Fitness Matters

by David Pohorence

Question: Is it beneficial to get my body fat percentage checked and, if so, what method provides the best result?

Answer: Whether or not you get your body fat checked depends on how meticulous you are when it comes to your own health and wellness. Some people are perfectly content to just workout and watch what happens. Others want to track and analyze everything and, as a result, like to have a starting point for body fat, amongst other things. If you’re in this latter group, then go ahead and get a test done. There are numerous ways to analyze your body fat percentage, from the very expensive to the ridiculously inexpensive, and the very accurate to the incredibly inaccurate. Some of the best methods include getting a DEXA scan, a Bod Pod measurement, or getting underwater weighed. However, these are the more expensive options, and require sophisticated equipment and skilled technicians. You could also try stepping on a Tanita scale, which uses something called bioelectrical impedance to determine your body fat percentage. Unfortunately, the accuracy is somewhat questionable with this method. When it comes to cost, accuracy, and practicality, you really can’t go wrong with a skinfold caliper test. It takes about 5 minutes, it might cost you $10 to $50 (depending on whether a consult is included or not), and it’s reasonably accurate. You just need to find a personal trainer, or other health professional, that has done hundreds or even thousands of tests. And remember, the initial number isn’t necessarily all that important anyway. You just need a starting point – then, as long as that number trends down over time, that’s all that really matters, right?

Question: I’m a recreational basketball player and someone recently recommended plyometrics to me to enhance my performance on the court. Good idea?

Answer: Plyometrics involves training the neuromuscular system in order to enhance your ability to perform explosive movements. In other words, plyometric exercises are used to increase the speed and force of muscular contractions, so if you’re serious about improving all facets of your game, they would be a nice addition to your current training regimen. You just need to make sure you’re in good enough shape first. A good, solid fitness base is required, meaning you should be relatively strong, flexible, coordinated, and agile. The exercises tend to generate large forces thanks to the intense, repetitive movements, so the risk of injury can be high. It’s best to do plyometrics on a soft surface, and with supervision, since proper technique is of prime importance. You also want to be careful about what exercises you select if you’re over 250 pounds. Lastly, it’s ideal if you’re well-rested and injury-free before engaging in these types of workouts. Try to find a qualified trainer that can help you incorporate plyometrics into your training and, as always, make sure they have experience in this particular
area.

About the author: David Pohorence is the club owner/club manager/certified personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in Wesley Chapel, NC. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at wesleychapelnc@anytime
fitness.com.

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