Examples of Body Composition Exercises

Woman exercising on weight machine

Assessing body composition takes into consideration the distributions of lean body mass and fat mass. Lean body mass includes muscle, bone, blood and everything that is not fat. Obviously, it is better to have more lean muscle than fat. Determining your body composition will help you identify what you need to do to get the physique you want.

Assessing Body Composition

Determining your lean mass to fat mass ratio may be done in a variety of ways. The hydrostatic test measures body fat by weighing your body in a special underwater tank. The more body fat you have, the more your body will float. This test is accurate, but expensive. Bioelectrical impedance measures the resistance to the flow of electrical current through the body. Fat is a poor conductor, so the more fat there is, the higher the resistance reading will be. The skin fold test, which is commonly conducted by personal trainers, measures the size of various skin fold areas. This test is comparatively less accurate than the others, but it is less expensive. Personal trainers that perform this test are often more skilled doing it and therefore return more accurate results.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is a good body composition exercise to reduce body fat. High intensity training, or the HIiT method, reduces more visceral fat than moderate-intensity exercise according to the March 2012 issue of the “Journal of Sports Science & Medicine.” Visceral fat is located around the organs and more detrimental to health than subcutaneous fat, which is located just under the skin. High-intensity interval training is a type of endurance exercise such as running, running stadium stairs, stair-climbing, sprinting or any aerobic exercise done at an intensity level of seven or higher on a scale of 10. Run on a treadmill or road between 70 to 95 percent of your maximum capacity for 30 seconds or up to five minutes. Rest for the same amount of time as your exercise interval or more. The goal is to be completely rested before starting another HIIT interval. The total time training should average around 22 minutes. Train with this method at least three days per week. Most aerobic exercises may be incorporated into HIIT training.

Resistance Training

Muscle building helps increase lean mass and reduce fat mass. Reducing fat and building muscle boosts your metabolism. HIIT training can be used for resistance training also, but is not necessary if you are using HIIT training as part of your aerobic program. Weight training should be done at least two days per week, recommends the Harvard School of Public Health. Upper body exercises include biceps curls, lateral flies for the shoulders, chest press and triceps extensions. Lower body resistance exercises work the leg muscles. The leg press is a multi-joint exercise that works the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Other leg exercises include lunges, leg extensions and leg curls. Resistance training can be performed on machines or by using free weights. Alternate resistance training and aerobic exercise days to reduce repetitive orthopedic stress. For best results, work your upper body one day and the lower body the next.


Before starting any exercise program, consult your doctor or health care provider. Before exercising, perform a quick 10-minute warm up and stretch to reduce the chance of injury. In addition, consulting a personal trainer to asses your body composition and develop a personalized training program will help you get started with a targeted body contouring program.