Ideal Body Fat Percentage

body fat percentage chart

What is your ideal body fat percentage?

According the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) they have come up with a very simple body fat percentage chart that outlines from the essential body fat needed to survive to what is classified as obese. You should be able to use this body fat percentage chart to find your ideal body fat percentage based on your gender and age.

Average Body Fat Ranges for Males and Females
Gender Male Female Male Female Male Female
Age 18 – 39 40 – 59 60 – 79
Essential Fat 2% to 4% 10% to 13% 2% to 4% 10% to 13% 2% to 4% 10% to 13%
Underfat 5% to 7% 14% to 20% 5% to 10% 14% to 22% 5% to 12% 14% to 23%
Healthy 8% to 19% 21% to 32% 11% to 21% 23% to 33% 13% to 24% 24% to 35%
Obese 20% + 33% + 22% + 34% + 25% + 36% +

* Chart courtesy of the ISSA

Note: You may have heard terms like the following: Lean, ripped, shredded, contest shape, competition shape. If so, those terms generally refer to the category listed above as underfat. For example, if you are a male, who’s 25 years old, with significant muscle mass at 6%… not only are you lean, you are probably ripped, shredded and huge and possibly standing on stage in contest shape.

Body Fat Tips:

In the past few years, I’ve received many questions (mostly from males) asking if they should bulk or cut first. I use this chart as a reference in conjuction with their overall goals. I prefer to use my current body fat as a health gauge vs. my height vs. weight. If you are a tall skinny person with a rather unusual higher than normal percentage of body fat, you’d be very unwise to start bulking up and adding more body fat without first knowing the reasons why you might be in your particular situation. Using body fat as a measurement vs. other visual aids is more accurate, safer and will help monitor your overall muscle gains or fat loss.

* If you are a male or a female who’s looking to step on stage or just wants to look good for summer, then take a quick body fat percentage check. Using that, you can then determine your best option if it’s to cut or bulk.

* If you are at the top end of healthy or considered to be obese by body fat percentage standards, focus on burning the fat. Your goal should be to get healthy first and then adjust as necessary. If you are already at the top end of healthy and you want to “bulk up,” you’ll get stronger but you probably will add more fat to your body composition making you more at risk.

* Take a body fat measurement weekly or monthly to get a continual status update of your progress. When you start a new program you should take a new measurement for a baseline.

* Don’t let a body fat measurement control your life! It’s just one of many indicators of progress and/or health. A body fat caliper can be quite accurate with practice but seek medical advice in conjunction with your own findings.

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Categories: Natural Bodybuilding

  • Megan

    Do you have body fat percentages for female teenagers?

  • Megan

    Do you have body fat percentages for female teenagers?

  • http://www.nrgboost.nl/blog SaSh

    When you measure your body fat, it’s important that someone else does it for you, who is experienced. Possibly at the gym. If you want to do this frequently it’s also important that you do this at the same place on the body.

  • http://www.nrgboost.nl/blog SaSh

    When you measure your body fat, it’s important that someone else does it for you, who is experienced. Possibly at the gym. If you want to do this frequently it’s also important that you do this at the same place on the body.

  • http://vitanetonline.com/description/8891/vitamins/Pure-CoQ10-30/ solaray coq10 30

    I am familiar with this index as I used to work as a nutritional natural products consultant. Body fat percentage is an important index that tell us if we have the right weight or even a good health, if this index is not in a normal range for specific body dimensions, they it's a sing we should fix the problem.

  • Halfnelson

    My body fat 3 point caliper numbers totalled 36, what is my body fat%? 34 year old female. Thanks!

  • http://www.nobullbodybuilding.com Marc David

    I'd need to know your age, weight and the measurements of your Thigh, Tricep and Suprailiac that totaled up to 36mm.

  • http://www.nobullbodybuilding.com Marc David

    I'd need to know your age, weight and the measurements of your Thigh, Tricep and Suprailiac that totaled up to 36mm.

  • Deena

    I'm 5 foot 3 inches, 110 pounds and body fat % at 13%. I read different things depending upon where I go to read it. When I had a sedentary job it was 19% give or take a few and my weight at around 100 – 105. Now that my job is quite physical and for health reasons, I've gone to 95% vegetarian, even though my weight has increased and BF% decreased, I'm still basically the same size 0 – 1 in the US. I'm just trying to figure out if I'm ok. I'm approaching 40 years old and dont want to be unhealthy.

  • stupid skinny bitch

    Man keep that to yourself you are bragging

  • Guest

    There are some of us who work hard to maintain our health and understand that appropriate body composition is more important than size. A smaller frame can have to much fat and it isn't any healthier than a larger frame person with to much fat. Stop hating.

  • Fred

    22% body fat for a Male does not make you Obese. This is total rubbish. The actual official figure is 25% although even that is dubious.

  • overture23

    Really helpful thankyou.

  • MarineTrainee

    I’m 18 / male 5ft 11 i’m lean – training for the marines. i want to buld up i have 4.5 % body fat is this unhealthy or is it because i train 4-6 days weekly? i dunno what to do.
    Will supplement: test500 raise my body fat levels?

  • Ralph

    Wow, what a hateful person. Because she cares about herself doens’t make her stupid or a bitch. However, you saying as much makes you a jealous, envious and hate filled individual. Good luck with staying healthy with that bad attitude.

  • Korg

    Check out some calculators on the web if you’re just looking for a rough number. If you want to be more precise, talk to a health professional who can take the measurements for you; any reputable gym or health clinic will be able take those measurements very quickly—usually at no cost.

  • Whitneykw

    I am a 32 year old male that weights 150 and I am 5’11″ with a very lean and cut body with a 6.4% BMI and was told at L.A Fitness that I was unhealthy and that I should be at least 14% how accurate is this? I am just trying to stay the same size but keep my lean, cut body. Wouldn’t being at 14% make me bigger not as lean as I am now?

  • http://www.nobullbodybuilding.com Marc David

    You were told that being 6.4% BMI or 6.4% body fat was unhealthy? Completely different terms. I am just guessing you meant 6.4% body fat. But I can’t really make a comment unless you can clarify BMI or Body Fat was the term used.