3 Ways to Measure Body Composition

by in Weight Loss

skinfold calipersIf you’re moving along with your fat burning workouts, there’s no question that you should start taking the time to get some body composition measurements taken.  Far too many people are putting all their emphasis on what the scale weight is and this can really cause a number of errors.

Essentially, the scale won’t really tell you whether you have been effective at the ability to burn fat or not since it’s just giving you that raw weight.  Instead, you want something that will indicate whether the weight change was because of body fat loss or lean muscle mass gained (or in some cases, lean muscle mass loss – which is what you don’t want).

This is what will give you a much more clear picture and allow you to get a closer look at whether you need to make some quick changes so you can burn fat faster.

Let’s take a look at the top three ways to measure body composition.


The first method to measure body composition is with a DEXA machine.  These tend to be the most accurate methods however they are only available at universities or hospitals, so for most people may be a bit out of reach.  These machines will scan your body however and determine which percentage of body mass is made up from body fat tissue so will give you a reliable answer as to what your progress has been like.

Skin Calipers

The second type of body composition method is skin calipers. This tends to be the more affordable and common method for most people since it’s typically done right in the gym you frequent.

The trainer who is doing the body fat test will use the calipers to pinch a section of skin in 5 or 7 different places and measure, in millimeters, how thick the body fat tissue is.  This is then plugged into an equation and you’ll learn what your estimated overall body fat percentage is.

While this isn’t quite as accurate as the DEXA reading is, it can give a good indication of whether you’re increasing or decreasing in your measurement, which is really all you need to know anyway.  If that thickness is decreasing over time, you’re right on track for results.

Underwater Weighing

Finally you have the last option which is underwater weighing.  This method is also usually only performed in universities and is quite accurate as well. To complete it you’ll be fully submerged in a tank of water and then the amount of water displacement from that tank would be measured.

Since fat will displace water while lean tissue will not, this then can determine how much of your body weight is made up from fatty tissues.

Any way you want to look at it, getting a body composition test done is a highly recommended thing to do if you’re currently on a fat loss program.  It gives you a much more complete picture about your progress and can put your mind at ease that all those hard workouts you’re doing are in fact paying off.

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