Fat-free mass index in users and nonusers of anabolic-androgenic steroids

Clin J Sport Med. 1995 Oct;5(4):223-8. doi: 10.1097/00042752-199510000-00003.


We calculated fat-free mass index (FFMI) in a sample of 157 male athletes, comprising 83 users of anabolic-androgenic steroids and 74 nonusers. FFMI is defined by the formula (fat-free body mass in kg) x (height in meters)-2. We then added a slight correction of 6.3 x (1.80 m - height) to normalize these values to the height of a 1.8-m man. The normalized FFMI values of athletes who had not used steroids extended up to a well-defined limit of 25.0. Similarly, a sample of 20 Mr. America winners from the presteroid era (1939-1959), for whom we estimated the normalized FFMI, had a mean FFMI of 25.4. By contrast, the FFMI of many of the steroid users in our sample easily exceeded 25.0, and that of some even exceeded 30. Thus, although these findings must be regarded as preliminary, it appears that FFMI may represent a useful initial measure to screen for possible steroid abuse, especially in athletic, medical, or forensic situations in which individuals may attempt to deny such behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Anabolic Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Anabolic Agents* / urine
  • Androgens* / administration & dosage
  • Androgens* / urine
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Placebos
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Sports Medicine
  • Substance Abuse Detection
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Testosterone / analogs & derivatives
  • Testosterone / urine
  • Weight Lifting*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Androgens
  • Placebos
  • Testosterone
  • testosterone 17 beta-cypionate