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Measuring Body Composition With DEXA Scans

The players have completed their first of three DEXA scans as they prepare for a strong preseason before the competition kicks off in March 2017.

The Rabbitohs will have three DEXA scans throughout the next year including one more at the end of preseason followed by a third midseason. This scan allows the coaches and players to be accountable to their body composition and make sure players are staying in shape for the season.

What is DEXA?

A DEXA fat composition scan is a medical scanning technology used to measure bone density. It provides a highly accurate measurement of body composition specifically in the areas of bone, fat and lean mass with results seen through a low dose of dual-energy X-rays.

Exercise and Sports Scientist with bodyandbone, Rhys Tozer, explains the use of the machine and why the Rabbitohs would use the scanning process.

“This sort of machine is the most scientifically accurate way to determine body fat percentage and muscle mass in different areas of the body,” said Tozer.

“So we’ve organised to come down here to do it preseason and through the year for the boys just so they can get some accurate results and use all the scientific data with their training and body composition.”

Why do Souths use it?

“It’s a really good way of holding the players accountable for their body composition,” said Head of High Performance, Paul Devlin.

“It allows us to see 99.7% accuracy on their body fat levels so we can use that then to determine how much they need to lose, and almost never, how much they need to put on in fat but what it also tells us secondly and maybe just as importantly in this period of preseason is how much lean muscle tissue they’ve got.

“It allows us as staff to be accountable too and programming them the right way so that we are building muscle mass and then we can also individualise using lum marks on the body and have a look at left right imbalances and muscle mass post injury as well.

“It allows us to be really quantified in our approach to body composition."

How do the players use it?

“Essentially to be quite frank, the first thing they probably look at is; are they above or below the threshold, it might be the first thing they look at because that involves an extra cardio session," continued Devlin.

“I must say the majority aren’t. We’ve got a very good body composition so far, especially as a start point and then the next thing they probably look at is their percentage and that’s mainly the things that they look at from a physical performance point of view.

“They’ll look at left and right imbalances, left arm versus right arm, left leg versus right leg, waist region in comparison to other regions and it gives just a lot more detail on where they’re storing fat, where they are building muscle and whether they’re not building muscle, we’ll obviously do second and third scans throughout the year just to maintain them.

“We also do skin folds as well which have obviously been done for a number of years but this has just got the real high accuracy and validity around it.”

Who can have a DEXA scan?

Tozer explains that DEXA scans are not just for athletes but can be used by any individual looking to find out about their body composition.

“Considering it’s the most accurate test you could do with body fat and muscle distribution, most people that either want to lose weight or put on weight or just get into better shape, it actually can tell you exactly where the fat is in your body to put a measurement to it and also track as well not just in total weight loss but how much fat your losing compared to muscle,” said Tozer.  

“It’s really good reflective feedback to see exactly what steps you could take to get the results you want out of training.”

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