Getting lean is the main goal in the fitness world. Sure you might want to gain some mass, but eventually you need to lean yourself out or look like the Pillsbury dough boy.
In our attempts to do this, we eat so much fish that we are about to sprout gills. We've take in supplements to the tune of $40 billion a year. Drink tons of special protein powder and pay twice the regular price for our chicken breast, just to avoid the sodium.
All this just to make ourselves leaner and closer to that ultimate goal of perfection. The daily grind of what to eat and how to train can drive you into the nuthouse, but thankfully science has leaned in to help. To obtain our optimal body fat, the "Bod Pod" is a very useful tool to determine if we are gaining or loosing lean mass.
Accuracy Of The Bod Pod
For many years the skin calipers have been a common-use instrument of the fitness industry to determine the basic percentages of muscle versus fat.
Higher-end athletes would oftentimes use underwater weighing to determine a more exact lean mass ratio. In recent years, scientists have invented a way of utilizing air displacement to determine your lean mass ratios. The Bod Pod is extremely accurate and offers a quick and dry alternative to underwater weighing.
Underwater weighing (UWW)
Considered by most to be the foremost method of body composition assessment, UWW is a laboratory technique involving some rather spendy equipment (~ $70,000) and 2 to 3 technicians and a patient subject willing to sit through the 25 minute process. The underwater process allows for air volume to be subtracted from weight totals, thus giving a more accurate reading.
The test takes approximately 50 seconds and is repeated for accuracy. The machine is calibrated before every use to assure an accurate reading.
Most people's apprehension towards using this type of a device is directly related to their knowledge and past experiences of the inaccurate readings by other less proficient testing methods.
Also the time and effort placed into some machine's testing protocol. A great deal of research has been done on this product and its use has been documented as very successful in the literature.
The NCAA has approved the Bod Pod for athletic testing. Medical professionals are using a smaller version of the Bod Pod, called the Pea Pod, to obtain more accurate information on infants to better qualify drug levels.
My experience with the bod pod
My interest in using the Bod Pod was associated with a recent change in my social lifestyle. I became, quite frankly, interested in gaining more lean muscle mass as opposed to being lumpy. A figure competitor, who trains with Mike Davies' Fitness Factory, entered into the 30 day trial testing with me.
Testing With Ginger Redeker
Ginger Redeker is an NPC amateur figure competitor/model, who was beginning her competition season. The outcome of the test was not that staggering, I tested at 17.7%, and Ginger tested at 17.4% body fat. We both entered into our respective training programs and after 30 days were retested.
The entire key for a male bodybuilder/athlete was the gaining of lean muscle mass and reducing fat. The amateur fitness competitor is best served by losing the unnecessary fat and in some cases, even losing some lean muscle mass.
The second test indicated that my body weight had remained the same but that I had shifted my body fat percentage from 17.7 to 12.1%.
This equated to me gaining almost 11 pounds of muscle and losing 11 pounds of fat. Ginger lowered her percentage body fat to 14.1% and reduced her overall body weight by approximately 8 pounds.
For some people, a quick look in a mirror or a quick check of the pants size would indicate success with the diet and training regimen.
Understanding Your Body
In the world of bodybuilding/figure competition, it is extremely important to know exactly what's going on with your body. The Bod Pod provides an essential baseline to determine the success or demeanor of any particular fitness program.
Ginger followed the instructions of Mike Davies, who is likely the leading resource for the female figure/fitness competitor.
I followed a program that utilized many of the MonsterMag supplements and elements of WestSide Barbell training principles.
Both programs proved successful in a 30 day trial. Longer outcome studies are pending, but I would put my money on Ginger, even with all that percentage change on my part, she still looks a thousand times better than I do.
Answering Further Questions
Several questions are still lingering relative to the Bod Pod.
- Since obtaining lean body mass for the male is so essential, determining the optimum lean body mass percentage is the cornerstone of maximizing gains. If you gain 20 pounds of muscle, is it muscle or just fat? Do you want to gain fat, just to be forced to loose it later?
- Another question that the Bod Pod helps answer is: Do you gain more lean muscle at 6%, 12% or 20% body fat?
- Several professional bodybuilders are well-known for their off-season weight gain, yet are they really doing themselves justice or just causing a cardiac disaster?
After several months of testing, any individual will be able to obtain the correct information and with some practice and basic knowledge, they will be able to utilize this new tool to their advantage to maximize their gains.
I want to thank Eve Ann and Scott Buxton from Baseline Fitness for their help in making this article.