Our stature and body shape, especially our waistline, is a reflection of our body fat percentage. The higher the body fat percentage, the wider the waistline. People often go through different diet programs and training regimens tailored to specific body types(ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph) and body fat percentages.
However, one of the most frequently asked questions, is how do I know and determine my body fat percentage? A common goal for anyone who steps foot in the gym is to LOSE BODY FAT FOR GOOD. Body fat is the fat that we can see in the mirror. The less body fat we have, the more “cuts” you will be able to see. The higher your body fat levels, the more fat that is covering our muscles. To see cuts you need to shrink the layer of fat that is directly under the skin, and that covers our muscles.
How to Calculate Body Fat Percentage
One of the most accurate and cost-effective ways to learn your body fat percentage is with a caliper. There are several other ways to take your body fat. Underwater weighing, DEXA scan, bioelectrical impedance machines, and calipers. Calipers are designed to clip the body fat and measure the fat under the skin. There are various pinch tests. I recommend using a four or seven-point caliper test. Regardless of whatever method you use the critical element is consistency. It matters much less what the body fat number says as long as every time you check your body fat; it’s moving in the right direction down! Try to be as consistent as possible when taking your measurements. Try to do them under the same conditions, for example, first thing in the morning after using the restroom. This will eliminate any discrepancies with inconsistencies and fluctuations throughout the day.
What are the Standard and Ideal Body Fat Percentage for Men and Women
Someone might ask, why do I need to know my body fat percentage? It is necessary to see the level of your body fat percentage to choose which diet plan and training routine to do.
For men, the body fat percentage includes:
- Bodybuilder About to Compete: 3-4 %
- Ripped Ab Look: 8-10%
- Athletic with Basic Cuts: 12-15%
- No Cuts: 15%+
For women, the ideal body fat percentage includes:
- Bodybuilder About to Compete: 8-12%
- Figure Competitors: 15-17%
- Toned and Lean: 17-20%
- No cuts: 20%+
These numbers are not the end-all-be-all. Some men have thicker abs than others and their abs may show through the skin at higher body fat levels. Same goes for women; some women hold fat in areas that are not readily seen while others may read low but have a lot of fat in one area.
Dangers and Implications of Low Body Fat Percentage
Just like anything else, too much of anything is never a good idea. Too much body fat and you will have a slew of medical issues, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, but what about the opposite. Can being too low be wrong as well? Even though we may not like it, body fat is essential for our bodies. Fat secretes hormones regulate appetite, insulin sensitivity, and control our body weight. Fat is also a form of stored energy acting as a reserve for back up energy. Even body fat does insulate our bodies working to keep us warm and also serves as a layer of cushion for our vital organs. Fat also ensures the absorption of Vitamin A, D, E, and K.
Some of the dangers of body fat percentage that are too low includes:
- Hormone issues
- Low Sex drive
- High cortisol levels
- Low energy
- Slower metabolism resulting in no weight loss
- Overtraining feeling
- Consistent feeling of cold
Healthy and Productive Ways to Lower Your Body Fat Percentage
Now that we know the importance of body fat let’s discuss how we can safely and quickly reduce our body fat percentage. When it comes to losing body fat, it all boils down to our diet. 80% of what we see in the mirror is based on our nutritional habits. You need first to determine how many calories you are currently taking in. I recommend keeping a detailed food journal for three days. For these three days write down everything you consume (be as honest as you can be). Along with that include the calories, protein, carbs, and fats. You want to be able to track these significant macronutrients. After you have the daily totals for three days, add the totals together and divide that number by three. That will give us the average amount of calories you are currently consuming.
Let’s say you get an average of 2000 calories a day with 200 grams protein, 50 grams of fat and 310 grams of carbs. This is what it would take for you to maintain your body for where you are now. I recommend deducting 200 calories from the total and begin your fat loss from that point. This will give you a right accurate way to determine your beginning fat loss numbers.
The next vital point is not dropping your calories too low too fast. When you cut your calories too quickly, you risk putting your body in a state of reaching metabolic adaptation. Your fat loss will stall out rather quickly if you lose too much too fast. I recommend making small changes every 1-3 weeks. Something as little as losing 10 grams of carbs can make enough difference to reduce your body fat.
If you’re looking to do this as fast as possible, I hate to burst your bubble, but fast results do not usually end well. The one thing you need to remember when dieting is that you want to do it to keep fat off. You do not want to diet fat off only for it to return. To make fat loss permanent, you need to make it a lifestyle. That means following your nutritional plan 24/7 and adjusting as you go. This is why I recommend all my clients utilize a flexible diet approach. Being compliant with your diet is extremely important. It allows you to have the occasional meal with friends or a slice of cake on your birthday without sabotaging your results.
Macronutrients Needed to Build Muscle Irrespective of Your Body Fat Percentage
When it comes to building strength; losing weight, and having lean muscle mass, it’s not just about the weights you’re putting on the bar – proper nutrition is 75% or more of the whole process. But even those who realize the importance of nutrition can get it wrong by overcomplicating things. You try this diet and that diet because someone recommended it but are you examining the diet on its merits? Is it meeting your needs regarding recovery and overall goals? Bring it back to basics by focusing on the importance of the three macronutrients and a little bit of strategic supplementation.
The essential and vital micronutrients include:
- Protein: Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and there are 20 of them. For you to gain and maintain strength and size, protein in the most important macronutrient. To make sure you’re getting enough, don’t rely on your protein powder alone. Be sure to incorporate a good source of protein beef, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy. Try to consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.
- Carbohydrates: People are trying to get lean typically drop carbs or cut them out entirely. But your body uses carbohydrates to make glucose which is the fuel that gives you the energy during your workout. So unless you’re planning on improving your physique through a series of subpar exercises, prolonged reduction of carbs is not a great idea. Your body can use glucose immediately or store it in your liver and muscles for when it is needed. Examples of healthy carbs include whole grains, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat. Aim for 2 grams of quality carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight per day.
- Fats: Carbs are misunderstood, and their consumption is frequently misapplied. Fats are similarly demonized in the fitness world because they are so calorically dense (9 calories per gram). But fats are an excellent source of energy in the body. Omega-3 fats, in particular, keep the heart healthy, aid in joint recovery and can also aid fat loss. Good sources of healthy fats include salmon, tuna, sardines, and anchovies. Monounsaturated fats, found in things like nuts, olive oil, and avocados, are also great for active individuals, and offer similar physique-friendly benefits.
Try to consume 0.4 grams of healthy fat per pound of bodyweight per day.
- Food Supplements: Supplements are essential to nearly any training goal you might have, and the products out there vary greatly. There are a few that are relatively universal, however. Protein to support muscle repair and growth, glutamine for immune support and recovery and BCAA for strength and endurance. You can add from there with pre-workout supplements or slower-digesting proteins for overnight muscle repair, but if you have the first few, you should be good to go.
Remember, your hard work in the gym is important but what you put into your body to before and after workouts will determine how much difference those workouts make. So dump your unproven fad diet, let go of that stress, and uncomplicate your relationship with food. Get bigger and leaner faster by breaking things down to these basics, and you will see improvements, without question.
In building a well-sculpted body, you need to pay attention to all the body parts. Some of the most frequently forgotten body parts is the hamstring.
4 Strong Exercises for Stronger Hamstring and Sculpted Body
- Romanian deadlift(RDL): RDLs torch the hamstrings in the most athletic way possible, as a hip extensor and contributor to a properly functioning posterior chain. I keep reps between six and eight when doing this exercise. Try going heavier rather than lighter.
- Hamstring raise: The reason many sprinters injure themselves is that of their hamstrings’ reduced ability to decelerate the lower leg to stop it from extending. Exercises that focus on the eccentric strength of the hamstrings are a crucial strength tool. The best news is that you can achieve this using bodyweight only. Assume a tall kneeling position, with your heels secured under anything immovable. Without bending forward at the waist, contract your hamstrings and dig in hard with your heels as you slowly let your body descend toward the floor for a 5-8 second negative rep. You should land gently on the ground in a push-up. At this point, push yourself back up to the start position using your hands to help, and repeat. Focus on no more than 6 reps.
- Barbell hip trust: Hip thrusts are the best way to get a massive hip without large amounts of stress on the lower back. These can be a saving grace while you’re recovering from an injury. Sure, primarily they’re meant to target the glutes, but the hamstrings’ contribution is just as crucial to making the lift successful.
- Box squat: This sounds like a shocker, but adequately executed box squats can recruit a ton of hamstring tissue. For this particular purpose, they beat squatting to full depth because there’s less quad involvement due to lower-knee flexion and greater hip flexion. What matters most is that you come to a complete stop on the box while staying tight. The second you let go of your tension through your lower and upper back, this becomes an unsafe movement. Remember to use a slightly wider, toes-out stance when squatting this way too. This will ensure that your shins stay more vertical to shift the emphasis away from your quads.
Training routines are tailored to meet your fitness and health goals, if your goal is to lose weight or stay fit, a compound exercise is the best for you. Rep ranges and rest periods determine the type of result you would get from a training routine. Low reps(1-5 reps is for strength. Middle reps(8-12 reps) is for hypertrophy. 15 reps and above( endurance). Have a consistent training routine and diet to get the sculpted body you want. If you have any unusual pain during your training contact the doctor nearest to you.
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