If you have read previous articles on the site you would know about
the importance of measuring body fat percentage when tracking weight
gain progress. While you may be gaining on a weight gain program, are
you gaining weight in the form of lean muscle or fat? This can only be
answered accurately if you track your weight gain progress by measuring
body fat percentage. Body fat percentage is the best indicator of
healthy weight gain.
So how do you measure your body fat percentage? There are various ways, some more accurate then others.
Underwater weighing method
Probably the most expensive. You have to find a place where they
perform this measurement. They immerse you in a tank of water and
measure water displacements to calculate your percent of body fat.
You pinch certain areas of the body with calipers and then calculate your body fat based on your measurements. You can buy calipers at large health food stores. Prices for calipers can run from less than $10 up to several hundred depending on the quality of the calipers (e.g. plastic vs. steel). You may need assistance from someone else since you may have to pinch some place that you cannot easily reach.
BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis)
These devices send a small current through the body and calculate
your body fat based on height, weight and the speed at which the current
passes through your body. Tanita makes an electronic scale which
provides both your weight and percent of body fat. There are other BIA
devices besides the Tanita body fat scale. Body fat scales tend to give a
better estimation of body fat when compared with the underwater
weighing method, which previously was the standard method for body
BMI (Body Mass Index)
This is a calculation that uses your weight (in Kilograms) divided by
your (height x height) (in meters). This number does not take into
account your body type; but is supposed to correlate close to your
percent of body fat for the general populace. However, this method is
not accurate for weightlifters who in general have a higher mass of
muscle and a lower percentage of body fat.
The formula to calculate BMI is Weight/(height x height) where weight is in Kg and height is in meters.