There are a lot of mistakes when it comes to measuring body fat. A lot of cheap devices may be very inaccurate, and even a difference of a few percentages in body fat can be a big difference visually. Most handheld devices and cheap scales from the score are not able to accurately determine your body fat. Most importantly, even if it said your body fat was 2% and you were really 30%, what matters is that you still look like 30%, which isn’t exactly “shredded” by any means.
For those that are more concerned about what certain ranges of body fat look like visually, check out a few of the sample images below, along with a more accurate description of what to expect when hovering around each body fat range.
This body fat range is considered obese. Even with muscular builds, you will still see little to no definition. Even very vascular people may not see anything. Abs? Buried deep, most likely. Being this high on body fat is not only hiding a lot of muscle, but it is also hazardous to your health.
25% Body Fat
This body fat range can have a lot of different looks, depending on your build.. You still are a long way from seeing abs with this percentage of body fat, but a lot more muscles will be more visible. Extremely large strongmen can usually pull off this body fat range and not look “fat”, but you’re still not going to see many cuts or definition, and anything above 25% for a male is still considered obese.
20% Body Fat
Muscle definitely will begin to show at this body fat range – GIVEN that you have enough muscle mass. A lot of strongmen athletes seem to be at this range. Still not a lot of muscularity and muscle separation, but certain muscle groups will begin to show their shape, based on how your body distributes fat in certain areas.
15% Body Fat
At 15% body fat, you’re at what many would say the highest you should be at if you plan on pursuing a bodybuilding life style. Keeping at no more than this percentage allows you to diet easier when you want to get lean without sacrificing a lot of muscle loss in the process. A lot of lean gains can be made in this range, and depending on how much total muscle mass you have, it doesn’t look bad at all (see pictured – Strongman Derek Poundstone)
10% Body Fat
Generally, you should begin to see a lot more muscles showing definition at this phase. Depending on your genetics and muscular development, you might even be able to see a few of your abs, if not all of them. Muscles will begin to show separation, but this range is still not lean enough to show muscle feathering and striations in most areas.
6-7% Body Fat
This is generally an extremely lean physique. Even with a low total amount of muscle mass, muscle definition and even striations can be seen at this percentage. This is usually a good low for physique competitors and fitness models. This bodyfat percentage usually takes some hard dieting to achieve.
3%-4% Body Fat
This is about the most extreme conditioning you will see, even by the most elite professional bodybuilders in the world. At this percentage, striations and “feathering” is quite common. You pretty much look like an anatomy chart with a thin layer of skin on top. The only thing holding your conditioning back at this level would be water retention. If you can combine this conditioning and dryness on a bodybuilder’s physique, you get the picture below.