A common question I get is “what is a good body fat percentage to be at?” or “What does my body fat percentage need to be when I compete in a show?” It is hard for a woman to reach dangerous levels of body fat because the female body produces hormones such as estrogen that keep us a little higher than men. A healthy range for an in shape female is around 14-16%. This same range is a healthy “off season” range for a female bikini, bodybuilder, or figure/fitness competitor also. Keep in mind, age and height can make these percentages vary. It can be risky for a female to reach a body fat level under 10% for a longer period of time. This could possible put a woman at risk for health concerns such as low bone density and can cause her to lose her period for a long period of time or cause her cycles to become irregular. Lifting weights and cardio are going to help you reach a lower body fat percentage along with proper nutrition and consistency. If you are lifting weights, it does not mean that you will get “bulky”. This will all depend on your diet, supplementation, and type of training. When you do build muscle ( a little or a lot) this will also contribute to assisting you in fat burning in conjunction with your weekly cardio regimen and nutrition plan. This, too, will help your body fat percentage drop. I have had some clients that continually drove themselves CRAZY with getting on the scale everyday. This can DERAIL your progress and cause you not to follow through with your entire plan of nutrition, cardio, and weight training. Track your measurements or have your trainer track them and try to wait 4-6 weeks depending on your consistency to reevaluate. JUST STAY IN YOUR PLAN AND STAY CONSISTENT. My dad once told me “if you try to watch a pot of water boil, it will never happen, but the minute you walk away, it will happen!” Think of this that way. Sometimes, a client will come in for a re measure and her weight will be down 5 or up 5 but her body fat percentage would drop a good amount. This is GOOD! This means you are putting on muscle and burning fat. There are several ways to measure your body fat percentage and some are more accurate than others.
Skin Fold Caliper is my preference when it comes to being as accurate as we can when repetitively measure body fat every month. This involves different formulas and involves pinching the skin in certain areas measuring in millimeters the amount of fat within that area. Depending on the formula, you will record millimeters of several different areas on the body and input these with your age, weight, and height. This is accurate as long as you have a professional helping your or someone the proper ways to measure and can be done over and over. I like it because there are certain areas on different people that drop more or do not drop more than others and it can help determine where he or she is holding and what the next adjustment might be to nutrition, weights, or cardio to help break a plateau.