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  • Sunday Routine, skinfold measurements.

    by Martyna Opłatowska

    Youíre on the right path. Training, diet, regeneration. Do you like it as much as I do? It gives you joy and keeps you going? Youíve got your goal which you consequently pursuit. So now itís high time you objectively measured and evaluated the progress. In one of the arts (Introduction to Female Natural Bodybuilding, Part II. Taking real measurements) Puma described useful body measurement methods. You already know that scale isnít the only oracle. Itís time to get a closer look at skinfold measurement method. It looks a little bit tricky in theory. The whole procedure, tools, itís easier to get on scale. But, will you get what you want? Thatís why weíre going to take the method to pieces, to make it clear, easy and ready to use by you. What is more, it should become a part of your sunday routine - for me, sunday is the day of regeneration, taking measurements and being at ease.

    So here we go. This is your plan for the next Sunday morning. Wake up, make your toilet. Measurement on the scale, then girths with the help of a tape-measure and letís get down to folds. Prepare a measuring instrument, pen, sheet of paper or anything on which youíll write down the result. Also, ask someone to help you with the measurement, as doing it on yout own may be in over your head. Shoulder blade and triceps - itíll be extremely hard to measure without an assistant. These are the two folds to which the access is hampered to some extent.
    You can use any tool that comes to your mind, which allows you to pinch the skin, and finally - read the results. Obviously, the best possible solution is professional instrument called skinfold caliper. In Poland, the access to measuring instruments is quite limited. You may either scour auction portals or import it from abroad. The assortment will certainly be wider. Iíve just bought one, via the Internet. Itís not necessarily a professional instrument, but still a step forward compared to previously used pair of compasses. The most important thing is to take the measures with the same instrument in the planned cycle. Only then will the results reflect your actual progress.

    The places where weíll take measures are: triceps skinfold, biceps, shoulder blade, above the hip, abs, thigh, calf.

    You have to pinch the skin in the places Iíve mentioned with the fingers of one hand (index finger and thumb would be the best option). Itís necessary to grab the whole fold, but without the muscles underneath. The grip has to be wide enough to grasp the whole subcutaneous fat tissue in certain place and seperate grasped skin from the rest of the body. The foldís sides need to be parallel to each other, so that weíre assured we measure the whole of it. Thus, donít pinch the skin gently, but grab as much as you can, along with subcutaneous fat. At first, it may seem strange and uncomfortable - but youíll get used to it. In the other hand you hold the measuring instrument and place it aside from your fingers (about 1cm). The instrument is supposed to be perpendicular to the surface of measured fold, as precisely as you can. Clasp it firmly, but not too much, so that you donít distorte the result from pressing the elastic tissue too hard [pic. 1] (you might also get a bruise). Repeat the activity in every targeted place several times (optimally three) and the result should be averaged. By doing this, you get more precise and free of distortion result.

    [pic. 1]

    After this short description, Iíll show you in what way I measure my folds in certain places. Pick one of the sides of your body and stick to it.


    The arm should be relaxed. The pinch is made at the mid point between the tip of arm bone and the elbow [pic. 2]. Itís paralell to the axis of the arm. Arrows near the pink line, is where you should place thumb and index finger. I noticed that this particular fold, may be the problematic one. The skin is dense, and the tissue underneath, firm, not prone to being pinched by fingers. In such situation, a little massage before the measurement will do the trick. I softly pinch and rub the skin.

    [pic. 2]


    Situation similar to the triceps. The measurement is taken at the midpoint of the arm, vertical pinch parallel to the axis of the arm. This time on the inner side [pic. 3]. The fold is also vertical. Arrows mark the place.

    [pic. 3]

    Shoulder blade

    I look for the bottom point of the shoulder blade. Bending the body slightly forward, may actually help in finding that place. The pinch is made on a line which runs laterally and downwards (about 45 degrees). Arrows mark the place [pic. 4].

    [pic. 4]


    The measurement is taken at the top of the hip bone on the lateral side. The line, of course, goes horizontally [pic. 5].

    [pic. 5]


    The vertical pinch is made 5 cm from the belly button [pic. 6].

    [pic. 6]


    Another problematic fold for women. I havenít noticed that problem when measuring men. Here, youíll also have to stick to massaging and rubbing the place. The pinch is made at the midpoint between knee cap and groin. I pinch the skin in a specific way, to make the fold run in a vertical line (through the center of the thigh above the knee) [pic. 7].

    [pic. 7]


    Set the point at the level of the largest circumference. Tape measure might be useful. The pinch is parallel to the axis of the leg [pic. 8].

    [pic. 8]

    Thatís all for now when speaking about measurement places. As you clearly see, itís not so complicated as it seems at the beginning. It takes me around 10-15 minutes to do that, along with circumference measures, weighing and writing down the results.

    Few remarks:
    • I do the measures on empty stomach, the same day every week.
    • Measuring with the use of tape measure and ruler will be the least accurate and may distort the results. Itís probably the best to buy a caliper (it will serve you maaany years).
    • If youíve never measured skin folds and it seems complicated to you, I guarantee - practice makes perfect.
    • Remember about the technique of grabbing and applying the instrument. Youíll have to use both hands: one pinches, the second - measures. Again, a well-instructed assisstant is priceless.
    • The rules of measuring the folds are strict. If the fold goes in a vertical line in particular place, this is the way to measure it. Not horizontally, not slantwise. You have to keep it in mind, since at first you may get a little bit confused. This might result in messing up in the questionnaries.
    • Donít change the instrument during one cycle, you may lose the point.
    • Step by step, millimetre by millimetre, youíll achieve your goal.

    Skinfold measuring is a very wide subject. Collected data may be processed with the help of fixed formulas to find out the level of fat in our body. There are many more places where you can take the measures, than Iíve mentioned in this short tutorial. The information which I provided you with, where acquired during experiments under Pumaís supervision. Now itís time for you. Soon, thereís gonna be another Experiment, I hope that this element will become a part of you Sunday Routine.