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Wellness Wednesday: You Can’t Measure What You Don’t Track – Making Sense of Your InBody Results

As a fitness enthusiast going back to the Jane Fonda years, I remember I was fascinated, translated obsessed, with being in shape for much of my life.  Let me be honest though, my real fitness obsession began at age 39 when I became laser focused on becoming an American Gladiator.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) the show was cancelled before I could battle Gina Carano in the Joust!  I seriously was devastated but continued getting stronger just in case the show made a comeback! (Still waiting!)  In 2018, age 50 hit me like a mack truck and stole any semblance of metabolism I once had.  In September, 2020, I walked back in to Training For Warriors St. Johns where at 6AM each morning Coach Tyler puts up with all things Jenn Heller … like some eye rolling, complaining and even an occasional “whatever Tyler” backlash.  I’m totally not a morning person, in case you were wondering, but I also know that for me personally, if I don’t workout first thing in the morning, it’s not going to get done that day.

The InBody Machine

The first thing I had to face when returning to TFW was the dreaded InBody machine.  It’s a giant scale with attitude!  I literally weigh myself right before going to TFW and the InBody is always 2-4 lbs more.  Really?  All I did was drive 8 miles, how can that be?  When I did my first InBody measurements and it was a cold, hard slap in the face of reality … but to run this race I needed to face the starting line!  Every month when I weigh in I stare blankly at the sheet, only focusing on the one category:  WEIGHT.  But the InBody tells you so much more than weight and if you only focus on weight, you might miss something  amazing that’s happening, like I did on my last weigh in.  For the purpose of explaining the InBody results, I’ve allowed Coach Tyler to use my last sheet as an example because measuring and tracking does not even matter if you don’t understand the results!  

The InBody Scale is becoming more popular throughout fitness facilities, but since it tracks anything and everything that you would need to know, it can be a little overwhelming trying to make sense of all the numbers.  Tyler breaks it all down so that your individual printout can be used as the guidance tool it was meant to be.


Body Composition Analysis – If you are following along with the sheet provided, the very top section is labeled Body Composition Analysis.  The very first number we look at is the Total Body Water.  There is no one number that is right for everyone, but we want this to be between 50-70% of the total Body Weight which is listed three lines down.  Those are really the only numbers I look at in the top section, as the other categories we will address in the next couple of sections.

Muscle-Fat Analysis – This is the first section that includes some ranges of where we are and where we want to be. The scale at the top represents a low, middle, and high range for the numbers listed based on the individual’s height, age, and gender.  The three measurements that are listed are weight, muscle mass, and body fat mass.  What is important to remember here is that these numbers are listed in pounds, not percentages, which will come later.  This is an important section to keep your eye on as time goes by and more tests are done.  Tracking muscle mass and body fat mass as opposed to just weight on a scale will give a better idea of what is actually happening.  As an example with easy math, say someone loses 5 lbs of body weight during the beginning stages of a workout program.  It’s quite possible that they lost 10lbs of fat while gaining 5 lbs of muscle, leaving them that deficit of 5 lbs of total weight.   This is the type of information that turns good results into fantastic results, which ultimately can be the spark that keeps someone motivated to continue on their fitness journey.

Obesity Analysis – Here we start looking at percentages.  There are two measurements here which are Body Mass Index (BMI) and Percent Body Fat (PBF).  These two often get mistaken for each other, so it’s important to know the difference.  Personally, I really don’t pay attention to the BMI for anyone that is going through a training program.  It is strictly height and weight, so the more you train, especially involving strength training, the less it matters.  There could be two people having the same height and weight, but one is carrying more fat, while the other makes up that weight in muscle and the BMI will have them at the same obesity level.  That really doesn’t show the whole picture.  The PBF takes both muscle mass and body fat into account so its the one that we look at.  The range scale indicates where the individual is vs where they should be.  Generally, women should be in the mid-to-low 20’s, while men should be at 20 or in the high teens.  Anything beyond that just depends on what you want as your individual goals. 

Segmental Lean Analysis – This can be an interesting section but not too beneficial in terms of checking overall results.  This measures muscle mass in all four limbs in addition to the trunk.  The main purpose for this is to make sure there is not a large imbalance between the left side and right side on either the upper or lower body.  There can be some differences between the two, but we want to look out for anything that is 8-10% different.  If we see this difference, it means that there was either an injury to that body part, or we are unbalanced enough that we are prone to an injury.  

Body Composition History – Once someone starts taking multiple measurements, this is the section that we look at next.  A line graph will develop here with overall weight, muscle mass, and PBF.  This is a section that someone can look to quickly to get an idea of what is going on over time, however, more of the story can be told by keeping and looking back over previous sheets.   As you can see from the sheet provided, the very last weigh-in shows that the body weight went up 3.8 lbs.  If the only measurement taken was just the scale, it would be easy to think that progress was going backwards.  By looking at the muscle mass right below, we can see that muscle went up 5.7 lbs, which means there had to be some weight that was lost as well, either from fat or water weight.  If they have the previous sheets, they can look back to the Muscle-Fat Analysis section to see the pounds of fat and note the difference.   Also, seeing that the PBF dropped 3.6%, I think it is safe to say that most of the loss was fat.  Again, this is another example of why a scale cannot tell the whole story.  

Hopefully, this explained not only how to read an InBody results sheet, but also showed the importance of not focusing on one number.  It is always beneficial to track multiple categories so we can get a better picture what is happening throughout the training program.  There is a lot of information offered on this sheet.  If you do not have access to an Inbody, even taking just circumference measurements and pictures can provide some additional input. I have seen many people come in on test day thinking that nothing happened because of what the “scale at home” said, only to be surprised by how their body composition has changed for the better. Just imagine how many people will be giving up on their New Year’s resolutions this month because they aren’t seeing the scale move, when what is needed is simply a little bit more information about what is really happening beneath the surface. That can make all the difference on the mindset to continue to reach those fitness goals. ~ Coach Tyler Redick

Tyler Redick is Head Coach and Owner at Training for Warriors St. Johns located at 10440 Highway US 1 across from Neese High School.  Training for Warriors St. Johns provides a fun and uplifting environment for small group personal training. Through a progressive training program, nutritional guidance and encouraging coaches!

Jenn Heller is the Operations and Marketing Manager with The Volen Group, Keller Williams Luxury International, with over 17 years experience in Real Estate.  She is a Jacksonville resident via Long Island, NY since 1991, a crafter, chalk painter and an avid fitness enthusiast.


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