Body Fat Calculator and Complete Body Fat Caliper Guide
Most of us use the scale and mirror to indicate progress. Both of these tools can be powerful and effective when employed correctly, but often times we forget about the other available fitness measurement tools.
The goal of this article is to provide you with a comprehensive guide on one of the most helpful fitness tools out there the body fat caliper. Body fat calipers are a safe, portable, convenient, and cost-effective way to determine how much of your body is comprised of fat mass versus lean mass.
They can help to ensure you're not gaining too much fat during a mass gain phase and to ensure maximize you fat loss during a fat loss phase. Body fat caliper utilize skinfold measurements which can then be plugged in to numerous formulas you provide you with an output of the percentage value that your body is made up of fat mass.
Tiger Fitness sells two body fat caliper products. The AccuFitness Accu-Measure Fitness 3000 Caliper is the golden standard for manual calipers. The AccuFitness FatTrack Gold Premium is a bundle pack which includes a digital caliper and AccuFitness MyoTape.
The digital caliper offers a numerical output for the user which increases the precision and accuracy of a skinfold measurement. The AccuFitness MyoTape doesn't measure skinfolds but rather the circumference of body parts like the wrist, neck, and waist.
The MyoTape is an excellent tool to track the progress of body parts such as the waist, arms, and thighs.
How to Use Body Fat CalipersTo maximize the accuracy of body fat calipers, it's important to take measurements under the same conditions every time. This means you should take the measurement no more than once per week, on the same day, immediately upon waking, after bowel movements, and on an empty stomach.
As the number of sites measured and used in the body fat calculation formula increases, the output value increases in both accuracy and precision. For example, a formula using a 7-site skinfold measurement is going to provide a more reliable body fat percentage than one utilizing a 3-site skinfold measurement.
The table below shows 8 popular skinfold-based body fat caliper approaches ordered from the most to least number of measurement sites: 
|Common Skinfold Body fat Caliper Tests|
|Source||# of Sites||Site Locations|
|Parrillo||9||Male & Female - chest, abdominal, thigh, bicep, tricep, subscapular, suprailiac, lower back, calf|
|Jackson/Pollack||7||Male & Female - chest, abdominal, thigh, tricep, subscapular, suprailiac, midaxillary|
|Yuhasz||6||Male Variation 1 - tricep, subscapular, suprailiac, abdominal, thigh, calf Male Variation 2 - chest, tricep, subscapular, suprailiac, abdominal, thigh Female - tricep, subscapular, suprailiac, abdominal, thigh, calf|
|Jackson/Pollack||4||Male & Female - abdominal, thigh, tricep, suprailiac|
|Durnin/Womersley||4||Male & Female - bicep, tricep, subscapular, suprailiac|
|Jackson/Pollack||3||Male -chest, abdominal, thigh Female - tricep, suprailiac, thigh|
|Sloan||2||Male - thigh and subscapular Female - suprailiac and tricep|
|Behnke/Wilmore||1||Male & Female - abdominal|
For manual calipers the margin of error averages 7.5% in women and 8.6% in men.  This value decreases if you use a digital rather than a manual caliper.Now that we're armed with a number of body fat caliper approaches, let's examine where each of these skinfold measurements are located. The table below shows skinfold measurement location based on gender. With the exception of the chest skinfold all measurement locations are identical for males and females: 
|Common Skinfold Body fat Caliper Tests|
|Location Name||Locations on Males||Locations on Females|
|Chest||Diagonal fold, midway between upper armpit and nipple||Diagonal fold, one third of the way between upper armpit and nipple|
|Abdominal||Vertical fold, one inch to the right of navel||Vertical fold, one inch to the right of navel|
|Thigh||Vertical fold, midway between knee cap and top of thigh||Vertical fold, midway between knee cap and top of thigh|
|Tricep||Vertical fold, midway between elbow and shoulder||Vertical fold, midway between elbow and shoulder|
|Suprailiac||Diagonal fold, directly above iliac crest||Diagonal fold, directly above iliac crest|
|Subscapular||Diagonal fold, directly below shoulder blade||Diagonal fold, directly below shoulder blade|
|Midaxillary||Horizontal fold, directly below armpit||Horizontal fold, directly below armpit|
|Bicep||Vertical fold, halfway between shoulder and elbow, directly on bicep||Vertical fold, halfway between shoulder and elbow, directly on bicep|
|Lower Back||Horizontal fold, directly over the kidneys, and 2 inches to the right of spine||Horizontal fold, directly over the kidneys, and 2 inches to the right of spine|
|Calf||Vertical fold, inside of leg on largest part of calf||Vertical fold, inside of leg on largest part of calf|
Jackson & Pollack provide 3 different formulas to calculate bone density:
- 7-site (Male & Female): Bone Density = 0.11200000 - 0.00043499(Y) + 0.00000055(Y^2) - 0.00028826 (Age in Years) where Y = the sum of chest, axilla, triceps, subscapular, abdomen, suprailium, and thigh skinfolds in millimeters. 
- 3-site (Female): Bone Density = 1.0994921 - 0.0009929(Z) + 0.0000023(Z^2) - 0.0001392(Age in Years) where Z = sum of triceps, suprailiac, and thigh skinfold measurements. 
- 3-site (Male): Bone Density = 1.1093800 - 0.0008267(X) + 0.0000016(X^2) - 0.0002574(Age in Years) where X = sum of chest, abdominal, and thigh skinfold measurements. 
|Durnin & Womersley|
|Age in Years||Males||Females|
|Less than 17||1.1533 - (0.0643)(logX)||1.1369 - (0.0598)(logX)|
|17 to 19||1.1620 - (0.0630)(logX)||1.1549 - (0.0678)(logX)|
|20 to 29||1.1631 - (0.0632)(logX)||1.1599 - (0.0717)(logX)|
|30 to 39||1.1422 - (0.0544)(logX)||1.1423 - (0.0632)(logX)|
|40 to 49||1.1620 - (0.0700)(logX)||1.1333 - (0.0612)(logX)|
|Greater than 50||1.1715 - (0.0779)(logX)||- (0.0645)(logX)|
- (Male): Bone Density = 1.1043 - (0.001327)(B) - (0.00131)(C) where B = thigh skinfold and C= subscapular skinfold in millimeters
- (Female): Bone Density = 1.0764 - (0.0008)(X) - (0.00088)(Y) where X = iliac crest skinfold and Y= tricep skinfold in millimeters
- Siri Body Fat % = [(495 / Body Density) -450](100)
- Brozek Body Fat % = [(4.570 / Body Density) - 4.142](100)
- Parrillo 9-site (Male & Female): Body Fat % = [A x 27]/Bodyweight in pounds where A = sum of chest, abdominal, thigh, bicep, tricep, subscapular, suprailiac, lower back, and calf skinfolds in millimeters. 
- Behnke and Wilmore (Male & Female): Body Fat % = Total weight - lean body weight where lean body weight = 10.26 + 0.7927(body weight in kilograms) 0.3676(abdominal skinfold in millimeters). 
- Yuhasz 2-site (Male Variation 1): Body Fat % = (0.1051)(W) + 2.585 where W= tricep, subscapular, suprailiac, abdominal, thigh and calf skinfolds in millimeters. 
- Yuhasz 2-site (Male Variation 2): Body Fat % = (0.097)(Q) + 3.64 where Q = chest, tricep, subscapular, suprailiac, abdominal, and thigh skinfolds in millimeters. 
- Yuhasz 2-site (Female): (0.1548)(T) + 3.580 where T = tricep, subscapular, suprailiac, abdominal, thigh, and calf skinfolds in millimeters. 
To maximize the accuracy of body fat calipers, it's important to take measurements under the same conditions every time.
Limitations of Body Fat CalipersBody fat calipers are an exceptional fitness tool but they do have limitations. The most prominent limitation is the relatively high margin of error compared to more expensive analysis tools such as hydrostatic weighing and DEXA scans.
The margin of error indicates the accuracy of the measuring tool and is typically expressed as a percentage value. This margin of error indicates that the actual value may be X% higher or lower than the tool's output.
For manual calipers the margin of error averages 7.5% in women and 8.6% in men.  This value decreases if you use a digital rather than a manual caliper. For digital calipers margin of error is about 4.9% in women and 6.4% in men.  It's important to have a fitness professional who has performed hundreds if not thousands of these skinfold measurements to minimize human error and inaccurate results.
The second most prominent limitation is that body fat calipers cannot differentiate between the different forms of and distribution of lean mass such as muscle mass and bone mass. More expensive analysis tools like DEXA scans can provide regional breakdowns of fat mass, muscle mass, and bone mass.
Body fat calipers cannot differentiate between white and brown fat. White fat is the undesirable fat we have on our body that is specialized for storing energy. When you consume an excess of calories without the proper nutrition and exercise protocol, these calories are stored as white fat in common places such as the abdominals, hips, thighs, and butt.
Brown fat, the lesser evil of the two fat stores, are typically found in the shoulders and neck, expend energy in the form of heat, contain a high concentration of mitochondria, and are specialized for energy expenditure and thermogenesis.   Unlike white fat, it may actually decrease the negative effects typically found in obese people such as high blood sugar and low insulin sensitivity. 
Body fat calipers also cannot differentiate between visceral and subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is easy to identify and typically easier to lose because it's the fat found directly beneath skin. Visceral fat on the other hand is hardier to identify and lose because it's the fat deep within the body, around the abdominal cavity and inside intraabdominal solid organs.  Those who are skinny and sedentary may have a low amount of subcutaneous fat but a surprisingly high amount of visceral fat.
Now that we've discussed the methods, formulas, and limitations of body fat calipers, you have all the tools needed to calculate your body fat percentage using body fat calipers. If your progress has been stalling or if you're looking to reach your fitness goals more quickly, pick up a body fat caliper.