Body Composition Profiling #3

Again I was back  Birmingham University High Performance Centre for my third body composition profile today. I had the 7 skin fold measurements and 4 muscle girth measurements taken. Once again I was seeing how I had done with achieving the goals set in the second session. They were:

  • maintain muscle mass at 46.1kg;
  • decrease total skin folds by ~5mm.

Comparative Data

BODY FAT (Skin folds)

Sites mm (30/05/2013)  mm (05/07/2013)  mm (29/08/2013)
Triceps 6.7  5.9 5.8
 Subscapular 10.8  8.7 9.2
 Bicep 4.2  3.7 3.9
 Supraspinale 9.8  7.8 8
 Abdominal 23.1  12.1 16.6
 Front Thigh 7  6.5 5.7
 Medial Calf 5.1  4.8 4.8
 Sum of 7 66.5  49.4 53.9



MUSCLE (girths)

Sites mm (30/05/2013) mm (05/07/2013) mm (29/08/2013)
Upper arm 31.4 30.7 31.3
Forearm g. 28.8 28.9 29.1
Mid thigh g. 56.8 56.4 54.5
Max calf g. 39.5 38.8 38.8
Height (cm)  174.8 174.8 174.8
Weight (kg)  74.9 72.1 72.7
Muscle Mass (kg)  46.7 46.1 46.9
%  62.3 63.9 64.5


Goal 1 – Maintain muscle mass at 46.1kg;

My overall muscle mass has increased from 46.1kg to 46.9kg. Obviously this goal wasn’t just achieved but actually I went head and shoulders above the target as it increased which is a good thing. Even when you take into consideration that my skin fold measurements increased my overall muscle mass % still increased from 63.9% to 64.5% so things are still moving in the right direction.

Goal 2 – Decrease total skin folds by ~5mm over the next month;

The first table and the distribution graph shows that 5 out of the 7 of my skin fold measurements have increased. For 4 of these 6 we are talking an increase of 0.2mm or smaller. This is well within the range of measurement error and nothing to worry about. We can treat these as if they haven’t changed. Unfortunately my Subscapular increased 0.5mm and my Abdominal increased by a whopping 4.5mm. It’s this measurement that again skews the numbers. On a more positive note my Medial Calf stayed the same and Front Thigh decreased by 0.8mm.

My overall SUM of 7 has gone from 49.4mm to 53.9mm an increase of 4.5mm.

Eleanor was still happy with this progress as although the skin fold was “worse” muscle mass was “better”. She thought that based upon the type of training I have been doing for the last 8 weeks; high intensity/low volume (intervals and weights), that these results made sense. Her predictions are that when I go back to doing high volume, medium intensity training again (big miles) that it’s likely my SUMof7 will decrease.

Interestingly for me I thought I has still been eating a deficit but clearly somewhere along the line I wasn’t. I had been trying to pre-fuel for the interval sessions but based on the calories burnt from my heart rate monitor I thought that I wasn’t over fuelling. Using the HRM has worked very well in the past (and I have found it quite accurate for me) but that was when I was doing more steady state cardio. I have read about how HRM’s are typically less accurate at counting calories when you are not doing steady state cardio (such as intervals), so I’m wondering if it was over estimating. Moving forwards I’m going to accept the figure it gives me for my normal rides but drop 10%-15% from any figure it gives me when I do intervals.

Moving Forwards

I haven’t booked in for another session yet as at the moment I’m considering my options.

  1. I could book in for another body comp session for the end of October and I would have just finished 8 weeks of high volume. It would be just before I’m starting the first part of my winter training which is pretty much going to be hard gym sessions pumping iron. It might be nice to know where I am at this stage to compare how much muscle/fat I put on during the subsequent training period.
  2. The other option is to get the strength period done and when I’m about to get back on the bike again, lets say early January, book in for a sub-maximal test which will give me a load of data to inform what I should be doing in the second half of my winter training. This test is a significant investment and I’m not really sure at the moment if this is the best use of my resources. The cost of this test could buy me between 1 and 2 days skills coaching for example which might be a better investment at this stage.

My personal goals for now will be to maintain what I have now. It would be great to drop a little on the skin folds and increase the muscle mass but I’m not so worried about it at this stage. I’m now more concerned about getting the big miles back into my legs at an increased intensity.


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