T Nation

How to Measure Body Fat?

I am 18, 6’2 and 86KG, I have some expensive scales so I assumed they were right when they said I had 6% body fat. However this seems unlikely as a recent article said that anything under 10% was competitive bodybuilding and whilst I train 5 times a week I wouldn’t consider myself to be considered a professional, I was wondering if the scales are wrong or inaccurate and are there other ways of measuring body fat percentages?

Just pick up some cheap calipers and get used to doing a 3-point measurement (abs, chest & thigh) and use it for tracking purposes. You can derive a BF % from these measurements but it will likely be wrong. Just use to track progress.

For 6’2 86kg sounds extremely lean it may be right

Google it is the obvious answer. You’ll find that body fat is an elusive number to quantify with different methods of assessing, none of which are very accurate. Using one method consistently will tell you how you are doing relative to how you were doing. It will help you track progress.

You can use calipers, BIA (scales and hand held), Dexa-scan, water displacement, tape measure, and probably a few other ways. Most argue that Dexa or water displacement are the most accurate but they have their flaws. I saw a dude that posted a picture of himself and there was no way he was over 12 percent and he had just had a water displacement measurement that put him at 23 percent (he had a six pack, not abs, a six pack).

For experienced folk, the mirror might be the best measure. You can get an idea of what different percentages look like by googling it and comparing yourself, but those are still inaccurate.

So, you might be in that range. Bodybuilders are in that range but with a hell of a lot of lean body mass. You could be six percent but at 6 feet tall and 135 pounds, you’re not going to impress any judges. It all depends on the total package.

Hehe, I said package.

Competitive BBers have extremely low levels bodyfat and extremely high levels of muscle mass. Having either one alone does not a competitive BBer make.

At a height of 6’2", a lean 86 kg might be competitive in an amateur Physique contest. I can’t see someone with those proportions being competitive in any but a very small/local BBing contest.

Why measure bodyfat is a much better question. Because, as I’ve said before, bodyfat is like IQ. The only reason to get it tested is so you can go around telling people your score. Other than that, the number has precisely zero influence on anything in the real world.

6% bodyfat at your size would mean you have fully displayed 6-pack at all times (not flexing) along with defined obliques, side delt-upper arm tie-ins, and clear definition on the quads.

If you really, really, really want an idea of your bodyfat percentage, toss up a pic and we can guesstimate. That’ll be as accurate as most other methods, short of a DEXA scan.