T Nation

Is 10% Bodyfat Realistically Sustainable for Most Men?

I don’t mean obtainable for a short period; I assume just about anyone can achieve this level of bodyfat during a period of intense dieting and cardio. I’m getting at whether this is sustainable for most men year-round who have jobs and other commitments, and who inevitably might have a bite of dessert or a slice of pizza once in a while or have to make do with McDonald’s during a business trip, but who train hard and eat right most of the time. My sense is that this is the most aesthetic point for men; we get good muscular definition without getting too veiny and “freaky” (no diss on shredded guys; I respect your achievement, it’s just not what I’m getting at here). Thoughts?

No, as most men do not have the necessary degree of willpower required to operate the nutritional restraint needed to maintain low bodyfat percentages. This can be observed in fact that over half of the world population is ruled as overweight, which rules out the “most” portion of the question.

COULD most men maintain 10% bodyfat? Absolutely. Will they? No.


Most men would have a much better chance of maintaining 10% body fat than they do deadlifting 600 lbs.


According to Dr. Schopenfelder’s latest book on lifting and dieting, I’m what’s called a “non-responder”. Six pack leanness would likely put me in mortal danger. It’s because of my blood type and Zodiac sign.


Highly unfortunate combo. I’m a taurus and my blood type is like 0.3 usually by about 10:00 am. Dr. Shtuppenfelder said this enables me to drive like Ricky Bobby more often than not.

I think for that level of leanness one would have to really want it. Once achieved, then what? Unless there is some professional interest in staying that lean the juice is not really going to be worth the squeeze.


I totally get it: mine is Ragu.


This is more individual IMO. I know an individual who is around 16%-18% body fat, and is way more vascular than the leanest guys in the gym. Some guys just have garden hose veins.

I think some men will feel pretty shitty sitting at 10% all year. Could they stay there if it was important enough to them? Probably. I think for some the negatives (always being hungry, worse sleep, being cold, sinking in pools) will change their mind. For some though 10% isn’t really all that hard based on their genetics.

I think most men could achieve under 15% and maintain it with a lot less effort. 15% with a lot of muscle looks pretty good too IMO. Not quite as good in the .01% of the time spent without a shirt though.


Most men don’t deadlift, let alone keep a spare turkey leg in their fanny pack.

Pork gravy here.

When we do these questions do we mean is it physically possible or emotionally realistic?


When I see the phase “bite of dessert” and “slice of pizza once in a while” I know exactly what it’s asking.

No one ever got fat from a bite of dessert. It’s the SEVERAL bites that do it.


I am no where near 10% and I still sink like a stone…

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No. Most men are overweight.

I’ve never been 10%. I do not know anyone irl who has ever been 10%.

:joy: for some reason, this cracked me up. Totally unexpected!

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A fellow southerner, eh?

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Washington State

A legit 10% measured by DEXA is not something most men have the realistic ability to maintain year round. 10% measured the way some on this site seem to measure bodyfat would be something I think most men could maintain.


Which 10% are we talking about?

Is this the ‘10%’ that has on stage bodybuilders at 2-3%, and anyone with abs being sub 12? Or is this the ‘10%’ where bodybuilders are 6% and 10% is beyond what even pretty serious gym bros get to on their summer cuts?

I’ve been the former for a fair amount of time, its sustainable for sure, not sure if its sustainable for most and my lack of surety comes from not knowing whether we are talking about whether its physiologically possible under ideal circumstances, or whether we are talking about whether they could if they kinda fancied it.

I’ve been the latter (or close-ish to it) only once and I know for me it wasn’t sustainable. Again not talking physiologically possible, but i felt like ass and absolutely tanked my T levels.


This is what I’m getting at. In other words, not whether 10% is sustainable assuming willingness to make oneself uncomfortable year-round, but whether one can be reasonably contented but still disciplined and maintain it. It sounds like most here believe the answer is “probably not,” at least assuming average genetics.
That being the case, what would you all say is the lowest realistic long-term % for someone who has a normal life, that is, a profession unrelated to fitness and family obligations, but who still loves working out and is willing to eat clean the vast majority of the time?

The 5th percentile for as body fat in the USA is like 16.5% body fat for men. However, very few people are getting the recommended about of exercise (I would guess sub 20%), and most people eat garbage.

Body Fat Percentage Distribution for Men and Women in the United States - DQYDJ Body Fat Percentage Centiles for Men and, 38.7% 3 more rows

For my fitness goals I try to shoot for being at least top 1%, just because most people are not competing with me. For my lifts I am for sure there. Body fat, I am right in that 16%-18% range (IMO, and I think I would look worse in my recent avatar if significantly above that).

I think with a little effort, 15% would be there for me (especially if I didn’t chase strength as much).

If I were to say what percent could most achieve if they just didn’t make terrible diet choices (just going after the lowest hanging fruit as improvements), and exercising say half an hour a day. I would think most would be sub 20% long term with those changes. Add some lifting, and a just a bit tighter restrictions, and most could drop a few more percent.

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I interpret this question as: given the genetics and lifestyle of the average man, is it possible to sustain 10% bodyfat year round?

My answer is absolutely yes.