How do I use my skin-fold calipers?
A skin-fold caliper is a device that measures the thickness of a fold of skin in millimeters (mm), with its underlying layer of fat. Research has shown that the thickness of this fold, at certain key locations on your body, is representative of the total amount of fat on your body. Pinch with the fingers as much of the skin fold as “tissue traction” allows; firmly hold the pinch with your finger and thumb, and place the calipers next to your pinched fingers. Some people do carry a little more edema under their skin. A firm pinch, which might be tender, will push the fluid away from the point where the calipers measure. The caliper points should contact the skin right next to where your fingers are pinching firmly. To address variations in measurements, you might want to pinch three times in a row and take the lower of the three. The caliper will point to the millimeter thickness of your skin fold.
Where to Measure Body Fat
Men and women get an accurate body fat measurement by measuring four total points. Points should always be done on the same side of the body (I always use the right side). You will find that one layer of thin clothing does not substantially alter your measurement, but try to be directly on the skin when learning; it’s easier. The four points are:
1) Triceps—midway down the back of your upper arm
2) Biceps—midway down the front of your upper arm
3) Back—under your shoulder blade, at a 35- to 45-degree downward angle
4) Hip—slightly forward of the top of the “hip bone,” or iliac crest
The Blood Code Charts
Your skin-fold measurements are read off the caliper, in mm.
Don’t get caught up on the total body fat percentage and apply the same angst that the scale has caused you over the years. Once again, the balance and distribution of body fat location is of greater importance.
You can quick view the chart here: