Food & Nutrition

Home Body Fat Test

Learn your body fat percentage with this quick and easy tool

You can test your body fat by many different methods, but we have developed a method that is both very accurate and convenient.

You can do it yourself right now - all you need is a cloth tape to measure different parts of your body.

Start by telling us your...


About This Body Fat Test

Covert Bailey believes that knowing percent body fat tells you more about your body than any other test. It tells you what your correct weight ought to be, how much fat you have, how much muscle, and what exactly you need to gain or lose. Knowing this one number allows you to design an exercise program to maximize your efforts.

How Accurate Is This Body Fat Test?

This tape-measure test is used to estimate your percent body fat. It is usually quite accurate-- so if a man got 17 percent from this test, he could expect his true percent body fat to be anywhere between 15 and 19 percent.

For some people, however, the results of the tape measure test may not come so close to their true percent body fat. People who are very, very fit can get numbers 3 to 5 percent higher than their true percent body fat. Because they do not have a lot of fat inside their muscles, very fit people may be lower in body fat than this tape measure test indicates.

Conversely, if a person is skinny but not fit, this body fat test may yield a number 3 to 5 percent lower than his or her true percent body fat. Though they look thin, unfit skinny people really have more than the usual amount of fat inside their muscles, which you ca not see from the outside.

So, what is the bottom line? For many people, this tape measure test is quite accurate, it puts you in control, it can be done frequently and it costs nothing.

The most valuable aspect is that you can test yourself and you can see change over time.

What Is A Healthy Amount Of Body Fat?

Depending on your race, recommended percent body fat may vary. Below is a chart of percent body fat found in different people, including the highest and lowest percents Covert has ever tested.

Range of Percent Body Fat in Different People

(Percent body fat found through the method of underwater immersion testing)

Fattest Covert has tested55%68%
Average American22%32%
Healthy normal*:
Top Athletes3-12%10-18%
Leanest Covert has tested1%6%

*The bones of African-Americans tend to be dense and so they sink easily in water. On the other hand, the bones of Asians are light and porous so they tend to float. To allow for these differences, healthy African-Americans should have a lower percent body fat than Asians and Caucasians, while Asians should have a higher percent body fat than African-Americans and Caucasians.

Remember to allow at least one month in between the times that you test. Spreading the tests across a period of time helps ensure that significant changes in your percent body fat are due to exercise and diet, rather than human error in body measurement.


Bailey, Covert. The Ultimate Fit or Fat. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright 1999