BIM Show Live 2017 – The Zwift KOM Edition

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BIM and bikes…is there anything better?!

Another year, another BIM Show Live conference has come and gone. This one was slightly different though. As my company, BIM Technologies are the main sponsor for the conference I was in the fortunate position to swing a bit of space in the exhibition area to try and do something a little different to assist with raising sponsorship for the Cycle To MIPIM ride.

I have talked about the use of the Zwift platform before – a online cycling virtual world that has really disrupted the cycling (and now running) fitness market. The similarities between what Zwift has done for fitness and BIM has done for construction can surely be drawn.

With this in mind I decided to lug my whole Zwift setup (bike, trainer, computer, fan, etc…) in the car up to Newcastle and hold a BSL Zwift KOM (King of the Mountain) Challenge across the 2 days. The task was simple – ride as hard as you can up the original Zwift climb, “Watopia Wall” setting a time in the process.

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The original Zwift Watopia Island Climb…

The cool (in my eyes?!) thing about this is it allows people to experience a change in resistance when pedalling in accordance with the terrain on the screen in front of them. Yes it gets tough but it adds to the immersion and is way more fun than than pedalling along a flat course – it also adds to the competition.

All set up it was time to drum up some conference attendees to have a go. To get the ball rolling I decided to set a baseline time, but decided to discount myself from the overall results – I would like to say for fairness, but it was more a concern I might have my time beaten and not be able to live it down!

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Perhaps not the best time to ask my boss, Rob Charlton, CEO Space Group for a payrise….

Of course, thee is one important matter left…who won?! Well the results at the end of the conference stood as follows.

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The official BIM Show Live 2017 – Zwift KOM Edition results…

A huge thanks to anyone who had a go on the day and of course for your generosity in sponsoring me. Very kindly, a friend and fellow BSL attendee, Mark Stodgell has also made a blog post about the challenge and that can be found here.

There were a couple of people who mentioned sponsoring me at the event – you know who you are! Remember, it’s not too late to show your support and sponsor me here.

It wasn’t all fun though…I did have to do some work!

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Presenting on Day 1 of the conference – my 4th time presenting at BIM Show Live

 

Roll up, roll up…

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The see me rollin’…they hatin’

On 26th January, Club Peloton held another rider social evening, kindly hosted by Legal & General, the main sponsor of the Cycle to MIPIM event.

The purpose of this evening was to meet more of our fellow riders and an opportunity for those who had not previously, to meet their respective ‘team captains/ ride leaders’ now that we had been assigned our ‘ride teams’ for the main Cycle to MIPIM event.

All this aside, it was a good excuse for a beer and a natter about bikes, training, kit and everything in between. At an event like this you are never going to be short of someone to speak to…that’s the great thing about riding bikes.

Alongside the beers, snacks and conversation there was the chance to challenge for the title of “Rollapaluza Champion” – an annual competition held ahead of departing for MIPIM. Having been smashing myself training on a turbo trainer for the last few months I was well up for this challenge…sadly a lot of other people were too including reigning champion and number of the other Cycle to MIPIM seasoned riders.

The challenge? To ride as hard and as fast as you can on a fixed bike (in this case a Brompton!) for 250m. Bigger the watts, faster the rider. Simple.

Taking the bull by the horns, I ended up setting the first time of the evening against the Club Peloton Chief Executive, Nick – a paltry 13.97 seconds, which was inevitably smashed pretty quickly and although the couple of beers I had had afterwards tempted me for another go, I decided to blame my performance on having the wrong shoe choice and called time.

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250m as hard as you can…

The second half of the evening gave way to a panel type question and answer session with people who had done the ride once or many times before, passing on their words of wisdom to me and many other first timers in the room. The main thing I took from this is it is going to be cold…bloody cold…

Leaving more excited than ever for the main event in March, I headed off for the night, a list of scribbled notes on my phone of what to expect, what not to do and of course more ‘essential’ kit that was going to be purchased in the proceeding days.

The next social event is on the 27th February – The Rider Briefing – expect an update on this then.

SPONSOR ME HERE

You spin me right round baby right round like a…

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Cycle Beat London | http://www.cyclebeat.co.uk

In an effort to mix up my training and keep things fresh, I was invited by a friend to come along to a Spin Studio session with them at Cycle Beat London. I had never been to a proper Spin class before so it was a good opportunity to see what the fuss was about and see how it compared to my training plan.

I had been lured in on the basis that there are leader board (who doesn’t like a bit of competition to push themselves harder!) and had convinced myself that I would use the Spin session as a ‘filler’ for one of my rest days…I mean it couldn’t be that hard could it?!

The Cycle Beat studio is a classy set up. A fully kitted out spin studio comprising of 37 bikes all fully adjustable and importantly fitted with power meters. A full changing suite with showers etc… and a stretching/ foam rolling area are all ready to be used. You can hire studio bike compatible shoes and towels etc… at a very modest price.

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Pain cave…on a grand scale | http://www.cyclebeat.co.uk

The class was called Cycle Beat 45, ran by spin instructor Janine and comprised of 45 minutes of pain spread over increasing/ decreasing efforts based against cadence speed (rpm – revolutions per minute). For example, 1 minute at 100rpm, 1 minute at 95rpm, 1 minute at 90rpm then back up in 5rpm increments to 100rpm followed by all out efforts for 3 minutes. To be fair there was little respite between efforts and this kept you on your toes.

Cadence based training is not something I have particularly worked on and it showed. I hate low cadence work. I naturally spin at about 100rpm and this is where I generate my optimum power – grinding out power at low rpm puts so much fatigue on the legs but does act as a good way to simulate hill climbing.

The session was a mix of in and out of the saddle efforts across the 45 minutes, all accompanied by a set of metrics on the screens at the front of the studio and a good soundtrack – of which I have since requested! The metrics tracked your bike number, power, cadence and energy used. A way for you to see how you compared with the group and for Janine to keep an eye on anyone slacking!

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Data lovely data… | http://www.cyclebeat.co.uk

I was so thankful I decided to pick a bike on the front row. I am used to having a dedicated fan to train with (the effects of heat and using a fan when training is very interesting – perhaps I will save this for another blog post though) and I was lucky to get myself directly in front of one. It was very warm in there.

By the end of the session I was spent. I had of course tried my hardest to finish top of the leader board but I didn’t – a respectable 3rd on my first session (clearly piped to the post by regulars…) with the following stats;

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Not a bad workout session….

Unfortunately, no way of getting a copy of the metric in any other format than they above so I needed to figure out a way to get an idea for the TSS I would have accumulated over the 45 mins. A way I have done this in the past was to use a HR generated TSS score, but alas I forgot to wear it – I had to default to the Spin Loose TSS Calculator and use my average power to get an indication of TSS.

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TSS Calculator…72 TSS on a rest day…oops!

If I didn’t have a dedicated training set-up at home and wanted the flexibility of classes throughout the day this would be an option for me going forwards. That being said, since the first session I have been again and have signed up for several more sessions over the coming weeks.

What I really like about these sessions is that they cater for everyone. You get out what you put in. It doesn’t matter if you are doing 300w or 100w, it’s all relative and you are getting fitter and stronger in the process, and that, ultimately, is what it’s all about.

There is an introductory offer if you know an existing member for 10 days unlimited classes – if you are interested in trying it out let me know and I might be able to put you in touch with an existing member.

 

London – Brighton – London #CycleToMIPIM

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Effortless….if only that was true!

After 6 hours of driving from Newcastle (where I was at BIM Show Live 2017 with bike in tow – a blog post on this to follow shortly), I arrived in Croydon about 11pm feeling knackered, with the prospect of about 5 hours sleep before I needed to be up and on the road again – just this time not in the car.

5am came too fast and I stepped out of bed and fumbled around until I had managed to find where I had taken out my contact lenses whilst doing my best effort to fall over the collection of stuff I had left at the bottom of the bed.

The purpose of today’s ride was to act as a ‘trial day’ at MIPIM. I had certainly learnt lesson 1 – get your kit sorted, clearly laid out and in order before you go to sleep the night before, no matter how tired you are. I had been warned.

Setting off to the Greyhound Inn at nearby Carshalton, I was grateful for being able to get a lift. The thought of having to lug my day bag on my bike for the circa 6 miles was too much at this time of the morning – I needed to man up!

Stepping out into the cold morning air of the car park, I was met by the familiar sound of cyclists kitting up, clip clopping around the tarmac, rummaging in bags to find the perfect pair of gloves on what was set to be a day of changeable weather and nearly falling over trying to put on overshoes – the last point may have been just me…

Once kitted, time to roll into the Greyhound Inn, get registered and tuck into a cup of coffee and, in my case, a full English vegetarian breakfast – like the highly-tuned athlete I am…

Groups assigned, coffee drank and numerous reminders from the ever helpful Club Peloton team, it was time to get back out in the cold for our rider briefing and to load our day bags into our designated ride lead vehicle.

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Into the morning light we rode…

This ride had been organised by Club Peloton as a Cycle to MIPIM training ride, ideally suited to giving a small flavour of the kind of experience the #CycleToMIPIM trip will provide. Each group (of which there were 2 made each of 35 riders) has an event director, lead vehicle, 9 ride captains, medic and mechanical van – a rather impressive set up.

The planned ride was to take us out to Brighton via Ditchling Beacon, across the top of the South Downs, through Devil’s Dike and back to London – circa 100 miles with 1600 metres of climbing…against the elements, of which there were a few – and not just the weather!

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circa 100 miles with 1600 meters climbing awaited us

From setting off at 7:45am, it was clear very quickly that progress was going to be slow due to the time of day, traffic and of course everyone getting used to being on the road in such a big group. Rush hour ‘beaten’, we were soon out in the countryside, scaling some small bumps in the road early to wake the legs and lungs and keeping an eye on conditions above.

Moving my way around the bunch as we passed through the countryside, the usual icebreaker questions between new riders could be heard;

“So, is this your first MIPIM?”

“Think we will be lucky with the weather?”

“Just how bad is this Ditchling Beacon?”

And of course, the exchange of names that if you are anything like me went in our ear and straight out the other. I’m thinking of making a name sticker for my helmet…it would be great if others could too!

The ride was split into 4 sections to replicate the ‘staged’ approach to the main Cycle to MIPIM event across 6 days. The first and last stops provided an opportunity for coffee with the middle stop unsurprisingly providing lunch! I can say we were in no way going to go hungry or thirsty on the ride – I have never eaten so much over the course of 100 miles!

Before long the morning coffee stop and come and gone, friendships had already been formed and the group settled into a rhythm on the march towards the infamous Ditchling Beacon climb. Having all kept together on the smaller slopes in the morning, we were given the nod to be able to ride at our chosen pace up Ditchling and asked to re-group at car park at the top.

As the metaphorical flag dropped, 4 riders shot off the front and myself and a few others took chase. I felt good. I had sat in the bunch for much of the ride thus far and my HR had not tipped far over 120bpm (apart from when a car got rather too close for my liking on a descent earlier!) so it was time to go full gas.

From training I knew the effort that was required to maintain a good pace up the climb. The first challenge was to try and get a wheel to tow me up the first section. A bit of out the saddle sprinting brought me up to the initial chasing bunch and from there we started to tap out the climb. Some riders starting going backwards and just as I was about to do the same a rider came past giving me the impetus to jump on their wheel and keep the power down, even if my legs were screaming by this point.

Lesson 2 of the day, I had been warned about the false summit. Did I listen? Nope. But alas, after realisation I couldn’t quite stop yet I powered through, around the final bend with the car park in sight.

It was at this point I spotted Emma from the Club Peloton team taking photos. As you know, us cyclists are a vain bunch. It didn’t matter how much my legs hurt, or if my heart was in my chest, I fixed up, got out the saddle and tried to make it look as effortless as possible in the hope it was captured on camera…I know sad eh.

But for all that posing, I was very happy with my effort – a 6:05 over 1.4km at an average of 9% with an estimated power of 342 watts.

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Ditchling Beacon…

After re-grouping in the car park at the top, it was time to tackle some cross winds going across the South Downs at Devil’s Dike. At some points I was physically leaning into the wind trying not to get thrown off the bike into the adjacent ditch…or even worse another rider. In hindsight, 60mm deep section aero wheels are not the best for riding in in England, in February…

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Legs sore, lungs burning…

Putting Devil’s Dike to task it was time for lunch. A circa 15-20km cruise (of which most seemed downhill) to the Singing Hills Golf Course. A feast awaited at lunch. Vegetarian lasagne with garlic bread and mixed salad – an absolute treat and more than enough – but to top it there was also sticky toffee puddling with custard!

Lesson 3 of the day – you can sometimes eat too much on a ride…

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Food glorious food…and too much of it!

There was not much to report between the lunch break and the next coffee stop. I was regretting eating so much and the weather had begun to look like it was closing in. Tales of the ride so far from elsewhere in the bunch circulated and catching up with others you had met in the morning kept the ride on track.

Arriving at the last stop of the day, the heavens opened. Despite trying to hide in the pub for as long as possible there was no way out – rain jackets adorned and lights switched on with were homeward bound. About 35km to go.

And those first 20km or so passed quite quickly, despite the weather. As I mentioned to a fellow rider, it could have been worse, we would of still been in work and not on our bikes. At least we were out enjoying ourselves…well at least until about the final 15km where we encountered the same problems we did in the morning…traffic, traffic, traffic and ever increasing amounts of rain!

Slowly trundling and filtering where possible through the London commuter traffic of Reigate and neighbouring suburbs, we rolled into Carshalton at about 5pm and descended upon the pub to get dried off. It was at this point I felt for the people who had ridden to the starting point. I was glad my lift was on its way to pick me up…

A fantastic day out, a real insight into the organisation that goes behind putting on the Cycle to MIPIM event and it has only made me more excited to be a part of such a fantastic experience and the opportunity to raise money for an extremely worthwhile cause.

 

 

 

Week 04 Training Report

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Vitals

Current Weight: 71kg 
Current FTP: 234W
Current W/kg: 3.29
Current Max HR: 202
TSS Completed: 462.9
Current Fitness: 42.6 CTL
Current Fatigue: 76.7 ATL
Current Form: -28.0 TSB
Weeks Till MIPIM: 6

Report

I was not feeling so great with the training this week. I’m not sure why, it just felt a little like I was not doing enough, which is strange seeing as I completed very close to the same amount of TSS as the previous weeks despite having 2 rest days – but this feeling all went away at the end of the final workout of the week…

This workout is what is called a ‘Breakthrough Workout’

A workout intended to cause a significant, positive, adaptive response. These workouts can take 24+ hours to recover from. Take extra caution with these workouts.

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Week 04

Week 04 was a bit of a mixed bag. It started off feeling quite light with some sweet spot interval sessions getting progressively harder through the week as I visited The Lab for the second time and began the ‘nutritional trial’ proper, putting myself through the ringer with 60 mins at ~90% of FTP followed by an all out 10 mile TT. It all then got really hard with the introduction of an over/under interval workout on Saturday – a mix of sweet spot work just below and just over FTP – the best type of workout to cause positive FTP adaption.

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Under, over…Under, over – Warlow…Ouch!

And so to the Breakthough Workout…I was meant to do a long endurance ride on the Sunday, but with the Cannon Hill CC Club Run cancelled due to the weather, my regular Zwift ZHR Winter Miles Ride not on and other stuff like falling asleep on the sofa (it is a Sunday eh?!) I was unsure as to what could fill the void. There was always the option of 2.5 hours on the trainer alone but this just didn’t appeal. So, off to Zwift Events it was to see what was on this evening…

A quick glance and for some unknown reason the idea of a race up a mountain seemed like a good idea and in no time I was signed up for the ZHR Great Watopian Mountain Goat Road Race as a Cat C – 2 laps of the flat course followed by circa 500m climbing straight up the mountain to the Epic KOM – about an hour or so of pain…and it really was painful!

There really nothing like a bit of competition to push you. Gassing it up the mountain side, trying to keep on the wheel of the rider in-front of you for any slight speed increase and minimising of effort is exhilarating – you really need to experience it to understand how good a platform Zwift really is.

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The climbing hurts just as much as in real life…believe me!

So, why was this a ‘Breakthrough Workout’? Well…it really did validate that the training I have been doing is paying off. At first review of the results, I appeared to of finished 9th out of 40 odd which was pleasing, but after the results had been validated, I had actually finished 3rd! Result!

Furthermore, over the course of the race I managed to set a new FTP of 234, a circa 10w increase over my previous FTP (and therefore a new W/kg of 3.29) showing a tangible demonstration that hard work pays off.

I am now also on the cusp of moving up to Cat B…

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3rd…a podium! I will take that…

So what started as feeling like a disappointing week ended up being a very successful one. It’s now time to put my legs up and have a beer…I think I have earn’t it this week! 🙂

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CTL Ramp Rate 4.6 | 42.6 CTL | 76.7 ATL | -28.0 TSB

 

 

Back to the Lab again

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2 weeks worth of ‘nutrients’…

“Good morning, here is a sample of my urine….”

6:45am…that is the first thing I said to a human being as I entered the Birmingham University Lab for my second visit. This time it was not for an orientation though – it was the real deal.

I’m sure they are used to it, but it still feels weird handing over a sample of your urine. All that was going through my mind was, “Is it the correct colour? Perhaps I shouldn’t of had that second beer last night! Dammit why didn’t I drink water this morning…why does it have to be warm?!”

Anyway…on the agenda today (and to be repeated for the next 3 visits) was;

  • 60 minute steady state effort at 205w, followed directly by
  • 10 mile Time Trial, blind to all data besides distance

Suffice to say, I am feeling like I have had a good workout as I write this blog post on the train back…

Having kindly taken all the bike measurements from last time I was in the lab, the bike was set and with my own pedals thrown on, me kitted up and heart rate monitor paired, I felt at home and before I knew it was I peddling and settling in for the 60 minute effort.

With the “20 songs you had forgotten that you love” being shown on the TV, the hour ahead was bound to fly past…that was until I realised there was a reason I had forgotten the songs in the first place…

60 minutes cycling may not seem a lot, but on a fixed bike with not much more than yourself to keep you company things can get tedious, quickly. Thankfully when I am at home I have a number of ways of keeping myself occupied but in the lab I try my best to hold a conversation where possible between gasps for air and water.

At 15 minute intervals a snapshot of the HR was taken alongside a minutes worth of me breathing into the Vo2Max machine to correlate my Vo2 with the previous test I did. I also needed to give my RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion), a scale used to measure the intensity of exercise.

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Example RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale

Within minutes of finishing the steady state effort, removed of all data (cadence, power, etc…) and left with only distance, I was required to crack on with the 10 mile Time Trial effort. Riding without this data is so hard. Riding purely on perceived effort and feel is something that I am no longer used to – not knowing what power I was putting out, being able to know if I could manage that power for a certain time and not knowing my leg speed (cadence) made it a challenge. This coupled with the fact the effort is done in silence as so to limit external factors affecting performance made for a tough 10 miles.

As ever, when the effort was over I felt I could of pushed harder…next time

And what of next time? Well I have left with my first batch of ‘trial nutrient’ to take over the next 2 weeks and then I will return to the lab, to do all of the above again and to see if whatever I have been taking has had an effect whatsoever 🙂

Of course, I have no idea if I am taking the trial nutrient or the placebo!

 

What’s my fighting weight?

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Remember kids…

I’m not great at nutrition…I think that has been evident by some of my posts to date and also my excused for rest days (read: beer induced)…but I am trying.

The term ‘fighting weight’ is often used to describe the ideal weight at which an athlete should be for their given sport and discipline. This is a term I see thrown around all over the internet and it got me thinking.

There is no doubt I am loosing weight (and putting on muscle) through my training – but am I loosing too much? And at what cost to me power to weight (W/kg) ratio?

I thought it was time to investigate further… Off to Google it was…

 

It didn’t take long for Google to turn up something that peaked my interest. An article from 2013 (so a little dated, but a good starting point) over on Bradley’s Raw Data Feed website – another cycling related blog!

Caveat: I have no idea how much science this is based on but its ‘fun’ nonetheless…a proper n+1 scenario as Trainer Road’s Nate Pearson would say!

“I spend a lot of time helping riders achieve their ideal weight because the rewards are so great,” says Hunter Allen, founder of the Peaks Coaching Group and coauthor of Training and Racing with a Power Meter. “Every extra pound you carry above that weight makes you 15 to 20 seconds slower for each mile of a climb.”

The article sets out 3 ways in which a cyclist can look to determine their ideal cycling weight in the ongoing struggle for increased performance;

  • Loosing a little weight
  • Getting lean and a little mean
  • Competing at a high level

So with no further ado…lets apply them to me (where I can);

Loosing a little weight…

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Loosing a little wright…courtesy of Bradley’s Raw Data Feed

My ideal weight: 72.38kg

Competing at a high level

The creator of the Cycling Bible series coach Joe Friel analysed top cyclists to see what weight they carried per centimetre of height and found this range:

  • Male – 375g to 430g per cm
  • Female – 340g to 394g per cm

My ideal wight: 65.6kg-75.2kg

So, what have I learnt? Well it seems that my current weight seems to fall within the ranges at which I should be (based on these metrics at least), but the real analysis will be found in undertaking a test that will give me my body fat percentage…

You might be asking, why did you leave out the ‘Getting lean and a little mean’ test in the above – well this second test relies on calculating your body fat percentage and currently that is a problem because I don’t have access to anything that can do that for me…yet!

Never one to not try to find a solution to a problems – we have a couple of options (with varying accuracy);

  • DEXA Scan
  • Bio-impedance scales/ gadgets
  • Skin Calipers

Let’s not beat around the bush here – the gold standard is a DEXA scan (essentially a full body X-ray), but these come at a cost and certainly cannot be undertaken in the comfort and privacy of your bathroom – about £130 for a 20 minute scan to be precise – I am sorely tempted!

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Scan me….!

A DEXA scan will give you data based on the amount and distribution of fat (including visceral fat) and lean mass in your body split by regional breakdown and android and gynoid sub-regions alongside providing an indication of bone density – who doesn’t want to know all that right?!

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Example DEXA scan output report courtesy of Body Scan UK…all that data!

The second option is the the use of a bio-impedance scale/ gadget such as a set of Tanita body composition monitors in the form of home scales. This approach, rather than a X-ray uses;

An electrical signal that passes quickly through the water that is present in hydrated muscle tissue but meets resistance when it hits fat tissue. This resistance, known as impedance, is measured and input into scientifically validated Tanita equations to calculate body composition measurements. Depending on the monitor, body composition measurements are provided in under 20 seconds

This is a very quick and easy approach and a pay once, get as many results as your want approach – very tempting again. To find out a bit more about how this type of approach works take a look here.

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Tanita scales in action (others are available…I think)

The final and most cost effective approach will be to get hold of a pair of Skin Calipers. This simple device will allow me to take skin-fold measurements at predefined points on my body to determine by body fat percentage. Whilst not as accurate as either of the previous options, it should be quick and easy.

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Skin-fold measurement…delightful!

Where do I go from here? In the first instance I am going to get some of Skin Calipers as they are low cost and will suffice for now, but I have noticed they have a DEXA scanner at Birmingham Uni…time to get scheming 🙂

Expect when the Skin Calipers arrive to see Body Fat% as a stat on my ‘Vitals’ of my Workout Report blog posts going forwards.