Why is body composition analysis an
effective tool in personal training?
Whether a client is starting up a New Year’s resolution or joining a work-related weight loss program to kick-start their health, any opportunities to increase physical activity leads clients in a positive direction. However, the most common reason for stopping these changes lies with lack of motivation and feedback. Strategies that provide immediate feedback are essential to ensure success; therefore monitoring progress is vital for establishing a baseline, setting appropriate and attainable goals, and tracking changes over time.
Monitoring changes with a simple weight scale or Body Mass Index provides limited ability to accurately track changes as they only highlight changes in weight and thus fail to encompass progress in muscle gain or fat loss. To support ongoing success through physical activity, understanding body composition with InBody is key.
In less than 45 seconds, the InBody 570 Test provides personal trainers with easy-to-understand, accurate and objective measurements to evaluate a member’s body composition:
- Assess muscle distribution and target areas weakened by injury
- Identify muscle and fat imbalances in each segment of the body
- Monitor changes to determine efficacy of an exercise program and diet plans to ensure long-term success
Kim et al., 2015
“Coaches and trainers should manage their athletic performance more efficiently by continually paying more attention to and regularly assessing body composition.”
Park & Park, 2017
“Long-term combined exercise is effective in improving the body composition and physical function in older adults.”
Yu et al., 2015
“Body composition can be used to estimate athletic performance and forecast improvements in athletic performance.”
Maintaining weight while increasing muscle and decreasing fat
Monitoring a client’s muscle and fat balance allows trainers to identify imbalances between the two compartments and focus their attention on setting more appropriate training goals and create more effective plans for reducing health risks. With the use of Segmental Lean Analysis, trainers will be able to identify areas for training that will maximize progress. This equips trainers with the tools to understand starting points, target areas in need of improvement, set attainable and specific goals and optimize success and health improvements.
As we can see from this client, they have been engaging in a personal training program for a period of 7 months. During this time, body weight has remained stable, however, body composition, i.e. the proportions of muscle and fat in the body, have changed significantly. Through the use of body composition, trainers can maximize the success of their clients and focus on these positive changes in skeletal muscle and body fat mass instead of weight, where most client’s attention will be centered.
By having a visual representation of a training program and its positive progress on clients, trainers can keep their clients motivated while showcasing that their hard work is paying off. This ensures adherence and keeps clients motivated to continue to engage in a healthy habit throughout their lifespan.
Older and Obese Clients
Preventing frailty and decrease of muscle mass
Numerous studies support the correlation between overweight/obesity and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Clients embarking on a weight loss program through the adoption of physical activity can decrease their risk for various health conditions by lowering their body fat mass, body fat percentage, and visceral fat while focusing on muscle maintenance or gain in order to further reduce health risks. As trainers begin an exercise program, InBody provides an all-encompassing assessment of body fat as well as fat distribution to better assist trainers set goals and guide programming. By reducing body fat, specifically visceral fat, clients will be reducing the risk for diabetes and CVD but also reducing stress on joints which can preserve joint health through the lifespan.
Developing muscle mass becomes a crucial point for both older and obese clients, especially if there is an imbalance between muscle and fat. When these clients have excess body fat mass and underdeveloped muscle, they can be suffering from significant health risks due to sarcopenic obesity. Because muscle mass plays an integral role in health and disease, low muscle is associated with certain diseases like diabetes and higher risk for frailty. By tracking changes in Skeletal Muscle Mass (SMM), trainers can help prevent further loss of muscle as well as strive off sarcopenia and frailty.
Through the use of Segmental Lean Analysis, trainers will be able to target specific areas of the body to decrease the likelihood of falls and frailty related injury. The use of the top and bottom bars guide trainers on where to increase lean mass to help clients better support themselves. The bottom bar percentage educates clients if a specific limb is insufficiently developed to support their overall weight. Ideally, this bottom bar would want to be at 100%. For those not at 100%, this can be a starting point for trainers when they are first given new clients who have low SMM and high body fat to preserve joint function, functionality, and prevent frailty. A combination of these resources allows trainers to implement various targets and training strategies to optimize the progress and overall health of these clients.
Helping athletes develop balanced bodies
Programming for athletic populations takes careful consideration. Activity type is a big contributor to how trainers will program to achieve client goals. Weightlifters require very precise training prescriptions. When clients reach out to trainers after hitting a plateau, trainers will be able to utilize the InBody to identify where lean mass needs to be increased to maximize client physique. Having a detailed breakdown of segmental lean mass can steer client-trainer conversation to programming and help set specific outcomes. This detailed breakdown will also identify if the clients previous training regiment has put them at increased risk for injury which can be detrimental when it comes time to compete.
Weightlifters with overdeveloped upper bodies and underdeveloped lower bodies are at higher risk for injury than those with a more balanced distribution of lean mass, particularly when the bottom bars of the segmental lean analysis falls below 100% such as in this client. Trainers that utilize the Segmental Lean Analysis can identify this imbalance between upper and lower body and incorporate proper training to not only increase the client’s desired outcomes of building more lean mass overall, but also reducing injury risk to promote long-term training success.
As the client continues to work with their trainer, increases in lean mass to the lower extremities will be reflected on the results sheet. These improvements can be monitored and tracked through a training program, providing credibility to the trainer and their programs. Clearly displayed proof of results can increase the client’s likelihood of staying with their trainer even once the season ends.
Maximize sports performance in and out of season
Working with sport-specific athletes, the balance of lean mass becomes crucial to maintain sports performance and reduce the risk of injury. For trainers with clients going to the gym as well as engaging in recreational or professional sports, it becomes important for trainers to monitor gains over time to maximize sports performance, as well as watch for signs of potential injury.
As clients continue to train both in and out of season, trainers must keep a close eye on body composition parameters to keep their client on track toward their desired goals. In the case of a client who engages in a predominantly leg-dominant sport, watching muscle mass increase is a positive sign for sports performance. However, being able to monitor changes in lean mass between legs can help prevent injury. Segmental Lean Analysis (SLA) allows for trainers to track how much lean mass a client has and if the amount of lean mass is sufficient to support that client’s overall weight. The bottom bar sufficiency percentage can also be utilized to monitor for imbalances between limbs. An imbalance is classified as a difference of greater than or equal to 6% between the arms and greater than or equal to 3% between the legs. In the case of this client, we can see a 3% difference which could stem from sport specific play or improper exercise planning/form when training. Being aware of this imbalance allows trainers to adjust training to unilateral exercises to correct the imbalance before it becomes any worse and leads to potential injury.
Another method of monitoring for potential injury is the use of the ECW/TBW Analysis. As clients train and engage in sports, the body is being put under physical stress. Adequate rest and recovery are needed to allow for muscles to recover and regrow. Inflammation is a key point that is reflected in the ECW/TBW; by monitoring changes in the ratio over time, a steady increase can indicate a sign of overtraining or improper recovery. Monitoring this progression can alert trainers that clients need a less intense workout or longer recovery to reduce the potential for an overtraining injury.
Overweight clients with high muscle mass
Decrease visceral fat and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Determining client health risk can be tricky when encountering clients with high amounts of skeletal muscle mass. While the balance between the muscle and fat compartment heavily favors skeletal muscle, this client is still at elevated risk for developing health conditions due to their high overall weight– partially driven by above-normal body fat mass. While relatively young and fit, this client might believe themselves to be healthy; however, long-term, this trend will increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even certain cancers.
As trainers encounter these types of clients, a complete body composition breakdown can guide what kind of exercise modality might fit best to improve the client’s overall body composition. While this client has adequate lean mass, incorporation of more aerobic exercise can help decrease overall weight, body fat mass, and visceral fat, which is approaching a level associated with higher risk of certain metabolic diseases. Combining aerobic and resistance exercise can assist with reduction of both overall and visceral fat while promoting muscle maintenance or growth. Both of these types of changes will improve disease risk in the short term, while also supporting long-term health for the client.
With the use of the InBody results sheet, trainers can better educate clients on the importance of different training protocols and how body composition is an important key to understanding overall health and wellness. Client’s who have a predominantly resistance based workout might still be at risk for health disease. Use of body composition can allow trainers to educate clients and show them the value of training programs aimed at overall health and wellness.
Why do personal trainers trust InBody?
All InBody professional body composition analyzers rely on four pillars of technology to deliver quick, accurate and precise results. These pillars allow you to trust that the results reflect your patients’ true health from the inside out.
Direct Segmental Measurement (DSM)
Direct Segmental Measurement (DSM) measures water, muscle mass and fat mass in the five body segments: right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg and trunk. By measuring each segment of the body separately, InBody provides an in-depth analysis of the patient’s muscle-fat and fluid balance in each segment independently. Identifying the patient’s lean and fat distribution allows a better assessment of associated health risks while segmental ECW/TBW can be used to identify systemic or localized inflammation resulting from injury, underlying health conditions or surgical complications.
InBody devices utilize multiple frequencies to measure body water more accurately than commonly-used methods such as weight changes or pitting edema scores. These high and low frequencies measure both intracellular and extracellular water, producing precise measures of each body water compartment. With accurate fluid measures, InBody can be used to identify fluid imbalances or water retention stemming from inflammation or injury as well as monitor changes resulting from exercise interventions and recovery.
8 Point Tactile Electrodes
InBody uses an 8-Point Tactile Electrode system to ensure that measurements always start in the same place, test after test. This technology creates precise and reproducible results, ensuring that the results obtained are a direct outcome of clinical recommendations and interventions, rather than error.
No Empirical Estimations
InBody does not rely on empirical estimations based on age, gender or ethnicity to predict results. With the high level of accuracy and precision achieved with the aforementioned technological advancements, InBody removes population-associated assumptions when determining body composition to ensure results are based solely on the individual, increasing sensitivity to the individual’s unique makeup of muscle and fat, enabling effective tracking of changes.