Getting an Edge: Body Composition Science for Track and Field Athletes
Understanding body composition is an important element in any athletes’ training regimen—especially in the case of track and field athletes. Being that a variety of athletic types compete in this sport, it is imperative for each athlete to know and understand their own body. The IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) developed a practical health and performance guide for track and field athletes entitled Nutrition for Athletics. This practical guide is an excellent source for elite track and field athletes who are training for the upcoming Olympic Games and need effective strategies regarding changes in body composition, nutrition and dieting, and adaptions in training.
The United States Sports Academy is currently undergoing a research study involving the body composition of hundreds of athletes. One of the purposes of the study is to assess the validity of various body composition assessments. Out of the hundreds of athletes that have already been tested, many have competed or currently compete in the sport of track and field. This research study gives athletes the opportunity to receive over $500 worth of body composition results for free. Camilla Armstead, a sprinter at The University of Alabama had the opportunity to participate in the free testing and stated “the testing procedures were very thorough and included some of technology’s most advanced equipment and devices to assess body composition…as an athlete, this type of testing is critical to me. I will definitely use all the information to help determine nutritional plans and exercise routines.”
Some of the assessments in the research study include hydro-static weighing, air displacement plethysmography (BOD POD), skin-fold measurements, and multiple bio-electrical impedance devices. One of the impedance devices used at the Academy provides a comprehensive analysis of each athlete’s body, assessing elements of nutritional evaluation, weight management, body balance and strength, and health and obesity diagnosis. With these detailed results, athletes are able to track changes in their body composition, which is important during periods of seasonal training. With the 2012 Olympics just around the corner, track and field athletes are undergoing intense training; therefore it is imperative for these athletes to peak at the right time. Having a detailed body composition analysis will be useful in assessing bodily changes, as well as correlating these changes with athletes’ performances.
The United States Sports Academy (Daphne, Al) is a sports institution that continues to offer great information for professional, collegiate, inter-scholastic, and youth athletes through programs of research, instruction, and service. To follow this research or to learn more about Academy programs go to http://ussa.edu. Brandon Spradley is a Teaching Assistant and docoral student at the Academy. He also was an All-SEC track and field performer at the University of Alabama.