What is the ideal body fat for me? That is a question I get asked a lot. People want a number but aren’t always happy with the one I give them. Most people have extremely unrealistic goals when it comes to this number. Male clients always want to get to single digits and female clients have been told somewhere along the line that 15% is the perfect number. Are these numbers truly realistic/ tangible? Are they even the correct number associated with their actual goal? In this article I hope to break my clients and fitness goers in general away from these Everest sized goals, and bring them back down to reality.
The number one question should be, “What is your goal?” This determines everything you do in the gym from strength and cardiovascular programs to nutrition plans. If you’re wanting to look good at the neighborhood pool or fit into that dress that’s been hanging in the closet since college, you don’t have to set OURTAGEOUS goals in the body fat loss realm but something more manageable. Single digit body fat percentage for males and 15% or below for females is considered bodybuilding and figure competitor status. Would that be impressive? Hell yeah! But is it maintainable when you reach it or even needed to reach your goal? The answer is no. Most males would be surprised at how lean and fit they would look between 12-17% body fat, and women around 17-23% body fat. The best part is you won’t have to kill yourself 24/7 365 days a year to get there and keep it. Yes it will take hard work in the gym and learning how to eat properly but once you figure it out or work with a qualified trainer, you will be shocked with your look, the way you feel, and surprised at how you can continue to enjoy life. Don’t get me wrong if you want to get to those more extreme numbers, we can achieve them. One thing to keep in mind is once you get there; will you be able to maintain it and not stress about every grain of rice on your plate? I can’t answer this question for everyone but from a bodybuilder’s point of view, the answer is no. Yes we look amazing on stage and would love to keep the washboard abs for years to come. It’s not realistic. One thing people don’t realize is bodybuilders and figure models get that body for an event, not to keep for years to come. We have either a competition we are trying to win or a photo shoot we are preparing for. The day of that competition we are at our weakest and most fragile. That’s why we put on 5-10% body weight post show in the first month. Trying to bring our hormones and body fat levels back to a safe place where we can maintain or start to put muscle back on.
The take away message from this is know your goal and what it really takes to get there. Don’t beat yourself up about the ups and downs along the way. It is suppose to be enjoyable and a life journey. Focus on the training, nutrition challenges, how you can customize both to yourself, and if a certain number happens along the way great but it’s not what will truly make you happy in life. Remember this saying as your setting up your workout or meal prepping for tomorrow, “It ‘s not about the destination, but the journey.”
– Cody Temples