Body Fat Percentage Calculator

This body fat percentage calculator uses measurements from a skinfold caliper or a measuring tape. Or you can also estimate your body fat percentage using a simple visual comparison.

body fat percentage calculator

Before calculating your body fat percentage, I suggest skimming through the information below. Because you will get a more accurate body fat percentage and be better at interpreting your results!

Importance of Measuring Body Fat

You may wonder if spending this extra time and energy on measuring body fat is worth it. And the answer is a resounding yes because the scale doesn’t tell the whole story!

For example, your bathroom scale could tell you that you’re losing weight. But if you lose muscle instead of fat, you won’t look and feel the way you want. Similarly, you won’t be strong and healthy if you gain fat instead of muscle on a bulking plan.

Therefore, tracking how much muscle and fat you have is vital to reach your fitness goal. And the only way to track body composition is to measure and calculate body fat percentage.

How To Measure Body Fat Percentage

Now that you have a basic understanding of body fat percentage, it’s time to take some measurements. And there are a couple of different ways to do this.

Skinfold Calipers

One of the most accurate methods involves pinching the skin and measuring the thickness of the resulting fold with a special caliper. The thicker the skinfold, the more body fat is likely stored in that area.

Then, you can use a formula to estimate your overall body fat percentage based on fat deposits in several standardized locations.

  • Use a caliper that “clicks” when you reach a certain pressure (like the one shown)
  • Squeeze the caliper slow and steady
  • Measure the indentation in the fold next to your fingers
  • Measure each site three times and take the average to reduce variability
  • Take your measurements first thing in the morning when you have less water under your skin

Measuring Tape

Another reasonably accurate method for calculating body fat percentage involves circumference measurements. You take these measurements at specific locations using a soft measuring tape like the one pictured below.

Then you can get an estimate of body fat percentage based on the size of your body, your age, and activity level.

  • Do not inhale or suck in your belly when measuring your waist
  • Do not flex or tense muscles when measuring the limbs
  • Any clothing should be thin or form-fitting
  • Take measurements in the morning with an empty stomach

Skinfold vs Circumference: Which Is Better?

At this point, you may be wondering which measurement method is better. Either will work, but the answer may depend on your situation.

Before I give my opinion, let’s examine both methods’ pros and cons.

Skinfold
Pros
  • Easy to do at home

  • Calipers are inexpensive

  • Specific to gender and number of sites

  • Can be very precise

Cons
  • Some sites require assistance

  • Affected by how hard you pinch

  • Not very accurate for obese individuals

Circumference
Pros
  • Easy to do at home

  • Measuring tape is inexpensive

  • No assistance needed

  • Specific to gender, age, and activity level

Cons
  • Affected by bloating or meals

  • Could change with hydration level

  • Not very accurate for muscular or fit individuals

Both methods look pretty equal in terms of pros and cons. So the best option for you is the one that you think you’ll actually implement and use on a regular basis.

That being said, I recommend the skinfold caliper method for people who are leaner and/or more muscular than average. As this method is more accurate for relatively fit people.

How To Calculate Body Fat Percentage

Once you take the measurements, they get plugged into a formula to calculate your body fat percentage. And the formula depends on your gender, age, and measurement method.

Jackson-Pollock Skinfold Body Fat Percentage Calculation

When using the Jackson-Pollock equations, the number of sites can be 3, 4, or 7. Also, the sites vary slightly depending on your gender, so pay close attention to the instructions. I’ve included diagrams to make it easier to see where to measure.

3-Site Skinfold Male

Body Fat Percentage = 495/(1.10938-(0.0008267*Sum Of Skinfolds)+(0.0000016*Sum Of Skinfolds^2)-0.0002574*Age)-450

Where the skinfold sites measured are the abdomen, chest, and thigh.

3 Site Skinfold Male -Jackson Pollock Body Fat Percentage Calculator
3-Site Skinfold Female

Body Fat Percentage = 495/(1.0994921-(0.0009929*Sum Of Skinfolds)+(0.0000023*Sum Of Skinfolds^2)-0.0001392*Age)-450

Where the skinfold sites measured are the suprailiac, thigh, and tricep.

3 Site Skinfold Female - Jackson Pollock Body Fat Percentage Calculator
4-Site Skinfold Male

Body Fat Percentage = (0.29288*Sum Of Skinfolds)-(0.0005*Sum Of Skinfolds^2)+(0.15845*Age)-5.76377

Where the skinfold sites measured are the abdomen, chest, thigh, and suprailiac.

4 Site Skinfold Male - Jackson Pollock Body Fat Percentage Calculator
4-Site Skinfold Female

Body Fat Percentage = (0.29669*Sum Of Skinfolds)-(0.00043*Sum Of Skinfolds^2)+(0.02963*Age)+1.4072

Where the skinfold sites measured are the suprailiac, thigh, tricep, and abdomen.

4 Site Skinfold Female - Jackson Pollock Body Fat Percentage Calculator
7-Site Skinfold Male

Body Fat Percentage = 495/(1.112-(0.00043499*Sum Of Skinfolds)+(0.00000055*Sum Of Skinfolds^2)-0.00028826*Age)-450

Where the skinfold sites measured are the abdomen, chest, thigh, suprailiac, midaxillar, subscapular, and tricep.

7 Site Skinfold Male - Jackson Pollock Body Fat Percentage Calculator
7-Site Skinfold Female

Body Fat Percentage = 495/(1.097-(0.00046971*Sum Of Skinfolds)+(0.00000056*Sum Of Skinfolds^2)-0.00012828*Age)-450

Where the skinfold sites measured are the abdomen, chest, thigh, suprailiac, midaxillar, subscapular, and tricep.

7 Site Skinfold Female - Jackson Pollock Body Fat Percentage Calculator

Katch-McArdle Circumference Body Fat Percentage Calculation

Next, let’s look at the calculations used when you measure circumferences. Again, the measurement sites and formula vary depending on age and gender. So pay close attention to the instructions and pictures.

Younger Female (17-26)

Body Fat Percentage = Waist Circumference*1.34+Thigh Circumference*2.08-Forearm Circumference*4.31-19.6

Body Fat Percentage (Active) = Waist Circumference*1.34+Thigh Circumference*2.08-Forearm Circumference*4.31-22.6

Circumference Measurements Body Fat Percentage Calculator Female Younger - Katch Mcardle
Older Female (27+)

Body Fat Percentage = Waist Circumference*1.19+Thigh Circumference*1.24-Calf Circumference*1.45-18.4

Body Fat Percentage (Active) = Waist Circumference*1.19+Thigh Circumference*1.24-Calf Circumference*1.45-21.4

Circumference Measurements Body Fat Percentage Calculator Female Older - Katch Mcardle
Younger Male (17-26)

Body Fat Percentage = Waist Circumference*1.31+Upper Arm Circumference*3.7-Forearm Circumference*5.43-10.2

Body Fat Percentage (Active) = Waist Circumference*1.31+Upper Arm Circumference*3.7-Forearm Circumference*5.43-14.2

Circumference Measurements Body Fat Percentage Calculator Male Younger - Katch Mcardle
Older Male (27+)

Body Fat Percentage = Waist Circumference*0.9+Hip Circumference*1.05-Forearm Circumference*3-15

Body Fat Percentage (Active) = Waist Circumference*0.9+Hip Circumference*1.05-Forearm Circumference*3-19

Circumference Measurements Body Fat Percentage Calculator Male Older - Katch Mcardle

Body Fat Percentage Calculator FAQ

Now you understand the importance of measuring body fat. And you learned about the different methods and formulas.

But you might still have some practical questions about your body fat percentage. So here are some quick answers to common queries.

What is a good body fat percentage?

For men, a healthy target is less than 24% body fat. And for women, a healthy target is less than 32%

Your ideal body fat percentage depends on your body and fitness goals. But, generally speaking, lower is usually better.

In terms of overall health and longevity, you want to avoid body fat percentages that put you in the overweight or very overweight (obese) categories.

Once you reach a healthy level, you can aim for an athletic body fat percentage. Men should target less than 18% for a well-defined body, and women should target less than 25% body fat.

Finally, for an elite fitness level, men should strive for less than 10% while women should aim for less than 18% body fat.

Again, your target is relative to your situation and your starting point. Wherever you’re at, make sure you set a realistic and achievable goal.

  Men Women
Obese >30% >39%
Overweight 24-30% 32-39%
Average 18-24% 25-32%
Athletic 10-18% 18-25%
Very Lean <10% <18%

What is the most accurate body fat percentage calculator?

The most common methods of measuring body fat include electrical impedance, a skinfold caliper, water or air displacement, and x-ray scans.

Electrical impedance measurements are easy to take and readily accessible via scales with special sensors. However, the electrical impedance method can be wildly inaccurate, especially with changes in your stomach contents and hydration level.

The water displacement method is often hailed as the gold standard of body fat percentage tests. However, any variation in exhalation screws up the accuracy of underwater weighing, giving a false reading.

Another potentially accurate body fat measurement system is the DEXA scanner. But x-rays require access to expensive medical-grade equipment and can cost over $100 per scan.

Lastly, skinfold calipers are a cheap and easy-to-use option. While the accuracy may not be as good as other methods, calipers are very precise when used consistently. And that is all you need to see if your body fat is trending up or down.

At what body fat do abs show?

Most men start seeing abs at around 17% body fat. While women could see their abs at 24% body fat.

Keep in mind, however, that you may only see 2-pack or 4-pack abs at this point. For a shredded 6-pack, you’ll need to get below 10% for men and below 18% for women.

Related: How Long Does It Take to Get Abs?

Body Fat Percentage Calculator for Abs

Try The Body Fat Percentage Calculator

Calculating your body fat percentage can be a useful tool for reaching your fitness goals. But don’t get too hung up on accuracy or finding your exact percentage.

At the end of the day, what matters more is the ability to repeat the measurement because that lets you see if your body fat is going up or down over time. And seeing changes in your body composition enables you to make smarter decisions with your diet and exercise plan.

If you made it this far, you probably have from equation exhaustion. 😂 And I get it; I spent way too much time tracking down and testing these formulas.

But the good news is, you don’t have to do any math because my body fat percentage calculator will do all the work for you! So click the button below to easily find your body fat using any of the described methods.

Try Body Fat Percentage Calculator

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