Body fat is part of what makes up our body composition. Those who are active will typically have a body fat percentage lower than those who lead a more sedentary or inactive lifestyle.
Active athletes will have different body fat percentages from other athletes. We will look at the typical body fat percentages of different athletes and how these percentages are calculated.
What Is Body Fat?
Your body requires body fat to stay healthy. Body fat performs many different functions. It protects your organs, gives you energy, and helps your body absorb vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy. All athletes should have some percentage of body fat, but the percentage of body fat will vary among different athletes.
How Is Body Fat Percentage Calculated?
It’s important to know how much body fat you have. You can calculate your body fat percentage by using a body composition scale, taking measurements, or using body fat calipers.
Using a body composition scale is the easiest method to calculate your body fat percentage. A body composition scale uses the weight of your body to determine how much of your body is fat. There is always the chance that the value calculated by a body composition scale is slightly off from the actual percentage.
We recommend using one of our body composition scales to easily determine your body fat percentage. It’s convenient and will provide a relatively accurate reading.
How Much Body Fat Should a Person Have?
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, the percentage of body fat that a person should have will need to be less than 30% for women and less than 20% for men. Women are encouraged to have more body fat than men because they will need to protect a baby if pregnant.
For athletes to achieve optimal athletic performance, the athlete body fat percentage will vary depending on their sport. For example, bodybuilders will have a lower body fat percentage than swimmers.
Let’s look at the typical body fat percentages of different athletes in order from the lowest percentage to the highest.
The athletes with the lowest body fat percentage are bodybuilders. Many bodybuilders enter fitness competitions where they can only have a bare minimum body fat percentage. Bodybuilders, including fitness competitors, will have a typical body fat percentage between 5% and 8% for men and 10% to 15% for women.
The athletes with the next lowest body fat percentage are runners. Runners, especially those who run marathons, will have a typical body fat percentage of 5% to 11% for men and 10% to 15% for women. Running is excellent cardio. A runner may not have as much muscle mass or body mass as other athletes, but they will have an extremely low body fat percentage.
Gymnasts have a low body fat percentage because of how much muscle mass they build while training. A male gymnast will typically have between 5% and 12% body fat, while a female gymnast will have between 10% and 16%.
Another excellent form of cardio is cycling. Cyclists will have a low body fat percentage because they burn many calories. Like runners, they may not have as much muscle mass as a gymnast or a bodybuilder, but they will have a very low body fat percentage.
Male cyclists will have a typical body fat percentage between 5% and 15%, and female cyclists will have a typical body fat percentage between 15% and 20%.
Not only is there a lot of cardio in men’s basketball, but many male athletes will lift weights to build lean muscle mass and increase athletic performance. Because of this, the typical body fat percentage of a male basketball player is between 6% and 12%.
Both male and female soccer athletes can have a relatively low body fat percentage. A male soccer player can have a body fat percentage as low as 6% or as high as 18%. Female soccer players are similar, with the lowest body fat percentage of a female soccer player being around 13% and the highest around 18%.
The body fat of swimmers is higher than other types of athletes on our list. Swimmers may not burn as many calories or build as much muscle in their conditioning as other athletes, so their body fat is sometimes higher than other athletes.
A male athlete will likely have a body fat percentage between 9% and 12%, while a female athlete can be between 14% and 24%.
Tennis players will have a higher fat percentage, between 9% and 18% for male athletes and 16% to 24% for female athletes.
Female athletes who play women’s basketball have the highest body fat percentage on our list at 20% to 27%.
The overall highest body fat percentage of both male and female athletes are those who shot put. The typical body fat percentage of male shot putters is between 16% and 20%, and for female shot putters is between 20% to 28%.
Why Athletes Need to Have a Healthy Body Fat Percentage
Athletes who have a healthy body fat percentage will be more conditioned to perform their sport to the best of their ability and at a more competitive level.
Elite athletes need to maintain a healthy body fat percentage for agility development, speed, and muscular and cardiorespiratory endurance. Excess weight in the form of nonessential fat causes a greater resistance to their motions as an athlete.
An elite athlete will have a lower body fat percentage than that of the average person. Male athletes, for example, will have between 6 and 13% body fat while female athletes will have 14 to 20% body fat.
Athletes will need to take a body fat measurement to make sure it is in a healthy range to optimally perform their sport. They can measure their body fat percentage using body fat calipers or a body composition scale measurement method.
Using the INEVIFIT body composition scale will provide an accurate body fat percentage calculation, making it easy for athletes to monitor their essential body fat percentage for the sport they’re competing in.