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Fit 4 Life | Three fitness stats everyone should know how to measure

Published:Wednesday | January 23, 2019 | 12:00 AMMarvin Gordon/Contributor
The speed at which the heart beats can be used as a benchmark for cardiovascular fitness, but it also serves as an indication of exercise intensity

Understanding fitness-related measurements makes health goals much easier to accomplish. In fact, one should never start any fitness programme without an understanding of how these measurements affect training, nutrition and results.

Here are three health-related statistics everyone should know how to calculate.


Balance between training and nutrition is required if one is to achieve anything from a fitness programme. This means the amount and balance of calories we consume must support the workout programme and the desired goals.

While calorie counting is far from an exact science, the following facts remain:

• A caloric deficit is necessary for weight-loss

• A caloric surplus is necessary for weight-gain

• The balance of calories consumed determines the balance of weight loss or weight gain, for example, whether muscle or fat makes up the bulk of weight loss or gain.

With this in mind, it is wise for anyone who takes part in any fitness programme to have the knowledge of and an appreciation for the importance of caloric balance and how to calculate his/her approximate caloric needs.


One oft-overlooked fitness-related statistic is heart rate. The speed at which the heart beats can be used as a benchmark for cardiovascular fitness, but it also serves as an indication of exercise intensity. In fact, monitoring heart rate is a way to ensure that exercise remains safe and effective.

The first heart-rate related stat to determine is heart-rate max. This is the highest heart rate the average person can safely handle.

Calculating heart-rate max is easy: Simply subtract your age from 220.

With heart-rate max in hand, you can use heart rate to guide exercise programmes. Generally, heart-rate should remain between 50 per cent and 85 per cent of the max in order for cardiovascular exercise to remain safe and effective. Beginners should train at the lower end of the spectrum. Working at 50 to 70 per cent of heart-rate represents low to moderate intensity exercise. At 70 to 85 per cent of heart-rate max, exercise is considered vigorous and should only be attempted after building fitness by training at the lower end of the scale.


There are many ways to calculate body fat percentage, but what do you do with this information. Well, you can use it to guide your body-composition goals.

Realistic body-composition goals are important for success. Simply giving yourself a target body fat per cent is not enough. Converting body fat per cent goals to pounds is useful for guiding training and expectations.

To do this, we first calculate body fat and lean-body mass in pounds. We then determine goal weight by dividing the lean body mass by one minus the percentage (as a decimal) of body fat we want to lose.

This is better expressed with an example:

If a person who weighs 180 pounds with 30 per cent body fat wants a five per cent reduction in body fat, the calculations are as follows:

- Bodyweight (180) x body fat per cent (.30) = body fat in pounds (54)

- Bodyweight (180) - body fat in pounds (54) = Lean-body mass (126)

- Lean body mass ÷ (1 - body fat percentage goal (.25) ) = Goal weight (168)

Therefore, in order to lose five per cent of their weight as body fat, this person would need to reach 168 pounds without losing lean-body mass.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email:;