How to Measure Your Body Fat at Home
Alright, so the first question that comes to mind is what your body fat percentage should be, right?
Well, here's a little table that should help with that:
Source: Tom Venuto's "How to Measure Your Body Fat"
That should give you an idea of your target body fat percentage, based on your goals & desired lifestyle. Now, let's get into how to measure your body fat, so you can start reaching your goal!
First off, it's important to note that there are 3 major methods for measuring body fat:
1) Measurements & Calculator
2) Skinfold Testing (Caliper)
3) Body Fat Scales
All three of these methods have their advantages & disadvantages, so let's discuss them so you can start keeping track of your fitness goals on a daily basis...
1) Measurements & Calculator:
This is the cheapest & quickest method for measuring body fat percentage. However, it is the least accurate of them all. That said, it can still be quite useful if you stick with it. With all of these methods, the key is not the number they provide, but the change in the number over time! In other words, if one method reads 17.8% now, and 15.4% a month later, your body fat improved, no matter how accurate the technique was to begin with.
Because of this, I like to use the cheapest, easiest methods available, and doing a couple quick body measurements and popping them into a calculator like the one below is pretty easy (and free).
Be sure to measure as accurately as you can with a simple tape measure. Take your shoes and socks off for the height measurement, and measure your waist at the fold of your skin (when you bend to the side), just below your ribs. Lastly, if you're female, measure your hips at the bones, at the largest horizontal area. (This is not a necessary measurement for males.)
While this is nowhere near as accurate as the incredibly-inconvenient underwater "hydrostatic" test, it is sufficient when used consistently. Whatever method you pick from the three, be sure to stick to it to at least obtain a fairly accurate measure of the decrease in your body fat.
2) Skinfold Testing (Caliper)
This is a more accurate body fat measurement technique than taking body measurements and entering them into a calculator like the one above. That said, it is more expensive: typical calipers cost anywhere from $20-$500 and up!
Most people go for something around the $40-$150 range, depending on their needs. Health clubs will usually use calipers like the Harpenden, which cost between $350-$500!
So how does this test work? Well, unfortunately, if you want this to be a private thing, you might not like this technique. Testing with calipers requires someone else to perform the test for you, pinching folds of your skin and measuring them.
This is the most accurate form of home testing, so it can be worth it if you are curious to find out your true body fat percentage. However, I don't like that it's so inconvenient. This is not something I can do every morning when I wake up, or after workouts on my own, so I don't plan to use this technique until I'm back under 10% body fat. I hope those factors help you make your decision...
Speaking of being able to test your body fat privately every morning, this is what I use:
3) Body Fat Digital Scale
Alright alright...I'll admit: the digital scales that measure body fat are NOT as accurate as the skinfold caliper method. But, I will say that because I can use my scale so consistently, and in private, it is my favorite way to see the change in my body fat percentage over time.
There are far too many factors at work when trying to measure body fat (like current water intake, digestion process and more) so it's nice to know that testing every day removes some of the bias.
You might be wondering how these work: these digital scales send a small pulse of electricity through your body (don't worry, it doesn't hurt), which is analyzed when it returns to the scale. The reason this is less accurate than the skinfold caliper method is that these scales can only truly measure your body fat in the lower-half or so of your body, because the pulse cannot go further.
Even still, for a steady measurement of your body fat over time, the most convenient method is to use a digital scale. I bought a HoMedics HealthStation, and it works great. However, as I continue to reach my goal of breaking the 10% body fat threshold again, I plan to purchase a caliper to more accurately measure my body fat.
Don't Just Measure Body Fat: IMPROVE!
Whatever you do, don't just get some warm, fuzzy feeling from making an effort to track your results. It's seriously the worst thing you can do. The key with measuring your body fat is to get a better idea of how your body is changing over time.
Set a goal that's healthy for your body, and measure along the way to reach your goal.
Remember, though, that actually seeing an improvement won't come from spending $300 on a caliper: your body fat will only decrease by consistently following a workout routine and meal plan.
If you want to learn the details on how to measure body fat AND pick up a sweet workout schedule/nutrition plan to see some real results, check out "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle":
Tom Venuto, the ripped dude below, is the author of "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle", and he wrote a 26-page report called "How to Measure Your Body Fat From the Privacy of Your Own Home". It comes with "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle", and it is the guide that taught me everything I know about measuring body fat properly.
Like I said before, simply being able to measure body fat means nothing without a workout routine & meal plan to follow that can actually help you bring the percentage closer and closer to your goal.
Tom's BurnTheFat.com website has the best collection of reports on measuring your body fat, and decreasing it the healthy way, I've ever found.
The main ebook (PDF file you can get on your computer right when you buy it, without waiting for shipping!) is a stacked 341-page guide with an answer to every fitness question you have ever wanted to ask, and the bonus reports cover specific nutrition plans to suit you (and details on measuring body fat).
The only thing I did not like about "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle" was that it didn't include very much information in the way of muscle gain & strength increase, like some of the other programs I've purchased. Also, it was daunting seeing so many pages to read, but I found it really helpful to use as a reference manual. Before I knew it, I had scanned the book and taken some quick reference notes that I refer to all the time.
In the end, $39.95 was VERY worth the knowledge I gained from investing in "Burn the Fat" from Tom, because he clearly knows a thing or two about reducing body fat (3.7%? Wow!). =)
Don't just go off and start measuring your body fat aimlessly! Learn more of the details from Tom and make the healthiest decision for you body, then use the info in "Burn the Fat" to take action and get the results you've been wanting:
I hope you enjoyed this article!
Have a fantastic day, and good luck getting your body fat to the level you want,