Body mass index and body fat percentage are associated with decreased physical fitness in adolescent and adult female volleyball players

Pantelis Theo Nikolaidis


  • Background: The objectives of this study were to examine (a) the prevalence of overweight/obesity, and (b) the relationship between body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage (BF) and physical fitness in adolescent and adult female volleyball players.
  • Methods: Adolescent (n = 102, aged 15.2 ± 2.0 year) and adult (n = 57, 25.9 ± 5.0 year) players were examined for anthropometric characteristics and body composition, and performed the physical working capacity in heart rate 170 min-1 test, a force-velocity test, the Wingate anaerobic test (WAnT), sit-and-reach test (SAR), handgrip strength test (HST) and countermovement vertical jump (CVJ).
  • Results: Based on international BMI cut-off points, 27.5% (n = 28) of adolescent and 12.3% (n = 7) of adult participants were classified as overweight, with the prevalence of overweight being higher in girls than in women (χ2 = 4.90, P = .027). BMI was correlated with BF in both age groups (r = .72, P < .001 in girls; r = .75, P < .001 in women). Normal participants had superior certain physical and physiological characteristics than those who were overweight. For instance, normal girls and women had higher mean power during WAnT than their overweight counterparts (P = .003 and P = .009 respectively). Except for flexibility, BMI and BF were inversely related with physical fitness (e.g. BMI vs. HST r = -.39, P < .001 in girls; BF vs. CVJ r = -.45, P < .001 in women).
  • Conclusion: The findings confirmed the negative effect of overweight and fatness on selected parameters of physical fitness. The prevalence of overweight in adolescent volleyball players was higher than in general population, which was a novel finding, suggesting that proper exercise interventions should be developed to target the excess of body mass in youth volleyball clubs.
  • Key words: Adiposity, age, muscular fitness, overweight, physical exercise, sport, volleyball

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