minimum body fat? goals?

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by steevo

I have read that the winter is a good time to lose extra weight. What is a goal pecentage body fat for somebody who wants to be a good climber? I have the pure climber 1 inch for ever 2 pounds thing going, but I know I can lose some more. Is it dangerous past a certain point? ( i have heard 3%). any info would be good.

by Weenie

big fellow
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by big fellow


minimal body fat is an interesting question, it varies between and amongst individuals

getting as low as about 3% and maintaining that body fat percentage is very difficult

As a lower level I think 6% would be the lowest, whereas 8-10% I think is a lot more feasible to be able to maintain for extended periods, keeping in mind of course the discipline to keep that percentage of fat


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by xcfisher

I wouldnt worry about % of body fat. You will reach a point, regardless of how much fat you have, in which you will not have enough mass to produce the right amount of power. It's not the weight the matters, it's the power to weight ratio. I am 5'10 and weigh 135. but my power output is around 450w. What's my body fat? 7%. You gotta store it somewhere. If you start losing too much weight it's going to to be muscle, and your power will go to crap.

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by OLver

7% is still very low.
My coach doesn't want me to get to 7%. But I will! :twisted: lighter is faster!

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by Superlite

Last season I had 3.8% body fat for the season.

Now I'm at a fat 7.8%. Not riding is killing me! :D

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by dlight

what is a good and reliable way to measure body fat?

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by JK

dlight wrote:what is a good and reliable way to measure body fat?

The devices that measure electric resistance are the least reliable way. The most common way is to have an expert measure the thickness of a flap of skin on a few standard places and calculate a Fat% through a table.
The most reliable way is a test where they put you under water and calculate Fat% by the volume you replace and your weight.

To answer the first question: Winter is a good time to lose fat, but winter is also a time when diseases lurk. If you train too intense and compromise on food consumption, your body will recover badly and your resistance will also drop. An illness would set you back more than a percent of fat more, I can tell you!

So: Be careful not to train too intensely, make sure to keep a diet that contains enough vitamins and minerals. Those that exist naturally in your food are better than artificial products, but that said: Most books on training advise to supplement during a weight loss fase. Also: Do not lose fat too fast. According to most training methods, you are able to lose something like half a kilo a week, without compromising performance.

Your question "how low can I go", can be answered by "just as low as you can, without getting ill or compromising performance". I would be on the safe side if I were you and not focus on a minimal Fat% too much.

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by big fellow

JK is right on the money - too low body fat leads to many health problems

most accurate way to measure body fat is via a DEXA scan, or by hydrostatic weighing. bio-impedance are frought with problems!!!

for the masses who don't have access to such high tech equipment, using proper skinfold calipers (such as Harpeden, not crappy gym calipers), taken by ISAK qualified personnel are your best bet


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by OLver

Superlite wrote:Last season I had 3.8% body fat for the season.

Now I'm at a fat 7.8%. Not riding is killing me! :D

3,8%!! :shock:

I'm curious... i'd like to know how it has been calculated

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by keithster

if you want a very rough estimate, the following sites can help

these are just estimates though, and can be several percentage points off
Jack of all trades, master of none.

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by Boonen

Last time I was measured was when I was in top shape around the nationals at about 6%. Looking at my weight I would guess that my current % would be anywhere between 8 and 10 but this is always difficult to measure without doing some good testing so i'm not quite sure. Anybody have some basic rule, like one extra kg of 'winterfat' adds up ...% assuming the size of your muscels is still the same?

Numbers aren't everything, it's all about how you feel on the bike. Doing stageraces or longer trainingrides in the summer will always 'melt down' your fat and at a point it actually gets hard not to lose too much weight. I don't think winter is a good moment to lose weight for a cyclist. I always try to gain some extra weight so i'm better protected against the cold weather and less likely to get ill. When the spring races begin you will need the extra resistance.
Steevo, I think 3% sounds very low. I don't know your level of fitness, but if you want to be a good climber I the power to weight ratio is the most important. This means how many watt's you can produce per kg of your weight. If you let a trainer test you regularly you will see that there is a break even point where less bodyweight actually means less watt/kg because you will start losing power at a certain point. (as already mentioned by xcfisher)
In my opinion you shouldn't be to focussed on getting your bodyfat down to much. Just work on your fitnesslevel and you'll be flying up those mountains ;o)

Good luck

by Weenie

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