Changes in body composition in elite soccer players in response to pre-season training

Gary McEwan, Franchek Drobnic, Antonia Lizarraga, Antonio Gómez Díaz, Eduard Pons, Antonio Dello Iacono, Viswanath Unnithan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This study sought to:
1) evaluate changes in markers of body composition over the pre-season period within elite soccer players; and
2) examine the impact of outfield playing position upon these changes.

Twenty professional male soccer players (7 defenders, 7 midfielders, 6 forwards) were assessed at the beginning and end of the pre-season period (38±10 days) for whole-body and regional estimates of body composition using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Whole-body measures included: mass, fat mass (FM), fat-free mass (FFM), and body fat per cent (BF%). Regional estimates were taken from the upper limbs, lower limbs and trunk. Whole-body mass remained unchanged across the pre-season duration with no differences observed for any regional estimate. Moderate significant increases in whole-body FFM (Pre: 59.58±5.27 kg; Post: 60.61±5.18 kg; P=0.001; d=0.87) were mediated through concurrent increases in FFM of the lower limbs (P=0.034; d=0.51) and trunk (P=0.000; d=1.17). Moderate significant decreases in whole-body FM (Pre: 10.60±1.88 kg; Post: 9.56±1.81 kg; P=0.001; d=0.85) resulted from reductions in the upper limbs (P=0.006; d=0.69), lower limbs (P=0.000; d=0.97) and trunk (P=0.006; d=0.70). Moderate significant decreases were evident in whole-body BF% (Pre: 14.4±2.3 %; Post: 12.9±2.0 %; P=0.000; d=0.94) with reductions occurring in the upper limbs (P=0.006; d=0.68), lower limbs (P=0.000; d=1.03) and trunk (P=0.001; d=0.87). No significant inter-positional differences were observed for any global or regional estimate of body composition. These findings suggest that the pre-season period is a suitable time for initiating favourable alterations in body composition following the off-season in elite soccer players.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2018
EventInternational Conference on Sports Rehabilitation and Traumatology 2018: Football Medicine Outcomes: Are We Winning? - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 2 Jun 20184 Jun 2018


ConferenceInternational Conference on Sports Rehabilitation and Traumatology 2018
Internet address


Cite this

McEwan, G., Drobnic, F., Lizarraga, A., Gómez Díaz, A., Pons, E., Dello Iacono, A., & Unnithan, V. (2018). Changes in body composition in elite soccer players in response to pre-season training. Paper presented at International Conference on Sports Rehabilitation and Traumatology 2018, Barcelona, Spain.