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How Do Boxers Lose Weight Not Muscle

Sheffield Boxing Centre is a small but fantastic gym in the North of England, run passionately by former Lightweight Glyn Rhodes MBE . It offers boxing and fitness classes to all backgrounds and abilities

The gym was buzzing while we were there testing, more and more athletes were arriving all the time.

I mentioned to Glyn that It seemed busy, but Glyn told me that this was nothing compared to some evenings and weekends where every bit of space is used for training. It was great to see how automated everything was, people walked in, got changed and got to it.

We were there to demonstrate a bit of equipment we knew would not only be of interest but also help boxers prepare for upcoming bouts. The piece of equipment was the BodyMetrix, a portable ultrasound system that can track changes to muscle as well as fat.

The ability to track changes to muscle and fat makes the ultrasound device perfect for these athletes, reasons for which we will discuss in this post.

Clearly for a boxer preparing for a major fight, the ability to preserve muscle whilst still getting as lean as possible is the ideal scenario to be in.

After all, there is little merit to being lean and looking great if you are also weak, drained and unable to fight or have a less than ideal performance due to your body composition.

Maintaining maximum muscular power while eliminating any dead load and body fat is the goal in any sport, not just boxing but also in sports such as cycling. Take the Tour-De-France for example, these athletes work hard to reduce fat and dead load to gain valuable time in the mountain stages.

One thing we noticed when at the boxing centre, which was very clear from the outset is that there was no lack of dedication, determination and commitment with all of the athletes and coaching staff.

When we spoke to some of the athletes tested, some had no idea of their body composition values, this surprised me. In saying that, when your in great condition you don’t need a body fat machine telling you that you are, you already know.

All of the athletes we spoke to were in great shape, even those with no fights coming up soon. The benefits of boxing training were evident for those who wanted to compete in the ring, but also for general conditioning and health and wellness.

Never mind Boxercise, Zumba or Meta Fit. If you want a proper workout, head down to Glyn’s gym!

The training is tough, but the atmosphere is welcoming and friendly. Glyn and his team certainly know how to produce champions as many train in the gym alongside younger athletes and future stars of the sport.

All of the athletes we tested carried very low body fat levels and good levels of muscle mass. Some of the athletes we tested had body fat levels that were almost too low to maintain for extended periods of time.

What was interesting in our conversations was that the focus in boxing, in general seems to be solely on the scale weight, a value that can fluctuate hugely with changes to hydration and nutrition throughout the days and weeks before competition.

Some of the athletes we tested with the BodyMetrix were very close to competition fights in the next few weeks and were so lean that the ultrasound system was picking up just millimeters of fat, even in the abdominal region, an area notorious for body fat accumulation in males.

Professional boxer Serge Ambomo, who trains at the boxing centre and represented Great Britain at the London Olympics, had just 4mm of abdominal fat.

This is extremely low, as you can see from the 3 measurements below. On his thigh measurements (pictured right), he had close to just 2mm of fat, clearly an athlete at the top of his game and in peak form.

The graphs above show the respective measurements on the thigh and waist.

They show clearly the fat and muscle interface represented by the yellow part of the analysis. As you can see from the measurement data, the device is repeatedly tracking measures within 1mm so has precision accuracy.

Serge was in fantastic shape with a body fat percentage dipping just under 5% taking him into the essential fat region on the BodyView software supplied with BodyMetrix.

As mentioned above, Serge is close to competition. Serge was just two weeks out from his next fight so is an athlete in peak physical condition at this time.

I certainly would not want to be the person facing him in a few weeks in the ring.

Taking a measurement from these athletes at a time so close to competition allows the coaches and athletes themselves to know what level of body composition suits the athlete to perform at the desired level and at what point too low could be detrimental to performance.

There is an optimal body composition and body fat state for all sports and indeed overall wellness. Here lies the problem with scale only weight which does not give the complete picture of body composition. Sometimes an increase in body weight could be due to an increase in muscle from a training program and not always from fat gain.

The only true way to know is to measure regularly with a reliable source of measurement. BodyMetrix provides a reliable and accurate source of analysis. 

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