BMI, a Performance Parameter for Speed Improvement

Sedeaud, Adrien; Marc, Andy; Marck, Adrien; Dor, Frédéric; Schipman, Julien; Dorsey, Maya; Haida, Amal; Berthelot, Geoffroy; Toussaint, Jean-François
February 2014
PLoS ONE;Feb2014, Vol. 9 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
The purpose of this study is to investigate the association between anthropometric characteristics and performance in all track and field running events and assess Body Mass Index (BMI) as a relevant performance indicator. Data of mass, height, BMI and speed were collected for the top 100 international men athletes in track events from 100 m to marathon for the 1996–2011 seasons, and analyzed by decile of performance. Speed is significantly associated with mass (r = 0.71) and BMI (r = 0.71) in world-class runners and moderately with height (r = 0.39). Athletes, on average were continuously lighter and smaller with distance increments. In track and field, speed continuously increases with BMI. In each event, performances are organized through physique gradients. «Lighter and smaller is better» in endurance events but «heavier and taller is better» for sprints. When performance increases, BMI variability progressively tightens, but it is always centered around a distance-specific optimum. Running speed is organized through biometric gradients, which both drives and are driven by performance optimization. The highest performance level is associated with narrower biometric intervals. Through BMI indicators, diversity is possible for sprints whereas for long distance events, there is a more restrictive aspect in terms of physique. BMI is a relevant indicator, which allows for a clear differentiation of athletes' capacities between each discipline and level of performance in the fields of human possibilities.


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