Body Fat Percentage Guide for Men to Ten Percent

By | May 18, 2004


What does ten percent (10%) body fat look like? Have you ever wondered how you would appear at a certain body fat percentage? I have documented my fitness progress for several years.

This is a guide to various levels of body fat percentage down to ten percent body fat to help you get an idea of what to expect. For a reference point, I am 5’10”.

This list is organized in descending order of body fat percentage and not chronologically. Yes, like many other people, I do have times when I backslide and get out of shape. Sometimes I purposefully bulk, but a few examples were nothing but sheer laziness that I had to shake myself from.

30% Body Fat


Weight: 245+ lbs
Bodyfat: 30% or higher
Waist: 42″
This is where I started. The picture was taken AFTER losing several pounds – this is the first “before-style” picture that I took.

I have other pictures at even heavier weights. I have not included those in this guide because I do not know what my exact weight nor body fat percent measurement was when those pictures were taken.

20% Body Fat

Weight: 220 lbs
Bodyfat: 20%
Waist: 38″
This was one of my first bulking phases. Notice that while I have more muscle definition, my love handles aren’t as noticeable because my ENTIRE GUT is larger – you’ll see later on that I selectively begin to store fat just in the love handle region, and actually look larger at lower body fat and weight!

18% Body Fat

Weight: 210 lbs
Bodyfat: 16 – 18%
Waist: 38″
Here is an example of how your body may change how you store fat. I actually look quite large, due to the prominent love handles.

I began measuring LEANER in places such as my arms, chest, and legs, and the fat gained was all around my midsection. When I gain fat during stressful periods, this is how it accumulates.

16% Body Fat

Weight: 210 lbs
Bodyfat: 14 – 16%
Waist: 36″
I am the same weight as the previous picture, but a lower body fat percentage. The love handles aren’t as prominent, and you can clearly see a little more muscle tone. Your ultimate goal should be to increase weight while reducing body fat, but as you can see, it may take some phases of gaining and losing first.

10% Body Fat

Weight: 188 lbs
Bodyfat: 10%
Waist: 32″
Notice the massive drop in waist size, despite a smaller drop in body fat, demonstrating how I store my fat. This was the first time that I reached a lower level ten percent body fat, almost at single digits. Note that the abdominal definition is there, but very faint.

Interestingly, while I look much more muscular in this picture (mainly due to the fat no longer hiding the muscle) I was at my weakest, unable to bench press more than 190 pounds or dead-lift more than around 200.

13 Percent to 8.6 Percent Body Fat Progression

Here’s Ted who used Flexible Dieting to drop to 8.6% body fat without starving himself or giving up his favorite foods.

8.6 percent body fat

You can read exactly how he did it here.

What’s Realistic?

According to ACE (American Council on Exercise) here’s how body fat percentages break down among men and women.

body fat percentage chart

Best Measurement Method

I still find the old standard the best, which is to use calipers. There are a lot of new electronic devices around and they may seem easy to use, but they won’t be as accurate.

I was recently in a Walgreens health screening van and they used a hand-held device that you gripped with each thumb and held outwards. While this device gave an estimated body fat percentage reading, it wasn’t very accurate and didn’t account for differences in the body composition of male and female.

A good set of Calipers can be found online or at most sporting good stores. Then use them along with our body fat percentage calculator.

Scale or Percentage?

Measuring body fat and taking pictures of how you look at different percentages is often a much better way to track fat loss and weight loss than using the scale. The scale doesn’t factor in muscle weight or fluctuations in water weight. Also, Ten percent for one person could look a little different for someone else as there is are also differences in skin thickness.

If you are starting the journey or in the middle of it, start taking pictures of yourself for motivation and for tracking your fat loss progress.

14 thoughts on “Body Fat Percentage Guide for Men to Ten Percent

  1. Doug

    Awesome transformation. While thanks for creating this very informative page. I actually Goggled “What does ten percent body fat look like?, and their you were.

    Keep up the good work!!! and God bless you as you continue on your fitness journey.

  2. andrew

    WOW… you have really come a long way. Great work, you are an inspiration!

  3. seo

    Wonderful web site. A lot of useful info here. I’m sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thanks for your effort!

  4. Richard

    Wow! You look great! about how long did it take to get from 30% down to 10%? I’m at 25% right now and I want to get down to 10% by Christmas

  5. Paul

    Great page, this is a very useful guide for me to use for my own weight loss efforts, especially because we seem to have been separated at birth lol. It’s interesting even though you are near to single didgit bodyfat and in obvious great shape that your abs aren’t more defined. This is a problem area that I also share – genetics can be a real bummer I suppose! Nevertheless these are fantastic real world achievements that most mortal men can aspire to. Thanks for being such an inspiration.

  6. PeXi

    Really glad I found this.. I’m exactly the same height as you and I was around the same weight when I started to drop in weight.

    Kinda interesting that you look way more obese than I did when I started.. but I did have quite a bit muscle mass back then. For example I could bench press 264 lbs.

    I’ve lost 35 lbs in little over half a year and this gives me a good reference as to what’s my target weight.
    My waist is currently at 36″ and I weigh 197.
    I’m aiming to like 7% body fat so that I can get my abs visible 🙂

    Not gonna say it’s easy.. but damn effective if you have the willpower to do it.

  7. Robert Udyavar

    Hi, congratz on your excellent progress towards loosing body fat! Your story is very inspiring. I came accross this page while googling about body fat index. Great and very helpful info. Thanks.

  8. zak

    you must have massive legs and back, great photos and info

  9. Mike

    Interesting your comment about not being able to lift as much, I experienced the same problem. Dropped by body fat from 22% to 18% and was feeling great and lifting heavier, dropped to 17, and started to get weaker. I recently read that olympic powerlifters keep thier body fat in the 18-25% range for optimum strength.
    This seems to hold true in the mixed martial arts as well, as guys like
    Fedor and anderson silvia with clearly no visible six pack dominate over much more muscular looking opponents.

  10. Fredrik

    Hello! Really nice work, must say! I’ve lost alot of weight and wondering about one thing; How long does (did for you) it take for the skin to adapt to the smaller body?

    I’m 5’10” aswell and dropped from 247 to 161 punds.

  11. Cris0rtiz

    Wow, you definitely did what most bodybuilding websites and magazines are failing to do. A Documented Fitness Progress is what most people need, to understand the high and the lows of a transformation process… Specially when people have different body types, more of these should be around to motivate people, I am at the 16% body fat stage, and I can relate to your pictures, after reading this I am way more motivated to keep up the good/hard work.
    thank you!

  12. D

    Wow dude, good job. Amazing transformation. You even changed skin colour..! lol

    1. Ted

      It’s called bronzer which is a pretty common thing to do among bodybuilders. Darker skin shows off definition better.

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