Anthropometric features and body composition of young athletes practicing karate at a high and medium competitive level
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The aim of the study was to examine the anthropometric features and body composition of athletes practising karate at a high and medium competitive level. Our study was carried out on a sample of 35 subjects practising karate and aged from 16.0 to 32.5 years. This sample was divided into two groups: group 1 (n=14 elite athletes) and group 2 (n=21 amateur athletes). Various anthropometric measurements were taken (weight, height both standing and sitting, diameters, circumferences and skinfold thickness) from which different anthropometric indices were calculated (body mass index, Scelic and Grant indices, arm muscle circumference and area), and the somatotype was then determined. The body composition of each subject was assessed using the skinfold technique and the Jackson-Pollock (J-P) and Sloan-Weir (S-W) equations. The two groups of athletes showed very similar measurements regarding anthropometric characteristics. Only the Scelix index presented a significantly different value in the two groups (49.6±1.3 for group 1 vs. 51.1±1.3 for group 2; p<0.01). Group 1 showed a mesomorphic-ectomorphic somatotype, while the amateur athletes presented a balanced mesomorphic type. Moreover, a lower percentage of fat mass was more frequent in the first group (J-P=8.1±2.4%; S-W=8.9±3.3%) than in the second one (J-P=9.8±1.6%; S-W=11.2±3.7%), although the differences between the two groups were not significant. We conclude that group 1 is characterized by a slightly prominent vertical development of the skeletal frame. This could be an anthropometric characteristic that is best suited to meet the specific functional requirements of this sport. Moreover, both groups of athletes are characterized by a low percentage of fat mass, particularly the elite group.