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Examples of Body Fat Percentage

Body Fat. We all want to obliterate it, melt it, burn it off and send it packing. Body fat has its place but in excess it clogs things up, squeezes important organs and pretty much gives us an express ticket to low self confidence, illness and at worst an early out from this world to the next. Of course, not all body fat is bad and is, in fact, a natural and ESSENTIAL element to our physiology. In fact, anything lower than 3-ish percent for men and 10% for women is considered dangerous.

Which, of course, brings us to body fat percentage- that mystical number where sub 12% for guys and 20-ish% for the ladies gets you to “Hey… I look like that Guy/Girl in that magazine” land. And really, as far as aesthetics, isn’t that “The Dream?” I’d say for most people it is, but unless you’ve got a reference… numbers are just kind of numbers. Even if you’re measuring, you could be off a few % points.

First, thanks to Marc Perry. HDIGF always makes a point to use original content across the board but I made an exception here and wanted to give credit where it’s due. Marc put in a lot of man hours scouring photos for good body fat representations for both men and women and it’s something I couldn’t improve on, so thanks to him you’ve got a GREAT visual guide I’ll explain more below.

Take a look– where are you at? Above your goal? Below? Better than you thought you were? Either way, you can now visually measure your goals

Body Fat Percentage Examples: Men

Fat-men

A few things to keep in mind while looking at these pics- they are “generally” representative. That means everyone carries their body fat differently and you may not look like these images, exactly. Still, they give you a pretty good idea.

A couple things to keep in mind- general “visual indicators”:

  • 3-4% body fat is crazy low. We’re talking vascularity (visible veins) and muscle striation (seeing the bands in muscle) that’s pretty indicative of those dead people Body Exhibits… which means it’s very unsustainable (dehydration alert!) and makes most people go “EEEEW”. Unless you’re hell-bent on winning that physique show to the extreme, this isn’t generally a percentage most people strive for.
  • 6-7% body fat is generally the “diced” and “shredded” area. The vascularity doesn’t detract from muscle definition and striations are present but not as pronounced. This percentage takes a lot of work and sacrifice and is generally the % you see most fitness models achieve for shoots. You’re seeing vascularity in the lower abs here. Be prepared for people to tell you your face is looking “thin”. This is where my Mom saw me and began asking if I was eating enough.
  • 10-12% body fat will still get you compliments of “ripped”. The pack is still visible though not as pronounced and you’re still looking pretty good and still have those cool “forearm veins”.

Beyond that, you begin softening up and upwards of 20% is where you’ll generally say you’re “soft”, “doughy” and “fat”- and the body fat percentage “puffs” and “rounds” you out from there.

Body Fat Percentage Examples: Women

 

Fat-women

Women carry more fat than men. Period. Body fat percentages between men and women are not created equal, which is why this second image is probably my favorite– it’s a reality check that at while 20-25% body fat sounds like a lot, with women, that’s usually the place most women would be very happy. Beyond that we’re talking, as with mean, specific eating and nutrition to get a “leaner” look.

  • 10-12% body is “lady shredded” and comparable to a man’s 2%. It’s not generally long-term healthy and can really start to mess with the “Lady Cycles”. I don’t know if that kind of aesthetic is ever worth what it could do long term, but similarly to men, it’s here you’ll find a lot of vascularity (veins appearing) and serious muscle striation.
  • 15-17% body fat is fitness model territory. A dedicated focus to sustain and for the dedicated (fitness professionals), this is generally a “photo ready” physique for women- arm vascularity, muscle definition, etc.
  • 20-22% body fat shows stomach definition (not necessarily a six pack but a toned, flat stomach). This is generally indicative of a physique most women are very happy with- still showing toned definition (like an athlete).
  • 25% body fat is in the average range- not particularly athletic “looking” but certainly curvier. If you’re at 25%, you’re still DOING FINE. Below this is where athletics and modelling goals/nutrition become much more consistent and dedicated to.
  • 30% body fat is “the higher end of average”. Fat is stored and hips, thighs and arms becomes “fuller”. Exceeding 30-ish gets into “muffin top” territory and is generally where most women will acknowledge yes, they’ve got some fat to lose.

So what are your body fat % goals? Are you ready and willing to achieve them? There’s not doubt you can… it’s just a matter of getting started and staying focused.

Questions? Feel free to email me here or at dan@howdoigetfit.com. I make it a point to respond because not getting feedback is overrated. What’s not overrated? Fitness support. If you’re looking for it and want to become part of a larger, kick-butt community, you can make me your (free) Beachbody Coach right here. You can also find me on Facebook, Google + and Pinterest.
 

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  1. […] Fats: One of three essential micronutrients (including protein and Carbohydrates). While stored as energy it cushions organs and body parts and insulates the body. We need a percentage of body fat. […]

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