T Nation

No Calipers but Using Tape for Bodyfat...


#1

Howdy.

I'm not able to get my hands on a set of calipers but I have measure tape. I know you can use a combination of measurements and input them into online calculators to generate an approximate bodyfat reading.

I also remember the really cool article Ellington Darden(http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/lost_training_tips_an_oldschool_collection_of_muscle_insight&cr=) put up and how it said you could use the difference in measurement between flexed and unflexed bicep to determine fat levels as well.
So... Bodyfat calculators will give me a reading of over 20% on account of my waist being thick. However running with the Darden method I'm well below 10%.

For the record I'm definitely above 10% (seriously now lads), but I'd be amazed to think I was above 20%.

I'd love a little bit of an explanation on this one. I always always had a thick waist, even at very low fat levels, currently at around 37 inches, but thats with no pronounced gut or serious love handles.

I do know that much of the fat I've gained of recent months would have gone on during high stress periods so I'm also wondering if that could have the result of putting much fat on my waist, while leaving my arms superficially lean, thus accounting for the major difference between the results I've gotten.

Cheers.


#2

None of these methods are very accurate.


#3

I know, but I don't have a callipers nor can I easily get one out here. I don't want to know my fat levels to a very accurate level anyway, I would be perfectly happy with a moderate estimate, within a range of 2 or 3% accuracy.


#4

At the very least, you'll be able to measure progress so there is that.


#5

Well yeah, and the biceps flexed/unflexed measurement has proven so far to be good at telling me I'm making progress. In the last month the difference between the measurements has gone up a half inch at least (I'm on fat loss).

I've never really known my true bodyfat, just judged it by times when I had the six pack and times when I looked too soft. Its becoming important to me now because of goal setting. I'm trying to drop back down to having my abs reasonably visible, so I want to be able to make the calculation in order to say "ok, 6 weeks to go" or (god help me) "12 weeks to go". It's much harder to stay motivated, I think, when you're cutting with no idea of how long you'll be doing it.


#6

On the other hand, if your triceps improve relative to the biceps, this measurement difference would go down, which would have you wrongly thinking you had gotten fatter.

Why not go by hip and waist measurements to judge fat loss results? And not worry about percentage, because percentage won't be accurately calculated anyway.


#7

I have found the simplest way for me to measure bodyfat is to measure the circumference around my belly-button. When it goes down, I'm making progress, regardless of what the scale says. If it's going up, I'm gaining fat.

It is very inexact, and cannot give you your BF% specifically, but can inform you as to which way your progress is headed.

In this, I second Bill Roberts' suggestion.


#8

Ya, thats very true guys. It is a nice tool to have to measure progress, even if i can't accurately determine what my current levels are. Thanks for the input by the way guys.

While on the subject though, how realistic do you think it is to suppose that greater than usual proportion of fat gained may have been deposited at the waist during high stress periods. I've heard the idea before, but it sounds a little fanciful.
The upside of it is that if it is true then for every pound I drop, a very good proportion of that should be from my middle region.