Int J Sports Med 2009; 30(8): 607-613
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1202353
Training & Testing

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

How Well do Skinfold Equations Predict Percent Body Fat in Elite Soccer Players?

T. Reilly 1 , K. George 1 , M. Marfell-Jones 2 , M. Scott 1 , L. Sutton 1 , J. A. Wallace 3
  • 1Research Institute for Sport & Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom
  • 2Department of Health Sciences, Universal College of Learning, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  • 3Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision January 19, 2009

Publication Date:
19 March 2009 (online)


The use of generic equations for estimating percent body fat from skinfold thicknesses can be criticised when applied to specific sports. The present aims were to compare existing methods of using skinfold data and to derive an equation for predicting body fat values in professional soccer players. Forty-five professional soccer players (24.2±5.0 years; 82.0±8.5 kg; 1.82±0.07 m) participated. Skinfold thicknesses were assessed at eight sites for the application of existing prediction equations. Skinfold data were also utilised to determine a novel soccer-specific equation. All players had a reference estimate of percent fat by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The existing skinfold equations differed from the DXA-referenced values by varying degrees, the equation of Withers et al. (1987) demonstrating the lowest bias and highest relationship and agreement with DXA. Regression analysis resulted in an equation incorporating anterior thigh, abdominal, triceps and medial calf sites, accounting for 78.4% variance in DXA criterion values.


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