Our expert says:
One problem with those machines is that they do rely on user technique to produce an accurate result. Therefore, the position, the exact settings on the machine would have had to be exactly the same last week as they were a few months ago in order for the reading to be accurate. If this is not the case, then the range in reading can easily be 3%.
As for the machines, they are relatively accurate. Of course, they are not the best, because the cost factor is important, but I would say that they are better than the skinfold method, simply because this relies so heavily on the technique of the measurer (even more than the machines do). The results from the machine have been correlated against some ‘gold standard’ machines and the comparison is very favourable (we are talking 90% similarity). Where the inaccuracies come in is in body builders and people with very high muscle mass, and so if your training in the last few months has caused you to gain quite a lot of muscle, then part of this 3% may be explained by this.
All in all, they are very accurate, but I guess your experience just highlights the problem with machines – they are not perfect and as such, don’t base your training on them too much – if you are getting fit and feel good about training, then just keep it up!
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