What’s up team!
I’m now 4 weeks out from my next competition and I am as excited as ever. A great way to make sure that I’m on track with my progress is to track my body fat %.
Of course, keeping track of your weight and energy levels are also important but body fat percentages gives you more detail in regard to where you’re holding the fat.
So, for instance if you’re holding more fat in your legs, depending on which test you take the machine on can tell you how much fat and which leg has more fat than the other.
Totally cool right?
My goal is to get my measurements now and at the end of 4 weeks do it again for another recording.
I want you all to do this with me as I go along!
I did my measurements with a dexa scan which is the platinum standard for body composition testing. However, the dexa scan isn’t usually that accessible unless you know somebody who works in an exercise physiology lab or if you live in the area around a dexabody.com truck.
There’s many ways to measure body fat percentage and here are the top 5 including the advantages and disadvantages of each.
1. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) is a device that sends low-level, safe, electrical current through the body. Just about every gym has one of these machines. Its quick, easy, and painless to use. Through this method, body composition and body fat percentage are measured.
Pros: The BIA can be easily found and you don’t need a certified operater to give you your restuls.
Cons: Readings can be affected by hydration levels, food intake, skin temperature, and other factors, like weight. This type of analysis is straightforward to use however, the results on this machine can vary + or – 15.
2. Skin Calipers
This method is done by measuring the amount of body fat covering muscles under the skin in several locations on the body by lightly squeezing an area of folded skin with the calipers. You would need a fitness professional to calculate the total percentage based from the data gathered.
Pros: Skin caliper measurements are the cheapest and least complicated form of testing fats percentage. It is a top choice for regular, practical and affordable testing.
Cons: It's possible the margin for error is higher when you're testing yourself with calipers instead of using other higher forms of fat percentage testing devices.
Depending on who does your test, the results also may be off + or – 10
3. Bod Pod
In this method the machine will measure the air displace, which is plugged into a formula to determine body fat percentage. You’ll have to wear skin tight clothing and be in the bod pod for 5-8 minutes.
Pros: Perfect method for children, the elderly, and disabled individuals may have trouble being still. Easy and very quick test process. Depending on calibration this method can be at + or – 7.
Cons: Not many facilities use the Bod Pod so it can be difficult to locate one. It also requires skintight clothing, such as spandex shorts, swim cap, and swimwear
4. Hydro static weighing
Hydrostatic weighing is a method used where the person is submerged under water and weighed. This weight is compared to their normal weight and calculated with considerations of the density of water.
Pros: Believed to be most accurate. It is considered “gold standard” of measuring body fat percentage. This method can be at + or – 5.
Cons: It is very inconvenient as it needs a lab, hospital, or specialty center so unless you are in absolute need of a very accurate reading, this method might not be worth the time. It is also very costly.
DEXASCAN or Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometryinvolves the use of X-Ray technology. It measures the absorption of high and low energy ray beams.
Pros: A very quick procedure. DEXA scanning is superior in accuracy to skin calipers, bioelectrical impedance, bod pod, and hydro static weighing.
Cons: Same with hydrostatic weighing, DEXA scanning requires special equipments and facility. Thusscheduling an appointment is essential.
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