Measuring Body Fat Percentages
Skin fold measurements are done by using calipers to measure pinches of subcutaneous body fat, taken from a series of points on the body. These measurements are then converted into body fat percentages by using a mathematical formula.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis measures body fat percentages by sending a small electrical current through the body and recording the amount of time it takes for the signal to pass through the body.
The following chart from the American Council on Exercise puts body fat percentages into categories ranging from obese to athletic.
Once you have your body fat percentage, you can calculate the amount of lean body mass and the amount of fat mass that you have.
(Body weight x Body Fat %) = Fat Mass
(Body weight – Fat mass) = Lean Body mass
Lean body mass is a measurement of muscle and bone structure in the body
Fat Mass is the amount of fat you have on your body.
Why is it important to know what your body fat percentage is?
It is important to know what your body fat percentage is so that you can understand what body fat category that you follow under. This information is important when you begin an exercise program. This information can be valuable for goal setting and as a way of monitoring the progress you’re making with your exercise and nutrition programs.
Whether I am working with my personal training clients, boot camp classes, or online training clients, we always have an initial fitness assessment prior to beginning a new exercise program. During this fitness assessment we will measure body fat, girth measurements, height, weight, and a few other fitness tests.
The reason for this is that these numbers give valuable information that we use for goal setting and exercise program planning. Every 4-6 weeks I will continue to retest my clients as a way of monitoring their progress and motivating them.
If you have not had a fitness assessment done already I strongly recommend asking your doctor or local personal trainer to give you an assessment. This way you can give yourself a starting point to work from.
You can also give yourself an assessment. All you need is a scale, tape measure, and a hand held bioelectrical impedance analysis devise.
Click Here for More information on Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis
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