I have a couple of obese clientele that I have used calipers on for body composition, and I am finding that the results are inaccurate. I am unable to pull skin/fat tissue away from the target areas in order to measure. The subcutaneous fat is too hard, and its difficult to get an accurate reading. Any suggestions on how to measure body composition using calipers on a client that is obese?
Thank you everyone for your input. I agree on all counts – working towards not making clients uncomfortable, and using other methods of measurement.
In a nutshell, sounds like the suggestions lean towards using a bio-impedance device instead of calipers until a client is at a certain (lower) body composition.
Part of the question came from a trainer that works at a ‘big box’ gym, and they only use calipers. Sounds like he may need to find another way to measure folks. I have a bio-impedance device at my studio, so I am good to go.
Sometimes with obese clients I don’t even take their body fat. Instead after I perform other types of assessments to make sure they are ready to workout and have no other serious limitations, I slowly introduce them to physical activity. The rest will come in time and when they are ready for a BF test then I’ll perform one (I’m a calipers guy). I feel that there are so many other steps they need to take and things to do that will benefit them even more than just knowing their BF%. But, that’s just me.
Hi Sandra. I agree with Paul in that when I’m faced with this situation, I go with the hand-held bio-impedance device. Easy to use, less intrusive and is fairly accurate for baseline purposes.
I would go with one of the hand-held bio-electrical impedance units – Omron makes a pretty decent one & they’re pretty affordable, not to mention non-invasive. Just be sure to conduct the tests under normal hydration conditions – before exercise, before consuming a lot of fluids, etc. It’s not a perfect method but none of them are.
I would not use calipers on an obese client, they already know they are obese.
When they are ready:
I would use the scale as one guideline and waist hip measurements. If you can’t get a tape measure around them, use string then measure on your own
The point is, make every effort to not cause humiliation.