Body fat percentage may be better gauge of success than weight loss

September 30, 2017

Although weight loss can be an excellent gauge of the success of your fitness plan, change in body fat percentage is a much better indicator of what you have accomplished. A great example of this is the results achieved by Amanda Fisher in her recent body transformation. Despite the fact that Amanda was not overweight, she still wanted to be in much better shape, so she signed up for our program and began her journey in early June.

Technically, Amanda's transformation started a few years ago when she first began training with us. She had previously done mostly classes and circuit training workouts on her own with the emphasis on cardio, but we changed her routine to more weight training and cut her cardio back to fewer, more intense sessions. This accomplished two things: It allowed her to gain more quality muscle and increased her metabolism so she could burn fat more efficiently.
Amanda's path had many obstacles, starting with a slap tear in her rotator cuff that she sustained a couple years ago, which set her back and prevented her from achieving her goals. “I was using kettle bells when the weight got away from me and injured my shoulder,” she said. “Then it took almost a year before I was properly diagnosed and began my road to recovery." At the time, she could not do any upper-body exercises, but she never gave up, and we designed a workout to keep her going that consisted of mostly legs, core and a little bit of cardio. When the shoulder began to get better, we started adding low-impact exercises like bands and other things that aided in her recovery but didn't reinjure her shoulder. After an additional year of hard work, we began bringing back many of the more complex exercises that she used to do, and by spring 2017 she was ready to go all in and start her transformation.
Amanda is small in stature, standing only 4-feet-9-inches, but she has a large amount of muscle mass, and when she was given a proper diet combined with a good weightlifting program, her body responded very quickly. In just six weeks she dropped 5.9 percent body fat, and by the time she reached week 12 she lost a total of 9.6 percent. She finished the transformation at a very healthy and lean 14.9 percent body fat . To put this in perspective, that's nearly 1 percent a week for three months, which is an amazing pace, but what's even more interesting is she only lost 8 pounds in the process. This proves that even though the scale can be a helpful tool, without a proper body fat test, she might have never have known how dramatic her final results really were.

On a side note, Amanda had previously been annually tested for body mass index by her medical insurance company to determine her fitness level for annual medical insurance discounts, and she was shocked that they always considered her overweight. When we tested her in the Bod Pod, a much more accurate method, even at her worst she was 26 percent, which still puts her in the moderately lean category. This points out the inaccuracy of using the body mass index method. The BMI uses measurements and a formula to measure overall health, but it's very inaccurate for people who are tall or short, or carry a lot of muscle mass. "Most medical practices use BMI to gauge the success of your health, which is very frustrating, because I carry a lot of muscle and the results are never accurate for me," said Amanda.

In addition to the change in her outside appearance, she also became healthier on the inside too. “I have always had high blood pressure, but after the transformation I was able to cut my medication in half,” she said. "There is no doubt that I am now in the best shape of my life. The structure of this program, the testing in the Bod Pod to see my progress, and the coaching I received helped me achieve my goals. Now I want to learn more about why this worked and use the information to maintain the great results that I achieved."

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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