Tracking your body fat is one of the best ways to track your progress and success when you are trying to discern whether a program you are following is yielding results. If you don’t know how to do it, it may sound like a daunting task! It’s actually pretty easy – and you don’t have to go anywhere to have it tested. Just think… no embarrassing caliper tests in the PT’s office (save yourself the money too), no cost for underwater measurements (although this is very accurate, it’s not necessary unless you are training for something VERY specific, like a competition), and you can track as often as you would like!
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HOW TO MEASURE YOUR BODY FAT AT HOME
Step 1: Weigh Yourself
Make sure you have a reliable scale for this! You need consistent numbers the entire time you are tracking. Always measure your weight at the exact time of day – ie. when you wake up in the morning. Record the number in lbs.
Remember: Don’t pay attention to that number from a loss standpoint, but rather as a piece of the equation. Read this about why you shouldn’t rely on the scale.
Step 2: Measure the circumference of your forearm (Women ONLY)
This may be easier said than done. Recruit a partner to help if need be, but just make sure you relax your arm and get as accurate a measurement as possible.
Step 3: Measure your wrist (Women ONLY)
This number likely won’t change over time, especially if you are measuring in the bony part, but make sure you check it each time you measure.
Step 4: Measure your waist/abdomen
Women – To find where the tape needs to go, bend to the side. This crease should be the smallest portion of your waist. Another method is to wrap the tape around you and shimmy it back and forth until it rests in the smallest portion of your waist. Just ensure that the measurement is taken at the level of your navel.
Men – You are going to do the opposite of the women! You will be measuring your largest part of your abdomen – typically at navel height. If you have a little bit of a gut, make sure you include that too! Do not take an underbelly measurement!
Remember: Don’t suck it in or cheat yourself on your measurement! It’s important to get an accurate result.
Step 5: Measure your hips (Women ONLY)
Find your widest area, including your behind. Measure the circumference of it.
Step 6: Calculate your lean muscle mass using the following formulas depending on your gender
Women – Use the following formula:
- lean muscle mass = (body weight x 0.732) + (forearm x .434) + (wrist/3.14) – (hips x .0249) – (waist x 0.157) + 8.987
Men – Use the following formula:
- lean muscle mass = (body weight x 1.082) – (waist x 4.15) + 94.42
Step 7: Using your calculated lean muscle mass, calculate your body fat percentage
body fat percentage = ((body weight – lean muscle mass) / weight) x 10037