Weight isnt always the ideal measure of your progress. Bodybuilders or leaner people may want to try these methods to measure body fat:
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1. Waist circumference (WC): a simple way of measuring abdominal fat, especially useful in males who tend to add fat here. Correlations in evaluating studies are moderate to strong (0.5 to 0.8). WC works better for predicting abdominal fat than using waist to hip ratio. (1)
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2. Calipers (skinfold): The most common method used by personal trainers. Calipers use equations to
predict body fat based on thickness of skin when pinched. For optimal results, you need to make sure that the equation you use is suitable for the person being measured. i.e. young woman, obese man, child etc. Accuracy when guessing fat % in an individual is still pretty poor, with an error margin of ±9% fat. Experienced users might have better accuracy, but generally we would recommend to use calipers to FOLLOW-UP changes in bod fat, rather than to tell a client how many % they have. (1)
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3. Impedance: Measures how much your body resists electricity passing through it to predict body fat. The resistance is not only affected by body fat, but also hydration, time of day and more. Measurement results can vary a lot, but errors margins of ±8% fat (1), and is probably better at measuring lean mass than body fat. Impedance measurement through feet is less accurate than through hands and feet. If you do choose to use impedance scales, perform measurements at the same time every morning to control for as many variables as possible. Use the average measurement for the entire week to reduce noise from varying values. This could then be used to follow lean mass development. (2)
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4. Mirrors: Probably the most useful method, given the lack of accuracy of the methods above.
However, when going through weight change, your might struggle with staying objective when you look yourself in the mirror. Sometime you will feel fat even though you aren’t. In that case, having an objective measure like calipers, or change in weight can be useful to complement.
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