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Getting lean means losing body fat without losing muscle, but simply standing on a scale won’t provide much information about your progress. There are several methods for measuring body fat. Some more accurate than others. Because most body fat is located directly under the skin, the skinfold caliper test is one of the most accurate ways to measure it. The test can be performed at home or administered in a gym. The caliper ranges in price from $20 to $30 on the low end to $400 for a high-quality instrument.

Step 1

Pinch your body fat gently with your thumb and forefinger and pull it away from your body. Choose a place on your body that’s easy to pinch, such as the area right above the hipbone on the abdomen, the iliac crest. If you’re using the Durnin and Womersley Method for measuring body fat, you’ll need to take measurements from four areas – biceps, triceps, subscapular and iliac crest.

Step 2

Using a skin fold caliper, clamp down on the pinched fat one to two centimeters away from your fingers to measure the thickness of the fat in millimeters.

Step 3

Press gently on the caliper until it clicks.

Step 4

Release the caliper and locate the reading on a chart that also displays age and gender.

Step 5

Repeat two more times at the same spot and take the average of the three readings to determine your body fat percentage. If you’re using the Durnin and Womersley Method for measuring body fat, you’ll need to take measurements from four areas – biceps, triceps, subscapular and iliac crest – and use a special formula to determine the final measurement.

Step 6

Repeat the measurement as often as you like thereafter to measure your progress, making sure to take the measurement from the same area each time.

Tips & Warnings

  • The more you practice, the higher the reliability of the measurements will be. The Durnim and Womersley method is just one of many methods for measuring body fat percentage.
  • For individuals more than 40 pounds overweight, the caliper may not be able to hold enough body fat.

Things You Need

  • Skin fold caliper

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