What Is the Body Fat Percentage of Fitness Models?

fitness woman
A female fitness model. (Image: studio1901/iStock/Getty Images)

The cut physique and impressive lines of a fitness model are the result of paying consistent attention to diet and exercise. One result is a body fat percentage that can be considerably lower than average, often on par with professional athletes. Although body fat percentage isn't the only important metric for healthy body weight, it's useful for comparison. For the average person, however, the body fat percentage of a fitness model is an unrealistic goal.

About Body Fat Percentage

Body fat percentage is a measure of how much of your body weight consists of fatty tissue, as opposed to organs, bones and lean tissue. It's a better measure of healthy weight than your weight in pounds, because muscles are denser than fat. A professional athlete often weighs more than an overweight person of similar height. According to The American Council on Exercise, normal body fat percentages are between 18.5 to 24.99 percent for adult men and women. Note that in this case, "normal" means normal and healthy, not the most common percentage for the U.S. population.

About Fitness Models

Fitness models differ from fashion models in terms of the kinds of jobs they take and what they must do to get those jobs. Fashion models often strive for a look so thin that they look unhealthy, but fitness models must maintain a svelte body with good musculature and defined lines. To maintain this body type, fitness models maintain a daily regimen of exercise, diet and nutrition supplements. Many practice "extreme" weight-loss methods, such as water restriction, crash dieting and purging as they prepare for an upcoming shoot or appearance. These practices are inherently unhealthy and should not be an example of how to lose weight or maintain a fit and healthy body weight.

Body Fat Percentage for Fitness Models

The exact body fat percentage for fitness models varies. A model with a naturally ectomorphic frame may have a higher body fat percentage than an thicker model who had to train harder to get cut. According to Marc Perry, fitness expert and CEO of Built Lean, female models in shape for a shoot have a body fat percentage between 15 and 17 percent. Male models generally measure between 6 and 7 percent body fat.

Comparison

The body fat percentage rate for fitness models is low compared to a normal, or healthy range of body fat. According to the American Council of Exercise, it falls slightly above the range of "essential fat" necessary for bodily functions, which is 10 to 13 percent for women and 2 to 5 percent for men. A fitness model's low body fat can still affect the healthy functions of the body, including a woman's reproductive functions. Male performance athletes maintain a body fat percentage around 6 to 13 percent. Female athletes range from 14 to 20 percent. Because of the health risks of maintaining such a low body fat percentage, fitness models often follow the practices of professional bodybuilders. They maintain an athletic body weight level prior to an engagement, then work to shed the last fat just for the shoot.

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