Weight and Resistance Training - Bodyfat Calculation Question

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10-06-2009, 02:34 PM
I have a question about calculating bodyfat. I have one of the scales that measures body fat - last week I somehow changed something and the bodyfat went from 34% [usual] to 26%. I finally realized that the mode had been changed from regular to athlete. So my question is what exactly does the athlete mode mean? When can this be used? I'm under no illusion that I qualify as an athlete -much as I'd like to..just curious because I would have thought your percentage bodyfat is what it is when measured.

I used my numbers from an earlier thread [DePalma's calculations for goal weight] and this would make my goal weight 120-which I never could achieve as a teenager much less a middle aged woman! If the 26% is correct, then the goal would be 135 [using his numbers]--which may be doable.

What have you guys here done to measure bodyfat? What is a good goal?


10-06-2009, 02:50 PM
I have no idea what the modes on your scale are. But I'd point out that the calculations you're referring to were for getting your body fat to 17%, which is very lean. It's below what most consider a "normal" bodyfat for someone not trying to compete or be super lean. It's certainly doable, but it would definitely require extra effort above and beyond healthy eating and moderate exercise, at least for most of us. I'm sure a few out there find 17% bodyfat easy and natural to attain and maintain :dizzy:

10-06-2009, 03:32 PM
The "athlete" method/calculation for body fat uses a different algorithm, and is based on your Fat Free Mass, or FFM. It is very simply your percentage of mass that IS fat vs the percentage that is EVERYTHING else. Where i get my measurements done (and most have similar conditions) to be considered an athlete, and to use that algorithm, you need to be working out intensly for at least 10 hours per week for a long time (1 yr, 2 yrs +) The OTHER BF for "normal" people uses an algorith based on Lean Body Mass, which is different, because it "pads" the body fat percentage to allow for essential fats. Woman are padded 3-4% extra, usually. It is a completely different algorithm, so the numbers will come up differently. WHen i am measured as an athlete, I am around 14 %. When i am measured as a "normal" person i measure at approx 18%. I dont know MUCH more specifics about it, HOWEVER, if you were to take a "normal" (non-athlete) woman who was 14% BF, they would look VERY Gaunt, sickly, rail-thin--think crack head. :) However, as an athlete, due to the amount of muscle mass that i have, i look and AM very healthy and fit at 14%.

10-06-2009, 08:53 PM
Thanks all for the comments.

Julie..not sure I could ever get it that low [ie 17%]! I guess I'm not sure what a good goal would be.

MK..thank you for the explanation...makes sense. I see you do alot of running..do you also strength train? What kind of regimen? Good luck in the marathon in Denver! What a beautiful area!


10-07-2009, 08:19 AM
The "athlete" method/calculation for body fat uses a different algorithm, and is based on your Fat Free Mass, or FFM.

mkroyer, I understand what you are saying about the two different modes using different fat calculation algorithms, thus arriving at different results. And I do think you're exactly right about that. But, honestly, your BF should be your BF, right? It shouldn't matter how much you are working out per week. Also, your hydration status makes a huge difference in the reading, as much as 5% or more. At the end of the day, it's still an estimated/calculated value.

That's why I don't rely on my Tanita scale for an absolutely accurate BF measurement, I use it as a relative measure to see if I'm going up or down. It's still a very useful data point -- along with my weight, appearance and how my clothes fit. I'm not a body builder, so knowing the exact number really doesn't matter that much.

Just my 2 cents!

10-07-2009, 11:51 AM
MBN- i agree COMPLETELY. I think it is ridiculous. if you have 20 pounds of BF, then you have 20 pounds of BF, whether you are measured as an athlete or a normal person. I think they do the different algorithms to let you know how much BF you can "safely" lose. If i have 20 pounds of BF, i dont *know* how much of it is fat encasing my organs or other "essentail fats", which is why the number is padded the additional 3-4% for woman. I really dont know what its all about though. I DO know that you shouldnt go too low, even as an "athlete". At 14% ive already started having menstruation problems....havent had a normal period since last june or so.....They say woman CANT go below 12%.....apparently i cant go below 14%. We are all different! I also agree the Tanita is meant more to be used as a guideline to measure PROGRESS, and not necessarily the most ACCURATE of measurements.

FucuokaFan--Thanks for the well wishes!! 10 day countdown now!!! I love Denver--have no desire to ever live anywhere else!!
And i absolutely do strength training. I honestly believe there is no way i could have gotten my BF to where it is now without strength training (that, and a ridiculously clean [read: BORING] diet!! I work with a FABULOUS Personal Trainer 2 days a week. He is VERY knowledgeable about how to train endurance athletes, so our Work outs run the gammot of Heavy Weight Training to Athletic conditioning (like plyometrics and sprinting type drills). I also usually go into the Gym once a week for a one hour Strength Training Class using barbells and hand Weights. I just cant seem to motivate myslef to do productive strength training when i am alone!!