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A body fat measurement can be useful for tracking your weight-loss progress because, unlike the scale, it tells you how much of your weight is fat and how much is muscle and other good stuff.

Here's how body fat is measured and what that number actually means.

If you use a different caliper, you can get a different result.

If you measure seven points instead of three but still use the same caliper and formula, you can get different results.

For lean bodybuilders, I use the nine-site Parillo equation.

You may scoff at using inexpensive plastic calipers rather than more expensive varieties you see trainers using in gyms, but you shouldn't.

There are many different methods for measuring body fat, but some are more accurate than others.

Hydrostatic weighing and other high-tech machines are expensive and almost impossible for a layperson to access.

There are also hand-held devices and scales which measure body fat, but these are often inaccurate.

For our purposes, the easiest and most accurate choice is the caliper method.

Whether your body fat is truly 8 percent or 10 percent doesn't actually matter at all. The lesson: Don't focus too hard on the number; focus on the changes in the number.

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