Getting A Body Fat Scan
My Body is a Science Project
My original concept of bodybuilding was Hanz und Franz from SNL dropping dumbbells and saying they wanted to “Pump. You Up!” I had no idea that bodybuilding was such a scientific endeavor.
When it’s time to get serious I get a body fat scan at the Fitness Institute of Texas at the University of Texas. (It’s one of the cool perks about being close to a college known for its athletics.) Based on the information I will work with my trainer to adjust everything from workouts to macros.
For two hours before the scan you can neither eat nor exercise and nor wear any metal because that would mess up the results. After weigh in you lie down on the bed and the technician belts your feet together to make sure your alignment is straight and then the machine scans your body. The whole procedure takes less than five minutes.
For $80 I got a full break down of my body fat versus lean muscle mass subdivided into measurements for arms, legs, trunk, android (that’s fancy for abs) and gynoid (that’s fancy for hips) as well as a grand total result. There are all sorts of charts and graphs and pictures of your body with yellow representing lean muscle mass and red representing body fat. This data becomes my baseline.
Overall percentage of body fat for women in my age range 40-59 (I’m 43) is broken out into three groups: Normal Desired is 23-33%, Overweight is 34-39% and High is 40% or greater. At 126 lbs. and body fat score of 27% I’m in the lighter half of the normal range. Which is great for the off season. Yay!
For bikini competitions, however, the goal is to reduce your overall body fat and weight while increasing your lean muscle mass. As a reference point, the last time I got a scan was in March of 2015, about a week before competing in the Arnold Amateur. At that point I weighed 113 lbs. and had 18.6% body fat. I came in 20th out of 38, which was cool considering a) I had always previously come in dead last and b) at 41 I was competing against women literally half my age. But I digress… I continued training and competing, getting my weight was somewhere between 105-107 lbs., so my body fat percentage would have possibly been in the 15% range, and winning 3rd, 2nd and 1st place trophies along the way.
As an FYI – Men can get really low body fat percentages, like 3-5%, but women have important things like boobies so we naturally need more fat. (I’m just letting you know this so if you get a body scan or even just a basic pincher test at the gym you don’t freak out and think you should aim for 8% body fat as a woman.) Keep in mind that as a bodybuilder in the bikini division you don’t want to look like a skeleton standing on the stage. You want to look cut, muscular and symmetrical while keeping your curves and that requires some fat, thank you very much.
I’m currently 19 weeks out from my next competition. I’ll probably get another scan at 12 weeks out, which is when my official cutting phase begins, and a final scan one week before my show.
As part of the scan they also gave me a breakdown of how many calories I should eat based on my exercise level, goal and timeframe to get it done. Based on the information from my scan I’ll work with my trainer, Robin Johnson, to adjust my workouts and macros to get to the right body fat percentage for my body.
It will be interesting to see how I do. I’m keeping the results on my fridge as some added motivation. Now that my calf injury is healed I started lifting heavier and doing cardio again. This is the fun part. Let the metamorphosis begin!
If you’re serious about getting healthy, but need help getting started, try my S.L.I. Method on my website ShesLosingIt.com. Only YOU can do the work, but I can give you the tools that I’ve learned over the past five years about nutrition, exercise and overcoming excuses.
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX!!!
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