Body composition assessment of English Premier League soccer players: a comparative DXA analysis of first team, U21 and U18 squads

Jordan Milsom, Robert Naughton, Andy O’Boyle, Zafar Iqbal, Ryland Morgans, Barry Drust, James P. Morton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)


Professional soccer players from the first team (1st team, n = 27), under twenty-one (U21, n = 21) and under eighteen (U18, n = 35) squads of an English Premier League soccer team were assessed for whole body and regional estimates of body composition using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Per cent body fat was lower in 1st team (10.0 ± 1.6) compared with both U21 (11.6 ± 2.5, P = 0.02) and U18 (11.4 ± 2.6, P = 0.01) players. However, this difference was not due to variations (P = 0.23) in fat mass between squads (7.8 ± 1.6 v 8.8 ± 2.1 v 8.2 ± 2.4 kg, respectively) but rather the presence of more lean mass in 1st team (66.9 ± 7.1 kg, P < 0.01) and U21 (64.6 ± 6.5 kg, P = 0.02) compared with U18 (60.6 ± 6.3 kg) players. Accordingly, fat mass index was not different (P = 0.138) between squads, whereas lean mass index was greater (P < 0.01) in 1st team players (20.0 ± 1.1 kg · m−2) compared with U18 players (18.8 ± 1.4 kg · m−2). Differences in lean mass were also reflective of higher lean tissue mass in all regions, for example, upper limbs/lower limbs and trunk. Data suggest that training and nutritional interventions for younger players should therefore be targeted to lean mass growth as opposed to body fat loss.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1799-1806
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number17
Early online date16 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


Cite this