Wanting to reach your goals of 10% body fat or lower? Here's why that might not be a great idea.
Every man would like to be lean.
Every man wants to have a shredded six pack, defined muscles and vascular forearms to show off.
And for many people, 10% body fat seems to be the sweet spot that people would love to be sitting at in the summer, or even year round.
But in this article I'll go over why 3 reasons why that's not a good idea for most people, and why you might want to reevaluate your weight loss and cutting goals.
Then, we'll tell you what's likely to be the best and most sustainable/balanced body fat level is a good goal for most men.
Let's get started.
Why Is 10% Body Fat Too Lean?
10% Body Fat Is MUCH Leaner Than Most People Think
The truth is, the view that most people share when it comes to 10% body fat isn't all that accurate.
Many people think that 10% body fat is the point where you start to see your abs when you're flexing, and you start to get some real definition in your muscles.
However, that's simply not the case at all.
In reality, 10% body fat means you're already at the point where you have a clearly defined six pack, a properly carved, athletic look, striations in your muscles appearing in some places, and vascularity in the common places as well.
Being 10% body fat is VERY, VERY lean.
In reality, most peoples' idea of 10% body fat is probably closer to 13% or 14%, where the abs are showing, but not at the point where they're very clearly defined.
This is an example of someone we'd say is roughly 10% body fat:
That's pretty lean, isn't it?
THIS is probably something closer to what most people think is 10% body fat, when in reality it's probably closer to 13%.
This brings us onto the next point...
10% Body Fat Is Ridiculously Hard to Achieve and Maintain
Losing weight and cutting isn't a linear journey.
It's certainly not the case that you're going to be able to keep shedding fat at the same rate doing the same things.
The lower you go in terms of body fat, the harder it is going to become to keep on shedding fat.
It's like accelerating your car.
The faster you go, the harder it becomes to keep on increasing your speed.
Eventually, your car is going to be fighting extremely hard to keep going faster and faster.
It's an exponential journey, not a linear one.
And the lower you go, the more and more you're going to have to dedicate and sacrifice towards your fitness.
You're going to have to accept being hungry much more often.
You're going to have to watch how much you eat, much more strictly.
You're going to have to deal with more mental hurdles and challenges.
You'll have bad mood swings, low sex drive, and low mental focus/concentration and capacity.
You'll have far less energy and feel slow and lethargic all the time.
It is going to start having impacts on your everyday life outside of the gym.
Your body does require a certain level of body fat to function properly, and for most people, that level is much higher than 10%.
Getting to and maintaining 10% body fat is extremely difficult, guys.
Even reaching the point of 12% or 14% bodyfat is a much, much easier journey without nearly as many tradeoffs into your normal life.
If you personally know anybody who's been really lean before, say, below 12% body fat (actually proven and not just them telling you without any evidence), they'll most likely tell you that it is indeed very difficult to achieve, and continue to maintain a lean physique.
And for most people that don't make a living off of their fitness careers, it's not going to be worth it.
If you're not an influencer, or don't rely on your fitness to make money and make a living, then the extra work, side effects and stress probably isn't going to be worth it for you. Unless you enjoy or don't mind feeling like crap.
10% Body Fat Doesn't Always Look Better Anyways
This is a little bit subjective, but you can certainly argue that being at a higher level of body fat could even look better than being 10% body fat, or around that level.
Just because you're more shredded, your abs are popping more and you've got more veins doesn't necessarily mean you'll always look better.
Sure, when you're shirtless, on the beach, or taking posing photos in the gym you might look more impressive.
But practically anywhere else, you're most likely going to end up looking smaller, weaker, and much less impressive.
You're going to lose some, if not a lot of your muscle fullness that you used to have when you had more body fat.
In a shirt, you might even barely look like you lift if you haven't got enough muscle to keep the size at lower body fat levels.
Pretty much when you're wearing clothing of some sort, which I'm going to assume is how you spend the majority of your days.
Plus, your face is going to develop this overly-lean, carved and sucked-down appearance that many people probably wouldn't be huge fans of either.
Just take a look at a guy like this:
He's certainly lean and looks athletic and impressive, but in a normal shirt or top, there's a good chance he'd look much smaller, or possibly even to the point where you can't actually tell that he works out.
Compare that to a guy like this who's got a little bit more fat:
He might not look as impressive shirtless, but when wearing a t-shirt, you can probably imagine that he would look far more filled out and stronger than the guy above.
The point is, you have to weigh the pros and cons and compare everything before jumping the gun and shooting for your 10% body fat goals.
Pros of lower body fat levels
more muscle definition
look more impressive when shirtless.
Cons of lower body fat levels:
less muscle fullness
look smaller in shirts
carved, sunken facial features
substantially lower energy levels.
So If 10% Body Fat Is Too Low, What Should I Aim to Be?
12-15% Body Fat Is a Sweet Spot for Most Men
You have to find a balance between the tradeoffs into your everyday life, and the actual benefits that come with the body fat percentage you aim to be sitting at.
At 10% body fat, the sacrifices you'll have to make simply won't be worth it for most people that don't rely on their fitness to make a living.
Instead, we'd say that anywhere from 12-15% of body fat is the ideal range for most men to aim for.
Because it offers that balance.
It's not going to completely eat up your entire life and turn into a full-time job like achieving and maintaining 10% body fat would, but it's still going to be lean enough to the point where you'll look impressive and athletic.
You'll still be able to look lean and impressive without a shirt on, without losing your muscle fullness and size when you're wearing a shirt.
It's that sweet spot that offers most of the good stuff that comes with being lean, whilst causing only a fraction of the troubles that would come with lower body fat percentages.
What About My Abs? Will They Still Show?
Don't worry, if you still want your abs to look great even in this ideal body fat range of 12-15%, you can just start to incorporate some ab training into your workout programs.
Training your abs and making them grow bigger and stronger is going to allow them to show and look defined, even at higher body fat levels.
Just like how a bicep could still look bigger, even if hidden under more fat if you trained it enough.
So unless you're a fitness influencer of some sort, or you rely on your fitness to make a living for yourself, the road and journey to achieving and maintaining 10% body fat levels probably aren't going to be that worth it to you.
Instead, if you want to be lean, aim for the range between 12% and 15% body fat, as that's going to give you the best balance between everything whilst being realistically sustainable for most men.
I hope you've enjoyed reading through this post, and have learnt something from it!
If you did, consider sharing it with your friends so we can reach more people and help more reach their goals in fitness!