T Nation

Bodyfat % and Age


This may have been discussed before, but I can't find any threads about it.

I was looking for a reference to what would be an acceptable body fat for me, and I found a table ( not from T-Nation ) that has a wide range, related to age. I have been told that 12 - 18 % is decent. The table is attached, I hope it shows up OK.

My question is, why do they have such a spread in relation to age? Is it simply that it's assumed, that you'll gain fat as you age?

At 45 years old, the table claims my BF% would be 'excellent' at 18 or 19%. Is there any reason that an old fucker like myself shouldn't shoot for a much lower BF%


\|/ 3Toes

  • ditched the pic, here's the chart. Formatting is slightly messed up *

Age.... EXC..... GOOD.... FAIR.....POOR

19-24 10.80% 14.90% 19.00% 23.30%
25-29 12.80% 16.50% 20.30% 24.40%
30-34 14.50% 18.00% 21.50% 25.20%
35-39 16.10% 19.40% 22.60% 26.10%
40-44 17.50% 20.50% 23.60% 26.90%
45-49 18.60% 21.50% 24.50% 27.60%
50-54 19.80% 22.70% 25.60% 28.70%
55-59 20.20% 23.20% 26.20% 29.30%
60 UP 20.30% 23.50% 26.70% 29.80%


Part of the reason for the increase in body fat % in relation to age on those graphs is due to the increase in intra-abdominal fat or the fatty tissue surrounding internal organs. This is yet another reason why your percentage number really doesn't mean much at all and why far too many people (especially those who are newbies or relatively lean in the first place) are wasting their time worrying about it.

If you are obese, fine, your percentage number may be of great benefit. If you are dieting, fine. It may be of benefit then as well as an indicator towards how much your muscle/fat ratio is changing. Outside of that, it really doesn't have much of a use at all other than give people something else to obsess over. No skinny teenager needs to be concerned about whether they are exactly 9.2% or not.


I couldn't agree more than what prof just said. The obsession over this # is bizarre. (Not a bash to you 3)

That # is a byproduct from all of the stuff you do and should be nothing more. I get a kick out of the guys who want to be 6% yearround. They really think that pro bb'rs look like that every day. Although after the Yates Coleman thread maybe they realize this is not so.

It also shows how little people even have an understanding of bodyfat % when they post a pick and say they are at 10-12%bf and their is no ab or even upper body definition to be found.

3--just make sure you don't have any dunlap goin' on and you are better than 75% of America. Shoot for the moon if you want, I'm not trying to discourage, but don't be held captive by a #


Thanks. After seeing so many people posting BF%'s, I thought it might be interesting to get mine tested. I can tell by looking in a mirror that it's higher than I want it to be, and I thought getting it tested periodically might be some incentive.

I was advised that the calipers and the person using them, aren't always that accurate. So the number they come up with might not be that accurate, anyhow.

I was just caught off guard by the chart with the huge allowance for age.

\|/ 3Toes


Calipers are a tough way to track bf%. Not only does it take a skilled applicator to get a semi-correct #, you then need the same person to use the same 'formula' to then check progress.

Except for curiosity sake, I don't know why you'd wanna know. But, a good way to be somewhat accurate and at a decent price is through a local university. They may have water or some other better measurement tools available.

You might get lucky and draw a co-ed for testing


People do tend to store more fat with age - there's a good bit of debate around the scientific communtiy about whether it's unavoidable or if people simply continue gaining weight due to poor diet and inactivity as they age. The obvious answer is that both play a role, though reduced GH output seems to be a major culprit among the aging active.

Most of those tables are percentile based, not criteria based. Excellent may be defined as over the 85th percentile, for example. So the slack you see is mostly brought about by the fact that a lot of older adults are carrying a lot more extra fat than younger people tend to.

There's no reason not to shoot for lower bodyfat at an older age, as long as you realize the fat be a little slower coming off and may not go down quite as far than it would have in your 20's. Extreme methods are obviously an even worse idea later in life than they may have been earlier, too, since the body's homeostatic mechanisms tend to function a little more slowly and a little less completely.

For instance, I wouldn't do something that's dumb for a younger person, like the Velocity Diet, as the associated side-effects would be more difficult for compensatory mechanisms to take care of.

Stay strong,