Every individual out there has there own optimal ratio of fat to muscle mass. Society or lack of knowledge by coaches has played into athletes often looking for an ideal body weight for there own sport.
Dave Ellis from Sport alliance Nutrition in Colorado Spring Colorado has taken this topic and spun some interesting light on the subject. Traditional methods have analyzed height, wrist circumference and elbow breadth as well as weight to hight ratio.
Ellis argues that these traditional methods are not necessarily the best way to look at this topic. As a result he looks at skeletal structure. His theory is that the human skeletal structure is much like scaffolding in that different frames will be able to handle different amounts of weight to perform at there best. Ellis has come up with looking at the mid section size taking measurements of the chest cavity and hip complex.
This way of measuring ideal muscle and body fat ratio’s appear to be more accurate in that every ones frame is a different size. This may be why in triathlon you can often see a pretty big range in the size of athlete. This is exemplified by top Ironman athletes Torbjorn Sindballe and Craig Alexander. Both tremendous athletes who can go fast but both very different in stature as Sindballe is huge compared to Alexander yet they both go very fast.
Ellis’s new way of looking at body fat and muscle ratio’s could be very useful for not just triathletes but all athletes. In endurance sports, most of the time, athletes are trying to drop weight to go fast. The important thing to note is that there is a breaking point with every one ware results start to diminish as the athlete begins to break down.
Conversely the athlete who seeks to gain weight by putting on muscle mass to go faster may run into issues as well. Muscle mass will help one perform to a certain extent. If a triathlete for example puts on too much muscle mass it will slow them down as more muscle needs more energy and more oxygen.