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Body fat percentage - how do I test or calculate?

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Hi ladies,

I'm pretty new to the world of competition bodybuilding and looking to enter my first fitness model competition early next year.

Rookie question, how does everyone else get their body fat percentage tested? I've seen scales that calculate it but don't know how accurate they are.

And with that, is it true that fitness/bikini models are looking ar being around 7 - 9% body fat percentage prior to competition? Or is that a little too low?


Larryetta! :) 

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The scales are really inaccurate. Bioimpedence I think its called? Otago uni PE department had some with the hand grip things you hold while it measures and these ones grossly underestimated bf %. Put me at 8% and my brother at 6% when I was definitely leaner than him but i was not sub 10% bf.

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Yeah, those scales are rubbish. They work by measuring the resistance to an electrical current that passes through you, and you can manipulate the readings up or down simply by having a glass of water!

What do you want to know for?

If it's to track your progress in the leadup to a comp, find an experienced trainer, and get them to do caliper tests. They'll pinch the skin and measure the thickness of the skinfold. The more fat that's under there, the thicker the skinfold will be. Results will vary from trainer to trainer as each uses slightly different techniques, but it's consistent enough to track your progress if you use the same trainer each time.

If you just want a general indication of where you're currently at, you could post up some full body photos, and we can give you our best guesstimates.

Oh, and welcome, Larryetta!

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Hi guys,

Thanks for your responses.

I'm aiming to start training for a figure/bikini comp next year (after my fractured shoulder heals, mountain biking fail) and doing some research. I thought those scales might be dodgy, so good to hear.

For female comps are you looking at around 9% body fat? 

It's also looking like I'm going to get a program off a training/nutrition coach in Australia, would you recommend that I get someone here on the ground too?

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