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Forget your BMI score - Use Fat Free Max Index - FFMI

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Forget BMI. It is old science and a huge waste of time. I am 5'10" 225+lbs and below 10%BF. My BMI score would put me in the obese range! 

FFMI stands for Fat Free Mass Index. The following excerpt(s) is open source information approved for distribution.

This Fat free mass index FFMI calculator computes the muscle mass index for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts based on weight, body fat and height.

How does this Fat free mass index (FFMI) calculator work?

This is a health tool that is able to assess your body mass while also taking into account muscle and fat mass. There are three factors that are being used in the calculations and these are the weight, body fat percentage and height.

What is FFMI and what does it show?

First of all we should start by mentioning that this is an index used to account for the amount of muscle mass one person carries in correlation to their weight and height. It belongs to the class of body weight indexes along with the BMI but it takes things to a different level and becomes much more specific.

It also addresses one of the criticisms of BMIs which is that two persons with different weights and heights can have the same BMI but different fat/ muscle amounts. BMI can class a person with a lot of muscular mass under a higher class, maybe a negative health indication regardless of body type because it doesn’t consider the difference of tissues and only uses the overall weight.

In trying to address these problems, studies have been made, as cited in the references section, on steroid and non steroid users, bodybuilders in contest shape, to determine an index and its range, something that could adapt to specific body masses.

Besides the formula of FFMI and adjusted FFMI it was concluded that a normal average index score for males is around 19 while everything going above 25 is indicative of steroid usage.

This also marked the beginning of a gold criterion screening standard for steroid use in bodybuilders. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a person cannot attain naturally a score of 30 but it is highly unlikely.

Basically this index helps track fat loss progress as well as muscle building processes you might be going through and is often used by athletes, fitness enthusiasts or body builders.

FFMI interpretation and norms for men

As discussed above, the proposed studies have reached the following conclusions in regard to what the scores mean about the body condition of the subjects. These scores are now used in practice and provide useful guidelines to everyone who wants to know where they stand in terms of muscle mass:

■ 16 – 17: below average

■ 18 – 19: average

■ 20 - 21: above average

■ 22: excellent

■ 23 – 25: superior

■ 26 – 27: scores considered suspicious but still attainable naturally

■ 28 – 30: highly unlikely scores to be obtained naturally without steroid usage

Example calculation of fat free mass index

Let’s take for example a fitness enthusiast with a weight of 180 lbs, 12% body fat and 5 ft 10 in height. The result from the above form will be

- Lean mass = 71.85 kg / 158.40 lbs

- FFMI = 22.78

- Adjusted FFMI = 22.91

When trying to make all sorts of calculations and you want to discover how much muscle mass you can build at your stature you can try different numbers in the weight and body fat fields and see which combination will take you to a value close to 25, which is considered an obtainable FFMI score without any chemical intervention.

Therefore this calculation can provide useful information about the muscle mass.


1) Schutz Y, Kyle UU, Pichard C. (2002) Fat-free mass index and fat mass index percentiles in Caucasians aged 18-98 y. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord; 26(7):953-60

2) Kouri EM, Pope HG Jr, Katz DL, Oliva P. (1995) Fat-free mass index in users and nonusers of anabolic-androgenic steroids. Clin J Sport Med; 5(4):223-8.




Edited by HotLava808
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“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it”

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Nice drop. I used to use BMI in the passed until I learned that it just makes tall people fat and short people skinny. This was exactly what I was looking for. I love how it was derived from Bodybuilders/athletes pre-steroids. Very interesting, considering that I land on the last line before steroid usage was required. I have only been using gear for a few years. 

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