The Importance of Weighing Scales in Sports
From professional athletes to playing football with friends, sports are an integral part of society that allows us to socialise with the world around us.
This article will examine the importance of weighing scales in sports, including how scales are used to monitor a competitor’s weight in professional martial arts, and how they can be used as part of a daily training programme.
Why should I use a weighing scale?
For years, weighing scales have provided one of the easiest and most reliable measures of general fitness. Individuals can carefully monitor weight fluctuations simply by standing on a scale.
Weight checks are just one part of personal fitness. Most common weighing devices such as the standard bathroom scale cannot determine the health effects of weight changes. It may be the case that fat has been gained rather than muscle.
A basic scale cannot put weight values into context, whilst more professional medical and gym scales have built-in BMI calculations. This can precisely calculate weight in relation to height and body type to show if you are considered underweight or overweight.
What types of weighing scales are used in sports?
There are many varieties of scales that can be used for sports – from personal digital scales for everyday use (such as those found in kitchens and bathrooms) to more sophisticated ultrasonic scales with BMI calculation.
Personal scales are used for everyday activities, from portion control and dieting to basic weight monitoring. These products include health food scales, portioning scales and bathroom scales for use in the home. These scales are easy to operate and convenient for recreational use in home environments.
BMI (Body Mass Index) scales
BMI scales are sophisticated scales that provide detailed information about a user’s weight in relation to body mass. There are several types of scales with BMI calculation, from column or physician scales to wheelchair scales for measuring the BMI of users with limited mobility. These scales are typically found in public facilities such as gyms, spas, health centres and care homes.
Certified scales have been approved by an authorised, regulated body, such as the Food Standards Agency, the Medical Devices Directive, or a governmental agency. There are many types of approvals, depending on how the scale is used. For example, retail scales used to buy or sell goods by weight in the United Kingdom require EC type approval. Devices used for medical purposes require Class II or III approvals as specified by the Medical Devices Directive. In professional sports such as boxing, competitors are weighed on approved scales to ensure they compete in the correct weight class.
Why do athletes need to be weighed?
Athletes undergo rigorous training before they compete. Due to heavy training schedules, athletes require more energy than the rest of us. That means they need to consume larger quantities of food containing more calories. Scales help athletes check their weight when they’re on special diet programmes set by nutritionists and coaches. By monitoring weight, athletes stay at the optimum designated weight without any drastic fluctuations that might affect performance.
Types of sports that require weighing scales
Many Olympic sports use certified weighing scales to adhere to competition rules and regulations. Some sports use equipment such as javelins, hammers and shot puts that must be weighed to verify consistency. To meet competition standards, men’s javelins must be at least 260cm long and weigh at least 800g, while women’s javelins need to be a minimum of 220cm long and weigh 600g.
Certified boxing scales are required to measure the weight of boxing competitors, who are separated into weight classes specified by the World Boxing Association. Weight classes include heavyweight (200lb-unlimited), cruiserweight (176-200lb), lightweight (130-135lb), and featherweight (122-126lb). Most standard boxing scales are used to specify a weight class; however, the most common types are adjustable column or mechanical scales such as Adam Equipment’s MDW.
Jockeys are required to be within a certain weight range for professional competitions. This depends on the weight limit of their mount, which is established by racing authorities. In the United Kingdom, the Mounted Games Association of Great Britain refers to guidelines set by the International Mounted Games Association when examining a rider’s eligibility. Weighing scales certifed by the MGAGB and IMGA can be used for horse racing.
Archers may require archery scales (also called bow scales) in order to measure a bow's draw weight. Archery scales are essentially hand held hanging scales with a below hook attachment and a peak hold feature. The scale can be used to measure draw weight by placing the hook around the bow string and drawing back the bow string as if to let loose an arrow, once you have reached the sweet spot, the scales peak hold feature can record the weight value which can be used to calculate draw value. An alternative method for this would be to suspend the archery scale from a ceiling attachment, place the hook around the draw string and pull down towards the ground.
In fishing competitions, fish species, size and weight determine competitors’ placements. Catches are weighed on certified fishing scales containing an under-scale hook attachment that can be hooked through a fish's gill plate for more secure weighing. See our blog post “How to Choose the Best Fish Weighing Scale for Your Needs” for more information.
In Formula 1 racing, certified digital scales are used to weigh drivers, fuel and ballast, as well as by scrutineers to ascertain the overall vehicle weight meets established limits. Cars must weigh a minimum of 733kg (including safety equipment and driver), and the weight must remain the same throughout an event. Large platforms, truck scales and axle pads are commonly used to weigh vehicles and automobile parts. For more information on weight criteria in competitive racing, see the Formula 1 rules and regulations page.
Certified weighing scales are required in weightlifting competitions. The International Weightlifting Federation specifies that scales must have a weighing capacity up to 200kg and be precise up to 10g. For the Olympics and other official world competitions, two identical scales must be placed side by side near the weigh-in room to assess competitors’ weights. Heavier dead-lift weights will typically use high-capacity platform scales or floor scales that have been approved to competition standard.
Weighing scale calibration
All weighing scales should be calibrated regularly to ensure accurate results. Scales used in competitions must adhere to competition guidelines for verification and calibration. For specific requirements, we recommend referring to the competition’s rules and regulations.
How are scales calibrated?
Scales and balances with internal calibration come with a built-in calibration feature. Externally calibrated devices require approved calibration weights. For large-capacity platform scales, test block weights are needed for calibration, while smaller bench and compact scales typically use M1 class calibration weights. For more information, see our article on calibration.
Inscale’s recommended weighing scales for sports
CPWplus Boxing Scales - Adam Equipment (Product on special offer!)
Adam's CPWplus boxing scale combines the perfect platform size with a display hold feature for recording the weight of competitors in boxing, wrestling and other martial arts. This scale is ideal for boxing clubs and gyms that need to regularly track the weight of individuals for competition weight class regulations.
IBC bench scale - Inscale
Our own IBC counting scale is perfect for counting large amounts of identical parts. For this reason, the IBC can be particularly useful for counting arrows in archery to ensure there are a correct amount in number and weight.
MDW digital gym scales - Adam Equipment
The MDW digital gym scale is well-suited to any leisure centre or gym environment and offers precise weight and height measurement. Adam’s MDW 300L comes complete with BMI calculation, perfect for boxing and martial arts competitors who need to maintain their weight class and overall physical condition.
Astro food portioning scales - Adam Equipment
The Astro is a purpose built food portioning scale for precise diet control. This scale offers simple and easy-to-use functionality whilst its compact size makes it a perfect addition to any kitchen worktop.
CH hanging Scales - Kern
Kern’s CH hanging scale is a portable, compact device with peak hold functionality and under scale hook attachment. This product makes for a perfect hand held bow scale for measuring the draw weight of bows in archery competitions. These scales can also be hooked through a fish’s gill plate to take more stable weight readings during recreational or competitive fishing.
CBK bench checkweighing scale - Adam Equipment
Adam’s CBK is a highly-versatile weighing scale that can be used to check weigh sports equipment to ensure it meets competition standards. Olympic sports equipment such as javelin, hammer and shot put need to be weighing on an approved checkweighing scale like the CBK to ensure guidelines are met.
PT platforms - Adam Equipment
Adam’s PT weighing platform offers large weight capacities and platform sizes that are capable of recording an accurate weight value of dead weights during weightlifting competitions, or ballast in motor racing. These platforms can also be combined with Trade approved weight indicators to ensure the object or components being weighed are of an approved weighing standard.
(Note: Competitions may have their own rules for approved equipment classification, it is important that you refer to your competition guidelines when purchasing a scale!)