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On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m showing you how to calculate your ideal body weight and body fat percentage, as well as your BMI and lean body mass.
Before starting any fitness program, you should set a measurable goal on what you want to achieve during your journey.
This is important, because setting goals and targets can help you measure how you are progressing, and if you are actually progressing in the right direction.
Setting goals by first calculating your ideal body weight is an excellent place to start.
However the problem is, in many cases, you may not have any idea what a realistic or healthy weight loss goal is.
Setting your weight loss goals no longer has to be a random game.
Fortunately, there is a way to calculate your ideal weight and a healthy and obtainable weight loss goal.
There are a few simple ways to do this, but some are more effective than others.
To get started, let’s first discuss:
To calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI), you can use the following specific formula, that only takes into account your height and weight.
However, to be honest, I hate the BMI index.
Before sharing why I don’t like using the BMI index, let me first show you an example of how to calculate your BMI, using my height and weight.
Based on my height and weight measurements, my BMI would be calculated as follows:
According to this BMI calculation, and the BMI chart levels listed below, I would be considered just inside the high end of an ideal body weight.
However, if I added another 15 pounds of lean muscle, which isn’t out of the question, my BMI score would be calculated as:
According to the BMI, I would be overweight if I added another 15 pounds of lean muscle.
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 are not the best indicator of your ideal body weight.
In my opinion, calculating your body fat percentage is a better calculation for your ideal body weight.
There are several ways to measure your body fat percentage:
If you’d like to pick up any of these body fat measurement devices, I’ve included the Amazon affiliate links above.
The most cost effective body fat percentage measurement tool is measuring your skin folds using a set of skin fold calipers.
However, to ensure you are using skin fold calipers properly, you may need assistance from your physician or personal trainer.
Body fat percentage is calculated as follows:
Body Fat Percentage = Total Body Fat Weight / Total Body Weight
Your total fat calculation consists of your body’s essential fat, which includes the fat necessary to maintain life, and stored body fat.
My body fat percentage would be calculated as:
If you don’t want to invest in these affordable body fat percentage measuring tools, you can also estimate your body fat percentage based on the chart below.
Note: When I say “estimate”, I mean these estimations are very rough.
To estimate your body fat percentage, find the number that intersects at your height and weight, on either the male or female chart below.
Once again, these body fat percentage estimate charts will provide you with a very rough estimate.
To get a better body fat percentage calculation, it’s best to use:
Lean body mass is fat free mass comprised of muscle, bones, and bodily fluids.
My lean body mass would be calculated as:
This means 92% of my total body weight is made up of lean body mass (LBM).
According to the American Council on Exercise, here are the classifications for body fat percentage.
Based on this body fat percentage chart classification table, you should now have a better idea of what body fat percentage you should strive for.
As a Live Leaner, I recommend you strive for at least the fitness classification body fat percentage.
According to the “fitness” body fat percentage category:
However, I would prefer you push for the athlete classification body fat percentage.
The acceptable body fat % for women is higher than men because of childbearing and other hormonal functions.
To show you how to calculate your ideal body weight, I’ll share a real world example of John.
John currently has a decent amount of muscle since he plays recreational sports.
However, after years of bad food decisions, and the lack of a consistent workout routine, he has created a thick layer of body fat over his muscle.
Based on the body fat percentage chart above, John wants to be in the “Athletes” range with a body fat percentage goal of 10% body fat, within one year.
John calculated his current body fat percentage using the methods listed earlier in this post.
Based on this, he now knows how much of his body weight is comprised of lean body mass and body fat.
John’s current stats:
Based on a current body fat percentage of 30%, John calculated his current body composition as follows.
Weight From Body Fat:
Weight From Lean Body Mass:
Let’s run through the ideal body weight calculations right now.
As calculated earlier:
John’s Ideal Body Weight Calculation Goal:
Note: multiple your current lean body mass by your body fat percentage goal with a 1 and a decimal in front of it.
John’s Fat Loss Goal:
To conclude, 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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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.
40 responses to “How To Calculate Your Ideal Body Weight And Body Fat Percentage”
To stem off this topic, how do we know if our total amount of lean mass is too low/high?I ask because yes lowering body fat would be fantastic but muscle gain will also decrease the body fat %. How do I know if my ultimate goal shouldn’t be gain XX lbs of muscle and lose XX lbs of body fat? Any guidance???? My current composition, bad I know, is about 90 lbs of lean mass and 60 lbs of fat. I have been tweaking things slowly, like intermittent fasting and less processed foods, but I would like to know if I should also be focusing on a little lean gain too.
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.
Great post! BMI is so misconstrued and there is so much misinformation out there. Thanks for setting the record straight.
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.