the caliper around 1cm to the side of your fingers.
  3.   Press the thumb pad of the caliper in order to make the two arrows line up
  4.   Be aware that the hashes on the caliper are spaces of two, once you know that, write the measurement down but don’t jump to conclusions just yet.
  5.   Repeat this procedure with the other two sites and calculate the average of the three measurements to have your final body percentage.

The three sites you’re going to test have been selected to be consistent in every person, that meaning that your composition won’t cause a great influence on the measurement. The sites where the test is run for men are not the same for women.

For men:

  • Thigh: the spot is located in the front, in the exact middle of hip and knee. Use a vertical fold.
  • Chest: you’ll go through an imaginary vertical line on the right nipple and reach the mid between the nipple and the crease of the armpit. Proceed to pinch diagonally.
  • Abdominal: the spot is located about 2.5 cm to the right of your navel. Pinch vertically.

           For women:

  • Suprailiac: It’s located right above the ridge of the hip bone below your armpit. Pinch diagonally
  • Thigh: This is the only coincidence with men, locate the mid between the knee and the hip and pinch vertically.
  • Triceps: Find the mid between the knob of your shoulder and your elbow and pinch vertically.

Depending on your gender, body fat percentage determines your condition, so be consistent with your procedures and keep a record.