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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2002 Mar;42(1):45-55.

Body composition estimations by BIA versus anthropometric equations in body builders and other power athletes.

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Department of Sport and Movement Sciences, Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium.



Two main questions are stated: 1) are BIA and anthropometric equations accurate in estimating body composition in male power athletes and more specifically in body builders and 2) is there a difference in body composition when body builders are compared to weight and power lifters?



this is a descriptive, comparative study on a selected sample of power athletes.


49 Belgian elite and sub-top male power athletes (34 body builders and 15 weight and power lifters) were included in this sample. More than 70% was in preparation of competition at time of data collection.


an extended set of anthropometric measures was taken. Body composition was estimated by BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) and by regression equations of skinfolds. Somatotype and muscle+bone areas were calculated. Factor analysis on all anthropometric measures was carried out to determine the body structure of the athletes.


Compared to external visual criteria, the equations of Durnin and Womersley and Lohman (skinfolds) and the Guo-equation (BIA) were the only equations that could accurately estimate the body composition for this specific group of athletes. However, the sum of skinfolds attains the most accurate estimate of subcutaneous fatness. Body builders have significantly (p<0.01) larger arm and thigh circumferences and are more mesomorfic than the other power athletes (5.9 vs 3.8).


This study shows that to estimate body composition in extreme power athletes BIA is not as accurate as compared to anthropometric equations. Moreover, the sum of a larger set of skinfolds is preferred to anthropometric prediction equations. In addition, body builders are more muscular and leaner than other power athletes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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