There are various ways you can measure your body fat percentage, but at the end of the day as long as you stick to one and are consistent you will have a good gauge on your actual results and where to go after each check in. We list several options below and give some detail on the caliper and DXA option, in which we have experience with.
- Skin Fold Calipers
- Body Circumference Measurements
- Dual Energy X Ray Absorptiometry (DXA)
- Hydrostatic Weighing
- Air Displacement Plethysmography (Bod Pod)
- Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
- Bioimpedance Spectroscopy (BIS)
- electrical Impedance Myography (EIM)
- 3-D Body Scanners
- Multi Compartment Models
Skinfold measurements have been used to estimate body fat for over 50 years.
Skinfold calipers measure the thickness of your subcutaneous fat, the fat underneath the skin.
Measurements are taken at either 3 or 7 different sites on the body. The specific sites used will vary in men and women.
For women, the triceps, area above the hip bone and either the thigh or abdomen are used for the 3-site measurement.
For a 7-site measurement in women, the chest, area near the armpit and area beneath the shoulder blade are also measured.
For men, the 3 sites are the chest, abdomen and thigh, or the chest, triceps and area beneath the scapula.
For a 7-site measurement in men, the areas near the armpit and beneath the shoulder blade are also measured.
- Advantages: Skinfold calipers are very affordable, and measurements can be taken quickly. They can be used at home but are also portable.
- Disadvantages: The method requires practice and basic anatomy knowledge. You must always be very consistent with placement of these to be able to compare results. (This can be uncomfortable as well.)
- Availability: Calipers are affordable and easy to purchase online, but can be considered out dated with some trainers and fitness facilities.
- Accuracy: The skill of the person performing the skinfolds can vary, impacting the accuracy. Measurement errors can range from 3.5–5% body fat.
DXA uses X-rays of two different energies to estimate your BF percentage.
To get a DXA, you lie on your back for approximately 3-6 minutes while an X-ray scans over you. The amount of radiation from a DXA scan is very low.
DXA is also used to assess bone density and provides detailed information about the bone, lean mass and fat in separate body regions (arms, legs and torso.)
- Advantages: This method provides accurate and detailed information, including a breakdown of different body regions and bone density readings.
- Disadvantages: DXAs are often unavailable to the general public, but are becoming popular in some states and offered in some fitness settings.
- Accuracy: A DXA provides more consistent results than some other methods. The error rate ranges from 2.5–3.5% body fat.
If you are looking to get a DXA scan and are local or want to drive to Dallas Texas you can schedule a scan here for their new client special of $99 with DexaFit Dallas here: https://www.dexafit.com/locations/texas/dallas