By Brandon Hahn Athletic Xtreme
The scale, it is something we step on, but want to STOMP on. The scale is as dreaded as the term socialism. A mere mention of the word sends people up in flames. They provide every reason under the sun to hate it. Well, we aren’t going to ask you to step on the scale. Just breath deep and keep reading, we promise that’s the last time we mention a “scale” and socialism.
Old School Testing
There are many ways of testing to see if you are the “ideal” weight for your body. This made it a must to go to the doc and see where you fell on the chart. These charts factored in height, weight, and sometimes waist measurement. All of these factors determined how close you were to the ideal weight. Fortunately, times have changed and science is starting to catch up.
The Body Mass Index has been around for decades. It is based off the Quetelet Index, which was developed in the early to mid 1800s. The formula calculated your height and weight to display a relationship between the two. Oftentimes, this would frustrate the masses. It never seemed to be of real benefit to anyone as the categories were quite strict. The calculation was supposed to give an indication of one’s body fat. It would also display you in a category based on your height and weight. According to the BMI at 5’8”, 200lbs, and around 10% bodyfat, I am obese. The BMI is obviously not the ideal choice for those who exercise regularly, especially athletes. Frequent exercisers tend to have a higher muscle to fat ratio and can lead to a heavier weight on the scale.
These old school methods have done very little to offer insight into the ideal weight. This is because everybody is different. Offering up a scale and generic chart do very little to factor in the uniqueness of each person. This is why a bodyfat measurement is key. There are several options to factoring body fat with some being far better than others.
Bodyfat measuring tools
Bodyfat calipers – These are common in quite a few stores. They are usually made of plastic and offer a decent bodyfat measurement. The key here is to use it consistently. You may not have a very accurate measurement, however you will be able to note progress. So, you write down your measures each week to gauge your progress.
Bioelectrical impedance - This measurement is available in handheld and scale varieties. You either hold a device that sends a small current through the body to measure bodyfat. The other form is stepping on a scale which uses the same method but it passes through your feet. Again, not very accurate, but weekly monitoring and consistent measurements at the same time of day, allow for a good gauge of progress.
Bodyfat calculators - These methods involve in-depth calculations. They usually factor in weight, waist measurement, and age. Other factors may come into play for a more accurate reading. This is another not so accurate measurement, but still offers a good gauge for progress when done consistently.
Hydrostatic tank – This method is one of the more accurate measurements. You must be weighed underwater and with all breath exhaled. It is somewhat difficult to sit still, breath out, and be underwater, but it is fairly accurate. Unfortunately, these tanks are not very common, other than at sports institutes, colleges, and similar.
Bodpod This involves sitting in an airtight chamber to get an accurate bodyfat reading. It is one of the most accurate methods of measuring bodyfat. Though, these are VERY hard to come by. If you are lucky enough to get in one, definitely do it!
These measurements all offer different benefits as it depends on the user’s situation. Factors like money, time, and other things limit a real need for true accuracy. In some cases, it is best to have a beginning number and a final number allows people to gauge the result. Even if the measure is off, as long as it was done consistently, there is a decent measure of progress.
The key focus is to not get set on a weight. Each person has their own ideal bodyweight that is determined by their bodyfat levels. A healthy bodyfat percent for males is between 10-15% whereas women should be between 18-25%. Do not focus on the weight, simply focus on being at a healthy bodyfat percent. Focusing on weight leads to bad choices and unnecessary action. Achieving a healthy bodyfat percent will be all of the satisfaction you need! Be happy, be healthy!