32 percent body fat, but quite athletic and strong looking??

by (1281) Updated August 10, 2011 at 4:19 PM Created August 10, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Hey folks! Would be great if you could help with a friend's issue

A friend of mine went paleo 6 months ago and has been doing crossfit-like exercising. She is not at a crossfit gym (lives in Germany; there are only very few, unfortunately).

Her body looks really good, athletic,strong and fit! She loves weight lifting, and does occasional WODs on her own (e.g.: 20 burpees, 20 sit-ups and 10 backsquats for a few rounds and afterwards some rowing usually. Sometimes she does the WOD of my gym, if she has the equipment).

Now she was at a new (normal)gym, got a check-up etc. And her body fat percentage appears to be 32! The personal trainer was really confused because of that result and the way she looks. It doesn't seem to fit together. Can you explain this to us? She does eat a lot of fat but is usually VLC except PWO. Would you advise her to start some endurance training for lowering the body fat?

btw, it's a female, 22 years old, 180 cm and 73 kilos! Thanks!

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18909 · August 10, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Now she was at a new (normal)gym, got a check-up etc. And her body fat percentage appears to be 32!

It is likely to be incorrect. Body fat scales have their problems.

Her body looks really good, athletic,strong and fit!

If she looks great don't worry about it :)

180 cm and 73 kilos (5 feet 11 inches and 161 pounds)

At her height and weight with a Body Mass Index of 22.5 i'm sure she does not need to loose any fat.

Well done for being young and healthy :)

110 · August 10, 2011 at 4:11 PM

More a comment than an answer - other than I think it's the type of BF% test in question. If this number is important to your friend, have her check out a a sports/performance centre for a better analysis.

I am practically in your friend's shoes. Female, 69 kg (153 lb), 175 cm (5'9"), BMI 22.6, except I am 38 yrs old, not 22! ;) I have had 2 different scales that calculate BF% (Withings & Taylor) and I am always in doubt of BF% numbers I see for myself. This morning (after reading your post I went to see what it told me today... a whopping 32.2%) My physical size, I wear a size 8 clothing (US/Canadian), waist 29" and feel the leanest I have in my adult life.

After 6 months Paleo/LC, increased strength, improved performance & appearance, my BF% numbers haven't changed. Withings technology insists I'm 32% fat, and Taylor is a bit more considerate with 28% fat. My husband however has seen his BF% numbers drop from 22% to 15%. When I weigh myself, it's right after waking - and that's possibly what gives inaccurate results (if your body isn't hydrated). Not sure if that's all of it though as my husband also weighs himself in the AM and he's showing changes. He's also tall (195 cm, 6'5"), so the 'tall = inaccurate" hypothesis may not hold. It may be the male vs. female body composition differences in the calculations. If there is electrical impedance through the abdominal/hip area, the scale may register this as a "fatter" man than woman. No idea other than the number is meaningless to me.

Long way of saying, I'm sure it's the scale/test that was used. I certain my BF% measurements aren't accurate so I've stopped looking at that number. One day I'll go for a caliper measurement for interest sake, but I don't really care about that number anymore.

19504 · August 10, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Most calculations do not account for folks who are tall very well...

12118 · August 10, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Gabrielle Reece is often quoted as 170 lb. and 6'3". Since your friend is tall at 5'11" and ~161 very toned pounds, my bet is she's just the victim of an inaccurate test that's based on a narrow set of general assumptions. If she's toned and fit and looks and feels fabulous, what else matters?


1346 · August 10, 2011 at 4:11 PM

confirm the bodyfat percent via measurements, and / or a fat caliper just for fun. does sound a little off to me too, unless she is not as muscled as you think. I would throw in some hard sprints in there once or twice a week personally, I find they do wonders fat wise for me.

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