I Had to Pinch Myself: Skinfold Calipers

Because all international supermodels and aspiring cyclists have to worry about the same thing – being rake thin – I have invested in a pair of skinfold calipers.



No, not a taser for the kinder, gentler police state – this is a little device that measures your fat. There seems to be a few different methods that can be used to get an overall fat %, but I am using 4 measurements:

  1. Abdominal 
  2. Suprailiac (love handles)
  3. Triceps
  4. Thighs 

Punching the resulting numbers (plus age and weight) into a pre-made calculation chucks out the following results:

  1. % Body Fat
  2. Fat Mass (in kg or lb)
  3. Lean Mass (in kg or lb)

WeighingScales800I had my doubts as to the efficacy of these things, but after using them now for the past 5 weeks, I’m sold. Just like any other measurement (weight, speed, heart rate, etc.), this plastic pinching device can be a great motivator. I am watching with delight my weight and fat % drop week by week. I should also mention that these things work much better than the fat meter on my scales, which tend to jump all over the place.

You want numbers, you say? Well, it’s early days, mind you, but here you go:

  • First measurement (Feb 7): 69 kg; 16.3% body fat
  • Latest measurement (Mar 7): 67.5 kg; 15.1% body fat

No, it’s not a science, since it’s all too easy to ‘adjust’ your pinch if you don’t like the first number you see, but I figure that, over time, there should be some consistency, plus I am working towards a goal (around 11%), which is always motivating. Like Coach Rob said in a recent email, ‘if you can measure it, you can manage it’.

Is that why I have so much trouble managing my drinking habit…?


12 thoughts on “I Had to Pinch Myself: Skinfold Calipers

    • I thought they looked a little reptilian as well, to be honest. Surprisingly they don’t hurt when you do the pinch. I suppose it’s the lack of fangs.

  1. Darn these bike races that require the riders to climb over 21,000 meters (68,000 feet) in a week. Hauling unnecessary fat ,up these high mountain tops, over 860 km of hard racing will surely wear us down. At least the calipers will help you know that it’s fat and not muscle that you’re losing. Without them, you’ll never know.

  2. You realise this will, to a degree, make all that speculation about losing grams here and there a bit of a moot point. But I guess it’s all weight in the end and the less you have to haul up those mountains the better. What do think your fighting weight might be? After months of consistent training my weight has actually levelled off at 80, but I know I’m losing fat. Interesting that the calipers are more reliable than the scales too. happy training!

    • James, I’m 176 cm and 68 kg right now. I think I’d like to be down to at least 64, which will be a hard 4 kg to lose. I’m near my ‘fighting weight’ of last year now and will have to be a lot more careful with what I eat to get down more. I feel that, after a couple months of consistent training, the fat-burning machine has started to work. I just need to be a little disciplined and I’ll hopefully see the numbers keep dropping.

      Like you, I leveled off last year at 67 kg, but I think I could have made some adjustments and got it down further. I got lazy or complacent, I guess.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s