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I am 25 year old male, 67cm in height, 74kg in weight, and have approximately 8% body fat. The 8% figure comes from a 9-point caliper test, while the less accurate 4-point caliper test measures me at 9% and the much less accurate navy body fat test has me at 13%. Ideally I will be getting a hydrostatic pool test soon, but for now I feel 8% is accurate enough.

I wish to still lose some body fat, as I am so very close to my ideal physique, but I feel that I am almost encroaching on my essential body fats. As you can probably guess, the majority of my pinch sites were about as lean as can be, but the abdominals still have a ways to go. Since I am not a bodybuilder/competitor, I have no reason or desire to ride the line of bare-minimum bf%, but instead would prefer to have a reserve padding on top of my essential fats. Given this, about where should I be maintaining my BF% levels?

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Are you an athlete? If so, what type? –  Kate Dec 29 '12 at 4:13
    
@Kate I am not an athlete (nor very athletic). Outside of walking 7 hr/week and strength training 3hr/week I live a pretty sedentary lifestyle. –  Moses Dec 29 '12 at 4:20
    
you're not very tall, deadlifts would be interesting. –  jontyc Dec 29 '12 at 4:41
    
Here is a body fat percentage reference chart. The American Council on Exercise gives 2-4% as the essential fat measurement for men. The chart includes body fat percentages for different fitness levels. –  BackInShapeBuddy Dec 29 '12 at 4:57
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Generally, anything under 5% is difficult to maintain for extended periods of time and requires a fairly attentive focus on diet. When you start getting down into the 3% and lower ranges, it's unhealthy to maintain that for a long time.

At 8%, especially if you aren't cutting weight for any competitions or other athletic events, I would think that you are lean enough as it is, and that visually you won't notice that much difference between an 8% and a 5% BF.

And just as an aside, 10 hours a week of training of any type does not qualify as a sedentary lifestyle. I would term your down time as recovery, not sedentary.

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At my weight, going down to 5% body fat would be a loss of approximately 2 kg or 5 lbs of fat. I would say that is a fairly noticeable delta, especially if the majority of the fat came from a single area, as is likely given my caliper sites. Either way, if you don't recommend breaking 8%, could I instead focus on growing my abdominal muscles so they show better through the little fat that is left, or would that be an exercise in futility? –  Moses Dec 29 '12 at 6:03
    
@Moses this comment sounds a bit like what you want to know wasn't what you were asking. See XY Problem. –  Baarn Dec 29 '12 at 12:12
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@Moses - Even if you have a visible fat deposit somewhere, there is still no guarantee that that area is what will be affected by more fat loss. I've gone from 172 to 165 in the past 6 weeks, and from 10ish% down to 8%, and I still have some of the same little bulges. Your body will take from where it wants, not necessarily from where you might like. –  JohnP Dec 29 '12 at 14:51
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@moses - And yes, I would not worry about it. Rather than trying to "shred" yourself to get down to unrealistic to maintain body fat levels, I would grow your desired "problem" areas. However, you have a small #firstworldproblem there. :D –  JohnP Dec 29 '12 at 14:52
    
@Informaficker not at all, I was just looking for clarification for a single point on John's question which I was skeptical of. –  Moses Dec 29 '12 at 21:51
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