As a personal trainer, I need a way to track my clients' progress so that we can keep finding ways to improve their results. One key indicator of how you may be doing with your exercise and nutrition and diet plan is your body fat level. Distribution of body fat in different parts of your body can also be an indicator of hormone and health status as well as indicators of risk factors for certain diseases. Here are the various methods of measuring body-fat and how good/bad/accurate/practical they are.
In Increasing Order Of Accuracy...
Just use your eyes to gauge. A person who is an experienced coach or personal trainer can tell in general, your fat percentage by simply looking at your body from different angles. This is the most basic and simple method of measuring body fat. However it is easily affected by water retention, menstrual periods, lighting in the room and time of the day. So this is not a recommended method.
This method passes a small electrical current through your body and measure how easily it passes through. The idea is that muscle is mostly water and conducts electricity and fat does not. So the more muscular and less fat you are, the better the current will go through. The problem with this is that often these machines are at your feet, or hand held. Since electricity takes a shortest path, it only measures part of your body, if its at your feet, only your lower body is measured, if its in your hands, only your upper torso is measured.
Waist to hips ratio charts
These charts are not too bad but they take skill and consistency in measurement and the charts are made of a generalization of people who are usually not in an athletic population so if you are lean/strong/muscular/athletic, the readings will be off.
Skin-fold calipers/Skin-fold laser gun 1 site, 3 sites, 5 sites, 7 sites or 12 sites method
This is the way that most professionals take measurements. The more skilled the practitioner or personal trainer, the more sites he will use because he will know the value of the multiple readings and what they represent.
We exclusively use 12 sites at the gym that I own because it can be used for what is called bio-signature modulation, a method of analyzing hormone and health status put together by Olympic coach Charles Poliquin. As the number of sites increases, the accuracy, and information that can be gathered also increases. Bio-Signature Modulation is able to help people who's hormones are out of the optimal range so that they can gain better health and get better results from their training programs.
The disadvantage of caliper measurements is that it takes a skilled practitioner or personal trainer to do it consistently perform an accurate measurement. A good practitioner may do thousands of measurements per year thus making his skill highly valuable.
In this method, you will sit in a capsule that will be almost totally filled with water. Using the volume of water displaced by your body, and the weight of your body, your density can be calculated. From there we can determine the amount of fat that you have because fat has a different density from muscle. An example of a piece of underwater weighing equipment is the "bod pod". This method is accurate but the equipment is expensive and will likely only be available to professional sports teams or other big organizations
DEXA Scans (Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry)
This is a full body x-ray that is more accurate than regular x-rays. It can also show where fat is distributed on your body. This is a very accurate measurement but will cost a few hundred dollars per measurement. And as with the bod pod, will only be available in medical facilities or high level pro teams.
There we go! All the common fat measurement methods. For regular folks, a good personal trainer or fitness instructor who uses and knows how to interpret a 12 site fat measurement and how it relates to your current health should be good enough.
Coach Jonathan Wong, is a sought after Singapore personal trainer and performance expert who has helped hundreds of clients in Singapore from regular folk to national level athletes achieve their fitness, fat loss and sports performance goals regardless of starting age, fitness level or experience.
He Is also a fitness author and a member of Singapore Men's Health Advisory Panel. Visit his website for a free 1500 page e-book, blog, newsletter and constant updates. http://www.coachjon.com
To find out more about Biosignature Modulation and how it can help you achieve your goals visit http://www.coachjon.com/singapore-biosignature.html