Skip to main content

Body Fat Percentage

By: Justin Emmons

I hear this all the time, ‘If I could get down to x weight I’d be much better.’  So many people get hung up on the scale.  In reality what needs to be focused on is body fat percentage.  This is what percent of your weight is actually body fat.  For example, I’ve had 5’4′ females that weighed 135lbs but were a size 1.  I’ve also had females the same height and weight that were a size 12.  What’s the difference?  

Body fat percentage or more specifically how much of their weight is what’s called lean body mass.  This can be measured in several ways, and some are more accurate then others.  Many old schoolers use calipers.  This involves pinching sub cutaneous fat in several sites and then using a chart estimating what your body fat percentage is.  This method is ok, but has several issues.  The numbers are based off of normative data studies, which means that we are guessing what your body fat is, based off of sample size populations that have been tested.  This method also assumes that whoever does the testing pinches in exactly the same place every time (a hard thing to achieve even if you are trained and practiced).  Also, the inter-tester reliability, meaning if I were to test your baseline and you got your next one tested by another practitioner, can be off by +/- 5%.  That’s huge!  Therefore, we hate this method.

Another method that can be used is hydrostatic weighing.  This method works pretty well, but is cumbersome because you have to weigh someone in the water.  It’s fairly accurate but can be slightly off based off of hydration.

A third method is what’s called bio-impedance.  This sends a small electrical charge through your body and based off of resistance gives you a body fat reading.  This is what your scale at home uses with those little metal pads.  This can be off by up to 10% based off of hydration.  I have one of these at home and jump on it for fun, sometimes according to it’s measurements, I gain 9lbs of fat in one day!  Of course, this isn’t accurate, so we are not a huge fan of this either.

The method that we prefer for body fat testing is a DEXA scan.  This is a medical test, that uses close to the same technology as X-ray.  It scans you in about 3 minutes and tells us exactly what your body fat is.  It’s so accurate it can tell us their is 3 grams of fat in your left tricep muscle.  It is also the gold standard for peer reviewed research on body fat.  Even better then that, it also scans bone density at the same time, so you can know what your bone density numbers are.  This is a great test, and very helpful in actually tracking progress.

The test can cost up to $250 per visit if you pay for it out of pocket, but we have an agreement with UT Medical group, and they will see our clients for $100.  

With our new pipelines coming out, we are planning on giving very specific nutritional recommendations based off of lean body mass.  It would be very helpful if we actually know what that is.  We can make an estimate, but if we have real numbers we can be much more accurate.  It’s also awesome to see actual numbers and improvement.  Talk to us if you are interested in getting this done.


6-25-13 WOD


To be discussed in class

Met Con:

Tabata 20s of work 10s of rest x 8 intervals for each movement


Push ups