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Body Fat Percentage is The Right Way to Measure Fitness

Because your body is about 50-55% water, you can temporarily stage-manage your weight with diet pills and fad diets but, you cannot manipulate your body fat percentage. Body fat percentage is a more meaningful metric for gauging physical fitness than what you can get out of height and weight tables.

The U.S. Army established a maximum allowable body fat percentage standard that applies to everybody from recruit to four-star general. Failure to meet the body fat percentage standard means no promotions and no career training. Repeated failure to meet the standard will result in an early exit from the Army. That's a harsh result.

At least with the Army people know what to expect as a consequence of ignoring their own physical fitness. The world we all live in may not be as honest as the Army in defining those consequences but, the results may be as unkind.

Excessive body fat connotes a lack of personal discipline and can lead to low self-esteem. It detracts from appearance and suggests a poor state of health, physical fitness or stamina. That is what researchers found from measuring the responses of people to photos of different body types.

The maximum allowable body fat percentages for everybody in the U.S. Army are shown below. Chances are you are not in the military and never intend to be but, can you suggest a more thoroughly researched or carefully crafted standard?

Maximum allowable body fat percentages are categorized by age and gender. For males this is the breakdown:

Age 17 – 20: Max Body Fat is 20%
Age 21 – 27: Max Body Fat is 22%
Age 28 – 39:. Max Body Fat is 24%
Age 40 and over: Max Body Fat is 26%

And for females:

Age 17 – 20: Max Body Fat is 28%
Age 21 – 27: Max Body Fat is 30%
Age 28 – 39:. Max Body Fat is 32%
Age 40 and over: Max Body Fat is 34%

It's fair to say that knowing your body fat percentage is a necessary first step to getting fit and trim. Because your body is about 55-60% water, you can stage-manage your weight with diet pills and fad diets but, you cannot manipulate body fat percentage.

Consider making your physical fitness goal to get your body fat percentage in line with the U.S. Army standard for the maximum allowable body fat percentage for your age and gender. Once you get there you will have accomplished something meaningful and made physical fitness a positive habit. You will be able to take your body-building and fitness ambitions anywhere you want to go.

Fortunately determining your body fat percentage is easy. If you cannot or do not want to get it done at a gym or anywhere else other than privately, you can get a body fat caliper at a sporting goods store or at There is an under model and even one with a digital readout for around . The instructions that come with the body fat caliper are helpful enough for you to take readings as accurate as you would get at the gym or the doctor's office.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI is used for creating statistics from large groups of people and in that role is considered a reliable indicator of body fat percentage for an entire population. You’re a population of one. Get the body fat calipers.

About the Author: (c) 2006 by Peter Somerville. Peter is a former military officer, attorney, writer, and the creator of The Paratrooper's Guide To Fitness and Weight Loss. Now anybody can take advantage of the world's most carefully researched and successful physical fitness and weight loss training program at

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