Body Fat Percentage Calculator

By | February 13, 2004

body-fat-percentage-toolThis body fat percentage calculator will allow you to learn how to take your body fat measurements – 3-site and 4-site methods.

Measuring Instructions

Method 1:

Measure skinfolds at the Abdomen, Suprailiac, Triceps, and Thigh

Method 2:

  • Take only 3 measurements.
  • Men – Chest, Abdomen, Thigh.
  • Women – Triceps, Abdomen, Suprailiac

Stand relaxed with your arms hanging comfortably by your sides – do not flex! When taking the thigh measurement, shift your weight to the leg that you are not measuring.

If you do not have calipers: You can buy a set of digital calipers from

Skinfolds can be taken using 3 or 4 sites on your body – both methods are similar in accuracy.

BFP Calculator

Chest: a diagonal fold taken midway between the nipple and the crease of the under arm
Suprailiac: a diagonal fold
taken midway between the hip joint and the bottom of the rib cage. Hint: place forefinger on
hip bone, thumb at the bottom of the rib cage, then draw fingers together to the mid-point
and pinch for suprailiac
Abdomen: a vertical fold taken one inch to the
side of the umbilicus (belly button)
Thigh: a vertical fold taken halfway between the knee joint and the hip joint
Triceps: a vertical fold taken halfway between the
elbow joint and the shoulder joint
Gender: Weight: lbs
Age: yrs
Body fat: Fat weight: Lean mass:
% lbs lbs

More Calculators

Understanding Lean Mass

The difference between your weight and the total amount of stored fat is your “lean mass”. Many people mistake this for muscle – it is not. It includes muscle, but also includes bone, tissue, water, organs, even the contents of your stomach.

Just because your “lean mass” goes down doesn’t mean you lost muscle. You might have lost water. Just because your “lean mass” goes up doesn’t mean you gained muscle. You might have started to retain water. Again, use only as a guide – in general, your body fat should decrease over time until it stabilizes at a level that you are comfortable with.

Increasing the Body Fat Percentage Accuracy

Whoever administers the test should test each site in round robin fashion at least twice. In other words, one pinch on your abdomen isn’t enough. They should pinch your abdomen, then other areas, then return to the abdomen for a second pinch. If the results vary greatly, they should take additional measurements to narrow down the precision of the answer.

I prefer the calipers over other methods for testing body fat, when your Body Mass Index indicates that you are not in the obese range. The majority of equations for body fat percentage were not computed from obese or heavier people, and therefore they can be wildly inaccurate.

The Health Impact

Body fat percentage is sometimes used as an estimate of how healthy or fit you are. With obesity on the rise and recent changes with the health care reform tax credit, many are seeking to shed excess weight and furthermore, keep it off. Statistically, someone with a lower body fat than someone else is probably more fit. This is not always true, however.

A person with an extremely fast metabolism who eats junk food all day long may maintain a low body fat, but make no mistake: they are less healthy than someone with a higher body fat who eats healthy foods and exercises.

Measure Body Fat Consistently

Perform the test yourself, or have someone else do it. If you have different people perform the test, even trained professionals, the results may vary widely. The key with body fat percentage is to remember that it is just another number – a statistic – to help you gauge your progress, it is not the “end all”.

Someone who looks great and feels good but has a higher body fat has no reason to drop any lower. Someone who appears to have extremely low body fat based on measurements but looks overweight and feels terrible should probably consider dropping weight. One specific percentage doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone or even every age.

When To Use The Scales

There are many different ways to measure body fat. Operator error can make the measurement inaccurate and ruin any precision. If you are interested in seeing what various body fat percentages look like, check out the Body Fat Percentage Guide for Men.

It is common for obese individuals to assume they have more muscle on their body due to an inaccurate body fat measurement. I use the scale as the primary tool until you are in the overweight range (but not obese) on BMI, and then start to use the calipers for body fat. While other methods, such as body fat scales and hand-held devices are useful for measuring trends, they tend not to be as accurate or consistent as calipers.

10 thoughts on “Body Fat Percentage Calculator

  1. George

    The calculator does still not work.

  2. Michael

    Try inputting your numbers and then wildly fluctuating the chest measurement. There’s no change in the bf percentage, meaning something in the formula isn’t factoring that measurement in.

  3. Ted

    @Michael That’s because you are only to put in three measurements.. if you put in five in doesn’t factor in the chest measurement. Men are to put in chest, abs and thigh..

  4. dietitian

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  5. Bob H

    This body fat calculator is awesome. I was previously using a method that calculated the % body fat using only the suprailiac fold. I was getting a result of 16 – 17%. With your calculator my result is 13.9%. Measuring at more than one location I feel gives more accurate results. Thanks.

  6. Frank S

    i am an extremely active person and i watch my diet like a hawk. my girlfriend says i count calories like a girl. my body fat is at 8.07 i am 6,5 and weigh 210. i am by no means built like a runner and was wondering what yall think a good BFP is. i can not get a definitive answer. most places say 10% others say 7% min and where as some tell me 2%-5%. just looking for yalls opinion. great calculator by the way thank you.

    1. Ted

      Hi Frank, I would say you’re in a great place.. Most body builders and fitness models never hold 5% or below for long.. It’s just not healthy nor natural in my opinion.

  7. kathy

    I’m looking for a weight loss product that will really help me lose weight. Im not looking to spend heaps of money on some dodgey product that doesnt work.

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