Februari 9, 2021
Step by Step Using Caliper to Measure Body Fat

Step by Step Using Caliper to Measure Body Fat

If you are in a weight-loss program, then measuring your body fat might be in one of your daily to-do-list, as it shows you how much you have progressed.

Measuring body fat means that you want to see how much your body weight that is made of fat as opposed to lean body mass (LBM). In other words, the parts of your body that is not considered as fat are those that consist of your bones, muscles, hair, water, etc.

There are many methods you can choose to measure your body fat, such as DEXA scan, hydrostatic/underwater weighing, bod pod, bioelectrical impedance, and skinfold caliper measurement. However, most of the methods are expensive and therefore not so accessible by people as they use high-tech machine.

The easiest and cheapest method is the skinfold measurement which can be done using the help of a tool, either ruler, tape measure, or caliper. In this article, I will describe about how to measure your body fat using a caliper, to be precisely skinfold caliper.

Although this tool helps measure your body fat in the most down-to-earth manner, here are some things you might want to take a note about.

Firstly, using caliper to measure your body fat does not necessarily mean it is you body fat percentage. Instead, caliper is initially used to measure the size of skin folds in several spots on your body. With the values you have obtained from the attempt, you can then put them into one of several types of widely used formulas to know the estimation of your body fat percentage. The formulas are Jackson-Pollack, Parrillo, and Durnin / Womersley. Using different formula will eventually have different result.

For general population, it is recommended to use the Jackson and Pollock formula which can be applied in three-site, four-site, and seven-site tests. For those with more fat, it is suggested to use the four-site Durnin and Womersley. While for those with lean body, it is best to use the nine-site Parillo equation.
Secondly, you need to understand that getting consistent numbers is much more important than choosing formula or the quality of your calipers. Think of the numbers as a reflection of the change in your progress. Therefore, it does not matter if your body fat is 10 percent or 7 percent. The only thing that matters the most is that you do see progress.

Secondly, using calipers apparently has its own pros and cons.

• Calipers can be easily found in the stores near you with low prices
• Anyone can learn to use caliper
• Caliper helps you track changes in your body composition over time

• Calipers may get you inconsistent results because the result depends on how much, where, when, and how you grab your skin
• Calipers are prone to a high error rate when used by an inexperienced person
• The body fat estimates are based on national averages. Therefore, if you are slim, chances are the result is not accurate as you have less fat to be estimated.
• Calipers are not for the fat people, as the more fat, the harder it is for the caliper to open wide enough to take measurement.

Step by Step Using Caliper to Measure Body Fat
The instruction you are about to read below is about the three-site Jackson and Pollock skinfold test using body fat caliper as a tool. The three-site Jackson and Pollock method is more preferable as it is the easiest method to be done in the next tests, assuming you use the same tool and technique and it is the method designed for most of the population. However, consider to consult with a professional if you are either obese, slender, or muscular to have the most accurate result.
Before you start, make sure you do prepare these:
– Body fat measuring calipers
– Helper (recommended for men, required for women)
– Pen and paper to note some numbers and do some basic math
– Chart of your body fat percentage or go to linear-software.com or any website that can help you put the numbers on the formula

When doing the skinfold method, the basic idea you have to keep in mind is to “pinch and pull”. This is done in order to separate the fat tissue from other tissues surrounding it.
After making sure you have pinch properly, do these steps:

• Put the calipers approximately 1 cm to the side of your fingertips
• Make sure the slide which points to the scale is on the right side of the caliper
• Press the thumb pad beside the word “press” until your skin is pinched properly
• Take note of the reading on the scale. Each hash has differences of 2 points from each other. In other words, one mark lower than 20 is 18.
• Let go of the pinch and do all of these steps for at least three times for all the three sites
• Take the average of the numbers and see the chart or see your average on the website

Spots to Pinch

This method is called three-sites because it is done by pinching three spots on your body. The spots to pinch on men differ from women, but these spots are the body parts that are consistent on people, like nipple or navel. This is to allow people to find a specific spot on their body accurately, no matter their overall body composition. It is recommended to take all the pinches on the right side of the body. You can take it on your left, but make sure you do all the pinch on the left side.

Body Fat Testing Sites for Men

1. Chest
Take a halfway between the nipple and the crease of the armpit, and pinch it diagonally, or ask your helper to do it.
2. Abdominal
Squeeze the skin one inch either vertically or horizontally to the right of your navel.
3. Thigh
Imagine your thigh as a rectangular, from left to right, and from knee to your hip. Take a halfway between the hip and the knee, and find the midpoint of the rectangular, and pinch horizontally on the spot. It is recommended to use your hand to measure the point. You can use the distance between the tips of your thumb and pinky from the top of the knee to get to the midpoint.

Body Fat Testing Sites for Women

1. Triceps
Find the point which is halfway between the bone of your shoulder and the elbow. Pinch vertically, and ask a helper to do this.
2. Suprailiac
Start the spot at about an inch right above your iliac crest, and pinch diagonally on the point.
3. Thigh
Similar to the measurement on men, pinch vertically on the midpoint between your hip and knee.

Do the measure for at least three times and find the average of each site, then put the results on the website mentioned above, or any other websites to calculate your body fat. By then, you have known the estimation of your body fat percentage!

To be considered healthy depends much on your sex and your goals. As long as you do not aim at having body with low fat, then it is totally fine if you stay anywhere below “obese” and above “essential fat levels”, as the category is shown below.

Women Men
Obese Greater than 31% Greater than 25%
Acceptable 25% – 31% 18% – 25%
Fit 21% – 24% 14% – 17%
Athletic 14% – 20% 6% – 13%
Essential fat levels Below 1% Below 2% – 5%

Fat mass = Weight x Body Fat Percentage
Lean mass = Weight – Fat Mass

You can track your progress using the numbers shown above, because using only scale will not tell you the whole story.


Best Skin Fold Caliper Reviews



Body fat measuring calipers isolated on white background.

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