PT on the Net Research

Fat Calipers


I’m intending to buy fat calipers to assess my client's body percentage. Do you think that is the best and most practical method?


There are many ways to test body fat and unfortunately many methods are inexact to say the least. However, if the same person is testing, you know exactly where you're measuring from (anatomical landmarks) and most importantly the same person is re-testing; you can derive objective results for your clients. Based on our many years of experience, we have found the Durnin and Womersley formula to be the best. Below is the exact process we follow in combination with many other functional tests (gait analysis, squat test, balance tests, postural analysis, etc.) Also, we have included circumference measurements that can be used in conjunction with your caliper testing.

Skin-Fold Measurements

Skin-fold measurements are taken to determine a client’s body fat. The measurement points described use a 4-site Durnin and Womersley Formula.

The four sites measured are as follows:

  1. Biceps: A vertical fold on the anterior aspect of the arm over the belly of the biceps muscle, halfway between the shoulder and the elbow.
  2. Triceps: A vertical fold on the posterior midline of the upper arm, with the arm relaxed and held freely at the side.
  3. Subscapular: A 45-degree angle fold, one to two centimeters below the inferior angle of the scapula.
  4. Iliac Crest: A 45-degree angle fold taken just above the iliac crest and medial to the auxiliary line.

Circumference Measurements

Circumference measurements are useful for evaluating girth changes in the body and can be used in conjunction with skin-fold values to assess client progress.

  1. Neck: Midway between the chin and clavicle.
  2. Chest: At the nipple line during the midpoint of a normal breath.
  3. Right Upper Arm: At the maximal circumference, arm extended, palm up.
  4. Right Forearm: At the maximal circumference, arm extended, palm up.
  5. Waist: At the narrowest point, below the rib cage and just above the top of the hip bones. NOTE: If there is no apparent narrowing of the waist, measure at the belly button.
  6. Hip: With feet together, at the maximal protrusion of the buttocks.
  7. Right Thigh: Upper thigh, just below the buttocks, or 10 inches above the top of the patella.
  8. Right Calf: At the maximal circumference, between the ankle and knee.

We hope this helps. Good luck, and if you have any further questions, feel free to ask!