View Full Version : Body Fat % goals

June 17th, 2002, 03:50 PM
I've heard over and over that body fat is much more a measure of fitness than the # pounds you weigh. So, a year ago when I got back into swimming and fitness goals I bought a good quality body and weight measuring scale. Both stats. have gone down over the year but my body fat still seems high compared to what I would expect the progress to be. I'm now 185 lbs. (34 yo, 5'11" tall) and 21% body fat. A year ago I was 205 and 28%. 21% seems high. I think many athletically minded people get to 10% or below??? Is there a web site or place to see what body fat goals or averages are for various fitness levels??? My goal is to eventuall knock off about 15 more pounds but have no clue what I should target as a body fat % goal. Any advice/information is appreciated! I would like to think the scale is broken but I don't think that is the case.

Ion Beza
June 17th, 2002, 04:00 PM
The medical definition of 'ideal male', I was told, is 15%.

One year ago, at 6 feet and 162 pounds, I was measured at 14%.
162 pounds is not an indication of 14%, but an indication of 'light frame' as in light skeleton.

Competitive male swimmers who train six hours per day, get to in between 3% and 8%, but is good to have some fat for accessing a source of energy.

June 18th, 2002, 10:51 AM
Most sources will say that for males, under 20% is adviseable, and over 20% is "too much". But let's be honest... if you went from 28% to 21%, that's a fantastic improvement. Rome wasn't built in a day. At some point you need to congratulate yourself for _that_ progress, and not get over-eager. You also may need to give your body some time to maintain steady state at 21% before you can really move on.

Also note that hydration can affect your body fat percentage, especially if you're using one of those scales that measures it electronically. I routinely bounce between 17% and 20% depending on how hydrated I am. (Which is why it's generally adviseable to weigh, etc., yourself at the same time of day each time.)


July 3rd, 2002, 10:27 AM
I'm 5'9" and currently 165 with 8.5% body fat. I've been down to 3.5% and found it very uncomfortable, both for everyday activities and working out. When your body fat is very low, you start to strip away the fat around organs and lose water that your body needs. Your body does not want to be extremely low in body fat. I'd hesitate to go lower than 7-8% if you want to stay healthy.

At any rate, the focus of your changes should be your exercise and nutritional habits rather than body weight or fat measurements. If you eat properly (quality and quanitity) and exercise a reasonable amount (these take some experimentation as each person is different), your body will adjust itself. Don't try to force your body into something it does not want to be.

A more reasonable measure of fitness might be your swimming times, performance in practices, overall feeling while working out, or heart rate.

July 3rd, 2002, 06:17 PM
Does anyone out there know of good target percentages for women? I know it's considerably more than men.


Ion Beza
July 4th, 2002, 12:23 PM
Originally posted by Guppigirl
Does anyone out there know of good target percentages for women? I know it's considerably more than men.

I was waiting for somebody to answer this, and because it's not forthcoming yet, by default I will answer it, even though I paid less attention to women's conditions than men's.

I believe that the medical definition of body fat for an 'ideal' female, is 23%.
Olympic caliber female swimmers who train 6 hours per day for years, are at 15%.