Body composition and bone mineral density of national football league players

J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Jan;28(1):1-6. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000299.


The purpose of the present study was to examine the body composition of National Football League (NFL) players before the start of the regular season. Four hundred eleven NFL players were measured for height, weight and lean, fat, and bone mass using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Subjects were categorized by their offensive or defensive position for comparison. On average, positions that mirror each other (i.e., offensive lineman [OL] vs. defensive lineman [DL]) have very similar body composition. Although OL had more fat mass than DL, they were similar in total and upper and lower lean mass. Linebackers (LB) and running backs (RB) were similar for all measures of fat and lean mass. Tight ends were unique in that they were similar to RB and LB on measures of fat mass; however, they had greater lean mass than both RB and LB and upper-body lean mass that was similar to OL. Quarterbacks and punters/kickers were similar in fat and lean masses. All positions had normal levels of bone mineral density. The DXA allowed us to measure differences in lean mass between arms and legs for symmetry assessments. Although most individuals had similar totals of lean mass in each leg and or arms, there were outliers who may be at risk for injury. The data presented demonstrate not only differences in total body composition, but also show regional body composition differences that may provide positional templates.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adiposity*
  • Adult
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Bone Density*
  • Football / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity
  • Male
  • Upper Extremity
  • Wisconsin
  • Young Adult