Body fat calipers are designed to measure skinfolds to determine how much subcutaneous fat or fat under the skin someone has. The numbers put into an equation from the caliper measurements are used to predict body density and fat percentages. Do note that body fat calipers do not measure body fat percentage directly they are a tool that gives an approximate number to input into equations. If you want to know how to measure body fat. Use a body fat caliper to monitor progress on a weight reduction program and check to see how you are progressing over time.
Using a Body Fat Caliper
When using a body fat caliper you need to measure skin folds in at least four different places. Use those measurements and plug them into a formula that either comes with the caliper or by searching on the web for calculating tables. There hundreds of equations you can use, but if you use the wrong equation or formula the body fat caliper becomes useless for predicting body fat percentages. Each equation and scenario relates to a different body type. For example, younger people store one half of their body fat under the skin and as you age a greater proportion of body fats are stored internally. Fitness levels, race, gender and the amount of body fat a person has all make a difference in using a body fat caliper.
There are ways to use the body fat caliper without using the wrong equation. One easy way would be not to use any equation at all. Instead take skin fold measurements and monitor changes over time. Other ways that the body fat caliper can be different from one person to another is the expertise of the tester. You may find that certified nutritionists, personal trainers and gym personnel all take measurements differently. These measurements provide a bench mark to begin developing an exercise program.
If you are being tested watch the examiner. If they take their time and mark each fold, in addition to using a ruler then the examiner may be highly experienced and is taking their time to get it “right.” You can also test your own body fat by using body fat calipers that are simple to use and recommended by body bodybuilders and medical practitioners.
Body fat calipers should be used when measuring progress. Avoid comparing body fat percentages to tables or supposedly normal readings. For greater accuracy monitor changes with skin fold measurements and rather than self testing use the services of an experienced examiner. Do purchase the most expensive caliper you can afford to ensure accuracy and dependability, and take your measurements at the same time of the day to provide a more accurate measurement comparison. Avoid taking measurements after exercising and if you are able, try measuring your body fat with a hydrostatic weighing test to compare to body fat caliper measurements.
Here is an easy to use caliper if you don’t have one.