Worfact Caliper Measuring Suggestions

Subcutan body fat can be measured using a device called a skin fold caliper. An average person has approximately %50 of their bodyweight distributed just below the skin. For this reason, body composition can be easily calculated using the right tools and formulas. Skinfold formulas are derived from calculations based on extensive research derived from hydrostatic weighing.

In general, the skin fold caliper method produces a measurement that is ± 2,0 to 3,5% of that obtained in hydrostatic weighing. Further measurement error is likely if the trainer is inexperienced or uses poor technique, if the client is obese or extremely thin, if the caliper is not properly calibrated ( ACSm, 2010 ). Before conducting skin fold measurements, trainers must familiarise themselves with exact site locations and proper grasping technique.

Given the variability in fat distribution from site to site, it is recommended for multiple sites to be analysed ( ACSM, 2010a ). Most research supports at least three sites when assessing body fat. The sites are also different between men and women.

the Jackson and Pollock, three site skinfold locations are as follows ( Jackson and Pollock, 1985 );

  • Chest ( Figure 1 ) A diagonal skinfold taken midway between the anterior axillary line ( crease of the underarm ) and the nipple.

Stacks Image 77587
Stacks Image 77589

Figure 1

Locate site midway between the anterior axillary line and the nipple.

Grasp a diagonal fold and pull it away from the

  • Thigh ( Figure 2 ) A vertical skinfold taken on the anterior midline of the thigh between the inguinal crease at the hip and the proximal border of the patella.

Stacks Image 77598
Stacks Image 77601

Figure 2

Locate the hip and the knee joints and find the midpoint on the top of the thigh.

Grasp a vertical skinfold and pull it away from the muscle.

  • Abdominal ( Figure 3 ) A vertical skinfold taken 2 cm ( 1 inch ) to the right of the umbilicus.

Stacks Image 77610

Figure 3

Grasp a vertical skinfold one inch to the right of the umbilicus.

Skinfold Measuring Protocol


  • Skinfold caliper, properly calibrate
  • Marker ( optional )
Pretest procedures:
To ensure testing accuracy, the client should be optimally hydrated and always be measured prior the exercise. Since this particular test can feel intrusive to a first-time client, the trainer should make sure the client is familiar and comfortable with the protocol. If a marking pencil is to be used, it should be washable, an eyeliner pencil works well.
To protocol and administration:
To ensure accuracy in assessing body composition using the skin fold caliper method, it is important to measure each skinfold in the appropriate location and use standardized techniques:
  • All measurements are taken on the right site of the body while the client is standing.
  • Skinfold location should be properly identified using anatomical landmarks and measurements. Use of a marking pencil will help ensure precise landmarks and consistency.
  • Hold caliper in the right hand, grasping the skin fold site with the left hand. ( Left-handed calipers are available, which revers the hand position ).
  • The thumb and index finger of the left hand are opened the about 8 cm ( 3 inches ) and positioned 1 cm ( 1/2 inch ) above the measurement site. Grasp or the pinch the skinfold site making a fold line ( double fold of skin ) that corresponds to the site instructions.
  • To accurately asses subcutaneous fat, the skin and underlying fat are simultaneously pulled firmly away from the underlying muscle tissue.
  • The pinch is maintained while the calipers are positioned perpendicular to the site and on the site location ( 1 cm below the thumb and index finger ), midway between the top and the base of the fold.
  • Read the value on top of caliper.
  • Moving onto the next site, repeat the above steps. Each site should be measured minimum of two times to ensure consistency between measurements. If subsequent readings produce a difference greater than 2 mm, a third measurement is necessary and the average of the two acceptable scores should be taken ( i.e. within 2 mm of each other ). It is recommended that the trainer wait 20-30 seconds between measurements to allow the skin and fat to redistribute.
  • Record all measurements on Worfact Measurement Area.
  • Worfact will calculate body fat percentage for you.