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Are circumference measurements good to use to track muscle mass?

Unfortunately, circumference measurements are not a very good indication of fat mass or muscle mass. Circumference measurements are used to glean an estimate of a person's body fat based on their age and circumference measurements of certain parts of the body (abdomen, thigh, forearm, ec.). Using this information, a chart is consulted that will provide a number called a constant. This constant is then inserted in a mathematical equation, which will provide an estimate of body fat. The constants are based on demographic research of a large population, but although statistical corrections can be made, the constants do not differentiate between muscle and fat. For example, the circumference test may not be able to tell if your thigh is large because of excess fat or large muscle mass. Therefore, the information it provides can be somewhat misleading. These constants do not differentiate between fat and muscle. When factoring in someone with large amounts of muscle mass the method can become inaccurate. A better way to track body fat is with skin fold calipers. The calipers estimate the percentage of fat mass that is in the body. You can multiply this percentage by your total body weight to determine the number of pounds of fat you have in your body.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.