T Nation

Is 10% Bodyfat Realistically Sustainable for Most Men?

I can’t see the rationale behind spending 200+ bucks for a scan to tell me what I can see in a mirror. I suppose if you’re obsessed with actual numbers it’s useful, but “can I see my abs” is the only metric anyone needs. If you have visible abs, you’re lean, if you have veins in your abs, you’re very lean, and if you can’t see your abs, you’re not lean. I could buy 10+ pounds of high quality beef cuts for that price.


They aren’t usually that pricey, more like $100 to $150. Still a lot of beef though. The folks on this site that could really benefit from one of these scans are in another subforum where delusions about bodyfat percentages seem to run rampant.


If you have insurance and convince your doc to order, the copay is only $25-40

Why in the world would a doctor order you a dexa scan, and how would the doctors office justify it to your insurance company to cover that? Short of bone density problems or 65+ year old people, obviously.

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Nah, most people (myself included) care more about eating a decent amount of tasty food than they do about being lean enough to have hawt abs.

I think if you made it 15%…yeah, that’s much more maintainable.

As a point of reference, I found this chart setting forth average % bodyfat of NFL prospects. It’s a bid dated but I doubt the relevant data have changed much. As you would expect, there is wide variation by position, but very few are coming in around 10%.
2006 – 2013 NFL Combine testing (BodPod)

Position # of Players % Fat Average Body Weight Average (lb) Lean Mass (lb) Avgerage Height
DB 463 9.7 199.8 180.4 6’0″
WO 360 9.4 202.6 183.6 6’1″
LB 270 13.5 239.3 206.9 6’2″
TE 147 14.2 252.6 216.73 6’4″
RB 263 11.8 217.1 191.5 5’11”
QB 159 14.3 223.4 191.5 6’3″
DL 445 19.4 283.2 228.3 6’4″
OL 420 24.6 313.0 236.0 6’5″
PK 86 15.9 206.6 173.8 No Data
ST 15 20.2 242.6 193.6 No Data

24.6% BF for the big hogs up front? Awesome, I’m NFL level at something!


Perhaps it come down to evolutionary selection.

This could be the male version of the kind of body dysmorphia that women often complain about, that is, grossly unrealistic body images promoted by media. It’s ironic that we Americans are so obese yet so preoccupied with nearly impossible body images. Or maybe it isn’t ironic; maybe our obesity and unrealistic body fat expectations are two sides of the same problematic relationship with food and health. Consider France by way of contrast, where men don’t care about having six-packs, but also generally aren’t fat.


I don’t know man I’m French and I’m quite obsessed with my abs

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Would you agree though that this kind of focus is far less common among the French? Maybe as a Francophile I just idealize French culture (especially the part about food and wine) to some degree, but that’s my impression.

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From my experience in general Europeans are leaner than Americans. The German’s may be the biggest, but even an overweight German would be considered pretty average in my northern midwest town. But the French, yeah, they all were like high school skinny.

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Yes indeed. Also, Americans are very sports-oriented. In High school, college etc pretty much everyone does sport. But it’s coming here and more and more people are doing sports.

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my existence summed up from 0:03-0:10.

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The Dutch and Scandinavians would have to be up there too as far as general size. But I was getting more at the fact that the French manage to be fit without obsessing about it, probably for interesting cultural reasons. For instance, my understanding is that eating is a social occasion for most French people; one sits down to eat and talk with family or friends. There is little of the American practice of sitting in front of the TV eating burgers and pizza or eating while sitting alone and surfing the web. Something about the French practice seems to bring some moderation.

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The concept of a muscular physique with visible abs being a relatively modern phenomenon is wrong. It actually dates back to Classical times (at least). The Greeks considered it the ideal physique.

So while it may not be realistically sustainable for most men, the core (pardon the pun) ideal appears to be sustainable, in Western culture, at least, for the last +2,000 years.


Outstanding point. The Farnese Hercules remains an admirable physique to this very day as well.


And, like, there had to be A dude back then that they based the model off of…


Renaissance artists would dissect cadavers to understand the inner workings of the human body. Their artistic representations were meant as ideals, not a reflection of the actual models.



Greeks were as obsessed with beauty as we are. But I reckon this ideal physique was certainly way more sustenaible at the time with virtually no processed food, and a population way more active walking around all the time