Can you pinch an inch?
When the weight starts to drop off it’s more than likely you’ll have a gut feeling about it, literally. Chances are that your clothes will feel a little looser and you may need to tighten a few notches on your belt. While your waist measurement, also known as waist circumference, is a simple measure of your changing shape, it is not the be all and end all of body composition. A better approach if you’re looking to trim down and reduce body fat stores is skinfolds.
What are skinfold measures?
Regular measurements of skin folds are one tool of the trade used by coaches and trainers to assess an athletes or sportspersons body fat level. Even your gym may offer this service. Skinfold calipers look like large metal tongs and are used to ‘pinch and inch’ and take a measurement at several anatomically identified sites on the body. Interestinly, approximately one half of the body’s total fat stores are subcutaneous or below the surface of the skin. The remainder of fat, sometimes called visceral fat, is internal and surrounds organs and tissues.
Sum of seven
Seven sites of the body are generally measured for skin folds to achieve a skinfolds sum. They include the triceps, subscapular (just below the shoulder blades), biceps, supraspinale (just above the hip bone), abdominal, front thigh and medial calf. There are also different mathematical equations used to calculate % body fat levels using three or more skin fold measures.
Test the tester
It’s vitally important that you have your skinfolds assessed by the same person each time (every 3 to 4 weeks) as there can be variation between testers and calipers. Also ask if your tester has had any formal training in measuring body composition sometimes called ‘anthropometry’. Remember it’s the positive changes over time that matter most and you need time to workout to help your body change to being slimmer and leaner.