Skinfold Testing From an Athletes Point of View

Skinfold Testing is a common method for determining body fat composition and something that the Sports Dietitian’s at Precision Athletica use fairly frequently. Calipers are used to measure the thickness of the skin at a range of sites around the body and over time this can show a persons progress.

To some the test can look a little daunting, so when one of our Precision Athletica members and Elite Australian Gymnast, Leanne Van Rensburg covered it in her latest YouTube video, we thought it was too good not to share.

Leanne gives a great insight into not just the Skinfold Testing, but also a great look behind the scenes at her training and development, along with the discussing the key role that Nutrition plays in her progress.

For any interested observers and aspiring athletes, we highly recommend subscribing to Leanne’s YouTube channel and checking out her great video’s that she releases on a weekly basis!

For those interested in undergoing skinfold testing themselves, as you will see in the video, Precision Athletica Sports Dietitian – Atlanta Miall is very well practised in conducting this testing and she is available to all via appointment at our Sydney Olympic Park training centre.

Tell me more about Skinfold Testing

In a skinfold assessment, 8 anatomically defined sites on the body (triceps, subscapular, biceps, iliac crest, supraspinale, abdominal, front thigh and medial calf) are marked to then assess subcutaneous fat (fat below the surface of the skin) using skinfold callipers.

The sites are chosen to account for individual variations in body fat distribution and the results are given as a sum of the 8 sites (some sports will only measure 7 sites, leaving out the iliac crest measurement). Skinfolds only measure subcutaneous fat, not visceral fat, which is the internal fat surrounding organs, however this is not usually an issue for athletes.

Who should do Skinfold Testing

Anyone can have their skinfolds done. If you have a goal of increasing your muscle mass, assessing skinfolds will show you whether increases in mass are due to increases of muscle, fat mass or both. Likewise, if you are aiming to reduce fat mass, assessing your skinfolds regularly will assist you in determining how well you’ve maintained muscle while reducing fat mass.

In sports, skinfolds are another tool used to assess the effectiveness of your training. Some sports have certain physique traits associated with them, such as gymnastics or diving. In endurance sports such as marathons and cycling, lower body fat levels enhance efficiency and heat dissipation. In other sports with weight classes such as rowing or boxing, lower body fat levels will help enhance power to weight ratio compared to smaller, less muscular opponents. In team sports such as rugby, different positions on the field have different roles requiring different body compositions to effectively be able to achieve their roles.

Ongoing skinfold assessments are the most effective tool for monitoring body composition changes over time, and as an athlete, are just one of your tools that you can use to assess your progress in performance.

If you would like Skinfold Testing done

Precision Athletica is open to everyone no matter your age or sporting background, many people come to us for periodic skinfold testing without doing any other training with us (and that is totally fine).

Any Skinfold Testing should be carried out by a qualified Dietitian and ours are all completed by our Sports Dietitian’s, such as Atlanta Miall in the above video.

How Do I Book an Appointment with Precision Athletica for Help?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call our bookings team to schedule a session:

Online Consultations

Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state-of-the-art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help! Online consultations would not be suitable for Skinfold Testing but we can certainly work with people on their Nutrition in general via Online Consultations.

To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.

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