T Nation

Body Composition - Help!

I really need some help guys!

I have been the owner of a FatTrack II set of callipers for the last couple of weeks and the readings I am getting back have been really frustrating.

Now I do not have a particulary good physique at all - hence why I purchased these things to help track my progress and the such. My bodyfat is simply to high at present - love handles and gut overhands slightly over trousers when I wear them, I have a “smooth” look all over and I wouldnt dream of wandering around with my top of (oh and abs are godamn invisible).

Yet this annoying contraption this morning decided to bleep at me at tell me I am floating at 10.7% bodyfat (and that was after 3 attempts to average things out!).

I have been doing 3 readings every morning for the past couple of weeks and the readings have gone from an average of 14.2 down to the aforementioned 10.7. Of course I put down the initial readings simply to inexperience with the callipers but the readings are getting more and more consistent now.

I am using the default 3 site method that comes as standard with these things… a method that I know a lot of people have had success with!

Typical readings I seem to get for each bodypart:

Chest: 5-6mm (<–wtf?!)
Mid section: 20-22mm (?!)
Thighs: 14-16mm

Also the thighs are a real bastard to measure properly - have to pinch so frigging hard.

Well thats my situation…

I would REALLY appreciate some intelligent input and not just “YOU ONLY NEED A MIRROR”. (I do use a mirror however I would like callipers for tracking progress from week to week).

Put the calipers in a box and underneath your bed or somewhere else, start reading up articles on this site about nutrition and training, nail a good solid diet and a appropriate workout plan, follow it through for 6-12 months and your body composition will have changed dramatically.

[quote]benmoore wrote:

I have been doing 3 readings every morning for the past couple of weeks

I would REALLY appreciate some intelligent input and not just “YOU ONLY NEED A MIRROR”. (I do use a mirror however I would like callipers for tracking progress from week to week).

[/quote]

I see this as your problem first and foremost. Everyday for weeks sounds like OCD and you need to relax and let change happen gradually my man. Calipers do have a place in marking progress but I would be doing them once monthly at most, and preferably having someone(same person each time) trained to use them do it. It’s not what you want to hear but it’s the truth.

Thank you to both of the above posters for their input however I am looking into using a biweekly appraisal method of progressing my body composition as outlined by Berardi in Massive Eating Reloaded part 1 (http://www.T-Nation.com/readArticle.do?id=459429).

Every couple of weeks I would like to be able to be able to check up on my body composition and assess whether or not I should up or drop some calories or whatever.

At present I am trying to get some level of consistency with my callipers so I am able to check body composition myself (hence the high volume of readings over the last few weeks)… practice makes perfect and all that.

Also by taking readings every day I can build up a weekly average - minimising any anomalies such as under/over hydration, etc.

There are two explanations for why it would compute the wrong body fat for you:

  1. You are missing your sites. This is important especially in the belly region where the pinch is likely to change a lot if you are missing the site by an inch. I believe with the FTII, the pinch should be 2 inches to the side of the navel.

  2. You don’t fit the model described by the statistics of the FTII. It is only a 3 site test, which is not likely to be hugely accurate. It’s fine to use it as a gauge for change, but not for accuracy.

send me that caliper so I can verify the accuracy. In the meantime go and read Berardi’s 7 habit article.

[quote]graphicsMan wrote:
There are two explanations for why it would compute the wrong body fat for you:

  1. You are missing your sites. This is important especially in the belly region where the pinch is likely to change a lot if you are missing the site by an inch. I believe with the FTII, the pinch should be 2 inches to the side of the navel.

  2. You don’t fit the model described by the statistics of the FTII. It is only a 3 site test, which is not likely to be hugely accurate. It’s fine to use it as a gauge for change, but not for accuracy.

[/quote]

Thank you! Very useful response =]

Aye the midsection pinch you specify causes a bit of confusion for me… I have already read that it is 1 inch to the side of the navel… but if we are using a 3 inch pinch then well that is clearly not going to work lol. I shall use your 2 inch guideline and see how things work out.

Are there any other models that use a number of sites greater then 3 but are in places where an individual can test his or her self?

Calipers are a bit annoying to use. I prefer an impedance unit, even though theoretically the readings aren’t quite as accurate.

do them all at the same time of day with consistent diet, water can change results alot as can creatine etc

What’s your height/weight/waist size? The results might be somewhat accurate - you just might not have much muscle or carry a higher proportion of visceral fat. Also check out the Navy bodyfat testing method to see if it’s in the same ballpark.

[quote]benmoore wrote:
I really need some help guys!

I have been the owner of a FatTrack II set of callipers for the last couple of weeks and the readings I am getting back have been really frustrating.

Now I do not have a particulary good physique at all - hence why I purchased these things to help track my progress and the such. My bodyfat is simply to high at present - love handles and gut overhands slightly over trousers when I wear them, I have a “smooth” look all over and I wouldnt dream of wandering around with my top of (oh and abs are godamn invisible).

Yet this annoying contraption this morning decided to bleep at me at tell me I am floating at 10.7% bodyfat (and that was after 3 attempts to average things out!).

I have been doing 3 readings every morning for the past couple of weeks and the readings have gone from an average of 14.2 down to the aforementioned 10.7. Of course I put down the initial readings simply to inexperience with the callipers but the readings are getting more and more consistent now.

I am using the default 3 site method that comes as standard with these things… a method that I know a lot of people have had success with!

Typical readings I seem to get for each bodypart:

Chest: 5-6mm (<–wtf?!)
Mid section: 20-22mm (?!)
Thighs: 14-16mm

Also the thighs are a real bastard to measure properly - have to pinch so frigging hard.

Well thats my situation…

I would REALLY appreciate some intelligent input and not just “YOU ONLY NEED A MIRROR”. (I do use a mirror however I would like callipers for tracking progress from week to week).

[/quote]
i had he same thing happen,kind of, i thought i was quite average at the time, and i got a 10% reading, i think its because of me wanting to be 5%, i saw myself as fat anyway, and 10% isnt that lean and can look bad on some people, also people store fat in different parts so if ur a love handle man like me, and ur doing stomach arms and sub scap, then its goin to be inaccurate, my advice, keep getting leaner, dont give up, and a tan makes any bump look like its supposed to be there

Read up on calliper technique some more. Get more detail with regards to sampling at specific points… you can also use single points to track.

Take 3 full readings (3 sets of 3 sample sites), log the final bodyfat readings, average them and perhaps even work out the standard deviation. I made an excel chart for this.

Standard deviation will let you know how great the spread of your data is… high would be very erratic and low would be falling within 0.1 of eachother etc.

Hell I even made a graph because I like looking at numbers to see my progress.

Simply keep doing this every damn day and week by week you will notice your standard deviation (and thus your consistency) improving massively!

In the end however I did get fed up of pinching myself and bought a high quality BIA scale :stuck_out_tongue: Not so accurate I know but I take the average of the entire week.

[quote]Petrichor wrote:
Put the calipers in a box and underneath your bed or somewhere else, start reading up articles on this site about nutrition and training, nail a good solid diet and a appropriate workout plan, follow it through for 6-12 months and your body composition will have changed dramatically.[/quote]

Best post!!!

How “bad” you look at 10% has less to do with your “pattern of fat storage” and more to do with your frame, muscular proportions, muscle shape and last but not the least, the amount of muscle you’re carrying on your frame, assuming its enough to determine your body shape rather than the fat covering it. If your “pattern of fat storage” makes you look bad at 10% body fat, you just don’t have the muscular make-up to have a good shape, thats all!

[quote]benmoore wrote:
Read up on calliper technique some more. Get more detail with regards to sampling at specific points… you can also use single points to track.

Take 3 full readings (3 sets of 3 sample sites), log the final bodyfat readings, average them and perhaps even work out the standard deviation. I made an excel chart for this.

Standard deviation will let you know how great the spread of your data is… high would be very erratic and low would be falling within 0.1 of eachother etc.

Hell I even made a graph because I like looking at numbers to see my progress.

Simply keep doing this every damn day and week by week you will notice your standard deviation (and thus your consistency) improving massively!

In the end however I did get fed up of pinching myself and bought a high quality BIA scale :stuck_out_tongue: Not so accurate I know but I take the average of the entire week.[/quote]

Wow!!! But unless your graph has real-time tracking you can’t be that accurate. Wouldn’t it be simpler to perform an autopsy at the same time every day, do a tissue separation and analysis and then revive yourself at 6:30AM the next day.

Where you are at right now… Why bother? You are calipering like you are expecting to suddenly be shredded and worthy of the rank titan.

[quote]Petrichor wrote:
Put the calipers in a box and underneath your bed or somewhere else, start reading up articles on this site about nutrition and training, nail a good solid diet and a appropriate workout plan, follow it through for 6-12 months and your body composition will have changed dramatically. [/quote]

Change takes time - focus on what you are doing @ the gym, with your mouth, and in bed.

If you’re referring to a small white pair of electronic calipers that relies on your thumb (or finger, I can’t recall) squeezing it as you perform the measurement, my experience with one of those was that it became more and more in error, compared to manual calipers, with time and eventually become completely flaky.

I agree with the other guys put that thing away or better yet bring it back to the store. Let your mirror tell you that your bodies changing not some crappy machine, make sure that your nutrition is tight and follow a good routine consistantly for 12 weeks and you’ll see some good results.