Changes in markers of body composition of professional male soccer players during pre-season

Gary Paul McEwan*, Franchek Drobnic, Antonia Lizarraga, Antonio Gomez Díaz, Eduard Pons, Antonio Dello Iacono, Viswanath Unnithan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


To evaluate changes achieved in whole-body and regional (upper limbs, lower limbs, and trunk) estimates of body composition, twenty professional male soccer players (7 defenders, 7 midfielders, 6 forwards) underwent dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) analysis at the beginning and end of pre-season. Measures included: mass, fat mass (FM), fat-free mass (FFM), and body fat per cent (BF%). Players’ activity during on-field training sessions was monitored using Global Positioning System (GPS) units, with GPS data used to obtain estimations of energy expenditure (EE). Whole-body mass remained unchanged across the pre-season. Moderate significant increases and decreases were achieved in whole-body FFM (Pre: 59.58 ± 5.27 kg; Post: 60.61 ± 5.18 kg; p = 0.001; d = 0.87) and FM (Pre: 10.60 ± 1.88 kg; Post: 9.56 ± 1.81 kg; p = 0.001; d = 0.85), respectively. Moderate significant decreases were achieved in whole-body BF% (Pre: 14.4 ± 2.3%; Post: 12.9 ± 2.0%; p < 0.001; d = 0.94). No significant inter-positional differences were observed for the changes achieved in any global or regional estimate of body composition. Total EE was significantly correlated with ΔFM (r = 0.65, p = 0.002), ΔFFM (r = 0.46, p = 0.03), and ΔBF% (r = 0.67, p = 0.002). The total EE of pre-season training accounted for 42%, 21%, and 45% of the variance in ΔFM, ΔFFM, and ΔBF%, respectively. 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
Pages (from-to)166-171
Number of pages6
JournalSports Medicine and Health Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2020


  • DXA
  • association football
  • team sport
  • GPS


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