Tracking Body Fat / Measuring Progress

In this blog post we talk about:

1. Picking the right tool/measurement for you to track progress.

2. Who should be using callipers / Bodyfat (BF) percentage calculations?

3. Explaining the importance of TIMING your measurements and key points.

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Have you been avoiding tracking your progress? Or dare we say lack of progress?

‘What gets measured gets managed!’

There is nothing truer than the above statement. We track our finances, bills... So when it comes to our body why should it be any different?

But becoming obsessive over it is just plain stupid. So let's look at HOW to track progress to suit your goals. 

Picking the right tools

First step is understanding who the client is and what their goals are. If they are fatloss well then you have to measure progress. That's what holds you accountable.

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Body mass index categorises you in relation to the measurement of your belly v’s hips.

Your doctor will usually utilise this measurement as it is the fastest to use and will help categorise the patient. This is an important tool for doctors / GPs as we, the public, sometimes need a wake-up call and need to be told the truth.

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For the above picture I would say men (20%+) and ladies (25%+)

HOWEVER, everyone’s body is different. Therefore having someone experienced taking these measurements is vital.


Measuring tape and scales

This one is accurate for the majority. Seems basic but there are areas that we either want to gain size on (arms for us lads…) and lose size on.

There is nothing wrong with the tape measure. But make sure you know exactly where the tape is going when it comes to retaking the measurements. Ensure that it is not skewed as this really throws people.

The Scales.

Ahhh our old friend. This one when it comes to fat loss is also great. However, it can play tricks on us now and again. For ladies usually, a few days before your period you will find that the scales go up. So don't panic. This is totally natural and will come right down afterwards.

I like the scales when its timed correctly and coupled with the measuring tape.



The Personal Trainers' weapon of choice. Which is NOT for everyone!

Why? Simply because the callipers should be used on those that can at least see their top two abs. Definition. Tone.

Until then the measuring tape is perfect with the scales.

The typical amount of sites taken is 7. Sometimes there is more. However please ensure that your PT has a few years experience of using these. Otherwise it WILL be a disaster.


How to use the callipers:

Your coach (not you!!) should:

  1. Measure each site and note the location of each site to the millimetre.

  2. Note the time of day it's taken.

  3. Be before a workout.

  4. Use a formula.

  5. Take the average of the site (3 measurements per site)

  6. Use the Jackson and pollock BF% calculation found here:


How often to measure?

Once a week.

Best time to measure?

First time in the morning before any food or beverage is taken.


When not to measure?

Ladies don't measure the week leading up to your cycle. Lads you have it easier so no excuses.


Who / Where can I get measurements done?

We do it here at Unit 13 usually during your first session of your trial package. This is befroe you sign up to any of our programmes. If you want to know more check more out here:

Larry BradyUnit 13