Development of an Anthropometric Prediction Model for Fat-Free Mass and Muscle Mass in Elite Athletes

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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The monitoring of body composition is common in sports given the association with performance. Surface anthropometry is often preferred when monitoring changes for its convenience, practicality, and portability. However, anthropometry does not provide valid estimates of absolute lean tissue in elite athletes. The aim of this investigation was to develop anthropometric models for estimating fat-free mass (FFM) and skeletal muscle mass (SMM) using an accepted reference physique assessment technique. Sixty-four athletes across 18 sports underwent surface anthropometry and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) assessment. Anthropometric models for estimating FFM and SMM were developed using forward selection multiple linear regression analysis and contrasted against previously developed equations. Most anthropometric models under review performed poorly compared with DXA. However, models derived from athletic populations such as the Withers equation demonstrated a stronger correlation with DXA estimates of FFM (r = .98). Equations that incorporated skinfolds with limb girths were more effective at explaining the variance in DXA estimates of lean tissue (Sesbreno FFM [R2 = .94] and Lee SMM [R2 = .94] models). The Sesbreno equation could be useful for estimating absolute indices of lean tissue across a range of physiques if an accepted option like DXA is inaccessible. Future work should explore the validity of the Sesbreno model across a broader range of physiques common to athletic populations.

Sesbreno is with the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario, Toronto, ON, Canada; l’Institut National du Sport du Québec, Montreal, QC, Canada; and also with the Physiology, Exercise and Nutrition Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom. Slater is with the School of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, QLD, Australia; and also with the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Mountjoy is with the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), Lausanne, Switzerland; and also with the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada. Galloway is with the Physiology, Exercise and Nutrition Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom.

Galloway (s.d.r.galloway@stir.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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