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How To Get Back In Shape

  Calculating Body Fat Percentage


 Skin Caliper
BIA Monitors
 Circumference Formulas

 Underwater Weighing
 Dexa and/or Bod Pod
Body Fat % Chart

You know your body weight, but do you know your Body Fat Percentage?  Your body fat percentage can give you more information about your health than your weight.  Having a high percent of body fat in comparison to your lean muscle mass increases your health risks for disease. Lowering your body fat percentage to a healthy range will make you look and feel better.

Calculating your body fat percentage is not as easy as hopping on the scales.  The following self-assessment methods describe ways that you can calculate your body fat percentage at home, inexpensively.  Your body fat percentage and waist measurements are important to track as you get back in shape.  Which method is right for you?









  Body Fat %

 Omron Full Body Sensor Body Fat and Body Composition Monitor


AccuMeasure MyoTape MT05 and AM-3000 Fitness 3000 Personal Body Fat Tester Kit

Skin Caliper Method: 
The skin caliper method pinches the skin and shows the number of millimeters of underlying fat.  For accuracy, these measurements are usually taken at 4 or more points on the body, and the results are fed into one of several formulas.

For simplicity, the AccuMeasure requires you to only take one measurement at the suprailiac skin fold (on the abdomen).

Accumeasure then has a chart that converts the millimeters of fat into your body fat percentage. 

While imperfect, using the Accumeasure can give you a fairly reliable and reproducible number (within a margin of error).  The more you practice with it to get consistent, the better your readings will be.  This is the easiest and most convenient way to check your body fat percentage at home. 

The AccuMeasure measures up to 60 mm of fat.  The thinner the skinfold, the more reliable your reading will be. 

Adding the MyoTape allows you to easily take circumference measurements. >>>>>>>

click here

Home Body Fat Monitors
Bioelectrical impedance analysis

Home body fat scales are another easy way to determine your body fat percentage.  These send a weak electrical current thru the body to measure its impedance or resistance.  

                        click here

Fat has a different level of impedance than muscle, bone and other tissues.  The devices that you step on measure the lower half of the body; and the hand held models measure the upper half of the body.

Omron's full body sensor and body composition monitor combines both your upper and lower halves to get a more accurate estimation of your body fat percentage.   This Omron unit has 4 sensors for the feet plus 2 sensors in a hand held portion.

Studies show that the Omron unit does tend to overestimate body fat.  However, when used to evaluate progress in your fitness program,  it will give you a good indication of your progress as you see the trend toward lower and lower body fat measurements.

Because the level of your hydration can influence results, it is best to take your readings at the same time of day, preferably just after you get up in the morning, before you eat or drink and after voiding.  Results will vary depending on your hydration levels.  Women's results will also vary with their menstrual cycle and water retention.

 Get Back in Shape by lowering your body fat percentage. Monitor your body fat with an AccuMeasure Skinfold Caliper.

SupraIliac SkinFold Measured with an AccuMeasure

 Use the chart to read your body fat percentage according to age and mm of skinfold measurement. Your program to Get Back In Shape should see your body fat percentage normalizing. To lower your body fat percentage, increase your lean muscle mass with strength training. Click Here for Larger View



 Home Body Fat Monitor

  The Omron Body
  Fat Monitor uses a small
  electrical current. 
 Do Not Use a BIA -
  a Bioelectrical impedance
  analysis monitor if you:

  • Have a Cardiac Pacemaker  
  • Or if you are Pregnant 

Ask you doctor if bioelectrical  impedance analysis is ok for you.

Body Fat Percentage Methods:

1.  Skin Calipers
2.  BIA Monitors
3.  Circumference Formulas
4.  Underwater Weighing
5.  DEXA
6.  Bod Pod

To lower your body fat percentage, increase your lean muscle mass with
resistance training


Circumference Body Fat Formula or girth measurements allow you to calculate your body fat percentage by using circumference measurements taken with a tape measure. 

One formula uses the following measurements: 

Women - height, waist, hips, and the neck at the Adam's apple
Men - height, waist, and neck
See to apply this formula. 

Another formula used to calculate body fat percentage uses the wrist and forearm measurements is as follows:

     Body Fat Formula For Women
Factor 1 (Total body weight x 0.732) + 8.987
Factor 2 Wrist measurement (at fullest point) / 3.140
Factor 3 Waist measurement (at naval) x 0.157
Factor 4 Hip measurement (at fullest point) x 0.249
Factor 5 Forearm measurement (at fullest point) x 0.434
Lean Body Mass Factor 1 + Factor 2 - Factor 3 - Factor 4 + Factor 5
Body Fat Weight Total bodyweight - Lean Body Mass
Body Fat Percentage (Body Fat Weight x 100) / total bodyweight
Body Fat Formula For Men
Factor 1 (Total body weight x 1.082) + 94.42
Factor 2 Waist measurement x 4.15
Lean Body Mass Factor 1 - Factor 2
Body Fat Weight Total bodyweight - Lean Body Mass
Body Fat Percentage (Body Fat Weight x 100) / total bodyweight

Dave Draper and Hugo Rivera give you a link to use this body fat formula in an Excel Spreadsheet for an easier way to calculate your body fat percentage.

Remember that NONE of these methods, formulas, calipers or BIA monitors are completely accurate.  But if they are used to monitor how your body fat percentage is trending, they can give you a good idea if your weight loss program is targeting fat loss or lean muscle mass.


If your weight is reducing, but your body fat percentage is not getting lower, you need to take a new look at your weight loss program.  For example, if you are losing weight because you have slashed calories beyond what your body needs to function, you are setting yourself up for failure. 

Insufficient nutrients may cause you to lose lean muscle mass.  To adjust your program you may have to increase your healthy calories and add resistance training to build more lean muscle.   Monitoring your body fat percentage will help you lose fat successfully.

The body fat calculating methods presented here are inexpensive and can be done at home so that you can keep track of your progress.  If you require more accurate body composition analysis, you would need either Underwater Weighing or DEXA - Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry.

Underwater Weighing is often referred to as the gold standard along with the Dexa Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry Test.  However, because these two Methods are expensive and impractical for frequent reassessment, we will only say that if they are available to you and within your budget, then these are the most accurate.  

Bod Pod testing is similar in accuracy to underwater weighing.  For the test, you sit in the pod which is shaped like an egg.  Because it is based on air displacement rather than water displacement it is a more convenient test and generally less expensive.  Finding a bod pod location however may not be as easy.


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