What is my body fat percentage 1

Calculate body fat percentage: a simple 6-step method (minimizes unnecessary frustration)

How can you calculate your body fat percentage (KFA), as a woman or a man? Why body fat scales are too imprecise and how you can calculate the fat percentage - quickly, precisely and easily.

"How Much Body Fat Do I Have?" In this article you will find out the answer - and everything you need to know about calculating body fat.

If we are already talking about “measuring”. The subject of calculating body fat percentage is not everything.

Why should you calculate your body fat percentage?

A feedback system helps you to know if you are getting closer to your naked-good-looking goal.

You can do this by measuring your weight, which is a good place to start. But you shouldn't let it rest on that.

By calculating your body fat percentage, you will find answers to the two most important physique questions:

  1. How much of your weight is body fat?
  2. How much of your weight is Lean mass?

Knowing your body fat percentage will help you assess the effect of your diet and training on your physique.

You keep an eye on what really counts: lost fat and built-up muscles.

Not body weight, body mass index, other people's ideals or how long you've been training.

Some people invest hours in their training every week without seeing any progress.

The catch is: you don't even know!

Confuse hard work with progress.

You could have got stuck (= burn calories first and then feed them all back in) or are driving in the wrong direction (= lose weight, but no fat).

Stephen Covey says in his book "The 7 Ways to Be Effective":

"Many people climb the ladder of success every day - only to realize at some point that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall."

Only by tracking your body fat percentage will you know whether all your efforts are leading you on the right track - toward ... not a lower number on the scales, but a better one anatomy.

Which methods can calculate the body fat percentage?

There are many ways to calculate your body fat percentage. Here are the three most popular ones.

However, not all methods are equally suitable for your feedback system.


The DEXA method is currently the "gold standard" for calculating body fat.

Larger clinics or orthopedic practices have DEXA scanners that can calculate your total body fat percentage as well as the body fat distribution on various limbs very precisely.

The measurement is done using low-dose X-rays.

A DEXA measurement costs around 100 euros.

2. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)

The BIA procedure is based on the assumption that different types of body tissue conduct electricity to different degrees.

With the BIA measurement, an imperceptible electrical current is passed through the body.

The device then tries to use the measured resistance to estimate how high the proportion of fat, lean tissue and water is in the body.

A professional BIA measurement costs around 25 euros.

3. Measurement of skin folds with caliper forceps

With caliper pliers you measure the thickness of the skin folds at one or more specified points on your body.

An algorithm can now be used to draw conclusions about your body fat percentage.

If you have caliper pliers (15 euros), you can take the measurement at home free of charge.

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Calculate body fat percentage: which method is the right one?

The most accurate The DEXA measurement is a method of determining your body fat percentage.

But a DEXA scanner costs a fortune. Therefore, you can only find it in hospitals or in specialized medical practices.

The measurement is not cheap and the costs are not covered by the statutory health insurance. (Only those with private insurance could be lucky.)

In addition, the DEXA measurement is time-consuming: the measurement itself takes a good 30 minutes. In addition, there is the organization of the appointment, arrival and departure and waiting time on site.

The DEXA measurement is very precise, but also very expensive and time-consuming.

What about bioelectrical impedance analysis? It can also provide precise values ​​under laboratory conditions. But this procedure also has a catch:

Reliable BIA measuring devices for the laboratory are also very expensive.

If you have a body fat scale, it also uses the BIA procedure. But the values ​​it delivers do not have the quality of professional devices.

Even with a high-quality Tanita scale, the deviation is around twice as high as with skin fold measurement

Retail body fat scales are unreliable.

Apparently, this also applies to devices that have electrodes for feet and hands

They can vary greatly due to various factors that have nothing to do with your body fat percentage. These include, for example, natural changes in the water balance.

There remains the skin fold method with the caliper forceps.

This type of body fat calculation has several advantages:

  • If done correctly, you will get accurate, reliable values.
  • Suitable caliper pliers cost just under 15 euros.
  • The skin fold measurement is done within a minute.

So the interim conclusion is:

The skin fold measurement is the ideal feedback system for those who stay tuned.

If I want to calculate my own body fat percentage, I use this method above all.

However, there are a few things you should consider before you reach for the caliper pliers.

How accurate is the body fat calculation with the Caliper really?

Done correctly, skinfold measurement is a reliable and accurate way to calculate body fat percentage.

It provides the best values ​​for people with 35% body fat and less. Anyone who should be even higher can accept a slightly higher deviation.

The biggest measurement errors occur when you either measure in the wrong place or the skin fold is not recorded correctly with the caliper - for example horizontally instead of vertically.

An accurate 3-point measurement determines the body fat percentage to about 3-4%.34

Even if it amazes you at first - this is a comparatively high level of accuracy. Indeed:

The accuracy is not critical. The decisive factor is how RELIABLE you can work with it.

Let me explain Suppose a measurement shows 12% body fat, but the actual value is 15%.

As long as the deviation from the real value remains more or less CONSTANT over time, it doesn't matter.

You don't need the ACCURACY in the absolute value, but in the measurement of the CHANGE.

It is precisely this reliability that the skinfold measurement provides you with, if you carry it out correctly. That is their real strength.

How to quickly and easily calculate your body fat percentage - and minimize measurement errors

Calculating body fat by measuring skin folds is pretty simple.

It is best to take the time to mentally work through the process step by step.

With a little practice you can then not only quickly and easily calculate your body fat percentage - you also get a reliable measure of its change.

Step 1: Get yourself a pair of caliper pliers

First you need a pair of caliper pliers to be able to carry out the skinfold measurement.

There are a number of manufacturers and models. In the professional area, for example, you will find devices like this one from Harpenden, which costs a few hundred euros.

For home use, however, it is more than oversized.

There are inexpensive caliper pliers that measure precisely.

The best thing to do is to get such a device. You have to calculate around 15 euros for this.

There are also caliper pliers that cost only 5 euros. However, I haven't had any good experiences with them.

These caliper pliers make a good impression.

We recommend them to our clients and many who stay tuned use them.

Step 2: Decide on a measurement method

Since the different measurement methods cannot be compared with each other, you can decide which method to use.

In the most complex procedures, the thickness of the skin folds is measured on 10 or more parts of the body. With the simplest method, you only measure it on one part of the body.

The advantage of the 1-point measurement is that you don't need any help.

Women already need support for the 3-point measurement because a measuring point for them is on the triceps. If you try to determine the thickness of the skin folds yourself, measurement errors are inevitable.

Men are lucky: With them, all three measuring points can be easily reached on the front of the body.

At the latest, the 5-point measurement must always be carried out by another person.

In theory, the following applies: the more measurement points, the more precisely the body fat percentage can be calculated from the measurement result.

However, this assumes that you measure at the same point for each measurement. A deviation of just 1 cm can lead to a different measured value.

It is best to always have the same person carry out the measurement.

Otherwise the potential advantages of a multi-point measurement can quickly be eaten up again by measurement errors.

In practice, the 1-point measurement can even provide values ​​that are as accurate as a professionally performed 3-point measurement

The 1-point measurement provides sufficiently accurate values ​​for our purposes.

Since you can do it yourself without help, it represents a good compromise between precision and practicality.

Men who want more differentiated results can of course also use the 3-point measurement.

Step 3: Measure three times at each point and take averages

As with measuring your weight, you also measure the thickness of the skin folds three times.

You carry out the 1-point measurement on the “Supralliac” (see photo).

Here you will find detailed instructions for the 1-point measurement and the 3-point measurement.

Take three measurements at each measuring point and write them down.

If one of the three measured values ​​deviates by 10% from the other two, you discard it and measure this value again.

You do this until all three measured values ​​per skin fold do not differ from each other by more than 10%.

Now take the mean of the three measurements for each skin fold.

Now you can calculate the body fat percentage based on your skinfold measurement.

Read your body fat percentage for the 1-point measurement in this table.

For the 3-point measurement you can calculate your body fat percentage here.

Step 4: calculate the fat and lean mass of your body

Based on your skinfold measurement, you could already calculate the body fat percentage.

Now you have to measure your weight.

With both values ​​- body fat percentage and body weight - you can now calculate your physique, which is composed as follows:

Body weight = fat mass + lean mass

Here at the latest you can see why you have yours anatomy want to track and not just your body weight:

  • When losing weight, the fat mass should decrease and the lean mass should remain as constant as possible.
  • When building muscle, the lean mass should increase and the fat mass should remain as constant as possible.

You can calculate the fat and lean mass using the following formulas:

Fat mass (kg) = Body weight (kg) × body fat percentage (%) ÷ 100Lean mass (kg) = Body weight (kg) - fat mass (kg)

Step 5: measure regularly and watch out for trends

The goal of your body fat or skinfold measurement is as follows:

You want to recognize trends.

This only works as long as you take the measurement at regular intervals.

Some of my clients take measurements once a week, others less often.

You decide how often you measure your body fat percentage.

Here, too, you should consider: The less often you measure, the less sure you can be whether a change is really based on fat loss or muscle building - or just on a random measurement error.

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Step 6: standardize your measurements

Ideally, you carry out all skinfold measurements under similar conditions. This is the only way to ensure that the values ​​are accurate and comparable with one another.

Here are a few tips on how you can improve your measurement technique.

  1. Do not take the measurement immediately after training or if you have sweated a lot before.
  2. Always measure at the same time of day (i.e., morning, noon, or evening).
  3. Always measure on the same side of your body.
  4. Position the caliper pliers about 1-1.5 cm away from your thumb and forefinger, with which you are gripping the fold of skin. Measure perpendicular to the fold of skin. You don't have to pinch too hard: just pull the fold of skin away from your body without pinching it like a vise.
  5. While you take the reading, you keep holding the skin fold.
  6. After pinching the skin fold with the caliper, wait for 1-2 seconds before reading the value.
  7. Wait 10-20 seconds between two measurements in the same place. This gives the skin the chance to normalize before the next measurement.

Practical tip: stay relaxed!

At first glance, the six steps might sound complicated and a lot of effort. The goal is to get measured values ​​that show your progress as accurately and reliably as possible.

My recommendation: take some time for the first three days when you want to measure and calculate your body fat percentage.

Then you can simplify the process in a relaxed manner according to your taste.

I only need 1 minute for the 3-point measurement on my own body. I have the calculations carried out automatically in Excel.


Congratulations! Now you know almost everything you need to know in order to be able to calculate your body fat percentage - as safely and precisely as possible.

There is one thing you should keep in mind:

No measuring method is one hundred percent accurate.

Measurement errors can always occur. Therefore, you should never attach too much importance to a single measurement.

You want to recognize TRENDS and observe them over time.

If the trend is going in the right direction, stay tuned. If not, nothing. Then you stay relaxed and readjust.

In that case, you should first investigate the cause and then take measures in the next step that will get you back on track.

Question: What method do you use to calculate your body fat percentage? What have you had the best experiences with? Write a comment.

  1. Utter, A.C., Nieman, D.C., Mulford, G.J., Tobin, R., Schumm, S., McInnis, T., and Monk, J.R. 2005. Evaluation of leg-to-leg BIA in assessing body composition of high-school wrestlers. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 37: 1395-1400. [↩]
  2. Wang, JG., Zhang, Y., Chen, HE., Li, Y., Cheng, XG., Xu, L., Guo, Z., Zhao, XS., Sato, T., Cao, QY., Chen, KM., And Li, B. 2013. Comparison of two bioelectrical impedance analysis devices with dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and magnetic resonance imaging in the estimation of body composition. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27: 236-243. [↩]
  3. Vivian H. Heyward: Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription. Human kinetics; Edition: 7, April 21, 2014 [↩]
  4. Lohman, T.G .: Advances in body composition assessment. Current issues in exercise science series. Monograph no. 3. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1992. [↩]
  5. Eckerson, et al .: Validity of Self-Assessment Techniques for Estimating Percent Fat in Men and Women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1998, 12 (4), 243-247 [↩]

Category: Slimming, EquipmentTags: Caliper, Fat, Fitness Equipment, Skin, Body Fat, Body Fat Percentage, Measure Body Fat Percentage, Measure