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What Are Healthy and Unhealthy Body Fat Percentages?

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What Are Healthy and Unhealthy Body Fat Percentages?

If you want to know how your body fat percentage relates to your health and how lean you can safely be, then you want to read this article.

 

Everyone talks about wanting to get “shredded” these days, but they don’t realize it’s actually a curse.

You see, once you’ve been really lean, anything else is just unacceptable. It becomes the new norm.

From that point on, you can’t help but view anything fatter as, well, fat.

Hence, many people that were once fixated on having very low levels of body fat are now fixated on maintaining that level of leanness.

An argument could certainly be made that such a preoccupation with body fatness in general is mentally unhealthy, but there’s definitely a gray area here.

Some people see dedication and drive and others see neurotic obsession. Who’s ultimately right really depends on the individual circumstances.

There’s also something to be said for the mental and emotional liberation that comes with being lean.

When you’re truly content with your body, you no longer have to spend so much time thinking about it.

Because let’s face it–when we feel we’re too fat or skinny fat or whatever, it’s like a toothache–it never really goes away.

Sure, we can shirk or suppress it with rationalization or other forms of mental gymnastics, but it never really leaves our orbits. Its shadow always looms.

Well, imagine if that itch never had to be scratched again.

Imagine if you never again had to expend energy doubting, worrying about, or second-guessing your choices about what and how to eat.

Imagine if you never again felt guilty for breaking your dietary promises you made to yourself.

And imagine the ultimate payoff: the freedom to use that attention and energy on more positive, meaningful things.

Well, there are two ways of achieving this fitness nirvana:

  1. Overcome your desire to be lean and muscular and find satisfaction in your current state.
  2. Get lean and muscular.

Personally, I think number two is not only easier but psychologically healthier.

At any rate, that’s not what we’re going to talk about in this article.

Instead, we’re going to focus on the physical ramifications of various body fat levels.

Specifically, we’re going to answer a simple question:

What body fat percentages are healthy and unhealthy?

So, now that we have our marching orders, let’s get moving.

Would you rather listen to this article? Click the play button below!

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What Is Body Fat Percentage?

What Is Body Fat Percentage

Your body fat percentage is the percentage of your weight that is fat.

For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and have 15 pounds of fat, your body fat percentage is 10% (15 / 150).

Your body fat percentage changes as your body composition changes.

That means it changes when you gain fat, of course, but it also changes when you gain muscle.

For example, let’s say you’re starting my Bigger Leaner Stronger program at the numbers given above–150 pounds and 10% body fat.

You eat right and train hard and gain 15 pounds of muscle and 5 pounds of fat, putting you at 170 pounds with 20 pounds of fat.

Well, your total fat mass has now increased by 33% (15 to 20 pounds) but your body fat percentage has only gone up by 2%, to about 12%.

If you then stopped lifting for a year and lost, let’s say, 10 pounds of the muscle you gained but no fat, your body fat percentage would still be about 12% (20/160), but you’d look quite a bit flabbier.

So, the point is your body fat percentage ebbs and flows as you gain and lose muscle and fat.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

How Do You Determine Your Body Fat Percentage?

healthy body fat calculator

There are quite a few ways of calculating your body fat percentage and they can vary quite a bit in terms of reliability and accuracy.

For example…

Fortunately, you can accurately estimate your body fat percentage…if you know what you’re doing.

Check out this article to learn more.

What Happens as You Lose Body Fat?

healthy body fat percentages for males and females

You look better, duh. 🙂

Aside from that, though, there’s actually quite a bit that happens in your body as you get leaner.

You sleep better, your body responds to food and exercise better, your risk of disease generally decreases, your quality of life improves, and the list goes on.

Basically, just about everything physiological that matters works better when you’re lean.

Take leanness too far, though, and it becomes detrimental.

If your body fat levels get too low, the list of potential negative health consequences is long, and it includes…

The reason your body fat levels have such a profound effect on your health and well-being is fat is much more than ugly, oily flesh.

It plays many vital roles in the body, including protecting organs from damage, maintaining body temperature, producing hormones and other chemicals, and much more.

Some of these vital hormones and chemicals that require healthy levels of body fat include…

  • Aromatase

This is an enzyme that’s involved in sex hormone metabolism.

  • TNF alpha and IL-6

These are proteins that are especially important to the immune system.

This is a hormone that primarily relates to the regulation of body weight.

  • Angiotensin

This is a hormone involved in blood pressure control.

  • Lipoprotein lipase

This is an enzyme that’s involved in the storage and metabolism of fat to release energy.

If body fat levels get too low, production of these chemicals (and many others) becomes compromised, which in turn compromises your health.

The bottom line is there’s a point where looking great and being healthy diverge.

And once that happens, the only way to restore what you’ve lost is to gain some of the fat you’ve lost back.

What’s a Healthy Body Fat Percentage for Men?

healthy body fat percentages for men

If you’ve been kicking around the fitness space for any period of time, you’ve probably heard a lot of opinions on this subject.

Ignorance and jealousy abound, so the general trend is to denounce low body fat levels as unhealthy and irresponsible.

These fears are overweighted.

The reality is the negative effects associated with low body fat levels in men come into play at very low levels–about 5% body fat, to be exact.

And just to put that in perspective, here’s what 5% looks like compared to higher levels of body fat:

body fat chart men

As you can see, 5% is competition-ready, shredded to the bone.

It’s the type of physique that bodybuilders and fitness competitors bring to the stage (and that requires copious amounts of drugs). And even they can’t maintain it for long before the serious problems begin.

Fortunately, the type of physique that most guys want falls in the 7 to 9% range, which can be obtained naturally and maintained healthily.

I should know because I’ve kept my body fat percentage around 8% for over a year now and have experienced no negative side effects and have more or less perfect health.

So, the point is this:

If you’re a guy and your goal is to look lean, athletic, and muscular, you have nothing to worry about.

Diet and training is all you need (and a few supplements can help, too).

What’s a Healthy Body Fat Percentage for Women?

healthy body fat percentages for females

Many people think that low body fat levels are unhealthy in men but extremely unhealthy in women.

Again, you can chalk this up mostly to ignorance and/or jealousy.

Negative effects associated with low body fat levels in women become pronounced around 12% body fat.

And just so you can see how lean that really is for a woman:

body fat chart female

I’ve worked with thousands of women and I’ve yet to meet one that says she wants to be 12% (outside of competitions at least).

Instead, and like men, most women have their sights set on something much more achievable and sustainable (18 to 20% for most).

And that doesn’t require drugs or starvation dieting or anything other than sensible dieting and exercise.

Now, a discussion of female body fat levels and health isn’t complete without addressing concerns related to hormone levels and menstruation.

Many women believe that getting too lean will inevitably cause major hormonal disruptions that can lead to amenorrhea (losing your period).

Well, it’s not that simple.

Having low body fat levels is associated with low levels of the hormone leptin, which can certainly influence menstruation (and especially if body fat levels get too low).

What has puzzled scientists, though, is the fact that for every lean female athlete afflicted with amenorrhea, you can find one that’s just as lean with normal, regular periods. Furthermore, female athletes also often lose their periods at very different body fat levels.

It was clear that there was more to this story than just body fat percentage.

Well, the cogs of science kept turning and eventually an answer was found: energy balance.

Energy balance refers to the relationship between the amount of energy you eat and the amount you burn.

Think of it like your body’s energy checking account.

  • If you eat more energy than you burn, you’re in a state of positive energy balance (calorie surplus).

If you keep your body in a calorie surplus, you’ll gain weight.

  • If you eat less than you burn, you’re in a state of negative energy balance (calorie deficit).

If you keep your body in a calorie deficit, you’ll lose weight.

You see, many things happen in the body as well when you under- and over-feed it, and some of them relate to menstruation.

That’s why studies show that energy balance influences menstruation more than body fat levels.

Specifically, when a woman eats less energy than she burns, she can lose her period. And the greater the difference between intake and expenditure, the more frequent the menstrual disturbances can be.

This is why amenorrhea is most common among female athletes participating in sports or physical activities that emphasize low body weight and leanness, such as ballet, gymnastics, endurance running, and swimming.

In most cases, it simply comes down to training too hard and eating too little (which is why many women working their little butts off to lose weight lose their periods as well).

This is also why periods often return in such athletes when energy intake is sufficiently increased and/or energy expenditure is sufficiently decreased.

So, if you lose your period while dieting to lose fat, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re too lean. It probably means you’re just being too aggressive with your calorie deficit and need to close that gap a bit.

I should also note that high levels of stress can contribute to the reproductive problems as well.

This is one of the many reasons you should make proper relaxation a priority in your life (and especially when you’re dieting!).

Lastly, I’ve also seen women struggle with irregular periods after reaching their desired level of leanness but failing to subsequently increase their caloric intake (reverse diet).

Instead, they stuck to their calorie-restricted diets, usually because they were afraid that eating more would cause them to gain back weight they lost.

Well, it won’t…if you know what you’re doing. Check out this article to learn more.

The Bottom Line on Healthy Body Fat Percentages

what is a good percent of body fat

Stop listening to fat people who say it’s unhealthy to be lean.

It’s unhealthy to be extremely lean, but such low levels of body fat are almost impossible to reach naturally (and simply aren’t desired by most people).

More salient is the fact that it’s unhealthy to chronically undereat and overtrain, regardless of your body fat percentage.

So, get lean, eat right, train hard, make recovery and health a priority, and you can’t lose.

Good luck!

 

What’s your take on healthy body fat percentages? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Simon

    Hey Mike,

    What do you have to do to maintain a low bodyfat percentage? Anything special? Do you still count calories and stay at maintance? Or just eat how you feel like?

    • I calorie cycle. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/calorie-cycling/

      LMK what you think!

      • James Winne

        for some reason i’m not able to get emails to you so i’ll just post it here.
        Hey dude I was the one who commented on your live q and a about eating about 5200 or more scaled out and gaining the half pound a week vegan and how that pertains to de novo lipogenesis. So basically, I eat about 10-15% fat which is a shit ton of 5k, get my omega 3s w supplements, and eat about 15% protein from nuts beans and seeds. I track my micros and hit em all more or less every week and dude, it is fucking incredible, sure it’s disgusting eating so much, but the energy is unreal. I started lifting w bls 4 months before going vegan and made some good gains. I was eating 3200 or so to bulk .5lb a week on standard American diet and I’ve been vegan for about a year n after that still making gains on bls. Started the year at 175 @10% and u might still have my process pics. At the end of this year I am now 190-193 6’2 (maybe 6’3 have to re measure) and only about 12-13% (can still easily see lower abs w good lighting. No faggy gear was involved either btw. Also, I did a 2 week mini cut at the end of that and lost fucking 5 lb of fat eating 3500 a day lmao! I’m about to be strong enough for bbls and I want to keep you updated on how this lifestyle affects your programming and I’ll send you some more progress pictures soon probably next week when I get a chance.

        • James Winne

          Oh dude one more thing I forgot to mention that my activity level is low as shit. I go to class a couple days a week and I do bls 4 or 5 days a week.. No cardio, mostly just chilling out and junk lol. Oh and my best friend who I work out w has also done the exact same thing as me w the vegan diet and bls and he has been experiencing good results too. He’s a smaller feller and he went from bulking on 2800ish to almost 4k and staying very lean for a really long Time doing that. Dr. Neal Barnard president of the physicians committee for responsible medicine has conducted studies that he cites in one of his books where he took people that didn’t lift on the SAD and put them on high carb low fat diets and of course you can’t fact check this w/o the book but the average TDEE increase was around 15-20%. I figure since i have gained some size and lift regularly that maybe total glycogen storage has an increased effect on this. Although I think I read that the body only holds something like 7-8g per lb lean mass… Anyways yea ate almost a thousand cabs a day after a couple months vegan for like 8-9 months and gained about 17 or more lb total maybeeee 3.5-4lb of fat and that’s in my 3rd year of lifting technically but only 1.5th year of bls. Sorry for some much text

          • TDEE will definitely increase on a high-carb diet due to the thermic effect as well as increased NEAT. That makes sense…

          • James Winne

            I believe he said that the reason behind the increase was the way that the cell holds intra-cellular fat globulin as a ratio in relation to total dietary consumption of all fats. Apparently w high carb low fat there is less overall cell composition made up of the ICFG and that somehow changed the efficiency for which carbs and other nutrients were shuttled into the cell. I don’t recall how that efficiency relates to the 15% average increase he found but I mean anecdotally some kind of mechanism probably triggers it outside of TE and NEAT! those are definitely large factors though, I agree! 🙂

          • That doesn’t really make sense but I guess I would have to read it for myself to see what he’s saying exactly.

          • James Winne

            Like efficiency in the sense that: if you go from having more fat inside the cell which inhibits if only slightly insulin’s ability to shuttle the carbs in, then you have less capacity to metabolize the carbs and more capacity to store em as fat. But, if your cell changes their composition going from high fat to low fat diets to hold less fat globulin, then you can process more carbs every day by a certain margin and therefore won’t be as inclined to turn em to fat with DNLG. That’s pretty much what he was saying. I shouldn’t have used the word efficiency heh that suggests that you’d be using less energy. Do you think cell composition change has any sizeable effects on DNLG like he suggests?

          • I understand the theory but based on what I’ve read, again it doesn’t really make sense to me. I would have to look further into it.

          • James Winne

            Ok cool yea for sure, it’s too bad there are a poor number of studies in general where all factors are controlled for near perfectly ya know? Hey I just had ONE more question sorry buddy, but ok so say you wake up and weigh yourself right, assuming you do all the weighing in the morning, how much total weight do you gain through the day carbing up and getting water in you? I saw a picture on insta where you were talking about just waking up a while back and I was like damn Mike must gain a lot of weight through the day? I think from between when I wake up to during the day I gain about 10lb ish? Just wondering if the effect is more dramatic when you’re in peak physical shape basically.

          • Absolutely. We’re still poking in the dark in many ways.

            Good question. My weight fluctuates about 5 pounds throughout the day.

          • James Winne

            I agree! I see, today I woke up at about 195ish and ended up at about 202 or so mid day so that’s pretty much in line with what I experience. I think my disgustingly high carb count and the fact that I like to add a good deal of salt to my food might add to my water retention, too haha. As long as I’m getting my K from the bananas, right? ;p I just realized I forgot to send progress pictures, too, shoot. I have one from the end of my bulk and I’ll have my buddy take one tomorrow or the next day since I did my little mini cut. Thanks for being so helpful with these questions I had, I want to get featured on the site when I’m a little bit further into BBLS 🙂

          • Yeah, water retention can give some surprises on the scale.

            Sounds good! Looking forward to the After photos.

          • James Winne

            Lmao I came back to Mfl to look something up and remembered to
            post this finally. My bad, heh.

            This r me at 175 right after freshman year of college at the end of summer
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/01116fa237ce81ca8ba1f5b2d2e506373b4e9d4cbd724d6b719bd5a99
            3d1e956.jpg
            Not a good pic for comparison but I was around 10% w little muscle and the picture makes me look like I’ve got a belly but I didn’t at the time at all lol just skinny dude abs. That was at the end of losing like 35 lb starting at 210 pretty fat.
            Then I bulked for about 9 months until the start of this summer and ended up at this picture that I found on my buddy’s phone.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d52193c05325fdb74bef1a3439b820b96d2fffed9c484c100ad36cb337fee742.jpg
            Im about 205 there or a little more and I’d say about 13% sorry it’s horrible but it’s the only pic I have of before I lost that 5lb or so of fat I gained.
            So now I’m into bbls and I was gonna bulk for a couple more months then send more pics cuz I look much better now and I want to keep going and see how I’ll look after a bit more periodization.

          • James Winne

            Lol messed up the first picture link here it is

          • Nice! Looks like you put on some good muscle there. Keep up the good work.

        • Hey man! That sounds insane and hey it’s working so keep it up…

  • Austin

    Hey Mike I need your help with something, sorry about how long this is.

    For the past couple of years I have been in purgatory. I have several spinal issues (Mild hunchback, mild scoliosis and mild hypo-kyphosis) as such this has made most lifts (anything squat or dead lift related) difficult to impossible. Because of this I stick to lifts like standing shoulder press, weighted dips and chin-ups, and incline bench. However as you have probably already guessed my back problems make progression on these lifts difficult and frequently send me to the chiropractor. As such every time I have tried bulking I mostly just wind up quickly packing the weight onto my obliques. Now I actually prefer a slim warrior type physique and just lifted heavy because I knew it was better for muscle building and for real world strength.

    I have noticed as the years have gone by that my back issues prevented strength gains in the gym from being transferred to strength gains in real life. Because of this I think I am going to start trying to build muscle in the 5-10 (or higher if you think it will help) rep range instead of the 4-8 (usually closer to 4) rep range. The problem is I do not know how to build muscle in that range, so can you help me out with that?

    If my main lifts are incline bench, standing shoulder press, and weighted chins and dips, what rep and set ranges should i lift at, and for how many days a week? I’m not looking for something that will build strength and muscle over a period of years in order to get all superhero looking. Right now I am around 148-150, 5’10 and 9-10% body fat. I’m gonna try to get down to 145ish at 8% and then bulk. It would be great if you could give me something to use to get me to like 155ish at 8% body fat, it doesn’t matter at this point if I don’t gain one iota of strength, this is just so I can fill out my build to something more athletic looking and not look so scrawny.

    Thanks

    • Chris

      I’m not Mike, but I can tell you, if you want a more slim and “toned” physique as opposed to the bulky physique, that’s mostly just diet. You could achieve that physique even with bodyweight training. If you have fat to lose, get your diet in check. If you want more muscle on the other hand, that’s going to be hard considering your physical limitations.

      • Austin

        Hey Chris thanks for the comment. That was my original plan but I have a small skeletal frame, so even at a a low bodyfat I do not look particularly lean. That’s why I’m asking Mike for something in a higher rep range that will help build muscle, since even 5Ibs of muscle would be quite noticeable on my frame and I don’t just wanna spin my wheels with 68 set workouts like so many guys do. The back issues look worse written down then they actually are. Upper body stuff is still doable just more difficult and tedious.
        As a side note, I like how you put quotations around “toned” I do the same thing.

    • No worries!

      Sorry to hear about the health issues. 🙁 That sounds annoying to deal with.

      That’s fine if you work in the higher rep range. You’ll get better results working in the 4-6 rep range, but you can still get great results with more reps. Just make sure you continue to progressively overload. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-muscle-hypertrophy-muscle-growth/

      I recommend lifting 3-5 days a week. You’ll get better results with the 4-day split than with the 3 and you’ll get better results with the 5-day split than with the 4. For a good routine to follow, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/muscle-building-workout/

      Of course, skip any exercises necessary like the squat and the deadlift.

      Check it out and LMK what you think.

      Cool on your plan to get to 8% BF. Let’s make it happen! Talk soon.

  • Brock

    Hey Mike, I am 195 and about 17% body fat. I’m worried that if I cut down at this size I won’t end up having the look that I want and I’ll just look skinny. Should I continue to bulk or should I cut? In the past I have cut but have lost some of my strength and so when I’m done my cut I have to build back up again to the strength I had at the end of my bulk and then it’s a continuous cycle. Let me know what you think, thanks for all your articles and your great books!

  • LifeForMuscle

    mike DO THIS!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4ZIfWQqJmg

    and put it up your channel

    • Hahaha I don’t think the wife would approve. Zyzz did it better. 🙂

  • TD

    I always use my menstrual cycle as a marker that I’m doing okay. If I continue to get it regularly month after month, then I know my body is working the way it should. Not seeing it would definitely cause me to sit up and try to figure out why it vanished.

    I’m glad you addressed this because I assumed if your period stopped it meant you were too lean, never thinking your energy balance could be the reason.

  • Alexander Mitov

    Hey Mike,
    I’ve been on your program for over a year and saw some great results and got pretty strong on it. However, I eventually hit a plateu and couldn’t make any progress for months. And I was taking adequate macros, keeping a log of every single workout and set to make sure I can progressively overload and micromanage.

    That’s when I decided I needed to go further. Did tons of research and stumbled upon people like Menno Henselmans from Bayesian Bodybuilding, Greg Nuckols from Strengtheory, Layne Norton, then other sites such as Strength and Conditioning Research, the Bulgarian method and its principles.

    Learned a lot along the way reading great minds and a lot of research. Then I applied high frequency training and increased total volume and I started progressing straight away!

    I just wanted to say that your content is pretty good but it’s not top-notch or novel anymore. There are other resources surpassing you in terms of quality and research. I used to refer to people to your site for everything but now I do that only for newbies and refer the rest to other people and sites. You really need to up your game, man. There are people hiring several PhDs to help them analyze and interpret research better and it really shows. I hope you do that really soon, cannot understand how you can spend $X0K a month for SEO or whatever as you said in one vid, but you cannot hire researchers to make your content better. Other people are doing it and you’re falling behind.

    I really wish you’d resond to my message and give your take.
    Kind regards

    • James Winne

      wow, did you for sure know that you were at least gaining fat while you were stalled out? i’m about to transition into beyond bigger leaner stronger and if i can get to the strength multipliers that it requires then I don’t see how mike’s programming isn’t good enough?

      Was your form adequate enough for the 85% of 1rm lifting? How did you make better gains off of upping your volume? After a bls workout I am completely trashed. how did you progress in strength using more volume and higher frequency? what was your rep scheme and total weekly volume per muscle group? do you think you have more slow twitch fibers perhaps so that’s why you respond a little better to high rep training? if you’re saying you continued to train at the same intensity as bls with more volume and frequency naturally and made gains then i’d have to say that’s probably impossible naturally.

      finally, i don’t understand why you choose to link people who are literally all on drugs to prove the point that mike’s training philosophy isn’t optimal? first guy:
      https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/706872028813508610/iT5N-x3d.jpg
      that is drugs. paperthin skin and heavy androgenous development in the upper chest and shoulders gives it away as well.
      layne norton, a very heavy drug user who advocates the FAT program, a trillion reps….
      as for the greg fellow, i googled him and saw that he was squatting 6 and a half plates. yea sorry i don’t think so natty lol. Does he use higher volume and frequency with that much weight? Guess it doesn’t matter if you’re blasting.

      Why would mike hire doctors who are probably less versed in overall fitness and training principles than he is from personal experience? are they doctors like layne norton? (l o l) who are the people who are hiring these doctors to analyze research lol? excercise research really isn’t that hard to understand with some biology background dude, I study the sciences at university and that wasn’t even neccessary to learn almost everything important because I did so before leaving high school thanks to mike.

      really though, he has covered every aspect that i could possibly think of pertaining to excercise on his site, and success stories prove all of his advice to be enough to build the ideal natural physique. what more do you want from him?

      sorry if i come off as rude or anything here but really i read this and couldn’t help but comment because it irked me haaard. almost like you’re trolling lol… if so then you got me, congrats 😉

      • Alexander Mitov

        You seem seriously biased. If you claim Menno is using steroids then you might as well argue Mike is using them, too https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/24145ab3b906ac15f4f069ca5c897919caff154d0ddaa6273536c7b144f88cee.png
        His physique isn’t any less impressive than Menno’s.

        Yes my form was adequate. I was just stuck on the same weight for 3+months without any progress. And exercising one muscle group once a week doesn’t make any intuitive sense for being optimal. I’m currently training chest with high intensity and moderate volume every 3 days and I don’t feel trashed at all. On chest day in particular I’m doing 4 sets in the 3-4 rep range, then 4 sets in the 4-5 rep range, then probably 8 more sets in the 6-9 rep range. And after 3 days I have no problem doing chest again, no soreness whatsoever since my diet and supplementations are strict and I’ve gotten used to the higher frequenct and volume. I’m currently cutting and doing Intermittent fasting and even now I’m actually making progress on some(not all) of my lifts when I’m training a muscle group every 3 to 4 days even though I’m training fasted and in a caloric deficit.

        And about Layne Norton, even Mike endorses him and the guy is obviously very knowledgeable. You have no proof Layne isn’t natty, and even if he isn’t that’s no way a reason to disregard his knowlege and credentials. If I apply your reasoning again I could argue that since fitness models take steroids and Mike looks like a fitness model, then he’s on gear. But I’m sure he’s not.

        And yes, hiring people that have been specifically trained to conduct and interpret research is a great thing. I don’t know how you can argue against that haha. You can dive into the data deeper, you can run statistical and meta analysis on different experiments and come up with conclusions of your own, you know what a good research is and what not, you can interpret and understand the data better, you can conduct experiments of your own. Menno Henselmans is doing all that, and it really shows in the high quality of his articles.

        And about Greg, it’s funny how you haven’t even taken a look at the high quality and depth of his articles but you’re straight away bashing him for being a strong motherfucker.

        Research in general shows that the more advanced you get, you should be training with higher intencity, frequency and total volume and BLS is lacking in this regard. Of course BLS is still a high quality resource and I repsect it for that. I’m just saying that there are better resources lately and BLS isn’t keeping up.

        • James Winne

          I think you miss my educated understanding that Mike’s programming is the best a natural is going to get is not bias. I choose the best. I find great information from multiple sources on technique and nutrition from multiple sources, but I choose to follow Mike’s programming because it is the best and has gained me the most I possibly could in my year 1 and 2 and I’m sure it will hold true for when I start BBLS in a few days.

          if you look at those pics side by side it’s blatantly obvious the difference, Menno has a super dry, grainy overly vascular physique from the extra blood volume from the drugs and mike’s traps, shoulders, and chest are dead giveaways that he isn’t using any androgens. look at the 3d fullness level of Menno’s chest shoulders and traps, it’s clear as day let’s not kid ourselves here.
          http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Menno-Henselmans-Bayesian-Bodybuilding.jpg

          you’re right his physique is more impressive because it isn’t built on drugs and an untrained eye like yours can’t differentiate them.

          once a week makes plenty of sense because your cns and joints/ligaments need to repair which takes quite a bit longer than just muscle repair that very well may occur before you hit that next workout the 3rd day.

          So you’re doing 150+ reps if you only hit the bottom of your rep range and over 200 if you hit the upper….. for chest every week in that intensity range? That seems like too much volume but i suppose if it works for you. gaining strength when you’re advanced enough to handle 150 heavy reps per week in a caloric deficit AND fasted? how strong are you right now? Are you sure you’re advanced?

          Mike doesn’t really endorse him and doesn’t reccomend his programs because they are too much volume for natural people. The reason I brought his drug use into the equation is because he is marketing his program as a natural lifter’s program. How would he know how to optimally train for a natural person to reach their strength/size peak if he is using drugs? ya brah, no proof he isn’t natural lmfao.
          https://www.google.com/search?q=layne+norton&rlz=1CASMAF_enUS658US658&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjKw8rImt_MAhXm24MKHW8ODZYQ_AUIBygB&biw=1366&bih=699#imgrc=coZ4hlbAbqwzbM%3A

          He’s a doctor of philosophy (lol) and nutritional sciences. we don’t need any more information about how to track your macros and micros, that isn’t what will hold someone back in their training, the programming is. Fat is not a good program, my roommate has been on it for over 3 years and I have blown him out of the water in less than half the time. lmfao at mike being on drugs because he is a fitness model which he isn’t. that’s a terrible comparison lol. I said the 3 druggers you listed are using, and those 3 guys aren’t fitness models lol the second 2 are mass monster powerlifters.

          Again, anyone w some basic knowledge is capable of interpreting research on excercise science perfectly. The only research that needs conducting to be honest at this point that hasn’t been extensively studied is whether low reps stimulate myofibrillar hypertrophy exclusive of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy or if the opposite is true of high rep work. That still doesn’t matter because regardless of the answer Mike’s programming will get you to where you can go naturally.

          Lol i’m not bashing greg for being strong i’m bashing your argument about them being more valuable sources of information for naturals when they are NOT NATURAL. what do you not understand about this? It’s like a dolphin trying to teach an eagle how to fly.

          Is there some drug use in the mix for you as well? I don’t know why you would be basing your training philosophy around the advice from a drug user unless you’re not natty.

          You’re correct, advanced lifters do need more intensity and a bit more volume. That is why he literally has a program for the trainee who is intermediate+ it’s called BEYOND bigger leaner stronger, it’s a reverse pyramid program for advanced lifters. chest for that program would go like 2x 2-3 flat bench 3x 4-6 incline bench 3x 4-6 incline dumbbell and then some high rep work w maybe dips 2 x 8-10. That has proper volume balanced with intensity.

          So what I have gathered from this is that you didn’t realize BBLS was a thing, tried to reach your strength and size threshold w BLS which is not going to happen, especially if you’re not in a surplus for sure ( you never mentioned whether you were gaining fat while in your “plateau”) and decided that it was better to use programming or volume/inensity/frequency that a drug user suggests. Now I see your problem. Doing everything you can to advance? So not having the most carbs possible loaded before the workout and being in a caloric deficit all while doing too much volume for the intensity, way more high rep work than any natural would benefit from after all that heavy work, and doing it so frequent is part of that? lol bro, k.

          R u absolutely certain that u r not trolling…

          • Alexander Mitov

            I’m currently benching 92.5kg for 3-4 reps. I’m 83kg at 17-19% BF.
            First of all, again, no proof they’re on drugs. Even if they were, claiming that anything they say becomes worthless if they take drugs disregards their knowlege and credentials. Your reasoning would imply that their personal experience, not scientific evidence is what matters in the end for designing the best programming. And guess what, speaking from personal experience once I started doing high frequency & high total colume, I started progressing staight away. Case closed.

            From personal experience doing high frequency & higher total volume works better than my end experience with BLS. When you take into account that your anabolic window narrows as you progress, start dealing with the Repeated bouts affect and basically your body adapting to the training and your muscles being damaged less over time, and taking into account I know higher frequency is ok since I’m not sore or overtrained because I’ve done it and I feel that I can bench every 3 days not every 7, it does make sense to train higher frequency.

            And yeah, I’m currently in a caloric deficit because I obviously want to lose fat which would in turn improve muscle sensitivity to insulin which in the long run means more gains.

            It’s funny how you constantly make assumptions and you’re being a dick about it as well. You’re definitely gonna win me with this LOL

            And your argument for his PhD being worthless is a total joke. Of course it is beneficial and in many aspects research in resistance training and nutrition is very scarce, not abundant. And about the endorcement, I don’t know, if you interview the person on your channel, state that he really knows his stuff and have included in your book stuff(talking about reverse dieting) that Layne really was the first person to focus on, then maybe yes he’s endorsing him in a way.

            So you’re saying PHAT is shit because your friend was on it and you surpassed him? Good job on your n=1 experiment. And I can tell you that I surpassed my BLS self by doing high frequency training. Great arguments, bro.

            And Menno doesn’t look like his on gear, no. When you take into account his pose that aims to put him in his best light, nothing is beyond the reach of the natty lifter. I guess you have no idea what years hard work + good genetics can achieve.

            It would be awesome if Mike joins the discussion and tell us what he thinks about the debate.

          • James Winne

            wow lol I didn’t realize how ignorant of a person I was speaking with. So i’m talking to a borderline obese person who thinks he can’t benefit from bls when his insulin is probably shot in the first place. “i started progressing right away” nice bro, you are the one using n=1 confirmation bias you dumbass. being in a constant caloric deficit you have no place to speak about what program will get you the most gains. period. Mike doesn’t endorse PHAT. he has specifically said it is too much volume, which it is. durr. I used the anecdote of my roommate to reaffirm my point that it is too much volume for him to recover from and that is why i have blown him out of the water, not because i got better results alone. he literally can’t progress on anything (no shit because the rep scheme is retarded) and that is what makes the program shit. yea bro i hope he does chime in on your fail experience and your drugged up references, not to mention your constant confirmation biases. I’m not gonna reply to this verbal poop anymore because it is not even worth the time lol good luck cutting mr. “i can’t make gains in a cut i wonder why, durrrrrr”

          • Gavin L

            Hey James,
            Agree with you 100%… I read through the comments and was waiting to see Alex’s weight/strength/BF% thinking Alex is going to have some pretty impressive numbers to match the talk. Alex sorry mate but you should concentrate on just training hard and not get too far ahead of yourself on the science.
            I’d say Mike’s program/s are applicable to 95% of people with the remaining being either on drugs or extremely advanced with years of solid training.
            Mike has the humility not to even respond to this rubbishing. If it’s not for you why make negative comments after getting good gains from it.
            My advice would be less reading more hard training. BTW I’m 48 years old, weigh 68 kilos, 8% bf and can bench 100 kgs for 4 reps and find Mike’s program just fine.
            Why would Mike hire researchers when the research is so readily available on line for analysis (as per all the reference he sights).
            If it’s not for you so be it but no need to be cynical.
            Peace out

          • Thanks brother. Keep up the good work. You might find this helpful too:

            https://legionathletics.com/fitness-at-any-age/

          • FWIW I’ve spoken to quite a few guys that have tried to run PHAT and it beat the living shit out of them. They were experienced weightlifters/dieters in a surplus as well.

            I don’t think it’s a bad program. It’s just extremely hard and not for everyone.

          • Bryan

            Obvious troll is obvious.

        • Not sure if you’re aware but BLS has you train everything twice per week (when you take into account overlap on compounds and such).

          Your volume is insane. Honestly that would destroy me. I’m not sure how you can do it. AND In a deficit? Are you on drugs? Haha.

          I personally like Menno’s and Greg’s work but it’s way, way over the head of most people looking to get fit. That’s all.

      • Thanks for chiming James. I’m glad to hear you’re doing well and you bring up good points.

        To be fair, I think there’s a good chance that Menno is natty. That pic is full pump and he’s flexing his traps. If he’s on drugs, he’s not pushing it too hard.

        • James Winne

          I agree, Mike. He’s the most likely to be natural of the 3 for sure. Reason I was skeptical is because I’ve heard him recommend hitting the same muscle group w low volume each day every day of the week even for advanced lifters, I just don’t see someone reaching that level of development hammering a group w a heavy set or 2 every single day unless they’re takin’ dat dere. Why do you think super high frequency is such a big theme throughout the industry? Who knows tho hahaha.

          • Yeah I hear you.

            Sounds kinda like Nuckols’ Bulgarian approach?

            The current obsession with frequency is odd. It’s not nearly as important as load and total weekly volume…

    • Hey man!

      Glad to hear you did well on the program and I suspect that something was off with the plateau that we could have corrected.

      Regardless, there’s nothing wrong with moving on to other programs and if your body responds well to high frequency, that’s great. As a general rule, more volume = more growth but you can only take it so far before problems begin, of course.

      Regarding the content, honestly I’m more interested in helping newbies (of which there are many, many millions that need a lot of help) than produce content that is only useful to a very small set of people.

      And I work with a PhD student at Oxford on the research side of things. 🙂

  • John

    Wait so even if u have currently a bloating issue you can still lose bf? How? And where cuz it can’t be your stomach area right? Thanks

    • Cara Stone

      Bloating is water weight. It doesn’t have anything to do with losing body fat.

      You can’t spot reduce body fat, so loss may or may not be from the midsection. Most ppl notice loss of fat there first; probably because that’s where so many ppl tend to carry a lot of their excess body fat.

  • Alexander Mitov

    Hey Mike,
    can you comment on this quote from Examine’s article on HMB as you use the calcium salt in Forge: “Supplementation of HMB prior to an exercise session would require the usage of an HMB free acid rather than a calcium salt, and the above dosage range still holds. For this specific purpose, HMB is to be taken 30-45 minutes before a workout.”

    • Two things:

      1. The evidence for the free acid looks promising but due to no biological reason the free acid should be THAT much better and due to the research being conducted by researchers whose HMB work I, quite frankly, don’t trust, I’ve put it in the “too good to be true” bucket for now.

      2. Even if it were true, it’s still kind of being overly nitpicky because what we’re really talking about is net protein synthesis over the course of the day.

  • Nwise

    I found this article interesting and I am wondering if birth control plays a part in menstruation? For example, will I still lose my period if I am too lean or my energy balance is off if I am also taking the birth control pill?

    • Sarah Ho

      As a medical student, no you will not stop having your period if you are on birth control. Birth control pills are the hormones that cause you to have your menstrual cycle, so even if aggressive dieting causes your brain to turn off the signals to produce estrogen and progesterone, you’re taking an exogenous source.

  • Richard

    Great article ! As I dropped fat during the last 3 years from 98 kg towards 69 kg at 186 cm now. Based on photo’s my fat percentage will be ~13% I guess. But at work people started to say I became to lean and that this cannot be healthy. All colleagues who have lots of extra weight due to fat. Indeed they call me extreme and obsessed when doing Lean Gains and count calorie intake.

    So I started doubting, but now I know this happens to more people, thanks for this article and all your advises you share.

    • Thanks, Richard! Wow. Awesome job on all the weight you lost!

      Don’t worry about them. 13% BF isn’t too lean at all. Sounds like you’re just doing things right and getting results. 🙂

      My pleasure! Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Ankita

    Hi mike!! Great info again !! Wanted to know if birth control pills usage leads to weight gain and actually due to water retention or fat storage please clarify.also can we change our body composition while having these pills?? Pls suggest!!

  • Nice Mike. This article motivated me alot now onward’s I will gonna try all this in my workout routine.

    • Happy to hear it! I look forward to seeing your results.

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Alex Mora

    Mike, you are awesome man!

    Can you help me with this 3 questions? =)

    ¿When calculating your TDEE you must get the fat out of the equation? or it depends on the body fat % of the person?

    ¿Is truth that overweight people can lose fat faster because they burn more calories with any type of activity?

    And the last one. ¿Does fat tissue burn calories?

    • Thanks Alex!

      Body composition does impact TDEE so yes if you want the most accurate guess, you want to know your approximate body fat %.

      Very overweight people can lose fat faster because they can run a larger calorie deficit than lean people.

      Not directly, no, but the heavier your body is, the more energy it costs to move it, so there’s that.

      • Alex Mora

        Thank you so much for your answer! You are kind of the best of the best in the fitness world.

        Peace =)

  • Travis Trudgeon

    Mike your awsome. I was hoping you could help me with my situation I would really like to start a meal plan soon through you but i am currently unsure where to start.

    Not sure if you could give me any advice but here is where im at.  Im a male  26 years old 6’7″ 225 lbs.  I started at 325lbs 2 years ago.  Started lifting weights seriously 6 months ago but am no where close to bf id like to be at. I am.currently at 25% (would like something around 12-15 and maintain that)  Do i start now with a bulk for 6 months and then cut for next summer. Or do i cut now and  then bulk through the winter then cut for next summer.? Or will the bulk plan you offer allow me to drop to 15% body fat and maintain it

    • Thanks Travis. Good job dropping 100lbs. I strongly recommend you cut down to 10% by sticking to the meal plan. You won’t be able to drop body fat with a bulking diet.

  • Jason

    Hey Mike, why do women look so much leaner at higher body fat percentages than men? Like where is the fat hiding? lol. A man and a woman can look like they are carrying the same amount of body fat but the woman is actually 10-12% higher but doesn’t look fatter… weird

    • Boobs and butts. 🙂

      • Matt

        Fun fact: Women’s butt fat contains special compounds needed specifically for developing a fetus, specifically the large human brain. The survival of the human race literally depends on dat ass 🙂

        • James

          Thats men are attracted to womens butts from an evolutionary standpoint. Which is why my favorite open lining to a woman in a bar is. “I couldn’t help but notice from across the room that your ass is radiating with fertility”

          • Can’t wait to try that this weekend!

          • Ken

            “Hey girl, my primal instincts noticed that your well marbled butt would supply my offspring with a mighty fine brain ;)”

  • Oli

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve just started following my daily macros after years of ignoring the nutrition side of things. I have always trained hard and have good muscle mass, shape etc but the and have always been on vacation.
    Im looking at my daily food intake and I’m not sure I have things right. I’m eating more than before!!! The difference is the ratios of what type if food in eating to keep within the macros. For e.g. I’m eatk g more protein than ever with 3 x protein shakes daily just to hit my protein ratio.
    Carbs are probably the same as before but fats is way under my old diet. Scary how quick I hit the fat max for the day.
    Now with pre planning I am hitting all ratios to near enough.
    Does this sound about right or should I be lowering the amount of food in eating.
    I’m 181 cm and 179lbs gym 6xweek with 20 mins sprints 4xweek.
    Protein 229
    Carbs 229
    Fats 51

    Does that sound right?

    Any advice would be great

    Thanks

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