T Nation


Hey I was just wondering what you guys thought of that tanita body fat scale. I need a semi accurate way to measure my body fat. I know that calipers are much more accurate but the cheapest I’ve seen them is 225$. Should I even bother with the scale or just start saving for the calipers?

you can get some cheap ass calibers from walmart or some other store that will do a good enough job.

Tanita’s are pretty decent at tracking changes in body fat, assuming your hydration level doesn’t differ much from the last weigh-in. The absolute number is generally way the hell off.

Calipers are entirely dependent on your measuring technique and the percentage formula.

But that doesn’t matter. If the ultimate goal is merely to look good, full-length mirrors and polaroids are a better gauge of progress.


I bought a pair of really nice (lange) fairly new calipers for $100 off of ebay (normal price is around $200 I think.

If all you want is a number, then the Tanita scales will suit your needs. Honestly, though, for the relatively lean, exercising population, these will provide very little accuracy. Case in point: Yesterday in Lab Techniques class, seven lean, exercising males (from bodybuilding to triathletes) got estimates that were 5-7% high.

The reliability of such seems to be okay, so you’d be able to track relative changes, which is very critical.

While calipers are very much dependent on the measurement technique and the technician–like Knight said–the percentage equation is over-stressed. Yes, you need the proper equation to decipher body density from the skinfold sites that you measured, but my point is that you should be less concerned with an absolute percentage than with changes in individual skinfolds.