April 30, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Goals can range from “I want to be more toned”, swiftly followed by “But not bulky!”, and the infamous “I want to lose weight”. But what is toned? And how much weight do you want to lose? What program will effectively and safely get you there?
Body fat (BF) percentage is where you want to start. The percentage gives you an idea of how much fat you are carrying around. There are many ways to gather this information; the most accurate is the Hydrostatic tank. This is where you are dunked into a volume of water and your underwater weight is compared to your out of water weight. Fat percentage is calculated because fat has a different density than the rest of the body. This method is accurate to within +2.7%.
Now for most of us who don’t have a lab tank hanging around, there are a couple more practical solutions.
One being the Electronic Impedance (EI) device and the other is using a caliper. The EI is a portable handheld device that sends an electrical signal through the body to determine conductivity; body fat has a different conductivity than bone and muscle. But the drawback is that it is highly dependent on how much water and salt is present in the cells. This means that if you were to take a BF measurement one day and dehydrate yourself the rest of the day, you could take your BF measurement the next day and it could be off by 5-10%!
So, let’s look at something that is practical and pretty accurate; the caliper. The caliper is where a trainer “pinches” and separates the subcutaneous fat away from the muscle and measures that pinch. The sum of the four locations (Right tricep, right of the belly button, right hip, and right mid-thigh) is what gives the BF%. It’s quick, simple, and accurate to within + 3-5% (looks a lot better than 10% right?).
When you get your body fat percentage, you can then see how much fat you are carrying and compare that to how much fat you’re supposed to be carrying.
You can now change your goal to “I want to lower my body fat percentage!” and that would give you a clearer idea as to what butt blasting, ab showing, arm candy having exercises to do.
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