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How to Measure Body Fat Using Callipers


How to Measure Body Fat Using Callipers
Table Of Contents

The weight machine was introduced in the early days to measure weight or fat loss progress. After realizing that the scale wasn't telling the whole story, many fitness enthusiasts started using a measuring tape to determine how much weight they had lost.

Later, healthcare professionals began to use the body mass index (BMI) to measure the risk of developing chronic diseases based on height and weight.

As you are well aware, muscle weighs more than fat. The BMI scale can show that someone who falls under the obese (or overweight) category may have more lean muscle mass than someone who falls within the normal category.

On the other hand, a person falling within the normal BMI classification may have an excessively high body fat percentage. This calculation could increase their risk of developing chronic diseases.

So how do you calculate your body fat percentage? Although many tools are available to determine your body fat percentage, the skinfold calliper is the best.

Skinfold callipers were created after the health and fitness professionals realized that lean muscles could negatively impact the results of all these tools.

This guide will explain why skinfold callipers are important, how to measure body fat by using them, and what your body fat percentage can do for your overall health.

Importance of Body Fat Percentage Numbers

Now that you are aware of what body fat percentage is, let us see what are its implications for your health. The table below illustrates varying body fat percentages and the health and performance effects of each.


Males (% BF)

Females (% BF)

Essential Fat















Let's break down the table. The Essential Fat category is very low in fat and includes people who are very thin, likely for a bodybuilding competition.

The Athlete category is better. This category includes people who compete in fitness competitions during the middle of their season, as well as many academic and professional athletes.

The fitness category is good for the average fitness enthusiast and off-season athlete. They should monitor their macros and work out at the gym in the evening. This group of people are mostly springtime beach-goers and/or pool-goers who are proud to be beneath this number.

Most of the people in the acceptable range don't exercise, but they may do some activities to keep their weight stable. If you want to have a healthy lifestyle, you should try to be in the lower end of this range (for women, this is 25 percent and for men, it is 18 percent).

The last range; obesity reflects the population that is fat. This range has a higher incidence of chronic disease. However, it is not too late if you fall within this range and want to adopt a better lifestyle! Weight reduction is an achievable goal.

How to Measure Body Fat

Now you know why you need a skinfold calculator. Next, let's learn how to measure your body fat with one.

Here are the basics:

  • Skinfold calliper
  • Find a friend to assist with the measurements
  • A marker/pen to mark measuring sites
  • You will need to record and track your results (paper, smartphone, etc.).
  • A calculator to calculate the medians for each measurement.

Once you have all the items you need, you can start to pinch and pull. While we'll be discussing the exact measurements in a moment, first, let's talk about some tips to help you get an accurate and clear reading of your body fat.

This is a 7-fold calliper test. There will be seven areas that you need to measure. To calculate the body fat percentage, you will need to take three measurements at each of these locations. To get a consistent reading, mark each location with a "t" and pinch the cross with your calliper before taking three readings.

You should not pinch the skin too hard, as this can affect the accuracy of your test. The skinfold measurement is made in millimetres using the calliper. The thickness of your skinfold is the amount of fat at a particular spot on your body. The outcome of a pinch is influenced if you try to force it.

For best results, measure on the same side of your body and in the same conditions for every subsequent test. However, these variables can easily be affected if you take measurements on your right side or during a fasting state immediately after waking up in the morning.

So, where to start pinching? Let's read further to know where to start taking skinfold measurements.

  • Take measurements on the right side of your body.
  • Grab a fold and measure the thickness within 0.5mm using the caliper.
  • Calipers should be held parallel to the skinfold.
  • The skinfold measurement point should be approximately half of the fold's length.
  • Accepting measurements (ACSM)
  • Take two readings. Take another reading if the distances are not within 1-2mm.
  • Keep track of measurements when the distance between 2 values is within 1-2 mm. Next, take the average.

Skinfold Measurement Sites

Below we will discuss how to fold each of the seven measurement site locations on the body. Again, for the best accurate result, you will need to measure the following spots three times each.


To measure the chest, squeeze a fold midway between the armpit and the nipple on the diagonal. Women should squeeze a third of the distance between the armpit and nipple. This will enable you to squeeze breast tissue far enough away to get an accurate reading.


The abdominal measurement should be obtained by making a vertical fold 2cm to the right of the navel.


The suprailiac measurement should be obtained by creating a diagonal fold at the crest of the hipbone, just behind the front of the armpit. It is directly above the hip bone.


The midaxillary measurement should be obtained with a vertical fold just below the center of the armpit, at the same level as the breast bone. Raise your arm over your head as another person measures the region behind your armpit.


The tricep measurement is taken at the midpoint between the shoulder and elbow on the back of the upper arm. It must be taken vertically folded.


The subscapular measurement should be obtained by diagonally folding the skin. It is positioned in the area of the scapula on the back of the body. The fold should be taken directly below the shoulder blade to the side of the spine for the most accurate reading.


The last and seventh measurement is taken at the thigh. For this measurement, make a vertical crease midway between your hipbone and kneecap.

Body Fat Calculation

After measuring all 7 places three times and calculating the average of each measurement, you may use the following methods to calculate your body fat %. This will be accomplished utilizing the Jackson and Pollock 7 site formula.

Body Fat Calculation for Males

Body Density = 1.112 – (0.00043499 * sum of skinfolds) + (0.00000055 * square of the sum of skinfold sites) – (0.00028826 * age)

Body Fat Percentage = (495 / Body Density) – 450

Body Fat Calculation for Females

Body Density = 1.097 – (0.00046971 * sum of skinfolds) + (0.00000056 * square of the sum of skinfold sites) – (0.00012828 * age)

Body Fat Percentage = (495 / Body Density) – 450

Calculating Lean Body Mass

As previously indicated, measuring muscle loss or gain is one of the most essential applications of body fat measurements. Finding the weight of the "lean mass" is as simple as determining the body fat percentage and weight. Since muscle tissue is the component of lean mass that may fluctuate the most, changes in lean body weight will be mostly influenced by variations in muscle weight.

To calculate the lean mass weight, the individual must be weighed on an accurate scale. This will provide the lean mass weight. The measurements are repeated after a length of time on a diet and/or activity regimen. Any change in lean body mass weight, whether it be an increase or a decrease, represents the amount of muscle lost or gained.

For example, a man weighing 210 lb. would have a body mass index (BMI) of 25. He measures his percent body fat and finds it to be 30%. This man's body fat weighs 63 pounds, calculated by multiplying 210 pounds by 30 percent. Subtracting 63 pounds from 210 pounds finds that his lean mass is 147 pounds.

After one month of regular exercise and a healthy diet, his weight has decreased to 195 pounds and his body fat percentage has reduced to 25 percent. Multiplying 195 pounds by 25% gives 49 pounds as his body fat weight. Subtracting this from his 195-pound body weight yields a lean mass of 146 pounds.

This indicates that he has lost 1 pound of muscle while shedding 14 pounds of fat, which is an excellent outcome and indicates that his diet and exercise regimen are working really well.

Example of Above Male Calculation

Body Mass x Body Fat Percentage = Body Fat Mass

Body Mass - Body Fat Mass = Lean Mass Mass

Before: Body fat was 30 percent, and weight was 210 pounds.

210 pounds - 63 pounds = 147 pounds of lean mass weight

After: Body fat = 25%, Body weight = 195 lbs

195 lbs * 0.25 = 49 pounds

195 pounds - 49 lbs = 146 lbs of lean mass

Difference: 147 pounds - 146 pounds is one pound of lean body mass reduction.

63 lbs. - 49 lbs. = 14 lbs. of fat loss.

Another example would be a woman who weighs 150 pounds and has a body fat percentage of 30 percent. The result of multiplying her weight by her body fat percentage is 45 pounds of body fat. Subtracting this from her overall weight of 150 pounds reveals that her lean mass is 105 pounds.

After a month on a low-calorie diet, she has shed 20 pounds and now weighs 130 pounds; her body fat percentage is 27 percent. Again multiplying this by her body weight of 130 lbs. and deducting the resulting 35 lbs. from her body weight reveals that her lean body mass has decreased to 95 lbs, a loss of 10 lbs.

Body fat and weight measures used to calculate lean mass weight reveal that she has lost equal amounts of muscle and fat, indicating that her weight reduction regimen is ineffective.

Example of Above Female Calculation

Body Mass x Body Fat Percentage = Body Fat Mass

Body Mass - Body Fat Mass = Lean Mass Mass

Before: Body fat was 30% and weight was 150 lbs.

150 lbs * 30 = 45 lbs.

150 pounds - 45 lbs = 105 lbs of lean mass.

After: body fat = 27%, body weight = 130 lbs.

130 lbs. * 27 = 35 lbs.

130 pounds - 35 lbs = 95 lbs of lean mass.

Difference: 105 pounds - 95 lbs is a reduction of 10 lbs of lean body mass.

45 pounds - 35 pounds = 10 pounds of fat loss.

Calculating Your Target Weight Using Desired Body Fat Percentage

If you know your current weight and body fat percentage, you can calculate your ideal weight for any body fat percentage. This is possible by basic calculations. First, remove your current body fat percentage from 100, then divide this number by 100 minus the ideal body fat percentage. This value multiplied by the current weight will provide the weight for the desired percent body fat.

For example, a 145-pound woman with 32 percent body fat. She wants to be 21 percent body fat and wants to know how much she would weigh if she were 21 percent. 32 - 100 = 68, whereas 21 - 100 = 79. The result of dividing 68 by 79 is 0.86. Multiplying 145 pounds by 0.86 will give her the target weight of 125 pounds.

She has discovered that in order to lower her body fat percentage to 21 percent, she needs to shed 20 pounds. However, the aforementioned calculation only applies if the individual reduces without losing muscle mass. This may be accomplished by healthy activity and diet.

If the weight is dropped predominantly by a low-calorie diet in a short period of time, the muscular tissue will also be lost, and the weight for the ideal body fat percentage will be lower.

Considering the Above Calculations:

Present percent Body fat = 32%; Desired percent Body fat = 21%; Current Weight = 145 lbs.

100 – 32 = 68

100 – 21 = 79

68 / 79 = 0.86

Target Weight = 145 lb * 0.86 = 125 lb

A weight trainer who now weighs 200 pounds and has a body fat percentage of 21% and wants to get to 5% body fat; how much weight would he need to drop to attain this goal?

Present Body Fat = 21%, Desired Body Fat = 5%, and Current Weight = 200 lbs.

100 – 21 = 79

100 – 5 = 95

79 / 95 = 0.83

200 lbs. * 0.83 = 166 lbs.

200lbs. – 166 lbs. = 34 lbs.

To obtain 5% body fat, he would need to drop 34 pounds of body fat and have a lean body mass of 166 pounds. By measuring his body fat on a regular basis, he will be able to determine if his diet to reach his goal is causing him to lose his hard-earned lean body mass (muscle tissue).

So now that you have learned step by step to measure body fat and lean muscle mass. It's time to burn your extra fat through workouts, diet and including a DMoose fat burner in your daily regime. The key ingredients in the amazing fat burner supplement can help you burn more calories in less time. It also makes you feel good and keeps your body from getting worked up, which is a common side effect of most fat-burning supplements.


Using a weight machine may tell you your total body weight, but it would not differentiate weight from fat and lean muscle weight. A caliper is used to measure several predetermined locations on the body. It records the thickness of the pinch made by the tongs.

Using a caliper to measure body fat percentage will help you differentiate your fat percentage to lean muscle percentage. It helps you determine your body-fat percentage and accurately measure your physical progress. Many athletes and trainers believe that skinfold calipers are a great way to monitor and self-assess.

In many ways, losing excess body fat (for both cosmetic and health reasons) is a good idea. If you want to lose weight, it is important to monitor your fat loss; therefore, calipers might be the best option.

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