Your body fat percentage is what determines whether you have those six pack abs or not, it is, in it’s most basic form, the percentage of your body that is made up of fat. Obviously there is a lot that makes up the human body, from organs to your bones, from fat to muscle.
This is something that varies from person to person. Women generally need a higher body fat percentage to look their best when compared to men (look at a man and a woman at 25% body fat to see what I mean).
Different for Men & Women
Around 8-10% body fat in men and 18-20% in women is generally what is needed to get that fantastic body you want (lower is for bodybuilders and generally you don’t want to fall into this category unless you are one as spending too long at say, 3% body fat is really not good for your health).
But if you want to reach that goal, you need to know how to measure your body fat percentage. Here we are going to explain a few ways that you can get an accurate measurement of your overall body fat percentage.
Body Fat Calipers Method
This is the least accurate way, but also the simplest and easiest. It can be off by 3-5% but it does give you a general idea of your body fat.
Simply buy a set of calipers, pull the fat away from your muscles and then make a note of the measurements.
Compare this with a body fat caliper chart (a quick google search will find this for you immediately) and you will get a rough idea of your body fat. Although considering the ease and the cost of using this method the accuracy isn’t really much of an issue.
The Water Displacement Method
Truth be told, this method is an expensive one. BUT! It is an accurate one. Generally getting you a result with a 2% accuracy range.
Essentially you are immersed in water whereby your fat will be separated from the rest of your body weight as fat is much less dense when submerged. Using an array of equipment they can use the water displacement to calculate your body fat using Archimedes’ principle of displacement.
The only problem with this method is the expense and the fact that the places that offer water displacement testing are few and far between.
DEXA SCAN Method
This one can cost between $100-$200 depending on where you live however it is, by far, the single most accurate way of measuring your body fat.
Essentially you go to a health facility, you lie down on a medical table and you receive an x-ray much in the same way you would with an injury.
With this x-ray, they not only provide you with your body fat percentage but also all the other percentages that make up your body, which can be a very interesting experience indeed.
If you want accuracy this is the one for you, because you will get your exact current percentage.
The Measurement Method
This is the least accurate, but it is free. Simply put, you take a series of measurements and compare them to a table (again, found online) which gives you your body fat percentage.
This one can be incredibly inaccurate, but it was worth mentioning as its the only free method around.
Biometrical Impedance Analysis
This one sends and electrical current through your body, with this they are able to get a rough estimate of your body fat, although this one isn’t as expensive as some of the other methods on this list, I would go that extra mile and go for a DEXA scan or water displacement as you will get a much more accurate reading overall.
The “Bod Pod” Method
Quite accurate overall, this method calculates your body fat based upon air displacement, though it can set you back around $80. This method calculates everything about your body including mass, density and volume.
This is a good middle ground, balancing price and accuracy.
To conclude, there are many ways that you can measure your body fat, some are cheap and some expensive. Some are dead on the money and others not so much.
Finding your Body Fat Percentage
If you really want to get your body fat percentage in to a certain range then you are going to need some level of accuracy. Although I do advise using the caliper method if you are short on cash, the DEXA scan method and water displacement method are the best if this isn’t an issue for you.
If you aren’t to serious and just want to look a bit better, just base your goals on the simple question: “Am I happy with my body”. This is always going to be better than determining your goals based on pure numbers as everyone is different.