By the Numbers

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At some point if you have ever had a trainer or even been to a doctors office you have had a body measurement obtained.  Whether that be body weight, body fat percentage or a combination of the those.  In the Personal Training world these are measurements that are obtained during your initial assessment/health screening to give your trainer a place to start at and also clue in on any potential risk for hear disease.  Most people deny any significant medical history on their assessment but I also like to add, when was the last time you saw your doctor if you have one?  There are a large majority of people that I see typically in the mid 30s range who don’t have a primary care physician.  Typically these measurements are an eye opener for the athlete because while they think they have no medical history they very well could have a significant medical problem that needs to be addressed prior to the start of physical exercise.

Some of the measurements obtained include:

Body Weight:  Typically measured in pounds but may be measured in kilograms

Height:  May be measured in centimeters or inches

BMI (Body Mass Index): Is your weight in kilograms/height in centimeters.  Normal values vary depending on what resource you look at but typically read 18-25 as normal; 25-29 Overweight*; Higher than 30 is usually considered obese.

*This may not be accurate in moderate or highly trained athletes.  Muscle weighs more than fat.  These numbers are based on an average so it is good to use this as a baseline for improvement.

Body Fat %: There are a number of ways to measure body fat % Click here for some common methods.  The most common being the skin fold calipers.  They are fairly inexpensive and give a good idea of the exact percentage of body fat in the body with a little more consistency.  The only major issue is the experience of the individual performing the test and how to document the readings.

Tape Measurements:  This measures specific circumferences of the body.  Like, the upper arm, neck, chest or bust line, hip/waist and upper thighs.  These measurements are obtained in centimeters or inches depending on who is conducting the test.

No matter what you are measuring, especially initially.  It always helps to find some perspective.

1.  This is for your health, which is why you were probably getting this done in the first place.  So when you hear radical numbers don’t worry!  It’s all for your benefit to know this and it will help develop a plan to get you to improve safely.

2.  It can sometimes be misleading.  You may be in a bit of a better spot than you think, so make sure you take a closer look at the numbers.  How much of you body weight is lean muscle mass vs fat?  This may make you feel a little better to know that potentially over 50% of your body weight is muscle.  I’d call that a win in some cases, depending on other history of course.

The last point is performance.  As long as you are able to perform well and you feel well, don’t stress over the numbers. Get moving and eat well, enjoy life and the numbers will eventually be where you want them to.  But if you want a change you have to move, it won’t happen through a special pill or a magic potion.  It takes some hard work and consistency.