Body Composition Profiling #4

I was back at Birmingham University High Performance Centre for my forth body composition profile today. I had the 7 skin fold measurements and 4 muscle girth measurements taken.

This time I didn’t really have any specific goals. I knew that November/December was going to be all about strength training in the gym and that I was going to relax on my diet and eat a surplus to help with muscle building. So although I didn’t have any specific targets, increasing muscle mass while putting on as little body fat as possible would have been the ideal. I didn’t need to get the measurements done to know I had added more body fat than ideal but let’s look at the numbers to see how I got on.

Comparative Data

BODY FAT (Skin folds)

Sites mm (30/05/2013)  mm (05/07/2013)  mm (29/08/2013) mm (08/01/2014)
Triceps 6.7  5.9 5.8  5.7
 Subscapular 10.8  8.7 9.2  11.3
 Bicep 4.2  3.7 3.9  4.1
 Supraspinale 9.8  7.8 8  10
 Abdominal 23.1  12.1 16.6  25.6
 Front Thigh 7  6.5 5.7  5.5
 Medial Calf 5.1  4.8 4.8  4.3
 Sum of 7 66.5  49.4 53.9  66.5



MUSCLE (girths)

Sites mm (30/05/2013) mm (05/07/2013) mm (29/08/2013) mm (08/01/2014)
Upper arm 31.4 30.7 31.3  31.9
Forearm g. 28.8 28.9 29.1  28.9
Mid thigh g. 56.8 56.4 54.5  57.4
Max calf g. 39.5 38.8 38.8  38.8
Height (cm)  174.8 174.8 174.8  174.8
Weight (kg)  74.9 72.1 72.7  76.5
Muscle Mass (kg)  46.7 46.1 46.9  47.6
%  62.3 63.9 64.5  62.2


Muscle mass at 47.6kg;

My overall muscle mass has increased from 46.9kg to 47.6kg. So in general I would argue that the strength training worked, I got more muscles! As expected though from the skin fold measurement results (I got fat) my muscle mass % has decreased from 64.5% to 62.2%. The biggest gain was my thigh measurement that increased by a whooping 29mm from 54.5mm to 57.4mm. This is very encouraging as legs, essentially my quads and hamstrings were the main focus of the strength training that I did during November and December. Additionally these are functional gains (in terms of my goals) in that clearly for cycling the legs are the core muscle group used.

Skin folds at 66.5mm;

The first table and the distribution graph shows that overall my skin fold measurements have increased with my SUMof7 increasing from 53.9 to 66.5. Overall this is clearly discouraging and is a lot bigger a gain than I had hoped for, equating to roughly 7lbs of fat! This is back to the level I was at when I had my first measurements taken last July. Continuing the trend from the measurements I had done in August it is my Subscapular; an increase of 2.1mm  and my Abdominal; an increase of 9mm that really do the damage. My arms are basically as they were but surprisingly my legs are actually leaner.

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.

So on the whole not massively surprising results when considering the training that I have done recently and the way I have been eating. However I think that the results are at the extremes of what I was expecting. 29mm increase on my thigh measurement is pretty big, specially when put into context with a lower skin fold measurement. Often the muscle girth measurements can be skewed by a layer of fat but this is clearly not the case here. On the other hand I really didn’t expect my SUM of 7 to be back to what it was pre-weight loss. I know I can lose it though as I did it before so now I just have to do it.


None of these will be of any surprise.

  1. Maintaining muscle mass at 47.6kg. I’m going to be doing a lot more volume on the bike and much less gym work so this could be difficult. I will keep doing one strength/lifting session a week to maximise my chances.
  2. Decrease SUM of 7 to between 50-55mm, preferably the lower end of that range.

I will be heading back for my next session towards the end of the March.

So, what do you think ?

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