What’s the Point of Ideal Body Weight?
Every positive action should start with the end goal in mind.
It’s a good idea to start off with an end goal in fitness, but let’s look at a non-fitness example first.
Imagine you’re going from California to Las Vegas for a getaway vacation
By the time you leave your home, you most likely, have the information processed in your head on how long the trip will take and what route you’re going to take.
What’s the end goal? Las Vegas, Nevada.
You wouldn’t want to leave your home and start driving without an end destination in mind.
It sounds absurd, right? That would be wasting time and gas. No one would drive without a definitive end goal.
What I’ve found, when talking to people who are trying to get fit, is people don’t know their end goal.
They usually just want to lose weight get in better shape.
What kind of shape are you talking about?
What type of weight do you want to lose?
Do you want to lose muscle mass on purpose (yes, it’s a thing)?
Do you want to lose muscle weight, water weight, body fat weight?
What kind of shape are you talking about?
I used to go to diet and go to the gym without an end goal.
I just knew I wanted to lose weight! I didn’t care about where it came from and was a novice when it came to numbers such as lean body mass and body fat percentages.
As I matured in my weight loss knowledge, I started to understand my weight loss numbers. Now, I know what weight I have to be to accomplish my fitness goal.
Ever wonder how long it will take to see six pack abs? How much would you have to weigh to see them?
To answer these questions, we need to know how to calculate ideal body weight.
First, we have to know some variables when it comes to your body composition. The questions and steps below will explain this calculation.
Question #1: What Do You Want to Look Like?
Do you want to look like Leonidas from the movie 300 (about 8-10%) or are you just trying to slim down and go from there?
What’s your dream body fat percentage?
I’ve provided a table of body fat % categories according to the American Council on Exercise.
Once you’ve decided your goal body fat percentage, answer the next question.
Question #2: What’s Your Current Body Fat %?
There are countless formulas to calculate body fat %, but I find them unreliable at best.
Most of them use Body Mass Index (BMI) in calculations which leads to higher than realistic body fat percentages.
This is because BMI isn’t a true measure of a person’s fitness level. It’s not the whole story.
For example, a person with a fair amount of muscle mass and a low body fat percentage (lean), can be considered overweight when using BMI.
If we took Leonidas’s BMI, he would’ve been considered overweight even though he has a six pack and incredible muscle definition.
Anyway, enough on the BMI tangent…
With the tools below you can get an approximation for your body fat percentage.
Keep in mind that no single body fat percentage tool is 100 percent accurate.
There will always be a percentage of error when using these tools (user error the majority of the time).
Even an expensive testing method, such as a DXA scan isn’t 100 percent accurate.
Below are two cost-effective methods of calculating your body fat percentage.
Method 1: Body Fat Analyzer (Bio-electrical Impedance)
This is by far the easiest method I’ve come across to get consistent body fat percentage.It’s a handheld body fat analyzing device.This tool conducts an electrical current through the body to estimate fat. The current is small, and not dangerous, enough to where you don’t even feel it.I use this body fat analyzer at least once a week to make sure I’m on the right track towards my fitness goal.I know that a lot of people bash on this measuring device. However, I don’t pay attention to the numbers too much.Here’s what to do:
Method 2: Body Fat Calipers
I’d say this is the second best, cost-effective method of getting your body fat percentage.
This method is also referred to as the pinch or skin-fold test.
Using a body fat caliper measures the thickness of subcutaneous adipose tissues.
This test assumes that the amount of fat present in the subcutaneous regions of the body is very similar to the body’s overall body fatness.
It’s quite easy to use. You pinch some of your stomach fat and squeeze the calipers together until you hear a click.
Wherever the indicator stops on the caliper ruler is the number (usually in millimeters) you’ll need to cross-check with your caliper chart. Each caliper comes with a chart that will convert your millimeter reading to your corresponding body fat percentage.
Question 3: What Weight Will I Have to Be to Achieve My Desired Body Fat % Goal?”
Now that we have your body fat percentage let’s calculate your ideal body weight.
Mathematically speaking this’s as close as we can get to figuring out ideal body weight without going into the future.
Here’s a hypothetical scenario with a guy named Mike. We’re going to calculate his ideal body weight.
Michael is a college student with the following stats:
- 20% body fat
- 180 lbs
- Body Fat Goal: He wants to look good for summer and be at 10% body fat!
Michael’s got a good amount of muscle on him but has a layer of fat covering his abs.
Let’s find out how much weight he needs to lose to achieve his goal.
Step 1) Find How Many Pounds of Fat You Have Currently
Current Fat = [current body weight (lbs)] x [current body fat %] = 180 lbs x .20 = 36 pounds of fat
Michael has roughly 36 pounds of fat on his body. The aim is to lose body fat and not muscle mass.
Step 2) Find Your Lean Body Mass
Lean Body Mass = [current body weight (lbs)] – [current fat] = 180 lbs – 36 lbs = 144 lbs of lean body mass
Step 3) Find Ideal Body Weight
Body Fat Goal = 10% = 0.10
IDEAL BODY WEIGHT = (Lean Body Mass) / (1 – Body Fat Goal)= (144 lbs) / (1-.10) = 160 lbs
Thus Michael now has his destination, his end goal!
He needs to lose roughly 40 pounds of fat to get to his desired 10 % body fat look.
He has a goal to work towards every day until it becomes a reality.
I hope this post has helped you grasp the idea of ideal body weight.
This calculation will be especially important to those “cutting” (aka losing fat).
I suggest you read my cutting and bulking article next to find out what program is best for you to get started.
Do what’s hard when it’s easy, always be ready!