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CHEMMD's Photo CHEMMD SparkPoints: (32,907)
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7/11/10 9:21 A

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Thanks for doing most of the work for us. I earlier decided the trouble of doing all the measurements (with or without another person) is NOT for me. I remain of the same opinion.

Thanks again.

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GRACEFULIFE's Photo GRACEFULIFE Posts: 1,705
7/7/10 11:24 A

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We just played with the Slim Guide caliper as well as the FatTrack Pro. I'll add the comments in the next couple days; I need to review some of the materials that came with the Slim Guide before I write it as I think it may cause some greater revisions than just reviewing the products.

The short version is that the FatTrack Pro is a piece of crap (an expensive piece of crap) while the Slim Guide Calipers are an excellent tool - significantly better than the Accu-Measure if you are getting calipered by someone else which is far better than measuring yourself.


TIREDOFWORKING's Photo TIREDOFWORKING SparkPoints: (0)
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6/21/10 8:27 P

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Right now, I am still learning how to properly use it, as in all the right places. I think once I get passed that point, I will feel fairly comfortable with them. There again though, what is accurate when it comes to measuring body fat?

Anthony
Spring, TX

Last Cigarette was 9/4/09 11:00PM

It is now my time to show what I can do.
BREWMASTERBILL's Photo BREWMASTERBILL SparkPoints: (0)
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6/21/10 6:45 P

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Are you all of you guys happy with this purchase? Does it discern trend better than a scale (notice I said trend, not accuracy).

Simple, Effective Strength Training for Beginners www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5425006


Current Program bb531.wordpress.com/about/

"In god we trust, all others bring data."

"You can't make people smarter. You can expose them to information, but your responsibility stops there." - Rip


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TIREDOFWORKING's Photo TIREDOFWORKING SparkPoints: (0)
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6/21/10 4:35 P

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I just read through this entirely. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. It is very informative! I have the Accu-Measure as well...

Anthony
Spring, TX

Last Cigarette was 9/4/09 11:00PM

It is now my time to show what I can do.
DANSTOUT's Photo DANSTOUT Posts: 735
5/28/10 12:46 A

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Very informative, I picked up the accu-measure and they are very easy to use by yourself.
Thanks for the info!

Edited by: DANSTOUT at: 6/4/2010 (19:33)
GRACEFULIFE's Photo GRACEFULIFE Posts: 1,705
5/8/10 12:30 A

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OK, so I decided it's time to write my magnum opus on body fat calipers. This should come in handy both for our own reference and for any of us to refer others to as a collection of knowledge on this measuring method.

What's my experience? Well, I own a couple of pairs, and have played with them enough to have a feel for how difficult it is to do accurately. I've done a significant amount of research as you'll see... but much of what you will see here isn't mine. Let's get on with it.

Pros:
-Accurate (probably more accurate the leaner you get)
-Direct for quantifying changes using skinfold measurements directly
-Indicates progress of individual areas of the body
-Reasonable cost for lower-range equipment

Cons:
-Possible inaccuracy for BF% (if the equations don't really apply to your group you are getting bunk out of it)
-Indirect for measuring BF%. Roundabout calculations to get from raw data to BF%.
-High cost for more precise equipment
-Not suitable to do every day
-Difficult to do repeatably. Big learning curve, extremely difficult to measure yourself with anything but a single-point measurement.

Also: Keep in mind that just as with BIA, you can expect a fair degree of mean shift here based on individual circumstances. It's often best to have several measures of progress including weight, measurements, pictures, and several methods of body fat percentage. Since many of the numerical methods involve the possibility of large errors, it's best to have as many different types of measurements as possible to confirm the results of other methods. Also, it's a really good idea to get a more-direct measurement such as a DXA scan at least once if possible. It may or may not matter, though. I've read of a bodybuilder using ONLY pictures or looking in the mirror because, let's face it, the judges weren't measuring them with calipers at the competition! These are mostly all just tracking tools to verify your progress and the quality of your program. Please treat them as such!

Measurement Method:
The best way to learn to perform these measurements accurately, assuming the absence of a pro friend to help, is to watch videos such as those at www.topendsports.com/videos/c
ategory/t
esting/anthropometry/
. There are also training videos available on www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drob
son98.htm
though I haven't watched them. Also appears to be some good ones at www.linear-software.com/males
ites.html
. Also the bodybuilding.com page includes other information on calipering as well as some other measurement methods from a bodybuilding perspective. Consider marking the measurement location and direction on your skin with a permanent marker for a period of time until your examiner is well versed in making the measurement. Also, when I first got calipered, results were all over the map. So what we did was to make many measurements and record the lowest and highest ones once we had established a range. Then, to bracket body fat percentage, we did a calculation with the smallest of those and another with the largest. The resulting band was very wide (like 17% to 25%) but that was close enough to tell me that the athlete mode on the scale was much more accurate than the couch potato modes.

More instructions and general information at www.topendsports.com/testing/
tests/ski
nfolds.htm
and www.exrx.net/Testing/Skinfold
Procedure
s.html
, skinfold sites at www.topendsports.com/testing/
skinfold-
sites.htm
and www.exrx.net/Testing/BodyComp
Sites.htm
l


Calculations:
The easiest way for you, as a casual user, to get from caliper measurements to a body fat percentage is by using an online calculator. For example, 3-site or 7-site at www.exrx.net/Calculators/Body
Comp.html
or www.gain-weight-muscle-fast.c
om/body-f
at-calculator.html
or www.linear-software.com/onlin
e.html
. To do single-site, just download the papers from the Accu-Measure caliper (link in the recommended equipment section).

Now, the question of how does this work and how good is it really? There's a pretty good discussion of accuracy at www.sport-fitness-advisor.com
/bodyfatc
alipers.html
where they suggest there are about 100 different formulas that can be used! The formulas appear to all use a two-compartment model (fat vs. all else) and first estimate body density. Then the body density is used from those formulas though the Siri equation www.topendsports.com/testing/
siri-equa
tion.htm
which assumes all fat mass is 0.9g/cc and all other mass is 1.10g/cc - although as mentioned there is another equation that can be used also. Note that these equations to get BF% from body density are also used in displacement methods such as underwater weighing or Bod Pod. Remember the key here is to find an equation set that was developed on people of a similar activity level, age, and of course gender to you. For people younger than most of us in this group the Sloan www.topendsports.com/testing/
density-s
loan.htm
equations might be appropriate or the Yuhasz www.topendsports.com/testing/
bodyfat-p
ercent.htm
but for most of us the Jackson & Pollock are probably the best www.topendsports.com/testing/
density-j
ackson-pollock.htm
. I've only used the "equation 2" version that requires only skinfolds, but I wonder if equation 1 might be more accurate as it also includes some easier-to-reliably-measure (especially using the myotape) tape measurements.

The wiki entry on body fat percentage has this to say about accuracy: "the body fat percentage calculated from skin folds or other anthropometric methods carries the cumulative error from the application of two separate statistical models.
These methods are therefore inferior to a direct measurement of body density and the application of just one formula to estimate body fat percentage." as well as "The accuracy of these estimates is more dependent on a person's unique body fat distribution than on the number of sites measured." Also, on the step of getting from body density to BF% it says "This estimate is distorted by the fact that muscles and bones have different densities: for a person with a more-than-average amount of bone mass, the estimate will be too low." So that is the basic explanation why none of the indirect measurement methods will be accurate for someone like 4A with her super-bones.

Equipment and where to purchase:
I am not going to discuss expensive equipment: nothing over $100 (heck, nothing over $25 -- this is teh internetz! and the economy is still eff'd the eff up). Some of the pro-style calipers can give more accurate results since they have engineering caliper-style gages and can read within 0.1mm. However I'm assuming the price is greater than what a non-pro is willing to pay. If there's a big outcry from the group I'll review some pro (metal) calipers.

Recommended equipment:
Slim Guide skinfold Caliper:
www.topendsports.com/testing/
skinfold-
caliper-slimguide.htm

This is a professional style caliper, but built with crap materials (plastic). It has a spring that might wear out over time and result in less consistent pressure, but unless one is a pro the number of uses isn't likely to cause that issue. I don't own them yet but that link says they can be read to the closest 0.5mm. This is the one to get for a great combination of low cost, repeatability, and accuracy. These would be extremely difficult to use on yourself so plan to have someone else consistently performing this measurement on you. With this you can do the 3-point or the 7-point, or heck just take 11 points bilaterally and just track all the numbers rather than trying to get BF% out of it.
Get these at www.amazon.com/Creative-Healt
h-6575XXX
X-Skinfold-Caliper/dp/B000NN9SDO


Accu-Measure caliper: www.accufitness.com/index.php
?option=c
om_content&view=article&id=67
&Item
id=66

This is the least expensive caliper on the market. I would recommend these if you must perform measurements on yourself (non-optimal, do your best to find someone to measure you consistently). It has a device to attempt to keep measurement pressure consistent, but it depends on the operator backing off when it clicks. Also the mechanism depends on friction which is extremely difficult to predict. These calipers have a line each 2mm so can probably be read to +/-0.5mm at best. The best place to buy these is www.amazon.com/Accu-Measure-F
itness-30
00-Personal-Tester/dp/B000G7Y
W74/r
ef=pd_sbs_sg_5
or spend a couple bucks more and get the Myotape too: www.amazon.com/AccuMeasure-My
oTape-MT0
5-AM-3000-Personal/dp/B002VAP
HXW/r
ef=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=12750
0
3230&sr=1-3


Equipment I do NOT recommend:
FatTrack GOLD www.accufitness.com/index.php
?option=c
om_content&view=article&id=69
&Item
id=68
This is a great idea, a lower-cost digital body fat caliper. I bought them. They are wonky, they do not work smoothly, and the mechanism to ensure proper pressure on the fold is eff'd the eff up. Not worth the cash!
FatTrack PRO
www.accufitness.com/index.php
?option=c
om_content&view=article&id=70
&Item
id=69
These are comparatively expensive at $60+. I don't own these but I borrowed them. They are better than FatTrack Gold, but still not nearly worth what they cost. Like the Gold, tension against the fold is unlikely to be accurate and consistent. One of the chief advantages is that this one does BF calculations for you and it can record readings for multiple people (for trainers etc). I'd say use something accurate and find a better way to store the data. Save your money for a real pair of metal body fat calipers or buy the ones I recommended (heck, both of them PLUS a myotape) and take your SO out for a nice dinner.


Miscellaneous extra information:

Other fitness tests www.topendsports.com/testing/
obese.htm

Topendsports' skinfold caliper guide www.topendsports.com/testing/
skinfold-
caliper-guide.htm

Calibration for pro calipers www.topendsports.com/testing/
skinfold-
caliper-calibration.htm

Bodybuilding.com articles (appears one may be part of the other, included both for completeness) www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drob
son98.htm
www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drob
son108.ht
m

Topendsports' body density page www.topendsports.com/testing/
body-dens
ity.htm

Wiki entry on body fat percentage: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_fa
t_percent
age


Edited by: GRACEFULIFE at: 3/18/2011 (20:53)
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