Together with the body weight and the weight that you can bench press, the body fat percentage is one of the most coveted numbers you will encounter in the gym. Besides the legendary status of the body fat percentage, it is also one of the most decisive figures when it comes to your physical progression. After all, gaining 10 kilos in body weight is not very impressive when combined with a 10% increase in body fat. The same applies the other way around, because we all know someone who has already lost so much weight, but in the meantime does not have a gram of muscle mass left. But how do you actually calculate that fat percentage yourself? That’s what we’re going to help you with today!
ATTENTION: THE FAT PERCENTAGE IS NOT WATERTIGHT!
There are countless ways to measure body fat percentage, and some of the most advanced methods include submerging your entire body in a water bath or having your entire body in a DEXA scan. Although these methods are the gold standard in terms of body fat percentage, even these methods are not perfect. There can always be a small variation in this, so that you always get a very good estimate at best.
Your fat percentage is therefore not as watertight as your body weight.
Let it be clear that the methods described in this article give you an excellent indication of your fat percentage, but that there can always be a deviation of a number of percent. Measure yourself a number of times in a row, and chances are you will arrive at 3 different results. A trained coach who performs skinfold measurements on a daily basis will of course achieve a better result than you yourself when you hold such pliers for the first time.
So unless you want to spend a fortune on the most accurate measurement possible, the estimates in this article are your best bet!
THE DIFFERENT METHODS
In this article we will not go through all possible measuring methods that are available on the market. Why not? Because this adds nothing for the majority. Today we are going to go through the best methods with which you can measure your fat percentage yourself!
The first and most simple method to calculate your body fat percentage is with your BMI. Your BMI stands for Body Mass Index, an index that shows the relationship between your height and weight. For untrained people, this is a great yardstick to determine whether someone is overweight or underweight, or is a good weight for his or her height.
BMI has been criticized for not always being accurate, and it is. Especially when you read this, you probably belong to a group of people who do a lot of strength training and therefore have more muscle mass than the average Dutch person. As a result, many people are overweight and need to lose weight according to the Body Mass Index, while at the same time counting their abs. Not the most accurate representation…
Nevertheless, researchers  have found a strong relationship between BMI and body fat percentage. It is therefore a good guideline to use for a large part of the population. However, the researchers also admitted that this method has its limitations, especially for people who are very light or heavy, or as already mentioned: bodybuilders.
That being said, for the untrained or gym novice, your BMI can be a great indicator of your body fat percentage. You don’t need much information for it and the use of special measuring equipment is not necessary. All you need is a scale! This makes it a very accessible method to get an estimate of your fat percentage.