Women and body fat percentage

Fitness Ignited - Blog - Womens Body Fat Percentage

Body image activist Taryn Brumfitt named 2023 Australian of the Year was probably the best thing that has happened to the Fitness Industry this year. 

In my work, I speak with many women who want to ‘lose fat’ (sometimes non-existent fat!) and wanting to ‘Be that Girl’ they used to be in the past. Body image consciousness is a real problem and it is everyone’s problem. 

I am all for helping people lose excess fat, get fitter, stronger and more confident, but keeping expectations realistic is key. Here is some interesting research and study I am sharing below

Body Fat percentage in Women

If you believe what you see on TikTok, you may think 18% body fat is ideal for women. But a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research might surprise you. 

Towson University researchers measured the body composition of 278 Division I female athletes—across 12 different sports—and found that, on average, these super-fit women weren’t really even close to 18 percent.[1] 

Most came in between 25 and 30 percent body fat.

Another eye-opener: In a different study, scientists tracked 27 bikini and fitness competitors through their competition training.[2] The researchers report that the competitors averaged 12.7 percent body fat the morning after their event. 

Let’s be very clear: That’s quite low. 

But here’s something you might not expect: These same competitors were at an average of 23 percent body fat before they started their competition-specific training and dieting. 

The point? Fitness competitors’ walking-around bodies are lean, but they’re not ultra-lean. 

All of which goes to show: Those ideal body fat targets you see in fitspo posts? They’re often not based in reality. 

But there’s also this: No one but YOU can know your ideal body fat. 

That’s because the body composition you can maintain while eating, exercising, sleeping, and living in a way that helps you feel your best is probably the right body fat percentage for you. 

1. PMID: 31343559 2. PMID: 281196321. Dobrosielski DA, Leppert KM, Knuth ND, Wilder JN, Kovacs L, Lisman PJ. Body Composition Values of NCAA Division 1 Female Athletes Derived From Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry. J Strength Cond Res. 2021 Oct 1;35(10):2886–93. 2. Hulmi JJ, Isola V, Suonpää M, Järvinen NJ, Kokkonen M, Wennerström A, et al. The Effects of Intensive Weight Reduction on Body Composition and Serum Hormones in Female Fitness Competitors. Front Physiol. 2016;7:689.

It’s easy to believe that Someone Else is doing so much better than you. After all, their social media feed tells you something different. It can seem like Others can handle their lives.

Others are losing weight or gaining muscle or getting fitter so easily and effortlessly than you. 

It feels like you’re the only person in the world with your problems. That it’s much harder for you than for everyone else.

Nobody exists the way you think they do. Everyone is wonderfully imperfect, with the same fears, desires, hopes and challenges, family demands and bills to pay .. same as you. Wonderfully human.  

The truth is: There is no OTHERS, no SOMEONE ELSE… Its only You Vs You.  


Be your own inspiration, keep working towards a better version of YOURSELF. Keep doing the small things, consistently. “Success is almost always built from putting small things on top of small things on top of small things… until they’re transformed into big things.”

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