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Oct 13
Last Updated on 14 February 2014

Body fat - what is it ?

In its simplest form: body fat is the amount of fat in your body, compared to everything else.

Everything else includes your organs, muscles, bones, tendons, water, and so on.
Both men and women carry different amounts of body fat percentage.

A bodybuilder who is minimizing body fat percentage could have a percentage down as low as 3-4%,
A male athlete could be in fantastic shape and have 10% body fat, while a women at comparable
level of athleticism and appearance might be at 18-20% body fat. To take the comparison to the other
end of the spectrum, an overweight male at 30% will look vastly different than an overweight woman at 30%.
What’s a good amount of body fat to have? Here is the generally accepted chart for
women and men when it comes to body fat percentage:

Women / Men
Essential fat 10-12% / 2-4%
Athletes 14-20% / 6-13%
Fitness 21-24% / 14-17%
Acceptable 25-31% / 18-25%
Obese 32% plus / 26% plus

In what I’m sure is news to nobody, body fat is essential to survival - fat protects your internal organs, provides
you with necessary energy stores in times of peril, and more. “Essential fat” means the minimal amount of fat
required for survival - Anything less than this amount would mostly likely result in organ failure, but even approaching
this amount of body fat is dangerous.  If you want to look healthy, you’ll want to be in the fitness range. Once you
get into the upper ends of “acceptable” and “obese,” a decrease in body fat percentage would benefit your health.

So, determining what’s an optimal goal for you:
• If you are trying to look like an bodybuilder, Aim for a body fat percentage of 6-8% (men) or 13-15% (women).

Note: your athletic/strength gaining performance will most likely suffer at this percentage, and might not be worth it.
• If you are interested in getting that coveted six pack, drop your body fat down to the 8-11% range for men and

15-17% range for women.
• If you are an athlete and interested in optimal athletic performance, aim for a body fat percentage around 15% (men)

or 20% (women). 
• If you are just interested in looking pretty good and feeling pretty good, anything less than 18% for men and anywhere

in the 20-23% range for women should get you the “hey, lookin pretty good!” response from your friends 
• For the ladies! If you are concerned about menstruation or fertility, it has been said not to drop below 15% body fat. 

How do you calculate your body fat percentage?
The question I get asked a lot.
1) Body Fat Calipers
2) Body fat scales and monitors

VERY IMPORTANT: If you are going to start testing your body fat percentage, do whatever you can to test yourself

under the same conditions each and every time. For example: every Monday morning, on an empty stomach, while
drinking a single glass of water. This way, even if you’re not getting the correct body fat percentage (due to user error),
you’ll at least get a consistent incorrect body fat percentage and can calculate how much you lost or if you are progressing in the right way.
Why don’t you contact us at Axis Fitness to discuss your nutritional needs or even work out your bodyfat %.

Tel 0191 236 6040.

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