Body Shape Index (BSI) Calculator

Here's why your workouts do not work

In spite of doing tons of cardio, weight lifting and resistance workouts, you are not getting the desired results. Why? Because you are not pushing your body with the right intensity. This is where understanding the target heart rate helps. Our heart is always pumping. Even at rest. That is the resting heart rate (RHR). Research has shown that certain heart rate regimes have a direct correlation to the kind of fuel that the body utilizes for energy.

Know thyself first

But before you jump onto an exercise program it helps to understand your body fat profile. Every individual store body fat differently. There are skinny people who have too much invisible fat and there are big people who do not carry as much. It is very important that you first estimate your body fat percentage. You can also measure it directly using these innovative scales and hand-held devices for a more accurate estimate. You can also do it the old-fashioned way, which is equally accurate, but less expensive. There is also an easy-to-read digital version. Investing in one of these is sure to reap benefits with your overall regime. As a rough estimate, till your device arrives, try out our free Body Fat Percentage Calculator.

Know your RHR

Also important to note is your resting heart rate (RHR). How do you measure that now? Welcome to the new age of wearable electronics. There are numerous bands, straps, and devices that can be used to estimate resting heart rate. Sure, some smartphones, have integrated heart rate monitors, but they cannot track your heart rate continuously. So, such estimate of your resting heart rate is possibly inaccurate. Invest in a dedicated heart rate monitor. Or, if your budget allows, invest in a good integrated band that measures more than the heart rate. But most importantly, get one with a screen to continuously track your heart rate. Merely recording you heart rate for offline viewing is unlikely to help.

The weight-loss zone

In the Zone 1, the body is getting worked up, but at a very moderate intensity. In another words, this type of exercise is also known as Low Intensity Steady State (LISS). Naturally, it attempts to use the slowest burning fuel. You guessed that right. It uses your reserves of fat to take it through a long duration lower intensity workout. That is Zone 1 for you. It is crucial that you continuous monitor your heart rate to ensure that you are getting the right kind of workout. Scroll down to see our recommendations for continuous heart rate monitoring devices that have been proven to help reach fitness goals.

The weight-management zone

If you are satisfied with your fat profile, get working out in the Zone 2. That will allow you to maintain your weight and improve overall fitness. It will use the body fat and along with the more instantaneous energy sources such as sugars to give the heart a good workout. Heart is essentially a muscle, and working it out in the zone 2 will provide long term health benefits.

The shatter-the-adaptability zone

Finally, zone 3 is for High Intensity Interval training. You do not and should not continuously workout in zone 3. Our bodies adapt quickly to repetitive forms of cardio and other exercises. Hence, always working in zone 1 is unlikely to get results. This is the reason your hard-work is not working. The only way to bust this adaptability is to introduce rapid bursts of intensity followed by relaxation. So, you take your heart rate to the zone 3, and then bring it down to zone 1. And do this repeatedly. An example workout would be a fast sprint for 30 seconds followed by a relaxed walk for 30 seconds. Circuit training also helps in this regard. You follow a fixed sequence of workouts in rapid succession for a preset time and then you take a few minutes rest, followed by another round of the same or different circuit. We highly recommend Jackie's Personal Training Program on getting into Zone 3 and back to Zone 1 for maximal effect. For less than 50 bucks, it is an awesome deal for a life-changing workout. This is sure to get that excess body weight melted away and lead to a healthier, fitter you.

Do not kill yourself!

Note your maximum heart rate. It is crucial that you do not exceed this rate. There's only so much intensity that your heart can handle. Because the maximum heart rate depends on your resting heart rate, it is even more important to first measure your RHR. Don't skimp, get measured using some of our recommendations. Note that your RHR changes based on your fitness level. Athletes typically have lower RHR than unfit people. See what your RHR is telling you with one of our highly recommended devices. This is one gadget that you cannot do without.

For detailed information about target heart rate, read the article published by the American Heart Association .

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What is Body Shape Index (ABSI)?

Body Shape Index (BSI or ABSI), is an attempt to estimate health risks given the body weight, height and waist circumference. Inclusion of the waist-circumference makes ABSI a potentially better estimate of health implications as opposed to Body Mass Index (BMI), which only includes height and weight. Waist circumference is an indirect estimate of excess abdominal fat, which is a primary marker of health risks associated with obesity. In fact, it has been observed that waist circumference predicted mortality and health risks better than BMI and waist to height ratio, which ignores the weight. Research has shown that ABSI is highly correlated with premature death, even when adjusted for smoking, diabetes, blood pressure and serum cholesterol. In fact, the high correlation of ABSI with mortality has been shown to persist even across spectrum of age, gender (sex), and races.


BSI formula and information was originally published in PLOS and has been shown to be highly correlated with mortality rates.

What do the ABSI scores mean?

ABSI score is typically compared to the average score for individuals of the same age and gender. Thus, your health risk is measured relative to the relevant population. This is reflected in your health risk. A health risk of 1 means an average risk, while a health risk score of 2 implies that you are twice as likely to die than an american of same age and gender. The lower the health score, the better.

In terms of the percentile, a BSI percentile of higher than 70 indicates a higher risk of health disorders arising out of being overweight or obese.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), overweight and obesity are increasing in prevalence and rank fifth among the worldwide causes of death among risk factors, behind high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood glucose, and physical inactivity. According to the guidelines published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), using the same definition, considered that overweight and obesity are the second leading cause of preventable death in the USA, behind smoking.

Other alternatives?

A recent research study, completed in 2010, has shown that waist-to-height ratio is a another good predictor of cardiovascular risk factors in both men and women.

Also, body fat percentage is widely regarded as also a good estimate of fitness, as gender-specific guidelines are known.

Body mass index (BMI), is the older and more popular metric, but BSI is a better overall score and relates better to mortality risk.

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