Individuals carry different levels of body fat, and the degree of fatness can impact overall performance, including strength, agility, and endurance. A low relative body fat and a high ratio of lean muscle mass to body fat are two characteristics observed in most athletes. Some athletes may display body fat percentages that are too high or too low for optimal performance.
PURPOSE: The purpose of the investigation was to examine the relationship between body fat percentage and athletic performance in moderately active females.
METHODS: Fifteen moderately active females currently taking a form of estrogen based chemical contraceptive performed a series of performance tests to measure overall endurance, relative muscular strength, muscular endurance, and agility performance. Percent body fat was estimated using hydrostatic weighing techniques. Endurance was measured by performing a VO2peak test following the Modified McConnell Running Protocol. Relative muscular strength was measured using a handgrip dynamometer to determine maximum grip strength. Muscular endurance was measured using a handgrip dynamometer to determine the strength decrement index (SDI). Agility performance was measured using the SEMO Agility Test. The Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient was used to determine the relationship between percent body fat and athletic performance.
RESULTS: Significant linear relationships were found between endurance performance and percent body fat (r = -0.88, p < 0.01) and between muscular endurance and percent body fat (r = 0.64, p < 0.05). No significant linear relationships were found between percent body fat and relative muscular strength (r = -0.43, p > 0.05) and agility performance (r = 0.25, p > 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Body fat percentage is highly related to cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance performance in moderately active females.