For all those of you who live your life and plan your day based on the digits thrown to you by your weighing machine – here’s a Newsflash – the weighing scale is the most needless piece of equipment in the gym!
Your weight should be the last thing that you should be worried about – it honestly doesn’t tell you much about your body. Let’s see why…
Our body weight is divided into Lean body mass and Fat mass. Lean body mass includes muscles, bones, organs and fluids. The importance of muscle, bones, organs and fluids in the body, each deserves an article of their own indispensability for our survival and fitness.
Fat mass includes subcutaneous fat, visceral fat and essential fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat under your skin – the fat that hides our body’s shape and gives us extra weight which slows us down. Visceral fat is the fat over the organs, which not only gives us extra weight but can also be injurious to health and hazardous to life. Essential fat, as the name itself implies, is essential for survival.
Instead of getting obsessed about the weight of our body, we should focus on the ratio between Lean body mass and fat mass – which is known as BODY COMPOSITION. For an Ideal Body Composition, the fat percentage in men should be between 5 to 15 per cent of total body weight. A minimum of 5 per cent is the allowance given to essential body fat. 15 per cent of body fat is the maximum that a man can have if he wants to call his body composition ideal. Most athletes have their body fat percentage below 10 per cent, that is when your abs become visible without you having to flex them.
For women, the ideal range is between 8 to 20 per cent of their total body weight. Most women athletes usually possess around 10 to 12 per cent of body fat.
Don’t let anyone tell you that having a low body fat percentage is unhealthy for your body. Do you know what is unhealthy for the body? Being Fat. How many people are dying because they are too ripped? And how many people are dying due to obesity? You do the math! I think insurance companies would be the best judge here. Who do you think will get a lower premium medical insurance? A lean person or an obese person?
If you’re a man, and your Fat percentage is less than 15 per cent, and if you’re a woman, and your fat percentage is less than 20 per cent of your total body weight, you are good to go! The rest of the weight is all productive weight. It will make you move faster, you will be able to lift your body weight better, you will able to move that furniture in your house much more easily, you will come home less tired, you will be able to spend quality time with family, and you will be able to enjoy that Sunday with family and friends rather than just lying down on the sofa trying to recover from the tiredness of the week. You will be much more useful and able, in general.
If you are a man weighing 100 kgs but your fat percentage is less than 15 per cent than you will look great and nobody, not even you would be able to tell that you weigh as much! You will look much leaner than the regular 100 or even 80 kg man! Same is the case with women – just get down to less than 20 per cent of body fat, 15 probably, and don’t bother about your weight. The rest of the weight will make you look fit and great.
Many women have this fear they might end up looking bulky if they gain too much muscle mass. You don’t need to worry about that as Mother Nature has taken care of that – to build muscles you need testosterone hormone, which exists in women but over 15 to 18 times lesser in quantity than it exists in men. Also, muscles don’t occupy too much volume. Google 5-pound muscle v/s 5-pound fat, and you’d be shocked to see how much less space 5 pounds of muscle occupy!
It would not be fair if I don’t tell you how to measure your fat percentage after giving you the ideal ranges for body fat. DEXA scans done in major hospitals and pathology labs are the best available source to measure body fat percentage. The one test that never fails you is the fitting of your clothes. Trust them, they don’t lie. Additionally, you may go for the pinch test, just pinch yourself on your waist – what you are holding now in your pinch is skin and fat.
Get onto a good diet to lose fat, start resistance training to gain some lean body mass and pinch yourself again… this time, the size of your pinch should be lesser, you’d be moving better, you’d be feeling less tired at the end of the day, you’ll have more energy during the day, your clothes will fit better. That’s all you need to know!
So, who really wants to step onto that weighing scale now?
Vivek Singh Rajput
K11 Academy of Fitness Sciences
Fitness Icon Kaizzad Capadia