Upper arm circumference is associated with race performance in ultra-endurance runners

Br J Sports Med. 2008 Apr;42(4):295-9; discussion 299. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2007.038570. Epub 2007 Jun 28.


Objective: To investigate the association of anthropometric parameters to race performance in ultra-endurance runners in a multistage ultra-endurance run.

Design: Descriptive field study.

Setting: The Deutschlandlauf 2006 race in Germany, where athletes had to run 1200 km within 17 consecutive days. There were no interventions.

Subjects: In total, there were 19 male Caucasian ultra-endurance runners (mean (SD) 46.2 (9.6) years, 71.8 (5.2) kg, 179 (6) cm, BMI 22.5 (1.9) kg/m(2)).

Main outcome measurements: Determination of body mass, body height, length of lower limbs, skin-fold thicknesses, circumference of limbs, body mass index (BMI), percentage skeletal muscle mass (%SM), and percentage body fat (%BF) in 19 successful finishers in order to correlate anthropometric parameters with running performance.

Results: A significant association of upper arm circumference with the total running time was found (p<0.05, r2 = 0.26). No significant association was found with the directly measured anthropometric properties body height, body mass, average skin-fold thickness and the circumference of thigh and calf (p>0.05). Furthermore, no significant association was observed between the running time and the calculated parameters BMI, %BF, and %SM (p>0.05).

Conclusions: In an ultra-endurance run over 1200 km within 17 consecutive days, circumference of the upper arm was the only factor associated with performance in well-experienced ultra-endurance runners. Body mass, BMI, body height, length of limbs, skin-fold thicknesses, circumference of limbs and the calculated percentage body composition of skeletal muscle mass and body fat showed no association with running performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry*
  • Arm / anatomy & histology*
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Skinfold Thickness