Skinfold Calipers to Measure Body Fat: Why and How to Use Them


Traditionally, people use their weight to determine their level of health. The problem with this approach is that the scale can’t differentiate between lean muscle mass and fat, giving you an incomplete picture of where you stand. Fortunately, this is where skinfold calipers come in.

Skinfold calipers, also sometimes referred to as “body fat calipers” or simply “fat calipers”, can tell you exactly how much fat you have in different areas of your body. This helps you know with more accuracy whether you have too much for maximum health, as well as which areas you need to focus on in your exercise routine to create a smaller, firmer form.

While one option is to go to a personal trainer and have him or her do it for you, you can also purchase your own pair of skinfold calipers and get your measurements just as easily. In fact, a lot of people prefer this method as it enables them to obtain the information they need in the comfort of their own home, without the worry of being exposed to or judged by someone they don’t know.

Of course, you need to know how to use skinfold calipers in order to get the most precise results. Some come with instructions to help with this, but if they don’t, here are the basics:

  • Men should take measurements in their chest, abdomen, and thigh; women in the triceps, at the top of the hip bone, and thigh.
  • To separate the fat tissue, pinch the area and pull it away from your body lightly.
  • Squeeze with the calipers and write down the measurement for each area.
  • Measure at the same place each subsequent time so you get more accurate results (you can take a picture of the area on your body to help remind you).

Following these guidelines can help you determine what shape you’re currently in, as well as track your progress as you become fitter and more in shape. That makes them a great tool for beginners and novices alike.



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