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Body Fat Percentages: pictures of women & men


Posted by Cags R under General on 29 September 2012 at 11:00 PM

There are some Challenges on Tribesports which are all about getting your body fat percentage below a certain level. This is an excellent measure of health and fitness (and much more accurate than scales such as BMI) but there are certain levels you should not go below: fat is necessary for your body to function.

Men and women's essential fat levels are different; essential fat means the minimum amount of fat that you need to survive.

Men can live at 3% body fat though not comfortably - the body does not naturally maintain this level. Whereas, women need around 8% but would be unable to menstrate and it is definitely not a healthy body compositon.

The higher essential fat levels of women combined with the fact that male testosterone levels build larger muscles contribute to the size and shape differences between men and women.

Why difference?
Women have a higher level of fat due to breast tissue and cushioning around the uterus.

Marc Perry from the website Built Lean has put together some very useful images to demonstrate the varying body fat percentages in women and men:


BuiltLean fat percentages of women


BuiltLean the fat percentages of men

These images are just examples of what these body fat percentages can look like - different body shapes with gain weight in different areas to others. Typically men are more likely to have excess fat on their guts whereas women will have it on the thighs, hips, buttocks and guts (sorry ladies!).

You can find full descriptions of different body fat percentages in the Built Lean blog and check out more Fat vs Muscle facts in the Tribesports blog too!

  • Encourage

    encouraged this.



    Hi Cags, the images are very helpful. Sometimes it is hard to visualize and make a distinction when numbers and percentages are quoted, but to actually see what that looks like is quite startling. I find myself hovering over the images, trying to decide which I like aesthetically, but this might be different from what is the most healthy range. Of course, that would be dependent on so many factors. Thanks for the information :-)

    encouraged this.


    Great article Cags...........would have liked images of athletes really as they r my role models

    Jane H encouraged this.


    a very helpful images now i know mine 20 -22% is not bad thanks for the information:)


    Good article. Exploring the different methods used and the pros and cons of each would be a nice follow up to this.


    I'm a visual learner so that was very helpful, thank you!

    Jane H encouraged this.


    Good to see what the actual percentage looks like...I have a body fat of 20%, and when reading various articles on the internet I thought mine was a bit high with regards to the ammount of training I do..however looking at the pictures it's actually quite low.

    Jane H encouraged this.


    good to know what it looks like on another body, I'm at 15.5%!

    Jane H and Tracy H encouraged this.


    Now we know wher we stand and what yet to achieve...


    Great article, I see wehre I 'd like to be...just a matter of time!

    Eddie W encouraged this.


    And I used to think having fat was wrong...

    Eddie W encouraged this.


    Thanks Cags. Sharing credible information is so important. Fit is healthy, not skinny or overweight.

    Eddie W encouraged this.


    This is a great article! I think that I set goals for myself that are somewhat arbitrary - because I am not so sure what it means. Do 250 crunches in one day. Loose 2 kg, run 10 K in under 55 min, etc. I set goals b/c it is a way of defining the activity that I take on next. This article really gave me pause and an "ohhhh" - very helpful for the goal setting process. Thanks for this!


    How can I calculate mine body fat percentages?


    Hi @emityy, tests using skin fold calipers can indicate body fat percentage, these are pretty standard in training for Personal Trainers though you can perform the tests on yourself.

    Ema S encouraged this.

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