4 Hour Body and The Elusive Body Fat: How do you Measure Up?

by Stephen

Post image for 4 Hour Body and The Elusive Body Fat: How do you Measure Up?

Starting a body recomposition program without measurements is like planning a trip without a start address. I guarantee you will regret it later. Don’t fly blind! “Tim Ferriss”  Click to Tweet!

Three Simple Steps to Getting Your Measurements:

Step I. Take your before circumference measurements. Get a simple tape measure and measure four locations

  1. Both Upper Arms (mid bicep) example here
  2. Waist (horizontal at naval)
  3. Hips (at widest point below Waist)
  4. Both Legs (mid-thigh)

Total these numbers to arrive at your Total Inches (TI). Changes in this total will be meaningful enough to track.

I have created a special 4 hour body “BODY MEASUREMENT WORKSHEET”. Take your time to record this data, it will act as a guide as you begin your diet. I recommend that you return here instead of the scale to track your progress.

Download as Excel Worksheet |  FOR MEN | FOR WOMEN |


Step II. Estimate your body-fat (BF%) based on the “Eyeballing It” slider (or use the above Excel spreadsheet with skinfold calipers)

What should your body fat goals be?

The American Council on Exercise uses the following categories based on percentage of body fat:

Tim Ferriss Four Hour Body: Body Fat Goals

For Men:

For Women:


Step III. Choose the Best Tool and Schedule a Session

  • If your over 30% body-fat, avoid calipers and use DEXA, BodPod, or ultrasound, in that order.
  • If you are under 25%, still aim for DEXA, BodPod, or ultrasound.
  • If you cannot find these opt for calipers with a qualified professional and request the 3-point or 7-point Jackson Pollock Algorithm.

Professional Resources:

  • BodPod: Use this site to find BodPod assessment centers
  • BodyMetrix: Hand-held device uses ultrasound to measure body composition down the the millimeter.
  • Find DEXA: About $49 use this to find a local center.


Tim’s Recommended Tools for Body Composition:

Related Posts:

Body Analysis Links:



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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily August 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Hi Stephen,

Why is ultrasound not recommended for measuring % body fat if you are over 30% fat?



Stephen August 14, 2011 at 2:35 am

I did mention this here:

Step III. Choose the Best Tool and Schedule a Session
If your over 30% body-fat, avoid calipers and use DEXA, BodPod, or ultrasound, in that order.

We have been using calipers to track ourselves in our http://www.fourhourfit.com challenge. And it is difficult to get accurate measurements, but it does seem to be effective just using the calipers. And cheaper.

Thanks for pointing this out.


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Derek July 14, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Love the idea of tracking measurements, but the Excel document doesn’t work well with Numbers (Mac version of Excel) would love a compatible document! Ive been tracking manually, paper and pen, loving the results so far!


Jim December 2, 2015 at 3:24 pm

I know this is an older post, but maybe someone can answer: I would have thought that chest size is important in determining ideal weight, and hence body fat. Why is there no chest measurement here?


Stephen December 12, 2015 at 11:07 pm

Great question Jim, you are certainly right about chest size and IBW, chest size may be a good way to account for somebody’s general physique (i.e stocky or scrawny) and allow for a more accurate calculation/prediction. I am not sure why this wan’t included in the measurement calculation, but I am sure the biostatisticians would be able to back it up with some kind of dada.

– Stephen


Mike January 17, 2016 at 6:24 pm


I apologize if this isn’t the right forum but I wanted to ask about finding/having a physician to work with during this process. As a matter of tracking (particularly with things like bloodwork) I can’t really see a better option. It’s probably easy enough to go anywhere and get just anyone but if I were inclined to seek a more preventative/proactive physician, what would be a good way to find and approach somebody that is open minded enough about the 4 hour methodology to accept “instructions” about the type of tests that I want done and to be supportive about the journey.

Should I search for a sports specialist as opposed to a family physician or something else?

I live in Canada and technically we have free health care but if you haven’t got a family doctor then just finding one can still be a challenge and finding a particularly “good” one seems like it could be more a matter of luck than anything else.

Any suggestions for streamlining the process for finding a healthcare partner on this journey? Your input would be tremendous.


P.S. Thank you so much for all of the work that you’ve done for the rest of us. It’s greatly appreciated.


Stephen January 20, 2016 at 10:49 pm

Hi Mike, this is the million dollar question. In the US we call such physicians integrative healthcare practitioners. It is a growing branch of medicine which combines the best of western and eastern philosophies, this includes natural medicines, exercise and lifestyle modification. Currently the clinics in the US offering these types of services are far and few between. Sometimes people will seek out a Doctor of Osteopathy or a chiropractor who often will work with you in this manner. DOs like MDs can order laboratories and write prescriptions. I assume you have the same in Canada. Sometimes these types of services are not covered by insurers in the US and I would hope that the National Health service in Canada would cover these types of services. So you may want to do a search of “integrative healthcare” in your area, a doctor of osteopathy, or even a chiropractor and ask if they have any suggestions. They may be able to offer some good local recommendations.


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