Body Composition and Segmental Bioimpedance Phase Angle in Elite
Volleyball Players
Olivia Di Vincenzo
, Maurizio Marra
, Rosa Sammarco
, Enza Speranza
and Luca Scalfi
Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, Federico II University of Naples,
Via S. Pansini 5, 80131, Naples, Italy
Department of Public Health, Federico II University of Naples, Via S. Pansini 5, 80131, Naples, Italy
Keywords: Anthropometry, Body Composition, Bioimpedance, Muscular Strength, Athletes.
Abstract: Because of the great interest in the evaluation of body composition (BC) in athletes, this study aimed to
estimate BC variables like fat-free mass (FFM) and fat mass (FM) of volleyball players compared to a group
of healthy subjects. 12 female volleyball players (VP, age 23.8 ± 3.6 years; weight 63.0 ± 5.1 kg; stature
170 ± 4 cm; BMI 21.9 ± 1.3 kg/m
) and 22 healthy females as control group (CG, age 23.6 ± 2.0 years;
weight 60.7 ± 4.8 kg; stature 167 ± 5 cm; BMI 21.9 ± 1.3 kg/m
), participated to the study. BC was
evaluated by skinfold thickness and whole-body and segmental bioimpedance analysis (BIA) measurements
were assessed. BC resulted significantly different in VP than CG (FM (kg) = 15.7 ± 2.7 vs. 18.0 ± 3.0,
p=0.036; FM (%) = 24.8 ± 3.0 vs. 29.5 ± 3.8, p=0.001; FFM (kg) = 47.4 ± 3.5 vs. 42.8 ± 3.6, p=0.001).
These data confirm previous observations on FM % in VP. Moreover, assessing segmental BIA-derived
phase se angle (PhA) appears to be sensible in these evaluations.
Body composition (BC) assessment plays an
important role in monitoring athletes’ nutritional
status and the effects of training (Brocherie, 2014).
Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) and skinfold
thickness measurement are field methods for
assessing BC that are portable and easy to use. Raw
BIA variables are widely used to evaluate cellular
function and hydration status. Resistance (R) is the
pure opposition of tissues to the flow of the electric
current, while reactance (Xc) is related to the
capacitance of cell membranes, tissue interfaces, etc.
Phase angle (PhA) is the shift between current and
voltage (Norman, 2012), is widely used in clinical
practice to monitor nutritional status, the
effectiveness of nutritional intervention and to
predict mortality (Santarpia, 2009; Norman, 2015;
Lukaski 2017; Mundstock 2018). There is increasing
interest in the use of PhA in athletes as an index of
muscle quality, especially with respect to body water
distribution, but data are not yet consistent when
different sport specialities are compared to each
other, and its association with sport performance is
still uncertain. In healthy subjects, the PhA ranges
from 5 to 7 degrees (Barbosa-Silva, 2005), whereas
in trained athletes it may reach 8.5 degrees (Marra,
2009). Several studies (Carrasco-Marginet, 2017;
Mascherini, 2015) described that PhA increases after
an athletic season, whereas a study by Marra (Marra,
2014) has shown in a team of elite endurance
cyclists, during a three-week stage race, a significant
and progressive reduction of PhA, especially for
lower-limbs, probably due to a loss of intracellular
water (ICW) because of continuous vigorous
exercise during a long-lasting competition.
Several studies have evaluated the BC of
volleyball players (VP) in comparison with other
athletes practicing different sport games (Mala,
2015; Valente-Dos Santos, 2018; Fields, 2018;
Fields, 2018;) or among groups of VP (Mala, 2010;
Maly, 2011) but none of them compared BC of VP
to a control group with similar anthropometric
The aim of this study was to evaluate BC and
BIA-derived PhA (for the whole-body or limbs) in
12 elite female VP compared to a group of 22
Twelve elite female volleyball players (VP, age
23.8±3.6 years; weight 63.0±5.1 kg; stature 170±4
Di Vincenzo, O., Marra, M., Sammarco, R., Speranza, E. and Scalfi, L.
Body Composition and Segmental Bioimpedance Phase Angle in Elite Volleyball Players.
DOI: 10.5220/0007945701130116
In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Sport Sciences Research and Technology Support (icSPORTS 2019), pages 113-116
ISBN: 978-989-758-383-4
2019 by SCITEPRESS – Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
cm; BMI 21.9±1.3 kg/m
) and 22 control young-
women with similar characteristics (control non-
athletic=C-NA, age 23.6±2.0 years; weight 60.7±4.8
kg; stature 167±5 cm; BMI 21.9±1.3 kg/m
participated in the study. Data were collected during
the regular season of the 2015/2016 Italian Women's
Volleyball Serie B League. Athletes trained to
Monday to Saturday four hours/day. Control women
did not follow regular exercise regimes.
Participants were studied in the morning (9.00
a.m.) by the same operator, following standard
procedures, at the BC and energy expenditure
laboratory, Clinical Nutrition Unit, Department of
Clinical Medicine and Surgery. “Federico II”
University Hospital of Naples. Weight was
measured to the nearest 0.1 kg using a platform
beam scale and stature to the nearest 0.5 cm using a
stadiometer (Seca 709; Seca, Hamburg, Germany).
BMI was then calculated as weight (kg)/stature²
BC was estimated by skinfold thickness (biceps,
triceps, subscapular and suprailiac sites), measured
on the left side of the body, in triplicate to the
nearest 0.2 mm, using an appropriately calibrated
Harpenden calibre by the same operator (MM).
Body density was estimated from the sum of these
four subcutaneous skinfolds values by Durnin and
Womersley equation (Brozek, 1963; Durnin, 1974).
Bioimpedance analysis (BIA) was performed at 50
kHz on the non-dominant side of the body (Human
Im Plus II, DS Medica S.r.l., Milan, Italy) to collect
data on R and PhA.
Fat-Free Mass (FFM) and Fat Mass (FM) was
determined using the Siri Equation (Siri, 1961).
Statistical Analysis
Results are expressed as mean±standard deviation.
The independent samples t-test was used to assess
the association between variables (SPSS. 19.0 vers.,
Chicago, USA). Statistical significance was pre-
determined as p<0.05.
Anthropometric characteristics of the participants
are described in Table 1. Age, weight, stature and
BMI were similar between the two groups. FM both
in absolute and percentage values resulted
significantly lower and FFM resulted higher in VP
than in control group.
BIA-derived PhA values resulted significantly
higher in VP, both for the whole body (p=0.001) and
limbs, and especially for lower limbs (p<0.001)
(Table 1).
Table 1: Anthropometric characteristics, body composition
and phase angle of volleyball players and controls.
(n = 12)
(n = 22)
± 2.0
± 4.8
± 5
Fat mass
Fat mass
Fat-free mass
Phase angle degrees
Lower limb
SD= standard deviation;
BMI= Body Mass Index
NS=not significant;
Several studies agree that appropriate BC is of
crucial importance for volleyball performance
because of the characteristics of this sport speciality.
Usually, high ratios of FFM to FM and low FM%
are auspicious for training and competitive athletes.
In the present study, BC of VP has been compared to
that of a group of healthy control subjects, matched
for anthropometric characteristics (weight, stature,
BMI). Our results underline that VP presented
different BC than a healthy non-athletic population.
Specifically, VP showed a lower FM both in
absolute values and in percentage as well as a higher
FFM than C-NA females. Additionally, this study
compared PhA of VP group (whole-body and limbs)
to that of the C-NA group clearly showing that both
whole-body and lower-limb values were
significantly higher in VP.
In conclusion, this study confirms previous
observations on lower FM in VP. Moreover,
highlights that BIA (especially with regard to
segmental assessment) appears to be helpful in
qualitative evaluations of muscle mass and possibly
in assessing changes due to training.
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Body Composition and Segmental Bioimpedance Phase Angle in Elite Volleyball Players
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