Saturday, July 24, 2010

Keeping track of your body fat percentage.

Body fat should drop below 15% to reveal six-packs
Since the main objective of my current fitness routine is to get a "six-pack", it is very important to actually understand what a six-pack is. To get a six-pack, 2 things need to happen:

1. You need to gain muscle (resistance workouts).
2. You need to lose fat (cardiovascular workouts and/or dieting).

Both play an important role in getting a six-pack, but losing fat is (in my opinion) the more important criteria. That is the reason I have decided to give a higher priority to running plus nutrition and a slightly lower priority to resistance training. That does not mean that I ignore resistance training. It just means I focus on running a bit more. Of course, the fact that I enjoy running more than resistance training may have something to do with this choice of mine.

Whatever the case may be, it is necessary that we have a fair idea about how much fat we actually have in our body. According to Wikipedia, a living persons body fat percentage cannot be determine. That means whatever methods we use to know our fat percentages are only rough estimates.

Accurate estimates for determining body fat percentage rely on using x-rays or infra-reds. However, a more simpler option is to use a bio-electrical impedance machine. You find these machines in all pharmacies (at least in all the pharmacies here in Kuwait). You stand in front of the machine and firmly hold 2 electrodes in both your hands. A low-voltage electrical current is sent from one hand to the other (it doesn't hurt one bit and you don't even know that a current is being sent through your body). Some machines send a current through the legs.

The machine uses an algorithm to determine how long it took the current to pass through your body and uses that to determine your body fat percentage. In addition to giving out your fat percentage, it also gives various other indicators like height, weight, blood pressure (always a good thing to know), heart rate, etc. Here's my results from todays test.

The problem with this method of determining the body fat percentage is that it is not very accurate. Different manufactures may use different algorithms - so if you do the test on one machine, and repeat the same test on another machine (by a different manufacturer), you may get different results. The water contents in your body also affect the results from these machines.

But since this is easiest (and cheapest) method of getting a fair idea about our body fat percentage, we can use this method and monitor our fat percentage on a regular basis. I plan to do this every month in order to make sure that I am on the right track and that the body fat percentage is going down.

To keep the results consistent, I will do the test on the same machine, at the same time and ensure that the water in my body is similar every time I repeat this test.

My current index for the fat is decent and within normal range but it is nowhere near the desired level as far as a six-pack target is concerned. The fat percentage needs to drop somewhere in the range of 10% to 15%.

It's not going to be easy, but I always knew this when I took on the challenge.


  1. Hi Cajie, you mentioned:
    "a more simpler option is to use a bio-electrical impedance machine. You find these machines in all pharmacies (at least in all the pharmacies here in Kuwait)"

    Which pharmacy did you go to for this? Any in Salmiya?


  2. Hello Mike,
    I live in Riggae and all the pharmacies around there have these machines. I am pretty sure you will find one easily in Salmiya.