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Status:Closed    Asked:Apr 17, 2013 - 02:03 PM

In taking a body fat assessment, are the hand held body fat analyzers recommended or is it better to use calipers?

I am a personal trainer, and I would like to purchase either a body fat analyzer or traditional calipers for clients. Just wondering which tool is more accurate.

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Hand-held body fat analyzers that use near-infrared interactance (NIR) technology typically measure fat in a single body area — such as the bicep. The standard error estimate for this method is ¬+5% body fat; that’s pretty high. So, while you’ll often see these gadgets at health fairs and gyms, they’re not recommended for use in most populations.

There are also hand-held devices that measure body fat via bioelectrical impedance, a method considered to be reasonably accurate, with a standard error estimate falling between +2.7 and 6.3%. Because hydration status affects results, the user should follow manufacturer instructions regarding eating, drinking, and exercising prior to measurement.

Skinfold measurements, when taken by a skilled technician using a high-quality caliper, offers a standard error estimate of only +3.5%. Keep in mind that acquiring a reliable level of skill in this technique requires specific training, experience in testing hundreds of people and regular practice — but it’s worth your time and effort, because this is a relatively quick assessment you can perform in a variety of settings. The ACE Personal Trainer Manual, 4th edition contains detailed procedures and photos of skinfold sites to help you learn more about this widely-used body composition assessment technique.



Apr 17, 2013 - 02:06 PM

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