Everybody thinks they are leaner than they actually are. Recreational natural bodybuilders underestimate their body fat percentage quite often. Achieving a contest ready conditioning is not as easy as it may seem to many. Most bodybuilders would be surprised by how much weight they have to lose in order to get ready for a contest. It’s not uncommon to lose over 2 inches on your arms during a few months of contest preparation.
There are many methods to measure your body fat: online calculators, tape measures formulas, skin calipers, DEXA scans…etc. The best, however, is the mirror. Some bodybuilders may be 8% body fat and look leaner than other who are legit 5%. Bodybuilding is an optical illusion for the most part.
The pictures below are meant to help you judge your body fat more accurately. The measures are not perfect. It’s just a basic guideline.
25+% body fat
The picture below shows what happens after you do GOMAD. You get fat. This is Zack Evetts who trained under the guidance of Mark Rippetoe in 2011. In a few months he got to about 25% body fat. This is not a joke – 1/4 of the individual above is fat. Despite that many delusional supporters of “dirty” bulking put him at about 19% BF.
15-17% body fat
The picture above shows Christian Bale at 15-17% body fat. The image is taken from Batman Begins. Bale has lean arms but his abdominal area is covered with layers of fat. He has to lose about 10-15 pounds to have more defined set of six pack abs. Most people who look like that usually say they are 12% body fat.
11-13% body fat
This is Christian Bale at 11-13% BF. Closer to 11%. The shoulder, arms and upper abs are defined. The lower abs still need some work. Many delusional bodybuilders would consider themselves 8%-9% body fat when they look like that.
9-10% body fat
Oliver Queen from the TV series “Arrow” at 10% body fat. The six-pack is clean and visible. Arms, shoulders and pecs are defined. This is how a true 10% body fat looks like.
5-6% body fat
Manny Pacquiao at 5% body fat. Notice that there are visible striations on the shoulders. The abs including the obliques are super defined. He has even lost water weight in order to get ready for the weight in.
To summarize: Most people have no idea how it feels to be contest ready. Athletes have to lose tremendous amounts of weight to get ready for a competition.
On the Internet everybody is 5% with shredded with abs but reality says otherwise.
Note: Unless you are a professional bodybuilder or a fitness model you don’t need to be under 10% BF ever.
It’s hard to maintain and unless your genetics are favorable for the purpose your life has to be built around your abs. Who would want that?
The guide for naturally attainable physiques is for people who are contest ready. However, many underestimate their body fat and end up being frustrated. For example, according to the guide a bodybuilder who is 5’10” (178 cm) tall will weight about 170lbs (77kg) at 5% BF. This is actually a sick physique. Before saying how you are 220lbs (100kg) and 5’10” at 10% BF after 1 month of training, measure your body fat. Chances are it’s 25%+.
The next time you think the size of Lazar Angelov is attainable naturally – measure you body fat. His is 5% year round.
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