Body Fat Percentage Pictures: A Visual Guide for Men
For the women’s visual guide to understanding body fat percentages, click here.
This guide can be used to estimate a man’s body fat percentage by eye. In contrast to most of the the compilation photos you can find online, all of the photos in this guide were taken within a few days of having done a laboratory grade body composition measurement, namely hydrostatic weighing, the BodPod, DXA scanning (most commonly) or multi-frequency BIA scanning. All photos are from clients of Menno or publicly posted photos from the internet.
As a semi-objective reference, the following table from the American Council on Exercise is useful to keep in mind. Many people have a distorted reference of how any body fat percentage looks, because they’ve relied on unreliable body fat measurements that were often not calibrated for athletic populations, in particular skinfold calipers with inappropriate BF% equations and single-frequency BIA scans. Objectively, even most bodybuilders do not manage to get under 5% body fat, as this comprises essential body fat levels.
|Classification||Male body fat percentage|
Reference by percentage
4.1% (DXA): Wesley Vissers
Note the grainy appearance of the whole body and the deep muscle striations.
6.2% (DXA): Alberto Nuñez
Note the extreme vascularity, striated glutes and Christmas tree lower back definition.
This is pretty much as lean as it gets, so it’s a good example that getting below ~5%
body fat is extremely difficult without extreme levels of muscle mass.
9.6 vs. 10.6% (DXA)
Note how it’s hard to tell the difference of 1% change in body fat with a change in lighting.
10.3% (InBody): Menno Henselmans off-season shape
12.3% vs 11.6% (DXA): Brad Pilon
Again, it’s hard to tell the difference with the change in lighting.
Note the impact of muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the lower your body fat
percentage for a given total fat mass.
13% (DXA & Skulpt)
This is a good example of the skinny-fat look.
19% (DXA): Mike Cernovich
21.8% (DXA): Overweight from here on
25.5% (DXA): Obese from here on
Obese from here on.
28.2% (hydrostatic weighing)
30%, 30% & 31% (InBody & 2 DXAs)
33.3% & 33.8% (DXA)
40% to 33.8% (DXA)
Reference within individual
6.3%, 10.6%, 16.7% (DXA; Sigvar Garfors)
15.6% vs. 10.6% vs ~8% (DXA)
18% to 8% (DXA)
9.6 vs. 16.4% (DXA)
11.9% vs. 19% (DXA)
12.1 vs. 7.9% (DXA)
14% – 10.3% (4 DXAs)
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