Calculating Your Ideal Body Weight


How Do I Calculate My Ideal Body Weight?

Setting goals by calculating your ideal body weight is very important. By setting targets you can measure how you’re progressing and if you’re are actually progressing in the right direction.

Before starting any fitness program you should set a measurable goal of what you want to achieve. Your ideal body weight is an excellent measure to start. The problem is, in many cases, you may have no idea what a realistic and healthy weight loss goal is. Fortunately setting your weight loss goals no longer has to be a random game as there is a way to calculate your ideal weight and a healthy and obtainable weight loss goal.

How do you figure out your ideal body weight?

ideal body weight
Let’s discuss the two different ways: Body Mass Index (BMI) and Body Fat % calculations.

How to Calculate Your Body Mass Index:

Body Mass Index (BMI) takes into account your height and weight.

BMI = (your weight in lbs * 703) / (height in inches * height in inches)

I am 5 feet 11 inches tall (71 inches) and 175 lbs so my BMI would be calculated as follows:

BMI = (175 lbs * 703) / (71 inches * 71 inches) = 24.4 BMI

Here are the different BMI levels:

Calculating Your Ideal Body Weight

According to the above BMI calculation and levels, I would be considered an ideal weight.

However, if I added another 15 lbs of lean muscle, which isn’t out of the question, my BMI score would be 26.5.

According to the BMI, this would mean I would be overweight.

This is the main problem with the BMI calculation. Most athletes would be considered overweight since BMI does not decipher between lean body mass and stored body fat. If you have a lean and muscular build like I do, BMI calculations may not be the best indicator of your ideal body weight.

Since muscle weighs more than fat, in my opinion Body Fat % is a better calculation for ideal weight.

How to Calculate Your Body Fat %:

Body fat % is calculated as follows:

Body Fat % = Total body fat weight / divided by total body weight

Your total fat calculation consists of your body’s essential fat (the fat necessary to maintain life) and stored body fat.

My Body fat % would be calculated as follows:

Body Fat % = 14 lbs of body fat / 175 lbs total body weight = 8% body fat

This means 92% of my total body weight is made up of lean body mass (LBM), i.e. fat free mass comprised of muscle, bones, etc.

Lean Body Mass = 175 lbs total body weight – 14 lbs of body fat = 161 lbs of LBM

According to the American Council on Exercise, here are the classifications for body fat %.

General Body Fat % Categories

Calculating Your Ideal Body Weight

Based on the above body fat % table, a healthy man’s body fat % (fitness) should not be more than 17%.

A healthy women’s body fat % (fitness) should not be more than 24%.

The acceptable body fat % for women is higher than men because of childbearing and other hormonal functions.

Methods to Measure Body Fat %

Brad Gouthro body fat %
There are several ways to measure your body fat %, however the most cost effective measurement is with a body fat analyzer (seen above) or measuring skin folds with a set of skin fold calipers.

Your physician or personal trainer can provide you with this service if you don’t want to invest in those affordable body fat % measuring tools.

You can also estimate (very rough) your body fat % based on the chart below.

Estimate Your Body Fat %

To estimate your body fat % find the number that intersects at your height and weight on either the male or female chart below (once again this is a very rough estimate – best to use skin fold calipers or a body fat analyzer:

Calculate Male Body Fat %

Calculating Your Ideal Body Weight

Calculate Female Body Fat %


How To Calculate Your Ideal Body Weight

Based on the body fat % classification table above, you now have a better idea of what body fat % you should strive for. As a Live Leaner, I recommend you strive for at least the “Fitness” classification body fat %, but would prefer you push for the “Athlete” classification.

Here’s an example of how “John” can calculate his ideal bodyweight.

CURRENT STATS: 5″11″, 230 pounds, 30% body fat %

John currently has a decent amount of muscle since he plays recreational sports, but years of bad food decisions and lack of a consistent workout routine has created a thick layer of body fat over his muscle.

Based on a current body fat of 30%, John calculated his current body composition as 69 pounds of fat (230×0.30) and 161 pounds of lean body mass (230-69).

John’s Body Fat % Goal: John’s goal is to be 10% body fat within one year.

How Much Fat Will John Have to Lose to Hit His Ideal Body Fat %?:

Current lean body mass: 161 pounds
Goal body fat %: 10%
Goal weight: 177 pounds (161 x 1.10)
Goal fat loss: 230 – 177 = 53 pounds of fat to lose

Conclusion: For John to hit his 10% body fat goal, he will have to lose approximately 53 pounds of body fat in 52 weeks.

This is an example of how to calculate your ideal body weight and create a measurable weight loss goal.

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36 responses to “Calculating Your Ideal Body Weight

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  5. I know you said the body fat % in the chart were averages, but how did you come up with these? I am 5’5″ and weigh 123 and my body fat percentage is 19.5%. According to this chart, for my height, if I weighed 3 pounds less—120—my estimated body fat would be 26%, which is quite high.

    I know I am lean and have muscle but I am still curious as to how you came up with these estimates.

  6. Both the BMI and the body fat tables both say I’m *almost* overweight, yet I eat clean and exercise 5+ hours/week. I tend to ignore the scales etc and just keep doing what I’m doing because I’m sure there are many non-measureable benefits that I’m getting out of my activity etc.

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