Measuring body fat for women

 Hi there, I’m Vicky and I am one of the team here at

I am approaching 40.

I think I have a way of getting over the looming 40 year depression. Get fit and ready for it. I’ve been putting my fitness off for too long now and so I have decided to get my act together and sort my diet and fitness out. I’m meeting my 40th year head on and with enjoyment rather than depression. I want that flat stomach, the flabless tricep and the stamina to match. I know its going to be tough but its not impossible.

I have been asked by the team here to document my rise to fitness at 40 and post it on the website.

So I got myself a set of cheap body fat calipers.  body fat calipers

A great way to get your exercise program off on the right foot is to get a set of body fat calipers. This instrument measures your body fat and lean muscle mass ratio. It is important to have an accurate measurement of your fat / lean muscle ratio from the very beginning of your program, rather than relying on the bathroom scales.

Scales are inaccurate because they do not let you know if you have replaced body fat with lean muscle. They give you the same reading regardless of dramatic changes in your body. You may have reduced body fat but replaced that weight with lean muscle. Unfortunately, your bathroom scales are unable to detect that difference. If you attend a gym you could ask them to do this measurement for you, as they will have the correct instruments. When you are training you need motivators to keep you on course. body fat calipers allow you to see any results immediately helping you stay on track.

Measure four folds of skin with your body fat calipers and work out your body fat/lean muscle percentage by using the table provided with them.                                                                                       
Body fat calipers
measure the thickness of a fold of skin. There are 4 places on the body where a measurement should be taken, because of where these places are someone else can help you do this. They are,

· Centre of the back of arm (the triceps)

· Centre of the front of arm (the bicep)

· The back, just below the shoulder blade at a 45% angle.

· The waistline between the hipbone and the naval horizontally.

I have now recorded my body fat measurements in the four locations bicep, tricep, shoulder blade and stomach next to belly button. You have to pinch the skin in this area and then measure the fold. It can be a bit tricky as the measurement can change slightly each time you take the measurement (you are dealing in millimetres). So I took three measurements and went for the average.

I added the four measurements together. The results were

bicep 10mm
tricep 19mm
shoulder blade 20mm
stomach area 28mm

total  77mm

Combined body fat measurement chart for women

Total in mm Age 16-29 Age 30-49 Age 50+
14 9.4 14.1 17.0
16 11.2 15.7 18.6
18 12.7 17.1 20.1
20 14.1 18.4 21.4
22 15.4 19.5 22.6
24 16.5 20.6 23.7
26 17.6 21.5 24.8
28 18.6 22.4 25.7
30 19.5 23.3 26.6
35 21.6 25.2 28.6
40 23.4 26.8 30.3
45 25.0 28.3 31.9
50 26.5 29.6 33.2
55 27.8 30.8 34.6
60 29.1 31.9 35.7
65 30.2 32.9 36.7
70 31.2 33.9 37.7
75 32.2 34.7 38.6
80 33.1 35.6 39.5
85 34.0 36.3 40.4
90 34.8 37.1 41.1
95 35.6 37.8 41.9
100 36.3 38.5 42.6
110 37.7 39.7 43.9
120 39.0 40.8 45.1
130 40.2 41.9 46.2
140 41.3 42.9 47.3
150 42.3 43.8 48.2
160 43.2 44.7 49.1
170 44.6 45.5 50.0
180 45.0 46.2 50.8
190 45.8 46.9 51.6
200 46.6 47.6 52.3

I have gone for 80mm as the closest figure to my total measurements in the table.  I’m 39 so the body fat percentage for a female of my age is 35.6% body fat.

The ideal range for my age is, 15-23%

For women, the range up to age 30 is 14-21%, from 30-50 it is 15-23%, and from 50 up it is 16-25%. It is best to be at or below the upper limit, and a woman near the lower limit would be lean.

So if I want to reach 20% body fat ratio. I now have to lose over 15% body fat.

So I will measure myself monthly to see if there have been any changes. Check your progress on a monthly basis. This will allow you to see any changes and plot progress. Don’t check yourself any more than this as there are natural changes in the body throughout a period of a month, depending on whether you are retaining water, perhaps from food you have eaten. It is best for females to check themselves after their period has finished due to water retention. Try to stick to the same part of the month when you record your fat/lean muscle mass ratio.

Now I have  to take my fitness test.

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