A human’s bodyfat level largely dictates the look. And that alone can be very misleading. Take a sumo wrestler for example; science proves that they have the largest fat free muscle mass (FFMI) levels of all humans! But they also have very high levels of bodyfat. So, the muscle fact isn’t obvious by the eye. Despite the high muscle mass this body composition type comes with lots of health risks too.
At the opposite extreme we have shredded influencer’s that seem to live their entire lives looking like the human version of a diamond. Yet at these levels of bodyfat their performance sucks! In addition, hormones, hunger, energy, libido, sleep and motivation are also poor which has a compounding effect. But these side effects might be worth it if their income relies on being in shape! Alas, yet again, their look tricks you into believing they are at peak health and strength.
Low Bodyfat Side Affects
- All day hunger
- Poor sleep
- Low libido
- Drop in training performance
- Plateau or even a loss of muscle/strength
- Raised irritability with friends and family
- Lower energy and in turn productivity
- Destabilized moods
- A loss of motivation to work hard
- Malnourished body (faster ageing)
- Unbalanced sex hormones (which is terrible for muscle building)
- High Ghrelin (hunger hormone) and low Leptin (satiety hormone) which is terrible for fat loss
- A loss of passion for exercise/healthy living
- Mental fog
Aesthetics Live in many Shades of Grey
Unfortunately, these days we can’t tell what normal bodies look like! For example your favorite influencer, actor, athlete or sportsman/woman:
- Could be using PEDS, it’s not hard to believe when actors get in insane shape in 3-6 months packing on 20+ pounds of muscle (that would naturally take 3 years!)
- Lance Armstrong, Maria Sharapova, Ben Johnson to name a few, prove PEDS in sports very much exist.
- In addition, nowadays there’s app editors or even the incredible computer generated imagery (CGI)
- Then there’s things like best; angles, lighting, tans and pumps
Furthermore, we never see those we look up to in more vulnerable positions such as taking a dump… Or slouching on the couch eating pizza. But we see ourselves everyday in these positions so it’s easy to fall into judging oneself. At our Body Reach Instagram on occasion we’ll show reality images (that we would otherwise be happy to delete!). Because it shows a balance between posting your best. And showing others your normal. Consequently, positively contributes to body normalizing.
The Bodyfat Solution
So, now we know not to confuse aesthetics with health and peak performance. But then what is a good goal to aim for? That’s both physically appealing, mentally sound and physiologically healthy? In my humble opinion I believe the optimal range is as stated below. And in this blog you can see some body fat percentage visuals.
10-15% is the range for men. At 10% you will look incredible and certainly beach lean, possibly even at 12%. Although, at 10% you might look somewhat like you don’t lift in clothes! But when clothe-less you will look insane especially if you have a few years of smart lifting up your sleeve. At 15% you will look bulkier and like you definitely lift when clothed but not as beach worthy. Personally, I feel great until I go sub 10%.
Females naturally have around 8-10% more bodyfat than men due to reasons such as reproductive health. A great range to aim for is somewhere between 18-23%. And again, circa 18% will have you beach lean!
One thing to be aware of is that as we get beach lean we’ll still have pocket areas of fat (my lower abs for example). And these areas will stand out even more because we are generally lean all over! Moreover, this is completely genetic and these ‘stubborn’ pockets of bodyfat aren’t really stubborn. They are your sort of like your last reserves and will ONLY dissipate if you stay in your calorie deficit longer. But this is when the true anguish of getting lean begins. For example, it might be your lower abdominal’s, love handles or the backs of your thighs that hold your last bits of fat even when beach lean. And unless you get stage lean (which I don’t recommend unless wanting to compete seriously) you won’t ever get rid of them. And this is why this topic is really important because at a point we have to accept some body fat discomfort.
Advice from a 15 Year Personal Trainer
If I can pass on some sound advice it would be that there is genuinely more to life than being shredded. Why trade an abdominal or two for the feeling of vitality and strength? Because honestly, a healthy body requires…healthy bodyfat levels. So, if you’re within the recommended healthy body fat ranges, accept that all the natural, normal folk will all have areas of ‘stubborn’ body fat. And this is perfectly normal! If you are higher than these body fat ranges, work moderately and sustainably until you get there with diet breaks when required.
TEAM BEACH LEAN!
What are your bodyfat targets? Have you been shredded before, if so tell us your experience below!
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