Body composition testing: what’s the best and most accurate test?

Body composition testing is a valuable tool if you’re looking to lose weight, put on muscle mass or want to improve your sporting performance. Nick Beer explains three popular body composition tests

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The data  produced can show the effects that different types of training can have on the body. This can be a useful tool to use when setting performance targets. 


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Here are three examples of some of the popular body composition tests:

Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) is considered the gold standard diagnosis tool for measuring bone density and total fat, lean and muscle mass. It uses specialised software that constructs a detailed image of underlying tissue and quantifies body composition. While very accurate, it is costly and hard to source.

Skinfold callipers measure the skin and subcutaneous adipose tissue in several different locations on the body. Measurements are typically in millimetres. Once the data is collected, it can be converted to a body fat percentage.
When interpreting the data, be aware that everyone has their own optimal value. They’re cheap and easy to use, but hard to be accurate when retesting.


Whole Body Plethysmography (BodPod) is highly accurate at detecting small changes in body fat and lean body mass. It’s much more affordable than some of the other body composition tests. Also, it requires minimal effort to carry out and is less intrusive than other tests.