6 Ways to Measure Your Body Fat

This article will teach you how to measure your body fat. Body fat is an important measurement for determining health, fitness levels and general wellbeing.

The “body fat calculator” is a tool that can be used to measure your body fat. There are 6 different ways to measure your body fat, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.

man measuring waist with tape measure.

If you’re like a lot of guys, your New Year’s resolution is to “reduce weight.”

However, you don’t want to lose weight; instead, you want to shed fat. This difference is important since it affects how you’ll track your progress toward your objective. 

The most frequent method of determining fat loss is to use a standard bathroom scale. The figure on a scale, on the other hand, shows your whole body weight, which contains not just fat, but also muscles, bones, organs, and a lot of water.

A scale doesn’t always offer you an accurate picture of your progress since it doesn’t solely measure fat gain/loss. You may feel and look better, but when you step on the scale, you discover that you’ve gained a few pounds. So, have you gained weight because of fat increase, or is it due to a gain in muscle or water? 

You may gain a few pounds of temporary water weight after a weekend of consuming salty restaurant cuisine, which you’ll lose in a couple of days.

It’s possible to seem to lose weight while really gaining it if you’ve been putting on muscle, which is heavier than fat.

Given these inconsistencies and variations, it’s a good idea to go beyond the usual scale and isolate and monitor your body fat % alone. We’ll go through the many strategies that may be employed to accomplish so in the sections below.

What Body Fat Percentage Should I Aim For?

Let’s speak about the figure you should be striving for before we go into how to assess your body fat %. There are a variety of charts available that show the percentages of good and unhealthy body fat. The American Council on Exercise has a body fat percentage chart:

Description Percentage of body fat (women) Percentage of body fat (men)
Athletes 14%–20% 6%–13%
Fitness 21%–24% 14%–17%
Acceptable 25%–31% 18%–24%
Obesity >32% >25%

Of all, these are just basic suggestions. The main conclusion is that if you’re a guy with a body fat percentage higher than 24%, you should definitely try to lose some weight. I’d suggest the following AoM articles and podcasts for tips on how to lose weight:

  • Why I Eat the Same Thing Every Day: The Groundhog Day Diet
  • How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too while Still Losing Weight
  • Diet and Fat Loss: Everything You Need to Know
  • How to Drop Pounds and Keep Them Off Forever
  • The Gains Doctor’s Diet and Nutritional Advice

If your body fat isn’t more than 24%, I’d say it’s up to you and your own goals/desires/commitment level to decide where you want it to be. Take it from someone who has tried to drop his body fat to the 6% -13% range: it’s difficult. You’re going to be hungry. You’ll be irritable. At work, you’ll be preoccupied. Your gym performance will suffer (you can’t become ripped and powerful at the same time, contrary to common opinion). About a month into the mission, I decided to call it off. I can’t image what it’s like to be a bodybuilder trying to get down to just “essential body fat,” which is around 3% to 5%. There’s a reason they only dress like that during contests and not the rest of the year. It’s neither healthy nor long-term.


I’ve opted to maintain my body fat percentage in the 15-17 percent range since that experiment in attempting to appear shredded. Sure, I don’t look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club, but I’m content with how I appear and how I feel. It seems to work for me. Set a goal that you can achieve.

6 Methods for Measuring Body Fat

There are a variety of methods for calculating body fat. Each technique is different in terms of accuracy and expense; in general, the more costly your body fat measuring gadget is, the more precise the result will be. Keep in mind that there is always a margin of error with every approach, even the most costly.

The most prevalent body fat measurement techniques are listed here, in order of most accessible and least expensive to least accessible and most expensive. 

Method of Tape Measurement

The tape measure technique is the simplest and most affordable way to determine your body fat percentage. All you need is a measuring tape; specialist body measuring tapes are available, but any soft measuring tape will suffice.

Despite its simplicity, research shows that the tape measure technique may have an error rate as low as 2.5–4.5 percent body fat when done properly, which is almost as low as the most costly, high-tech methods on our list. The precision of your measurements is the most important factor in accuracy. 

Based on tape measure measures, there are two approaches to calculate body fat percentage: The US Navy Body Fat Formula or the YMCA Body Fat Formula are two options.

The US Navy Body Fat Formula calls for two measures for males (all measurements should be taken in inches and pounds):

The circumference of the neck just above the Adam’s apple is measured using a neck tape. 

The circumference of the narrowest waist level, positioned halfway between the lowest rib and the top of the hip bone, is measured using a waist tape. 

After you’ve gotten the numbers, plug them into this formula:

Body Fat Percentage (percent) = 86.010 x log10 (abdomen – neck) – 70.041 x log10 (height) + 36.767676767676767676767676767676767676767676767676767676767676767676767676767676767676767676767676767676

You may also use this online US Navy Body Fat Formula Calculator if you don’t want to get out your sliding ruler to calculate your body fat.

You just need to measure your waist circumference to use the YMCA Body Fat Formula. 

The YMCA Formula for males is as follows:

Body Fat Percentage in Men = −98.42 + 4.15a – 0.082b / b

Where a denotes your waist circumference in inches and b denotes your weight in pounds.

You may also use an online YMCA Body Fat Formula Calculator to enter your measurements.

Calipers for Body Fat

A body fat caliper is the second most inexpensive and accessible tool to determine body fat percentage. You squeeze and grip as large a skinfold as you can with this little instrument, then pull it away from your body. The thickness of the skinfold is next measured using the calipers. You may acquire an approximate estimate of your overall body fat % by collecting skinfold measurements in various regions of your body and plugging them into a formula. A body fat caliper may be purchased for $5 on Amazon. 


The disadvantage of body fat calipers is that they are difficult to use; appropriate execution feels squiggy. “Did I get all the fat?” I often question in my experience. Is it possible that I didn’t squeeze hard enough? “Did I stretch it too far?” You may also require someone else to take the measures, depending on the formula you choose, since there are certain spots where you can’t reach and take the measurements yourself. This procedure may not be for you if you don’t want to ask your wife to pinch and measure your back fat.

The three site test and the seven site test are two formulas/methodologies for measuring your body fat using calipers.  

I’ve utilized the three-site test since it’s simple to conduct; all you have to do is measure your chest, belly, and thigh. A partner is required for the seven-site exam. Regardless of the option you choose, the caliper you purchase should have thorough instructions on where and how to use it, as well as a formula/chart that explains what your measurements indicate. 

Body fat calipers have an inaccuracy range of 3.5 percent to 5% when used appropriately.

Scales for measuring body fat

Scales that measure not just your total weight but also your body’s proportion of fat (as well as water and muscle) have been on the market for years. This measurement is made by putting an electrical current through your body (you will not feel anything). Because body fat is electrically resistive, the scale can calculate your body fat percentage by recording where the current meets resistance.

Scales that measure body fat range in price from roughly $20 to close to $100. There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference in accuracy or features throughout this range, so a low-cost, well-reviewed device like this one is a good choice.

Body fat scales are fantastic since they are so simple to use. You just walk on the scale and wait a few seconds while you get zapped with electricity, after which the scale displays your body fat percentage. The fact that the scale also monitors your water % aids in determining if a little increase in total weight indicates that you’ve gained weight or are just bloated on that particular day.

Body fat accuracy might range from a 3.8 percent to a 5% inaccuracy. The quality of your scale or the quantity of water you’re carrying might affect accuracy (while the scale will isolate fat and water percentage measurements, the latter can still mess a bit with the former).

Despite the accuracy difficulties, I use the body fat scale to monitor my body fat since it is so simple to use. I’m not going to be motivated to regularly measure myself with tape or calipers, but using a scale is ridiculously easy. 

Body Scanners in 3D

We’re now moving on to the more costly and less accessible ways of determining body fat. Consumers have recently been able to purchase 3D body scanners that can calculate body fat. These gadgets produce a digital map of your body by rotating infrared sensors around it. The body fat percentage and other bodily tissue compositions are then calculated using an algorithm based on these data.


The inaccuracy rate of 3D scanners is 4% of body fat. 

3D body scanners are simple to use and offer a high level of “coolness.” The disadvantage is that they are difficult to get. To have your body scanned in 3D, you used to have to go to someone’s imaging firm. A startup called Naked has made 3D body scanners accessible for home use these days, but they cost $1,400 each. ShapeScale, another business, is now collecting preorders for a $500 3D body scanner. 

A home 3D scanner could be right for you if you’re a fitness tech geek with cash to spend.

Bod Pod (Body Pod)

The Bod Pod is a sitting pod that looks like an egg. Air pressure sensors assess the amount of air displaced by your body, which may be used to calculate your body fat percentage. With an error rate of around 2-4 percent, accuracy is rather excellent.

The typical man doesn’t need such precision, and the average guy is unlikely to be able or willing to use a Bod Pod in the first place. These devices aren’t widely available, and they’re normally only found in universities and research institutes. With this tool, you may discover the closest Bod Pod nearby you. Each session costs about $75. 

Absorptiometry using Dual-Energy X-Rays (DEXA Scan)

I’ve read about biohacker types utilizing DEXA scans to evaluate their body composition in recent years. DEXA stands for dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and it measures your body fat percentage, as well as bone, muscle, and water content, using two kinds of x-rays. 

The scan takes around 10 minutes and has a 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent mistake rate. 

The accessibility and expense of DEXA scans are disadvantages. They’re normally only accessible at universities, hospitals, and body imaging centers, much like the Bod Pod. Google “[name of large city near you] + DEXA scan” to discover a location where you can have a DEXA scan.

The price varies. In Oklahoma, I’ve seen DEXA scans for as low as $70 and as much as a few hundred dollars. 

It’s All About Consistency

Whatever technique you choose to measure your body fat, you must be consistent with it, repeating the procedure at regular intervals and at the same time of day.

There are several guidelines for how frequently you should weigh/measure oneself, but I personally advocate doing it once a week. Because certain meals and workouts cause changes in your body composition (for example, you’ll always weigh more the day after lifting weights because the resulting inflammation causes you to retain water), tracking day-to-day fluctuations isn’t particularly useful; however, you should check in on your body frequently enough to keep track of whether your fat level is trending up or down. While even once-a-week data are subject to meaningless variations, they provide you with meaningful, reliable trend lines over time. 


If you do decide to weigh yourself weekly, do it on the same day each week; I like Fridays since I tend to overeat on weekends, resulting in a transient weight increase (mostly water) the following days. 

You should take your measures at the same time every day, in addition to measuring yourself at regular intervals. Body composition changes during the day as muscles store glycogen and water as a result of eating and drinking. You’d get drastically different findings if you tested your body fat in the morning one day and then in the evening the following. 

Create your own schedule, adhere to it, and measure your success (and setbacks — they’ll happen, and that’s OK!) over time. 



The “how to measure body fat with tape” is a way to measure your body fat. It is a simple and easy way to know how much of your body is composed of fat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are 5 formal ways to measure your body fat?

A: Waist circumference, skin fold test, bioelectrical impedance body fat tests. They are all different and have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on the goal of the test. The most important thing is to stick with a consistent method that you can measure progress against in order to keep track of your progress over time.

What are ways to measure body fat?

A: You can measure your body fat by taking skinfold measurements. This is done by having someone take the tape measure and wrap it around different parts of your body, such as arms or thighs to get a measurement.
Another way is using caliper readings on specific points on ones hand, arm, thigh etc., but this method needs more training than just looking at the tape measure.

What is the most accurate way to measure your body fat?

A: In order to accurately measure your body fat, you will need a skin fold caliper. This device is much more accurate than other methods due to its ability of measuring subcutaneous adipose tissue which is located below the surface of the skin.

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