DXA for Athletes

DXA for Athletes


DXA ScanAthletes of all ages, many of them becoming triathletes, marathoners, runners bicyclists, swimmers and players in adult leagues during their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, are looking for an edge in how they can increase their performance and  achieve their optimal body in their sport. These athletes are integrating specific principles employing exercise training, nutrition and diet and they desire a full set of comprehensive data feedback, utilizing high tech apps to track their improvements. They monitor their diet calories, nutritional components, energy expenditures, duration of training sessions, their distances and courses. Equipment such as bicycles, clothing and shoes are researched for best individualized application, fit and performance.

Athletes, in today’s world, have gone high tech, using computers, IPADS, smart phones and monitors to track their performance, their health and changes in their body as a result of their program. They expect precise and comprehensive feedback to help them manage their program, whether they are just beginning, or when they want to fine tune their top performance levels for their race or game.

Nutrition and specific exercise training regimens are key components in accomplishing health, fitness and performance goals. But in order to maximize an athlete’s potential, it is important to measure progress with objective and accurate feedback. The one area that all athletes need to know is what their exact and precise anatomical and physiological makeup is with Body Composition

Looking in the mirror or monitoring weight on a bathroom scale, while helpful, does not provide adequate or accurate information to fully prepare the body for competition. The older techniques of pinching skinfolds, dunking in a water tank, sitting in a Pod, Electrical Bio –Impedance, surface spot checks with ultrasound scan (Futrix) or Height /Weight Body Mass Index measurements are all outdated, too general, or are error prone. DXA Scan Body Composition Technology provides the exact data that they are looking for.

The DXA Scan can offer absolute accuracy in Body Composition Assessment. It is High Tech, State of the Art, and with the HOLOGIC DXA, over 99% accurate. DXA yields precise Bone, Muscle and Fat specifics for every area of the body. Athletes are constantly looking for the perfect fat mass to muscle ratio in order to optimize their health, strength, speed, power, endurance and performance.

The Washington Institute of Sports Medicine uses the HOLOGIC DXA Scan, the only one of its kind to incorporate the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) whole system body composition reference database, allowing comparisons of each athlete with other individuals, nationwide by age and gender.

A DXA Body Composition Scan is so accurate that it can detail exactly where fat and lean mass (muscle) is regionally distributed throughout the body. Reports provide a geographical map of the body detailing skeletal bone density and bone mineral content, fat mass, lean mass and percent fat (both stored and essential), and also give these values for the whole body as well as for 7 regional areas: each arm, each leg, trunk, waist and hips, even the head.

The DXA Scan can precisely measure weight loss and/or gain of lean muscle mass and fat mass, showing a body map of location and amounts, allowing a visual progress of specific diets and/or training programs. Knowing how much and where on the body an athlete is building lean mass and losing fat is possible with DXA Scan. It allows the athlete to see specific results and whether they are succeeding with their program as they can adjust their training and nutrition regimen based on the amount of fat or lean mass gained or lost in each region of the body. The image and numbers provided by the DXA Scan will show exactly where and how changes in the body have taken place.

A DXA scan’s direct measurement of Body Composition provides this data and separates itself from other methods because of its precise scope of application.

Region TotalFat Mass (lbs) MuscleLean Mass (lbs) Bone Mineral Content (lbs) Total Mass (lbs)
L. Arm





R. Arm










L. Leg





R. Leg




















Android (Waist)



Gynoid (Hips)



The Green Bay Packers use the DXA Scan to track their player’s progress in the offseason and throughout the season. The full body scan specifies what areas of the body need the most work during off season workouts. It is also used to track any muscle atrophy from injuries and muscle gain during injury rehabilitation programs.

The Biggest Loser TV show uses the DXA scan technology to track weight loss of their contestants. It is extremely important for persons and athletes in a weight loss program to know what they are losing as well as where they are losing it. Diets alone can result in less than 50% fat loss and even more than a 50% loss in lean muscle. With appropriate diet and exercise, fat loss is maximized, muscle loss can be minimized and even gained. It is important to know the difference and to have the ability to adjust the program.

The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado uses the DXA scan to assess and develop training programs for Olympic Athletes. This allows athletes and trainers to track their progress with repeat assessments.

Applying the DXA scan for athletes, coaches and trainers:

  • Body composition testing helps formulate a training program that builds muscle, lose fat, or both. With anatomical information from a DXA scan, a coach can establish a baseline, compare lean and fat mass distribution to other individuals your same age and gender, then design a specific program that will help you reach your goals more optimally. Follow up scans will ensure you’re making the progress you need to maximize performance.
  • Athletes get injured. It’s a fact in any sport. During rehabilitation, fat gain and muscle atrophy (loss) are a common occurrence. A DXA scan helps trainers and physical therapists monitor these changes along with the resulting lean mass imbalance that results from injury. This information can then help them adapt rehab workouts, rest, and nutrition plans to reflect your body’s specific needs during its recovery.
  • There are countless mental/emotional roadblocks to athletic success. For many athletes, weight gain, or even weight loss can lead to distress. DXA scans provide the ultimate reassurance for athletes, so they know that the weight they gain or lose is the ‘right’ kind of weight.

Overall, knowing your body’s total composition is much more important than just measuring fat. In today’s information filled world, both the general public and athletes alike are recognizing the need to identify the exact distribution of lean mass and fat mass, this being more valuable than a general overall body fat percentage number. It is a much more effective tool for developing nutritional strategies; monitoring progress; optimizing performance; rehabilitating an injury and providing motivation.  For more information on obtaining a DXA body composition measeurement contact us today.


The WASHINGTON INSTITUTE OF SPORTS MEDICINE & HEALTH   OFFERS THIS State-of-The-Art DXA Body Composition Technology . David L.   Parker PhD is a Physiologist who heads up The Institute. He has been involved   with performing Tens of Thousands of Body Composition Evaluations over almost   40 years. He was the early originator of Whole Body Plethysmography use for   Body Composition with Eric Jaeger Inc of Germany. This technology is now   used by Bod Pod. The Institute utilizes the newest HOLOGIC DXA Discovery W   System with Advanced Body Composition Analysis. According to Dr. Parker, the   HOLOGIC DXA System is the Gold Standard for accuracy and digital imaging   quality. Hologic invented the DXA Technology.