Benefits of DEXA Scans for Bodybuilders & Fitness / Figure
DEXA scans, or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scans, are a highly accurate and non-invasive way to measure body composition, including the amount of muscle, fat, and bone in the body.
They are particularly beneficial for both recreational and competitive bodybuilders, as they provide detailed information about where gains or losses in muscle and fat are occurring, which can help guide training and diet decisions. This information only supplements the trained eye of a coach, who can analyze the full structure and aesthetics of the body.
One of the key benefits of DEXA scans for bodybuilders is their accuracy. Unlike other methods of measuring body composition, such as skinfold calipers or bioelectrical impedance, DEXA scans use low-dose x-rays to directly measure the EXACT amount of lean mass and fat in the body, which provides more accurate results.
As bodybuilders or fitness competitors look to gain mass in the off season, assessing just how much lean mass is being added versus bodyfat can help dial in calories and macros. Adding too many calories (and subsequently too much fat mass) can be counterproductive when it comes to dieting back down for a show or the summer.
Many bodybuilders also go through a "health phase" in which assistive supplements are either lowered or removed. Having data that indicates how the body retains or loses muscle mass during this phase can be very valuable for planning future health phases and new goals for the in season period.
As bodybuilders and fitness / figure athletes lose bodyfat, some lean tissue usually comes off as well. Bodybuilding competitions are based off subjective assessments of size, symmetry, and conditioning, however having objective measures of competition bodyfat and muscle mass add more information than just the judges scorecards.
The ideal situation for most athletes is to systematically gain muscle mass while either sustaining or improving competition leanness. A DEXA scan really is the only true way to measure exact muscle mass and fat mass, creating the perfect tool for analyzing that year's prep.
Overall, there is no substitute for a skilled and experienced bodybuilding or bikini athlete prep coach. They will know the ins and outs of the sport and judging criteria, and can analyze the full presentation of the body. Adding DEXA scans simply creates additional objective data that will significantly augment the coaches ability to deliver quality programming and nutrition advice, and can also enhance athlete satisfaction that their training and dieting has paid off!
DEXA scans are the gold standard for body composition assessment. For both recreational and competitive bodybuilders, assessing the results of training and nutrition protocols by directly looking at changes in percent fat and muscle mass, can be extremely valuable data.