With every component of our programs at Endeavor, I always ask myself “can we do it better?”
With this in mind, I’m constantly looking for new methods or tools to improve our assessment and training process, and when I have time to test things out a bit (and they pan out), I want to share them with you so you can benefit as well.
A little over a year ago, I learned about a new company that had an ultrasound body fat analysis tool called the BodyMetrix.
Instead of using calipers to measure the width of the fat tissue at various sites, this allows you to measure the actual depth of the fat tissue. There’s been some research showing that this correlates well with DEXA scans, which (along with hydrostatic weighing) is the gold standard for body composition analysis.
Way more comfortable than underwater weighing and way cheaper than buying a DEXA!
Several months before purchasing the system, I switched from using a 7-site analysis to Poliquin’s 12-site BioSignature Modulation protocol, which provides better information about where individuals are storing body fat and some of the underlying causes for why they’re storing it there.
Fortunately, the software that came with it had built-in equations to calculation body fat % based on a number of different equations and sites. In rare cases where I need to just do a quick 3- or 7-site analysis, the software has the equation for it and stores the data under the athlete’s account so I can always return to it later. It also, somewhat to my surprise, had the equation for the 12-site analysis, so I didn’t need to change protocols.
If you measure body composition as part of your work, you may be wondering why its worth making a switch away from calipers. For me, it came down to three major factors:
The first of these points is pretty straight forward, but really drives the second two. Using ultrasound to measure the exact depth of fat tissue removes issues associated with pinching:
Having thick skin is not all bad
While all of these things are important, it’s this last point that really drove me to buy the BodyMetrix. As with anything, there is a wide range of competency with people using calipers to assess skinfolds. I’ve heard people say that you need to do 1,000 before you really get good at it. I don’t know that this number holds much merit, but I think getting a lot of reps is important, along with maintaining some level of reflection on what may have gone well or poorly. After all, 1,000 bad reps only reinforces how to do a bad assessment.
Proficiency aside, I’ve seen several athletes over the years fall victim to “emotional pinching”. For whatever reason, a strength coach has it out for a kid and grabs them differently than the other players. This may be the result of the coach thinking the player is lazy, generally not liking the player, or simply thinking he looks fat so they pinch to get the number they want. It’s a shame, but it happens.
As I mentioned above, having an accurate system that removes bias increases the athlete’s confidence in the result, which both helps build trust and buy-in. Seems like a win-win to me!
To your success,
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“Kevin Neeld is one of the top 5-6 strength and conditioning coaches in the ice hockey world.”
– Mike Boyle, Head S&C Coach, US Women’s Olympic Team
“…if you want to be the best, Kevin is the one you have to train with”
– Brijesh Patel, Head S&C Coach, Quinnipiac University
Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.