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Best way to measure BF% by yourself?

Discussion in 'Fat Loss/Cutting' started by DD, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. DD

    DD Member

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    Hey guys, ive been reading up on the forum for a while, but finally making a post on a question I have. Im trying to find a good way to check my own bodyfat easily. I have calipers, measuring tape, and a bodyfat scale. Is there a skinfold method you can recommend thats easy to check without the help of someone else? It seems like alot of the methods require you to get to folds not really possible accurately on your on body. The bodyfat scale seems to vary each day even if I use it the same time every morning, doesnt seem accurate. Also I have gained 3 lbs in 2 weeks on a 500 below maintenance intake. Doesnt make any sense to me, but I think keeping track of bf might be a better solution for me anyways. Thanks!
     
  2. Robert2006

    Robert2006 Active Member

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  3. jbivens

    jbivens Active Member

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    I think you need to provide more information. Age, height, weight, daily log of food, how did you get your calorie goal to subtract 500 cals from? Are you drinking water? Exercise program you are following. Those would be a good start.

    Also what point are you at in your fitness life? Beginner, advanced, etc..? What are your goals?
     
  4. FatLenny

    FatLenny Active Member

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    I use the link above and the calculator for the Jackson/Pollock 3 Caliper Method as part of my measurements. Truthfully I also use a single point caliper measurement, a BIA scale like you have (by themselves, those things are really only good for tracking long term trends, not actual BF%) and 3 girth calculations as well. I then average the 6 measurements and use that as my best estimation. Way to much work, but I feel like I get a more reliable idea of my BF% trend that way.

    Holy jeez, Batman. Is this the grand inquisition? :lol:

    JB has some good points, though. The weight gain you experienced could be from a number of things(water retention, miscalculated BMR, overestimation of caloric consumption or something else entirely) and without knowing the variables involved there really is no way to guess why you had a net gain... that wasn't your question, I know, but you have to appreciate the concern. :lol:

    Oh yeah... I would also recommend using your measuring tape to track some of your body dimensions, too. Sometimes you'll see no change in weight (or even a net gain), but your waist, hips or chest might actually change by half an inch. It is always good to have multiple ways to track your progress. It helps keep you motivated if you can easily see progress in some way.

    :D
     
  5. DD

    DD Member

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    thanks guys for the replies, heres some more info

    Im 28, 5'9" and usually sit around 170lbs. I used to lift a good bit back in school and then through the years i would get motivation to workout for a few months straight then fall off after a while. Ive always been active outside work. I boxed for many years previously when i was younger and now I surf a couple of times a week and go hiking a good bit. Ive gotten softer over the years and just looking to recomp to a lower bf% in the 160-165 range. The US Navy formula put be at 17%BF (seems off). 3 caliper fold puts me at 16%(seems really off), and bf scale puts me at 21%. I feel like im in the low 20's. Heres some pics. first 2 are resting, last 2 are flexed.

    My diet consists of a 40/40/20 split. Protein bulk comes from Chicken, Turkey, Fish, and Nitrean. Carbs from Veggies (mostly greens), Fruits, and whole wheats. Fats mostly from Natural Peanut Butter and olive oil. Ive been aiming around 2000 calories a day. Over the last 2 weeks if I look at my fitday logs I have a range of 1750-2100. Over those 2 weeks Ive managed to gain 3 lbs instead of losing.

    I lift 3 times a week. 3 different exercises per muscle and 3 sets each exercise. I rep until i fail on each set. Usually between 8-12reps. The workout seems good, im usually sore after each workout. On a off day I might do some rowing, or surfing.

    Thanks guys!
     
    #5 DD, Jun 8, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011
  6. FatLenny

    FatLenny Active Member

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    That looks like a good plan to me. Body fat measurements are never going to be exact unless they are taken during an autopsy. :lol: You have a good range (16%-21%) to give you an idea of where you are. I think that in this case, the tape measure is going to be a good friend for a while. Since you are lifting, I am going to guess that you might have seen a bit of muscle growth for part of your net gain. The other part is likely water weight from your prior day meals(especially if they were higher in carbs than usual). Speaking of which... how much water are you drinking. Increased water consumption can help flush out water retention.

    I wouldn't worry too much about your exact BF% right now. I think you'll see changes in measurements and appearance soon enough if you stick to the plan you have. You might consider starting a journal here to log your nutrition and activity, too. It can help to see it all in print and it makes you think about and understand what you are doing.

    You can check this thread out, too. It has some pics of people at various body fat percentages. Of course, you can search the web and find more where that came from, too.

    Good luck with it, man! :D
     
  7. DD

    DD Member

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    Thanks Lenny, the only thing I drink is water. I have a 25 ounce shaker cup that i know i drink atleast a few times full, and then other random water through the day, so I would guess around 100 ounces a day.

    I will check out the link and start tracking measurements for my progress. Oh also forgot to mention I train only with dumbbells, since it takes up little space in my place, im hoping they can get the job done for me. If I have to drive to a gym I will find ways out of it :doh:
     
  8. mastover

    mastover Well-Known Member

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    I have a lot of clients who put too much faith in the weight scale. Scale weight will not reflect what is truly occurring. You can’t guess on measuring changes in lean mass. Undergo a body composition test by the same qualified professional every 2 weeks. This allows you to have a calculated measure of lean body mass and fat pounds in relation to bodyweight.

    Or, another option is simpler. Record your bodyweight first thing in the morning after a trip to the bathroom, as this will give you the most consistent reading. Concomitantly, take measurements of your flexed biceps and your waist (that’s right, with abdominals flexed). If your biceps are 15” and your waist is 30”, that is a 1:2 ratio. The ratio must not get worse. If the numbers are getting further apart (1:2.2) you’re getting fatter. If they get closer (1:1.8), you are building muscle. Do this one every other week. Adding muscle while simultaneously dropping body fat can be done if a good training and nutritional backround is consistently followed without too much deviation. Good luck. :)
     
  9. FatLenny

    FatLenny Active Member

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    Interesting. I have not heard of this method of tracking progress before. Unfortunately, I've been measuring my waist without flexing my abs. I'll have to add this to my measuring routine going forward. Thanks!
     
  10. Mauidude

    Mauidude Active Member

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    DD: Mastover is right about gaining lead body mass while losing fat at the same time. A lot of naysayers claim its not possible (hence the ongoing bulk/cut cycles), but I'm living proof that it can be done. Mastover laid out a program for me, I followed it to a "T" and it worked. I'll go with the empirical evidence over theory any day.

    If you're using one of those bodyfat scales, forget it. They are as accurate as a Ouija board. I've had one for years and it always reads the same (18-19%) no matter where I'm at in training.

    Getting good at taking your own skinfolds is key. I use a three point skinfold test. I take three separate readings, then average them. At this stage BF% is useful to gauge your progress, so as long as you're consistent you will see the change in BF % even if you're not accurate. Make sense?

    I'm no expert, but from looking at your pictures I'd put you around 18-20%.
     
  11. DD

    DD Member

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    Awesome guys, I appreciate all the info and insight.:bow: The waist/bicep ratio is a interesting option. Im going to have to give that a shot also. Time to get busy :bb:
     
  12. leftyx

    leftyx Senior Member

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    Today a trainer showed me that website and I said I found it last night on JohnStoneFitness.com as well. Then he did a three point skinfold test and gave me the news. 23% bodyfat. At least it's a base to start from. I'm going to go out and get skin calipers right away and start measuring weekly. Thanks for the link. :D
     
  13. xygote

    xygote Active Member

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    Thanks for that tip mastover. Never really thought about it but it really does make sense to take measurements with the muscle flexed.

    Back on topic of self testing BF% and all that... I seem to remember hearing that some of the calculation methods are more accurate with certain body types. Does anyone know any more information along that lines? I used that website when I started and got results ranging from 23% to 31% depending on which column I was filling in.
     
  14. Robert2006

    Robert2006 Active Member

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    I think the fewer measurement sites the more this is an issue.

    Think of the formulas that use a tape measure. I think one is neck and waist. Personally for me those are two areas that shrink first. I think one of the formulas gives me a minus number :spaz: The more the measurements the better. The problem is the more the measurements the harder it is.

    Mirror and how your clothes fit can get you pretty close IMHO.

    There used to be a set of photos out there. The photos showed the different stages.

    Muscle definition,abs,viens showing etc were all used . You looked at the various pictures (I think they were 20,15,12 8%) and compared yourself.
     
  15. astroguy

    astroguy Well-Known Member

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    I thought this thread would finish earlier which is why I didn't add, but since it's still going ... I'm horrible with the caliper method, probably because I'm too blubbery. Over the years, I found five different methods using your weight and other body measurements (tape measure) to calculate bf%. I've found three to be reasonably reliable (they agree with each other to within ~1% usually). These are for men (since, well, I'm a member of that type).

    Method 1*: (stomach + hips/2 - (middle of forearm)*3 - wrist)/100
    Method 2**: 4.95 / (1.0324 - 0.19077 * (log(stomach - neck)) + 0.15456 * (log(height))) - 4.5
    Method 3*: (-98.54 + 4.15*stomach - 0.082*weight) / weight
    Method 4*: (weight - ((weight*1.082+94.42) - (stomach*4.15))) / weight
    Method 5*: (1.2 * BMI + 0.23 * age - 10.8*1 - 5.4) / 100

    * Measurements in inches/lbs.
    ** Measurements in cm.

    I've found Method 1 to be consistently a little lower than the others and Method 3 to be higher (with 2 in the middle). 4 I don't trust and just use to make sure it goes down, but it is consistently about 3-4% higher than the others. 5 is just not accurate because it relies upon the BMI, which is a poor indicator for people on this site of your bf% and is more for the average American. I also think that the subtraction 10.8*1 factor is different for females (the *1), but I didn't write down what it is.

    So what I do is calculate all of them, just glance at 4 and 5, but then treat the median (middle sorted value) of the first three as my bf% for the week. Again, this is rough, and it's the trend that's most important. Maybe if/when I get to sub-15% I'll try the caliper method again and work on it 'til I can get it to agree with these to a reasonable tolerance.
     

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