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ISSN Graduate Diploma Podcast

Sep 3, 2018

Thousands of women across the world pursue physique competitions. Each year, these competitors, dressed in their rhinestone-covered outfits, step on stage among other competitors, displaying their sculpted physiques to a judging panel.


These competitions are judged on a host of aesthetic, appearance criteria, rather than sporting performance. Competitors are critiqued on their muscular size, symmetry, leanness, posing ability, skin tone, and make-up; with each of these criteria ranging in significance depending on the physique category.


The preparation towards stepping on stage, demands a combination of prolonged calorie restriction, weight training and aerobic exercise; in a bid to decrease body fat and preserve one’s muscle. To meet the demands of the marking criteria for such competitions, this journey to stage, can lead to physiological and psychological strain.


Prolonged states of energy restriction in female athletes, in aesthetic-focused sports, has been shown to cause harmful effects on appetite regulation, reproductive functioning and bone metabolism, indicative of the Female Athlete Triad.


In addition, our present understanding of the body composition and physical performance changes that occur with female competitors throughout contest preparation and post competition is limited.


With aesthetic appearance being the key determinant behind a competitors success, understanding, as accurately as possible, the changes that occur throughout, is essential knowledge to refine nutrition and training approaches to deliver best practice guidelines.


To date, previous case studies assessing the body composition of female physique athletes have been limited by using devices that lack an estimate of total body water and hold fixed value estimates for the hydration status of fat-free mass, assuming a 73% hydration.


With all this in mind, the aim of this case study was to provide a detailed analysis of body composition using a modified 4-compartment model and neuromuscular performance changes that take place before, during and after a Physique athlete’s competition season.


This episode is by far my most comprehensive to date with plenty of practical take homes if competing or coaching in this domain.


I hope you enjoy it.




Excel link for estimating energy availability:!ArfxXLsUFOKfiWEE9yiwn4r-IVFb

US Navy bodyfat percentage estimate:

Further reading: