Exercise Challenge Week 3: Understanding Your Body

What is Body Composition:

When we say the term ‘body composition’, we are talking about the proportion of fat and non-fat mass in your body.

  • Body fat: This can be found in muscle tissue, under the skin (subcutaneous fat), or around organs (visceral fat). Some fat is necessary for overall health. “Essential fat” helps protect internal organs, stores fuel for energy, and regulates important body hormones. But you may also have excess storage of fat and non-essential body fat.
  • Non-fat mass: This includes bone, water, muscle, organs, and tissues. It may also be called lean tissue. Non-fat mass tissues are metabolically active, meaning they burn calories for energy, while body fat does not.

It’s important to know your body composition to understand your health, your fitness level, and your improvements beyond just overall weight. Weighing yourself on a regular bathroom scale does not assess your body composition. This is why it is important to also measure your circumferences and, when possible, your body fat.

One common question is how much body fat is healthy? The American Council on Exercise has published the following guidelines:

    ACE Body Fat Percent Norms for Men and Women
    Description Women Men
    Essential Fat 10% to 13% 2% to 5%
    Athletes 14% to 20% 6% to 13%
    Fitness 21% to 24% 14% to 17%
    Acceptable 25% to 31% 18% to 24%
    Obese Over 32% Over 25%

    By these measurements, you should never have less than ~13% body fat if you are a woman, ~5% if you are a man. Otherwise you are endangering your health. Also, note that they provide levels for athletes, as well as those that are very fit. For the average person, look at the acceptable range to understand where you should aim for.

    While we often try to control our body composition through exercise and diet, there are factors it is affected by that we cannot control:

    • Age: People lose muscle mass as they age if they don’t maintain it with sufficient weight training. This results in a slower metabolism.
    • Genes: These play a role in whether you are naturally lean or have a tendency to retain fat, including where you store it.
    • Hormones: These can influence water retention and body composition.
    • Sex: Women have more body fat than men.

    Week 3 Workout

    Workout Link (14:00 workout): This week is a core workout!

    Weekly Challenge:

    Understanding Your Body: Body Composition Challenge

    Why It’s Important: So often we think of weight in black and white terms- we gain weight, we are gaining fat mass. We lose weight, we are losing fat mass. But in reality, weight gain and loss is much more complicated. 

    Your Challenge: With the help of your health coach, set realistic body composition goals to achieve for this challenge for the following measurements: 1) Weight; 2) Body fat; 3) Muscle mass; 4) BMI






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