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Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) tests aren't as effective as you may think. Many people depend on BMI calculators to tell them how overweight they are. Although this indicator can be useful, it is by no means the best tool and for people with large amounts of muscle, this test can actually be very misleading.

BMI for the average person

There are certainly some benefits for the average person, however the body mass index test is clearly not the final authority on whether a person is obese or not, especially for bodybuilders. BMI tests can help a person decide if they need to take other tests. If you test obese, or grossly underweight, then there is usually a need for further testing.

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In order to calculate your body mass index (BMI), your weight and height are considered. You are given a score, which can help you identify if you are overweight, underweight, or at the right weight. The problem with these calculators is that they do not differentiate between lean muscle mass and body fat. For people such as bodybuilders, this means that you will gain an inaccurate result.

BMI Comparison

Body Mass Index tests are supposed to help people who are overweight find out by just how much. With bodybuilding, the lean muscle mass that is healthy is also calculated, meaning you a very likely to generate results that say you're overweight. Unfortunately, as we know, this is not true. The fact is bodybuilders who are healthy often live very long lives due to the lack of fat and bad habits that people who are overweight generally have.

The right way to test for bodyfat

A much better tool to find the actual amount of fat on a person's body is the skinfold measurement or the hydrostatic weighing method. Both of these are different but are much more effective at actually calculating your total body fat.

The skinfold measurement or pinch test is not always the most accurate way to find body fat, however it is much more effective than the body mass index (BMI) test. This is especially true when using it as a monthly check to track your weight loss.


The most effective way to measure body fat (other than an autopsy!) is the immersion or hydrostatic method. You are dunked into a tank of water as you exhale. The amount of water you displace is calculated and compared to your body weight using specific formulas to calculate your total body fat.


In short, Body Mass Index tests are okay for the average person as an estimate. However, there is a large margin of error and bodybuilders are guaranteed to get skewed results because of their muscle mass.

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