What does your body fat % need to be in order to see your abs?

Question:
I know what I want to look like and I follow your advice about visualization and seeing my abs the way I want them to look. But what I can’t figure out is what body fat % I should be aiming at to achieve that look? I am female, 35 yrs old and I’ve done awesome on your Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle program. I started at 19% body fat and the lowest I’ve gotten so far was 11.8% body fat with a caliper test. I’ve been thinking about doing a figure competition, but even at that body fat percentage, which I know is very low, I still had some “patches” of fat. How do I know what body fat percentage I should target so that all the fat is gone?

Answer:
The trouble with trying to pin down one specific body fat number as THE body fat level for seeing 6-pack ans (or being contest or photo-shoot ready) is that everyone distributes their body fat differently and two people may look different at the same percentage.

Here’s what I’d recommend:

Get familiar with some benchmarks for body fat levels.

My Burn The Fat system has a body fat rating system, which includes averages and my suggested optimal body fat percentages:

:: Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle Body fat rating scale ::

WOMEN:
Competition Shape (“ripped”): 8-12%
Very Lean (excellent): < 15%
Lean (good): 16-20%
Average (fair): 21-25%
Below average (poor): 26-30%
Major improvement needed (Very poor): 31-40%+

MEN:
Competition Shape (“ripped”): 3-6%
Very Lean (excellent): < 9%
Lean (good): 10-14%
Average (fair): 15-19%
Below average (poor): 20-25%
Major improvement needed (Very poor): 26-30%+

Just a quick note: You’re not destined to get fatter as you get older, but in the general population (non fitness and bodybulding folks), the average older person has more body fat.

What I did do is list a range instead of one number, so younger people can use the low end of the range and older people can use the higher number.

Also, just so the average reader can keep things in perspective, single digit body fat for women and low single digits for men is far beyond lean – it’s RIPPED – and that’s usually solely the domain of competitive physique athletes.

Competition body fat levels were not meant to be maintained all year round. It’s not realistic and it may may not be healthy, particularly for women.

The average guy or gal should probably aim for the “lean” category, or if you’re really ambitious and dedicated, the “very lean category”as a realistic year round goal.

You’ll probably have to hit the “very lean” category for six pack abs.However, the bottom line is that there’s no “perfect” body fat percentage where you’re assured of seeing your abs.

What counts is how you look and whether you’re happy with that (or whether the judges are happy with it, if you’re competing).

You can use my chart to help you set some initial goals, but for the most part, I recommend using body fat testing as a way of charting your progress over time to see if you’re improving rather than pursuing some holy grail number.

In my Burn The fat, Feed The Muscle program, you can learn more about how to measure your body fat – professionally or or even by yourself in the privacy of your own home.

Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle explains why body mass index and height and weight charts are virtually worthless, and shows you how to track your body composition over time and “tweak” your nutrition and training according to your weekly results.

I call this a “feedback loop system” and if you master the weekly body fat testing and progress charting, it is literally a fool-proof system for stripping off the fat – all the way to six pack abs,if that’s your goal.

Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle is the most detailed, one-stop guide to fat burning nutrition you’ll ever find.That’s why so many people call it the fat loss bible.

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