are two categories that you can fit into if you're thinking
about buying a set of body fat calipers.
You want to measure your own body fat percentage.
You need the body fat calipers to measure someone else's body
you are simply interested in measuring your own body composition,
the body fat calipers may not be your best option. Almost
all body fat calipers require a second person to help you
perform the test, and not just a friend or family member...
Obtaining any sort of accuracy, with most body
fat calipers, requires a skilled professional who can help
you find the, notoriously difficult to locate, skinfolds.
A few millimeters off can cause a significant difference.
However, there is one exception...
There is one set of calipers that will allow
you to test yourself, and quite accurately too. Research has
proven that Accumeasure Calipers can deliver a body
fat analysis that is as accurate as other available methods
of measurement. Not only that, but it is a lower cost alternative
to the body fat scales. If testing yourself is what you need,
here for a review on Accumeasure
Now, if you are in the health and/or fitness
industry and need a set of calipers so that you can test other
people, the body fat calipers are a better choice over the
body fat scales. Here are a few reasons why...
Unlike the scales, body fat calipers are light
weight and portable, making them easy to use in any environment.
These reasonably accurate calipers are available for just
But are all calipers made equally? And are they
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Body Fat
purpose of body fat calipers is to measure the skinfolds to
calculate how much fat lays under the skin, subcutaneous fat.
An examiner will put the skinfold measurement into an equation
that will predeict the body's disity and body fat percentage.
there are over 100 equations available to choose from. Also,
if the wrong equestion and body fat calipers are used, they
become an unreliable combination. Why are there so many equations
to choose from?
Because no two groups of people are alike.
Each equation relates to a different population group, who
have different characteristics. For example, young people
store approximately 1/2 of their body fat under the skin,
while older people have a greater portion of their body fat
stored internally, so even if the skinfold measure
of a young and old person are identical, their body
fat percentages would not be the same.
Equations are not specifically tailored to
each client, so there are never any purely accurate results,
however, body fat calipers are able to accurately measure
to within a 4% range. Here is a real life example...
Daniel is one of those people that is naturally
lean and athletic. He had his body fat tested in a professional
environment using professional body fat calipers. Daniel's
skinfolds were taken at 16 different locations and each were
measured 3 times by an experienced and professional examiner.
What were his results?
Have a look at the following table. Four different
equations were used to calculate Daniel's skinfold measurements
to gauge his body fat percentage...
Fat Percentage Using Different Equations
||Equation 1 Parizkova
||Equation 2 Jackson
||Equation 3 Jackson
||Equation 4 Durnin
and Wolmersley (1974)
|No. of skinfolds measured
|Body Fat Percent
Notice what a difference each equation can
make? One of these equations is the most appropriate for Daniel
because he's so athletic. Because of his athleticism, using
a general population equation will not give Daniel the most
How to know you aren't using the wrong equation?
Don't use an equation at all. Instead
of converting your skinfold measurements into a body fat percentage,
simply note the measurement and then monitor its changes over
time. If you really need to have a body fat percentage, then
use it as a benchmark for your progress.
Research also recommends that 50-100 tests
are required before an examiner can be deemed competent with
body fat calipers. Tests should be completed in research settings,
and it doesn't matter how elaborate the diagrams and instruction
manuals are, a few centimiers, or even millimeters, off can
cause a significant difference in your results. How can this
problem be bypassed?
Find the exact locations of each skinfold
site. Like the abdomen skinfold site is 1 inch to the right
of the belly button, so don't guess... measure it properly
with a ruler or measuring tape. If the triceps site is in
the middle, between the tip of the shoulder and the elbow,
again, measure to find out exactly where halfway is.
Although inconvenient, mark each location with
a felt pen. Once each location has been flagged, measure the
skinfolds and then measure them again and again. Using three
measurements will significantly extend your accuracy.
Choosing the right Set of Calipers
body fat calipers are the same, aren't they?
It depends on much you are willing to invest
in them. The price range of body fat calipers go from $10.00
- $500.00. Why such a large price range?
Like with any product, you pay for what you
get. Accurate body fat measurements require a certain amount
of continuous pressure (10gm./sq. mm). The low end calipers,
$10.00) lack the continuous pressure and will not remain accurate
for very long.
Here are a few suitable body fat calipers for
testing others. If you work in the health and/or fitness industry,
any of these calipers would be an excellend addition to your
equipment bag. All of these can be found at BodyTrends.com,
which is by far the best on line retailer of body fat calipers...
Body Fat Calipers
Known as the most accurate of skinfold calipers, the Harpenden
has been the standard research caliper for many years now.
Nearly all of the data and equations, that are related to
skinfold thickness to body fat, are based on studies completed
with the Harpenden.
Another of the most accurate body fat calipers, the Lafayette
Skinfold Caliper is designed with the assistance of Dr. Andrew
Jackson, the co-author of the widely used Jackson-Pollock
skinfold formulas. The Lafayette skinfold calipers are also
amongst the most durable available.
So far the best selling of the higher priced body fat calipers,
the Lange skinfold calipers have been manufactured since 1962
and are widley used in fitness centers, colleges, and schools.
It is one of the lease expensive professional calipers available.
Guide Body Fat Calipers
Clearly lower priced than any of the above calipers, the Slim
Guide body fat calipers produce acceptable results and are
the only lower priced calipers that are acceptably accurate
for professional measurements. It is one of the most widely
used body fat calipers in the world.