M@L, thanks for your reply and the link to the online BF% calculator - I shall take a look, purely out of interest really.
I've read quite a lot about calipers but have never been tempted enough to actually go out and buy some - maybe I'm a bit scared of what they will tell me! Sometimes it's nice not to know these things!
However, at 5 ft 4" tall and weighing around 112 lbs I don't think I have too much to worry about - hopefully!
Yes, that is the problem with BF% - it is not simple to measure.
Some digital scales estimate BF, but this is quite sensitive to your hydration levels, and readings can be quite volatile (changing by several percentage points in just a few hours).
Online calculators (eg. the right hand column of www.linear-software.com/online.html ) are one simple option. While they are somewhat inaccurate in an absolute sense, the fact that are free and can be done at home means they are good way to track your progress over time.
Body fat calipers are probably the best compromise between accuracy and simplicity - most gyms will be able to do this for a small fee.
Handheld DEXA scanners are another option - some gyms use these. Not sure whether some doctors might as well.
BF % is definitely the more meaningful number in terms of health than BMI.
BMI includes both body fat and lean mass. But lean mass is not a static number, and increased lean mass from an enlarged blood supply, muscle, increased bone density, etc. are actually positive in terms of your health. So it is difficult to tell whether a high BMI is due to excess fat (bad) or lean mass (good).
Actually, an exercise program that include BOTH ST and cardio is more effective than a program that includes just one or the other.
Fitness Minutes: (1,467)
130 9/14/13 6:02 A
BMI was originally intended to be used for measuring populations, not individuals; its widespread use is because it's easy, not accurate.
Body fat percentage is a much better indicator of body composition (which is what's really important, not the number on the scale).
Body fat percentage is much more meaningful. BMI classifies me as overweight, but my body fat is between 22 and 23%, depending on how rigid I am in my eating plan. To get to the lower end of my BMI, I would actually have to lose muscle mass.
Another interesting note is that I weigh more than I did at my previous lowest weight but am a full size smaller.
Based on your numbers, you sound compact and powerful. Don't worry too much about the number on the scale. It may not end up being what you thought it would be but you could still be quite happy with the way you look. I'm more concerned by adding numbers to my lifts than dropping numbers on the scale. I'm much happier and has been far easier to maintain without the pressure and anxiety.
Keep going. You're doing great!
Fitness Minutes: (31,563)
219 9/13/13 9:39 P
I do not like the BMI and the weight. Because if you go by weight my son and daughter-in-law would be overweight. ALL THEIR WEIGHT IS MUSCLE. They are powerlifters. I have been working out I have lost so far 2 1/2 inches. But have not lost weight. I am happy to lose inches. I figure lose the FAT AND GAIN MUSCLE THAT IS GREAT.
Fitness Minutes: (22,177)
422 7/26/13 11:33 A
Thank you, Coach Jen! That is helpful. I need specific external guidelines like that to know when I am at a healthy weight because I'm a harsh self-critic. I will keep up the cardio and strength training.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to post. It's amazing that what was once my ideal weight (120) would be athlete level body fat and what was my "pudgy" weight at age 20 (145) would be healthy!
I agree with the previous posters that body fat is a much better indicator of health than BMI. The American College of Sport Medicine's guidelines for women are: 21-24% "fitness" and 25-31% "average". So I'd say if you can get into the lower end of the "average" range, you're doing great!
You might try working toward the 147 pound goal, and then have your body fat tested again. At that point, if you're at the level you're happy with, then you know that's a good goal for you.
I'd suggest a good combination of regular cardio (3-5 days per week) and a challenging strength training program (2-3 days per week.)
Hope that helps,
Fitness Minutes: (2,155)
1,170 7/25/13 9:15 P
28% actually isn't considered unhealthy at all for women our age (I'm also 43), at least according to the one chart I found when I looked into it a few months ago. (I got measured -- though unreliably -- at 30% and was curious; the top of the range was right there or a point or so higher IIRC.)
24% feels pretty reasonable to me -- *if* the original measurement was halfway accurate, then I should be about there now or close to it and it feels good, there's not an excessive amount of flab anywhere, I feel like my body is not hampered by extra weight at all, and yet I'm not skinny. I'm no expert, though.
You must have some pretty good muscles going on to be at 28% at your current weight -- congrats, that's so cool!
And yeah, I would choose body fat % as a more useful measurement for most people, but it's often impractical to track or to measure, so you make do with what you can.
Fitness Minutes: (0)
6 7/25/13 7:35 P
I dont use either, especially since i am considered to be obese by BMI standards even though i have a 33 inch waist. I just go by how i look and feel.
Fitness Minutes: (1,689)
203 7/25/13 6:15 P
I think what's more important is your general health and how you feel right now. Keep up with the healthy eating and exercise and your body will take care of itself. (that's just my opinion of course)
Fitness Minutes: (9,226)
713 7/25/13 5:55 P
BMI is flawed, but it's hard for me to find somewhere to measure my body fat percentage.
My understanding is that BMI can be flawed if someone is out of the norm - if you have more muscle than average for example. You wouldn't be overweight at the higher weight, but the BMI tables place you there.
I'd go with body fat percentages.
Also, way to go on the weight loss. That's great.
Fitness Minutes: (22,177)
422 7/25/13 5:03 P
I'm hoping some coaches or trainers can weigh in here.
I am a medium framed 5'2" female, age 43, weight 156. (I cannot believe I am admitting my age and my weight publicly! LOL) Having dropped more than 50 pounds in the last 8 months through cardio, strength training, cleaning up my diet, and cutting calories, I decided it was time to get my body fat measured. The trainer who tested me using calipers came highly recommended by the other trainers.
Anyway, she measured me at 28% body fat. She suggested the goal of 24%. Is 24% a good goal for my age? That would mean my goal should be around 147 pounds, assuming I don't lose lean mass. But according to the BMI chart, I should weigh less than 136 to be in the healthy range.
So how do I go about setting a goal weight? What body fat percentage would mean that I am healthy and fit? Is 28% considered really overweight, a little overweight, or a lot overweight? Which is most important for dropping body fat: strength or cardio?
I still can't believe that I'm not obese anymore, even when friends tell me I look great.
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