Tips For Testing

  • Take your skinfold measurements while standing.
  • Take all skinfold measurements on the same side of the body. Preferably the right side.
  • Skinfold Measurement Diagram A
    Skinfold Measurement Diagram B
    Pinch between your forefinger and thumb. Pinch deep enough to get the fat (you are looking for a double-thick pinch of skin) but not so deep that you start pulling muscle up. Pulling muscle up is pretty much impossible so don't let it concern you all that much. With the skinfold in hand, you need to pinch hard to get the water out, hard enough that you cause minor discomfort.
  • Body Fat Caliper DiagaramPlace the body fat calipers less than 1/2 inch from your pinch, midway between the crest and the base.
  • For each of the skinfold sites, take three measurements and use the average of those three. But don't take the three measurements consecutively, instead run through all the sites three times. This will allow the skin to regroup between skinfold measurements. It will also help you develop some consistency.
Consistency is the key. If you are having a friend take your measurements, which is the ideal thing to do, have that same friend take your skinfold measurements every time. If you have different people take your measurements, expect the results to be all over the place and basically useless.

Measurement Sites

The measurement sites vary depending upon the specific skinfold testing protocol being used, but typically include the seven sites but in class we will be using the following three. 
  1. Chest- Top of the peck near the armpit 
  2. Abdomen - Next to the belly button
  3. Calf - The inside middle of the calf

The Basics

This test estimates the percentage of body fat by measuring skinfold thickness at specific locations on the body. The thickness of these folds is a measure of the fat under the skin, also called subcutaneous adipose tissue. Skinfold thickness results rely on formulas that convert these numbers into an estimate of a person's percentage of body fat according to a person's age and gender.
Skinfold measurements are generally taken at specific sites on the right side of the body. The tester pinches the skin at the location site and pulls the fold of skin away from the underlying muscle so only the skin and fat tissue is being held. Special skinfold calipers are then used to measure the skinfold thickness in millimeters. Two measurements are recorded and averaged.