Body composition is a big deal to most people in the world. Some people would have called this article something bland, like “how to accurately your body composition at home,” or some such silliness. But while that might attract the attention of an exercise physiologist, it’s a lot less applicable to the average man or woman in the street.
You want to know if you’re fat or thin, or somewhere in between. And you also want to know if you’re more muscular than you were, say, six months ago. The very nature of physical fitness makes the temptation to be able to tell your body composition extremely strong. But you don’t want to have to go to some lab, just to find out your body mass and things like that.
The Pinch Test
A lot of people use the old “pinch an inch” litmus test, to tell how you’re doing fitness wise. While you can identify if you’re starting to get chubby by being able to pinch an inch of blubber from your stomach, this is too much of an “either or” proposition. While it’s great to pinch your stomach and just have a flap of skin that’s as thin as a few pieces of paper between your finger and thumb, that’s nowhere near enough information to go by.
What’s the next test after that, telling whether you’re obese based upon the number of inches you can pinch off? If you can throw a massive flap of lard over your shoulder like a scarf, you are indeed obese. But if we can be serious for a moment, there are better ways.
Body Mass Index
While the Body Mass Index (also known as the BMI) is another way to tell whether you’re in a healthy or unhealthy weight range based upon your age, gender and height, it also has some issues about it. For one thing, are you a body builder? If you have taken efforts to grow your muscles proactively, it can greatly skew your results. And unfortunately, this has convinced a great many fat people who have mildly physical jobs that they are healthier than they are. But the BMI is a good starting point – it just needs the help of measurements and division.
If you don’t have a measuring tape, shell out a few bucks and buy one. Get the kind a tailor would use, at least three feet long. Now, measure the widest part of your waist – think of the old-fashioned kind of waist, such as around your navel. Record how wide that is. Now measure the widest part of your hips around your buttocks.
If you’re a man, you want to be in the range of .9 waist-to-hip. If you’re a woman, you want to be in the .7 range. There’s a reason why we find these dimensions attractive – they lead to lower likelihood of diseases such as diabetes, and higher fertility in both genders.