EXERCISE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Volume 6, Issue 2, December 2014
ANTHROPOMETRIC CHARACTERISTICS AND BODY FAT MASS IN ELITE
Dea Karaba Jakovljević and Damir Lukač
Medical Faculty Novi Sad, Department of Physiology
Dea Karaba Jakovljević
Department of Physiology
Faculty of Medicine,University of Novi Sad
The present study was designed to evaluate the anthropometric parameters, body composition
and anaerobic power components of elite male and female basketball players and compare
them in relation to gender and specific sport demands. The study group consisted of 43 elite
national level athletes: 22 male basketball players (aged 20.3±2.92) and 21 female players
(aged 19.5±2.96). The significant differences were noted in fat body mass, triceps and lower
body region skinfolds, wigh higher values in females, while higher values of forearm, upper
arm and waist circumference were noted in males. Comparing Wingate test parameters,
higher values of absolute anaerobic power, explosive power, and absolute anaerobic capacity
were recorded in male players, while there was no significant difference in relative anaerobic
power, and relative anaerobic capacity values between genders. Morphometric profile in elite
sport should accompany physiological profile in order to monitor improvements during
training process and sport performance.
physical activity, athletes, anthropometry, body mass index.
Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, played at verying levels of
competence among different nations. Sucesfull performance in basketaball, requires technical
skills, energetic capacities, motivation, and specific anthropometric characteristics. During
last decades there is growing interest among sports medicine scientists in assessing
performance of elite athletes in relation to their body composition. The human body is
composed of different tissues with more or less metabolic activity. Muscle mass is essential
for optimum performance in all aspects of elite sport, and fat body mass is also needed for
optimal physiological function. Fat tissue is providing energy for long duration physical
activities, but exceeding amount of body fat mass is associated with decrement in
performance. Therefore optimal body composition with appropriate ratio of musce to fat mass
in essential for achieving maximal performance in elite sport. Body composition assessment is
part of total physiological profile of an athlete (Wilmore,1982), and it is widely accepted that
adequate attributes are important in various sports
characteristics are specific for each sport depending on the demands and type of the activity
(aerobic, anaerobic).Basketball can be defined as an intermittent sport, requiring repeated
bouts of intense actions followed by short periods of recovery (Ben Adbelkrim, 2007). It is
also a game of continuously changing movements, needing explosive muscle power and
developed both energetic capacities (Maud, 2006).
Elite athletes in this sport should have the ability to generate speed, but also high
aerobic capacity and significant anaerobic power release during the game. Although aerobic
capacity has been more extensively analyzed in literature, corresponding data for anaerobic
profiles are still lacking, particularly in elite sport.
In order to obtain high level of physical performance, specific body composition
should also be monitored and evaluated in basketball. There were several studies on the body
composition and anthoropometric parameters on basketball players (Pelin, 2009, Sallet 2005,
Gaurav 2010), indicating that the morphological characteristics in elite athletes in specific
discipline differ from general population and other sport branches: for instance, basketball
players are taller and heavier than players of other games, with longer limbs and relatively
low values of body fat mass and high values of lean body mass.
Knowing the morphological profile of basketball players is very important for
maximal performance, the aim of this study was to evaluate antropometric characteristics and
anaerobic abilities of elite players and compared them according to gender. Data obtained
could be used to help coaches and sports medicine specialists to monitor their physical
performance and in the process od talent selection. Evalutation of anaerobic performance is
also relevant to athletes since anaerobic parameters can be improved through specific
Forty three elute national level basketball players were enrolled in the study. They
were divided into two groups: twenty-two male basketball players (20.30±2.92 yrs), and
twenty one female basketball players (19.5±2.96 yrs). Anthropometric measurements (body
mass, body height, skinfold thicknesses, body circumferences), were measured and calculated
in all subjects. The nutritional level was defined according to the body mass index values
(WHO, 2000), obtained by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of the
person’s height in meters.
The anthropometric evaluation included 3 types of measurements: basic (body height,
body mass, body mass index), body circumferences (chest, flexed and relaxed upper arm,
forearm, waist, hip, mid-thigh, calf) and skinfold thickness (chest, subscapular,midaxillary,
biceps, triceps, abdominal,suprailiac, supraspinal, front thigh, medial calf), according to the
International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (International Society for the
Advancement of Kinanthropometry, 2001).
The body height was measured by Harpender anthropometer (Holtain Ltd, Croswell,
UK), with the precision of 0.1 cm. The body fat mass (FAT%) and total body mass were
measured by Tanita bioimpedance analyzer TBF-310 (Tanita Corporation, Tokyo, Japan). The
skinfold thicknesses were measured by using Harpenden caliper (Holtain Ltd, Croswell, UK)
with the precision of 0.2 mm. All skinfold thicknesses were measured three times and the
final value was the average between the three measurements.
All participants also performed Wingate Anaerobic Test, for assessment of anaerobic
power components (Bar-Or 1987). The basic parameters were obtained: peak power, or
anaerobic power (AP) is highest power output observed during the first few seconds of test;
anaerobic capacity (AC); and explosive power (EP) as new parameter obtained in Laboratory,
reflecting explosive component of muscle contraction. All parameters were recorded via
software installed in PC, which was directly connected with the ergometer machine and then
analysed, in absolute and relative values.
Basic anthropometric characteristics of basketballball players and nonathletes
Body mass Age
Basketball players males
Basketball players females
Table 1 describes the basic anthropometric characteristics and sport experience of
male and female basketball players. Males were taller and significantly heavier, and there was
no difference in age and sport experience between genders.
Body mass index (BMI) references for adults (WHO, 2000
Reference values of BMI are shown in Table 2 (WHO,2000).
Subjects with BMI <18.5kgm
were considered underweight, normal weight was
defined as BMI between 18.5kgm
and 24.9 kgm
, and overweight was defined as values
. According to reference values for adults, BMI of volleyball players is above
the values defined as normal weight.
Body fat level, body mass index, and skinfold thickness values of basketball players
Basketball players males
Basketball players females
12.3 ± 2. 84
23.9 ± 2.50
Skinfold thickness (mm)
Body fat level, body mass index, and skinfold thickness values of basketball players
were presented in Table 3.
The results indicated statistically significant (p 0.05) differences between the male
basketball players and female players in body fat mass.Significant
differences were found in values of triceps, abdominal, supraspinal, suprailiac, thigh and calf
Female basketball players in general are found to possess more deposition of
subcutaneous fat in triceps area and in the lower regions of body (supraspinal, suprailiac,
thigh and calf skinfold) as a sex specific distribution, while male players had greater value of
Values of body circumferences
Basketball players males Basketball players females
Upper arm relaxed
Upper arm flexed
Values of body circumferences were presented in Table 4. Significantly higher values
were recorded in males in forearm, upper arm and waist circumference, compared to female
Values of Wingate test parameters in investigated groups
Values of Wingate test parameters in investigated groups are shown in Table 5. When
analyzing the Wingate test parameters of examined athletes, we can observe significantly
higher values of absolute anaerobic power, absolute and relative explosive power, and
absolute anaerobic capacity, while there was no significant differences in relative anaerobic
power, and relative anaerobic capacity between genders.
Data of morphologic parameters in the field of sports medicine revealed that optimal
body structure in athletes is associated with improvements in functional abilities and athletic
performance (Kerr, 1995). In order to obtain informations of body composition parametes
optimal for particular sport, anthropometric measurements are of great importance since the
large amount of data can be collected with a non-invasive methodology and inexpensive
equipments (Gaurav, 2010, Massuca, 2011).
Regular physical activitt leads to specific body composition changes, and individuals
involved in programmed, dosed and continous physical activity
(athletes) differ in
athrompometric characteristics from general population. In elite athletes, these characteristics
could be specially favorable for specific sport demands. In this terms, the anthropometric
profile of basketball players is proved to be one of the crucial factors for maximal
performance. As shown in previous studies, adequate body composition and body fat mass
contribute to optimal performance in basketball (Carter, 2005, Gaurav 2010). Optimal body
structure is needed for specific demands of this sport, with developed lean body mass and the
least possible percentage of body fat. This is in accordance with our results, where basketball
players are tall, relatively lean subjects with low fat mass percentage. When analyzing
anthromopometric parameters, the importance of body heigh is commonly accepted in team
sports such is basketball. It is documented that specific morphological characteristics, such is
body height and lean body mass have a positive influence on successful competition in
basketball (Carter, 2005).
According to our results, male players are taller, heavier with higher BMI and
significantly lower values of fat body mass, compared to females who in general are found to
possess more deposition of subcutaneous fat in triceps area and in the lower body regions.
Differences were also noticed in the values of waist, forearm and upper arm circumference,
with significantly higher values in males. Our results also indicate greater lean body mass in
male basketball players, contributing to higher values of BMI.
Although body composition assessment is of importance for general and athletic
population, there are no adequate reference values for elite athletes (Ackland 2012, Rodriquez
2009, Malina 2007), especially in certain parameters such is BMI. The body mass index
) is parameter that is widely used in adult populations such as an
internationally recognized definition of overweight and obesity (Kovač, 2012). Body mass
index of our investigated groups is in the area of normal weight according to the established
literature standards, and it did not show any significant differences among genders.
Interestingly, females showed lower values of BMI compared to males, but higher body fat
percentage than male players, greater lean body mass in males. Anthropometric characteristics
of our selected athletes has been found to be similar to values previously investigated in our
country and across top leagues in Europe (Vucković 2009, Cormery, 2008, Ostojić 2006,
According to the results of many studies in sports medicine, the body mass index has
low level of validity when assessing body composition in athletes. This parameter only
reflects ratio of body weight to height but does not discriminate body fat mass from lean body
mass, which contributes significantly to body composition. There should be more population
specific values, since higher BMI in athletes could lead to misinterpretation of this parameter
On the other hand, body fat mass percentage is of the greater importance than body
mass index, as excess adipose tissue acts as dead mass in activities where body mass must be
lifted repeatedly against gravity (Reilly 2000). It is generally accepted that lower relative
body fat is desirable for successful competition in most sports. Our results of fat body mass
percentage in basketball players are in accordance for appropriate body fat range for both
genders in this sport (Wilmore, 1983).
When comparing anthropometric characteristics to recent data on basketdball players
from other countries, Kalinski (2002) showed similar values of anaerobic performance, and
morphometric characteristics in Polland elite basketball player. In the study on morphometric
profile of Bosnian elite basketball players, similar values of anthrompometric parameters
were recorded (Poškić, 2014). These specific morphometric characteristics of basketball
players have been linked with playing positions and individual player success (Angyan 2003,
Coelho, 2008), team success (Carter 2005) and performances (Jakovljević, 2011).
When analyzing anaerobic profile of elite athletes, it has been suggested that success
in many sport games relies on high anaerobic capacity, not only aerobic abilities (Hoffman,
1996) . Basketball is sport with specific demands at high level including intermittent bouts of
high intensity interrupted with periods of submaximal effords. This type of activity requires
both aerobic and anaerobic energetic systems. Also explosive power for jumps, kicking, runs
at different intensities is of the great importance in basketball. When evaluating anaerobic
profiles of investigated groups, differences were found in all Wingate parameters, with
significant higher values in absolute anaerobic power and absolute explosive power and
absolute anaerobic capacity for male basketball players, while there was no difference in the
relative anaerobic power and relative anaerobic capacity. These discrepances are due to
differences in anthropometric characteristics, since males are heavier, taller athletes with more
active muscle mass and less fat body mass compared to females, as gender specific attributes.
In conclusion, body composition assessment in elite sport provides usefull information
for creating conditioning programs throughout a season at all levels of competition. The
amount of muscle, adipose tissue, fat-free component and their relationships could affect
maximal performance, and evaluation of these parameters should accomplish physiological
profile of athletes. Also, analysis of anaerobic abilities should be periodicaly applied to elite
athletes in order to monitor improvements in training process.
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