Reference measurements of elite judokas’ body composition

by Adam Hawkey
Wednesday 18th March 2015 - Article 2

Regulations of the International Judo Federation (IJF) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) require athletes to compete in set weight categories. As a result, judokas demonstrate relatively low levels of body fat with high strength to mass ratios. However, previous studies, which have reported lower levels of body fat in Olympic competitors compared to other level performers, have analysed body composition utilising methods such as skinfold thickness and bioelectrical impedance, which are less accurate than ‘gold standard’ analysis techniques such as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA: Hawkey, 2012). Judokas regularly reduce weight pre-competition to obtain a competitive advantage over lighter opponents. Crucially, this is often achieved using a number of aggressive nutritional strategies, which place the judoka at a high risk of injury and/or health complications, and can also limit performance. Effectively quantifying judokas’ body composition, using advanced equipment with up-to-date software and reference data, is therefore fundamental to monitoring the training, health and performance of the judoka. We recently analysed the body composition of twelve (n=12) elite judokas (mean: age = 19 ± 1.5 yrs.; height = 1.7 ± 0.1 m; mass = 71.5 ± 16.4 kg), from the Great Britain Judo Centre of Excellence, as part of their regular health and performance monitoring. Judokas’ bone mineral content (BMC), bone mineral density (BMD) and corresponding Z-Score, lean + BMC, % body fat, and visceral adipose tissue (VAT), was assessed on a Hologic Discovery W machine, using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reference data.

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