T Nation

Scales with BF%


Didn't know where to put this, so I'll start here. Anyone have any recommendations on scales that have built in BF% calculations? I'm curious as to how accurate some of them can get.

I need a new bathroom scale so I figured I'd get one with the BF% shit built in. Is it worth it or am I better off just buying a normal scale and calipers?


I'm sure you might be able to find an expensive model that gives some rough idea of where you're at, but as all of these scales and even the handheld devices work on the same basic premise of electrical impedance, I have yet to see one give an accurate assessment.

I purchased one a few years ago just a couple of weeks before I competed in the Mr. America contest. Suffice to say I had very low bodyfat levels. Despite entering a whole host of specific figures regarding my physical statistics, the machine informed me that I was 19% bf. Accurate indeed -lol.

My personal suggestion is that the mirror and regular photos will serve you much better in discerning body composition progress.



Yeah, I figured as much. The mirror and photos are my main tool for progress, but since I need a new scale anyway I thought maybe I could find one that gets somewhere in the ballpark on BF%. Oh well, I'll just get a decent scale and calipers. Thanks Stu!


I use one, but only for progress purposes, not absolute measurements.

When I'm getting leaner the number goes down, and reverse.

Just be consistent with how/when you measure. So, hydration, meals, bathroom visits, est. need to be the same every times.


x2. Mirror and photos will give you a much better, much more accurate idea of your bodyfat level (level, not percent).

If you're going with calipers and you'll be doing it yourself then, like DD said, consider it mainly useful for trending rather than for determining a concrete number. Self-pinching with calipers can be tricky, so just do your best to use repeatable conditions/areas.


Wow I guess you're a full house after all fatty :wink:


The machines aren't accurate. Also, I'm willing to bet many just use a BMI calculator and store the data (Stu I'm betting that's what yours did).

Some claim to send electric impulses and the theory is that fat is less resistive than muscle (since it is less dense) so the delay in return of the signal can help estimate bodyfat. When you consider how cool that technology is, you have to realize how expensive a good sensor is. Plus there are other issues that can throw off the "pulse" going through your body, empty stomach, bowels, whatever. Its cool in theory but not great in reality.

As others have said, buy the scale to measure your weight and track it week to week. Look in the mirror (I recommend pictures because what I see in the mirror is not whats in the pictures I take), and use a tape measurer - though this last one will be slow going.

Good luck!




It's about as precise as shooting darts blindfolded on a board with body fat percentages written on it.

On of my athletes had the same experience Stu did... the guy had veins on his abs and tested at 18%. Called me in panic!

I once tested at 12% in the morning (which was still a high estimation) and 18% in the evening... and that was on one of the most expensive machines (roughly 5000$) why? The more dehydrated you are, the slower the electric current travels through your body, and the higher you will test. So it's not even accurate for progress measurement.

A pure waste of money and time. Except for gyms who just want to sell more personal training/physical evaluation sessions... the more high tech gadgets you have, the easier it is to sell expensive packages to prospective clients.