Working with sport-specific athletes, the balance of lean mass becomes crucial to maintain sports performance and reduce the risk of injury. For trainers with clients going to the gym as well as engaging in recreational or professional sports, it becomes important for trainers to monitor gains over time to maximize sports performance, as well as to assess risk of injury.
As clients continue to train both in and out of season, trainers must keep a close eye on body composition parameters to keep their client on track toward their desired goals. In the case of a client who engages in a predominantly leg-dominant sport, watching muscle mass increase is a positive sign for sports performance. However, being able to monitor changes in lean mass between legs can help prevent injury. Segmental Lean Analysis (SLA) allows for trainers to track how much lean mass a client has and if the amount of lean mass is sufficient to support that client’s overall weight. The bottom bar sufficiency percentage can also be utilized to monitor for imbalances between limbs. An imbalance is classified as a difference of greater than or equal to 6% between the arms and greater than or equal to 3% between the legs. In the case of this client, we can see a 3% difference which could stem from sport specific play or improper exercise planning/form when training. Being aware of this imbalance allows trainers to adjust training to unilateral exercises to correct the imbalance before it becomes any worse and leads to potential injury.
Another method of monitoring for potential injury is the use of the ECW/TBW Analysis. As clients train and engage in sports, the body is being put under physical stress. Adequate rest and recovery are needed to allow for muscles to recover and regrow. Inflammation is a key point that is reflected in the ECW/TBW; by monitoring changes in the ratio over time, a steady increase can indicate a sign of overtraining or improper recovery. Monitoring this progression can alert trainers that clients need a less intense workout or longer recovery to reduce the potential for an overtraining injury.