Do NOT use the Body Mass Index as a means of determining whether or not your body is in good shape – it’s rubbish!

From Wikipedia:

Body mass index (BMI) or Quetelet Index is a statistical measure of the weight of a person scaled according to height. It was invented between 1830 and 1850 by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet during the course of developing “social physics”.

Basically, the BMI index tells you if you are an ideal weight for your height. There is:

  • Underweight
  • Normal Range
  • Overweight
  • Obese

Body Mass Index Graph The BMI Chart to the right is likely the one your doctor uses.

(By the way – Kg is pounds divided by 2.2)

Also you can have the NHS tell you whether you’re a healthy weight by inputting your figures into this BMI calculator and having them do a calculation.

Why It’s Crap

BMI is an inferior tool for most people and almost totally useless for bodybuilders. The main reason is:

It takes absolutely no account of body composition

By solely focusing on weight the BMI ignores the important distinction of whether that weight is fat tissue or muscle tissue.

For example, a 5’8’’ bodybuilder weighing 170 pounds at 7% body fat will be classed as overweight! This is clearly absurd because at 7% body fat he is extremely lean.

Likewise, a 5’11 individual weighing 165 pounds will be advised that he is in the normal range. However, this person could have next to no muscle tissue, a big gut and man-boobs! This is what they call a ‘skinny-fat’ person and it is clearly unhealthy. This individual could weigh 120 pounds lean, giving him a body fat percentage of around 27% – well above average for a male!

And what about other factors not taken into consideration. What about:

  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Bone Structure
  • Body Type whether, mesomorph, ectomorph, or endomorph?

This is a rubbish tool folks, plain and simple.

Get your Body Percentage for an Accurate View.

Ascertaining your body fat percentage will give you a much clearer picture of the condition of your body. Knowing your body fat percentage gives you an accurate picture of your body composition. Unfortunately, we live in a society too obsessed with weight, but the scales aren’t telling us the full picture.Accumeasure Body Fat Calipers

To measure your body fat percentage, simply input your relevant measurements into the box at the top left of this page and hit ‘calculate.’ Otherwise, the best instrument I know is the Accumeasure body fat calipers.

The charts below are much more useful to us. The bodybuilder should note, however, that when cut, he or she is probably going to be classed as ‘Underfat’. Well, that’s fine by me, I’m pretty much underfat all the time and I feel great!

Male aged 7 – 18

Body Fat Percentage Chart

Male aged 18 – 79

Body Fat Percentage Chart 2

Female aged 7 – 18

Body Fat Percentage Chart 3

Female aged 18 – 79

Body Fat Percentage Chart 4

I’m not saying you have to through your scales out, but use your body fat percentage in conjunction with weight. If you are in a bulking cycle you’ll want to take your body fat and weight readings weekly. If you see your weight go up but body fat levels remain the same (or even drop) congratulations, you gaining lean muscle only! If you’re cutting, you want your body fat levels to drop and also your weight to drop slowly (or even remain the same), meaning you’re retaining your lean muscle while shedding fat.

Body Fat Percentage is the king of body measurements, ditch the BMI. I’m very confident that this knowledge will permeate the mainstream in time, but for now you can choose to be one of the few who are assessing their body’s condition accurately.

Mark McManus

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