What is body composition?

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Body composition refers to the basic muscle and fat contents or percentage of the body. When a person is asked about his/her body composition, he/she is simply being asked about how much is his/her body is made of muscle and how much is fat. Some people also include the bone or skeletal component but mostly body composition refers to the muscle and fat content of the body.

Knowing a person’s body composition is important in the field of physical fitness. A person is considered to be healthier and more physically fit if his/her body has more muscle when compared to the fat components. Measuring body composition is not dependent on a person’s weight or height. Two persons for example may have the same weight but one may actually have more fat components than the other one. This also holds true for people who have the same height. The muscle and fat percentage in their bodies may also differ depending on their genetics, bone structure, and actual diet. Body composition is also an important thing to measure for athletes and sports enthusiasts. Some sports activities have special and specific requirements in terms of the body’s muscle and fat components. Swimmers for example need to have leaner muscles compared to weightlifters. In the same way, gymnasts also need to be lean and light because of their sports’ requirements.

Body composition can be measured in different ways. The most basic is through the use of mechanical calipers. By using these calipers on specified skin folds, a person can measure his/her own body composition. There are also devices that measure bioelectrical impedance in the body. These devices provide data for overall fat and muscle percentage. Some specialty exercise centers also have machines that measure air displacement similar to the principle of hydrostatic weighing. In these machines, a person simply needs to go inside an egg or dome-shaped device and wait for the body composition calculation.

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