Home » Ideal Body Fat Percentage for Men: The Harsh Truth of 6% Body Fat

Ideal Body Fat Percentage for Men: The Harsh Truth of 6% Body Fat

by Gym Slacker

The Ideal Body Fat Percentage for Men: The Harsh Truth


Have you ever wondered what the ideal body fat percentage for men is? Well, wonder no more! In this article, we will delve into the topic and reveal the harsh truth about achieving and maintaining a body fat percentage of 6% for men. So, grab a cup of coffee and get ready to learn!

Achieving the Ideal Body Fat Percentage

First and foremost, it’s important to note that aiming for 6% body fat is not a realistic or necessary goal for everyone. While some individuals, like fitness icon Bruce Lee, may have been able to achieve and maintain such a low body fat percentage, it is not suitable or sustainable for everyone. Instead, it’s crucial to find your own set point, where you can comfortably reach and maintain a healthy body fat level without negative side effects.

Consider Your Goals

Before diving into the specifics, it’s essential to consider your goals. Are you focused on aesthetics, athletics/performance, strength, or a combination of these factors? Depending on your objectives, your ideal body fat percentage may vary.

Athletics and Performance

For athletes, body fat levels should be determined by the demands of your sport. Different positions within the same sport may have different body fat requirements. A wide receiver in football, for example, may need a lower body fat percentage to perform at their best, while an offensive lineman may emphasize size and strength over leanness. Contrary to popular belief, lower body fat does not necessarily compromise athletic performance.


In the strength realm, the notion of carrying as much weight on your body as possible to move heavy weights on the bar has been prevalent. However, it is possible to be both lean and strong. You don’t necessarily have to go through bulking and cutting cycles to achieve strength gains. Look at Jesse, who deadlifts 550 lbs and squats over 400 lbs while remaining fairly lean.


When it comes to aesthetics, there are a few key points to consider. First, describing leanness in percentages rather than subjective terms such as “ripped” or “shredded” provides an objective view that everyone can understand and agree upon. Second, the leaner you are, the more muscular you will appear. Lower body fat levels enhance muscle definition, creating the illusion of greater muscularity. Lastly, a body fat percentage of 9-10% tends to look better aesthetically than 15-17%, emphasizing definition and muscularity.

The Harsh Truth

Now, let’s face the harsh truth. While a body fat percentage as low as 6% may be appealing to some, it’s not realistic or sustainable for everyone. The ability to achieve and maintain such extreme leanness varies among individuals. Our bodies have a set point, and exceeding that threshold may lead to negative side effects. It’s important to find your own set point and maintain a healthy body fat percentage that works for you.


In conclusion, the ideal body fat percentage for men is subjective and dependent on individual goals. While 6% body fat may be desirable for some individuals, it’s not necessary or achievable for everyone. Finding your own set point and maintaining a healthy body fat percentage is the key to long-term success. Remember, it’s not about comparing yourself to others but striving for your personal best. Stay disciplined, embrace your uniqueness, and work towards a healthier and happier you!

Now, go ahead and tackle those fitness goals with the knowledge you have gained. Remember, consistency is key, and achieving a healthy body fat level is a journey rather than a quick fix. Best of luck on your fitness endeavors!

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iAlien June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Obviously, there's no one body fat percentage that's best for everyone. What is optimal for one person can be unhealthy for another.

Metatron June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

I remember in high school i was at 6% body fat but i had all day to train and exercise, now that im 30 i wish i never stopped exercising for 10 years now im getting back into it and i feel the difference.

Matthew Pointon June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

This guy is just a waste of time

Rachel Henderson June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am


Gavin Revitt June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

There is a LOT to be said for all this endeavour by a natural route, through good nutrition. It's simply the easiest path to maintaining the habit. I can testify to the notion that of the first things you need to do is give it time – consistency can be seen as everything, where even moderate effort applied consistently is worth so much more than trying something intense and losing heart. Patience!

Len J June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Welcome to the world of genetics. Elite athletes have elite genetics. End of.

Bo Noach June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

high ratings on paper doesn¨t make someone a great (the best) player in a sport. It´s just numbers Jeff. (answer on your decathlon guy hype)

Trucutu Trucutu June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am


Koji Stangler June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am


N P June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

You don't often see a guy Jesse's size lifting that much weight. Just look at the girl in the background's expression at 6:35. She's like who the hell is this ding dong

Matteo Romanelli June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

6% body fat is certainly aesthetically positive but it is not optimal for performance.

Adam Rasmussen June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

6 percent in unnecessary and not worth it.

Eric Machus June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Very strong Jesse. Great work. I’d like to hear some of Jessie’s programming for strength while staying lean and not looking bulked.

Charles June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Woohoo for the shout-out for the AFL players!

AlexLeizerovich June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Jeff is a real pro. What's good about it is that he gives context to what he says. While those that critique him and try to get his traffic will try to take it out of context.

E46325mod June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Ive been in the 5% range and its not comfortable at all, wven at 6 or 7 wasnt. At 8-10% i look just as good actually brtter because my muscles look fuller and i dont get tord after 30 minutes of working out

Kamil Soliman June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Congrats to Jesse for the the impressive strength gains!

CCPants X June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

What an odd discussion. The science point at the end I find most important. Yes there is a normal distribution when it comes to body fat too. There are genotypes that allow for a fulfilled life with low body fat and there are genotypes that have trouble even achieving "normal" levels of body fat. But there is a statistic mean too. And from what i read is that 5 % body fat is the lowest for most human beings where they still can be healthy ( please correct me if I'm wrong. Also I have these numbers from ncbi and some health insurance company's have those too on their website). The general medical recommendation is between 8-22% for men and 21-34% for woman. And I think the whole point of this video is that you should see there you fit in this frame. Some might exceed the recommended numbers and are still healthy and everything. But I guess for most of us this is the framework we are working with or even trying to get to in the first place.

Mr Man June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

“There are rugby players who are at low levels of body fat”
Shows video of Australian rules football.

nick landreth June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

When he told me I wasn't halfthor at 160 lbs after 2 years in the gym as a natural my heart broke.

yaxx June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

I'm a tennis coach and rec player and I've been keeping up 7,6% now for a while. Feeling better than ever. Eating 3200 kcal a day. (43yo)

Andreas van Aarde June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Here's another HARSH TRUTH!

You have no reason to not be vegan without either contradicting yourself or denouncing universal human rights.
I suggest you go vegan.

some idiot June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

This is just delusional bull shit to be honest.

Weston Gleffe June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

When I was working full time as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor and eating maintenance calories on an intermittent fasting schedule, I was able to maintain mid 8% bf. I was always at the gym so it helped keep the metabolism super high. Now I'm not doing that full-time and I'm around 12% bf, but holding steady.

James Bailey June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Eek a bit of foot in mouth there on the Rugby.. was actually AFL and the guy in photo, Ben Cousins is famous for having a meth addiction..

theplansbydan June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Look jeff I love your work mate but rugby is not afl 😂 two very different sports and afl is for puss!es

Josh Stewart June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

I wish Jeff had given his opinion on whether one can change a setpoint over time. Like if it is currently and comfortably 12% could one descend slowly to new setpoints. I assume the answer is yes but I'd love to hear his thoughts based on his experience training people.

NoNeClass June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Love How he uses elite athletes to show that you can be at very low body fat and perform and then when talking about more body fat for strength he says that you cannot use elite athletes to compare yourself…

FlyanTV June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

I'm a fairly tall and lean guy by genetics. I'm 35 and started to work on battling the lean part by resistance training, that's why I'm here and I'm still far from reaching my goals. However, low body fat percentages look so weird on me. Beginning of this year I got below 16% for the first time and people around me got worried. I was begged by friends and family to gain some weight. Now at 18% I'm still very lean but look healthier.

(I never felt bad at 16% though)

crzyces1 June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

tl;dr Most people don't know their set point because they need to diet so long to get there. I'm sure a ton of people think 17%, or 13%, or 15% or 22% for that matter, is their baseline because every time they've gotten close to that they were in a 500+ calorie deficit. Get to 15%, then maintain it for a week or two. If you are comfortable, drop to 13%. Rinse and repeat. You will never be comfortable when cutting weight for an extended period of time regardless of how much you weight or your BF% unless you are losing 1/2lbs a week. I'm curious to find mine, lol, but getting there is sure uncomfortable as heck. 50 more lbs and I'll try to maintain. So lose the weight, then see where you stand, as like I said, you will never know while you are in a decent calorie deficit. Now on to the rant!

I think the main problem here is, well first, anyone who says 6% is normal to walk around at as a general rule of thumb should be dismissed and the viewer goes and finds a new channel. Saying you are good where you are (6%-9% or thereabouts) is perfectly fine. Tom Delauer is fine at 8% or wtv. That decathlete is obviously incredible at 8% and has some INCREDIBLE fat cell distribution. So like you said, what an athlete is training for along with that particular person's genetics is going to greatly affect where their optimal zone is. Now that O. Lineman might play great at 25% bodyfat. He might play his best there, but it probably isn't best for his life after football. So though it is great for him in the sport, it is not great for him if he stays at 325lbs until he's 50.

Now we run into problem #2. Most people NEVER find out what their set point is. If you were a thin kid then you might have an idea, but if you grew up and were always chubby/fat, you need to keep losing weight to find out where you're good at, and you will never actually know while you are actively dieting. I'll use myself as an example. You could see my abs from 4-7 and I was pretty darn thin. Not 6% thin, but under 10%. I have not been under 15% bodyfat since I was 8, and ballooned as high as 40% if I had to guess. The last time I was in exceptional (average college all-around athlete average teams coming off the bench) shape I was 185lbs (I'm 5'11"), was running a 4.7 40, could dunk a tennis ball, hit a baseball over 420' off a pitching machine throwing 90-95, do handsprings (front), backflips etc, benched 285, deadlifted 425, squatted 405 blah blah blah. I was still around 15% BF though and dieting. Lol, dieting sucks. I have been comfortable at 185 15% maintaining, and 179.5 maintaining (about the same bf though, I was just working more, less time at the gym/track/field/basketball court and eating less). I'm 99.9% sure I could be fine at 10%, but getting there to maintain is what is so uncomfortable for most people.

I can't speak for everyone, but when I diet, I diet hard. I stayed between 177 and 195 for 32 some odd years relatively easily. Now I did get fat during the lockdowns. I'm currently at 232 give or take (I have an infection atm and am retaining a ton of fluid so I'm not sure on my exact weight, but the day before I got this stupid staff from a bloody scrape I was at 232 down from 295) and I am going to throw a guess of 30% BF. my fat is distributed terribly. No ass, lean arms, face and legs, with almost everything around my waist, love handles for days and man tits. I can see striations in my shoulder, bi's, quads, tries and calves along with the top middle of my abs until it just balloons. I'm also dropping around 12lbs/m, with the majority of my cardio being walking (3-7 miles), and since I just started going back to the gym my workouts are half body every other day for about 90 minutes. Now I'd be ecstatic to get to 10%, where I think I would be comfortable and at my most healthy, but to do that I'd need to drop another 50lbs of fat. Even if by some trick of magic straight out of a Dungeon's and Dragons book I lost all that weight without losing ANY muscle (not possible imo. 232 to 180 with zero muscle loss losing over 10lbs/m? Not likely) I'd still have another 6 months of 1250+ calories restricted. Per day. I've only been at this for 3 months or so now (I had that first big month where I dumped like 10lbs of water on top of 10lbs of mass, as at 295 I was not concerned with muscle loss, I just wanted to be able to walk a mile without having to decompress my back 50 times) and it is already a pain in the ass. And I am good at tolerating bullshit 1000-2000 calorie per day deficits. I used to do it all the time before competitive strength camps to get under 180. Lol, but I was goign from 189, 191 to 179.x so it wasn't a long term thing.

If I am having a hard time getting there, I can imagine the average guy who is 200lbs, 25% bf with a 40 waist, 42" chest and 44" hips dropping 40lbs, 5 of which are muscle, to get to 10% to even get the opportunity to find out if they are cool maintaining there. They very well might be. Influencers talk all the time about how this one has great genetics and that one has great genetic but at 8%, or 9, maybe 10% their test is down in the low 200's…well that's not great genetics, that's someone who is fighting their genetics to get to a certain weight when they might be comfortable and ripped if they maintained right where they are. Or put on 1.75lbs and maintained 1% heavier.

The point is, you have to get to your ideal bf% and then try to maintain it for a few weeks. Walk around in every day life and see how you feel. See if it is interfering with the lifestyle you want. If it is, great. If not, then you might want to allow yourself a little leeway. Target your abs more so they will show through a little more body fat just like you would any other muscle. Ei don't do situps for 15 minutes on a decline bench, that's cardio at that point. Do standing cable crunches after your deadlifts with something you can only get 7-12 reps with for a few sets. Then add a little weight and see if you are comfortable there. 6% is crazy low though, unless you have NFL running back/Olympic Gymnast/Cruiserweight Boxer levels of muscle on you. For most active men, I'm guessing their set point is what they can maintain reasonably on a 2800-3000 calorie diet. If you need to eat below that too maintain your weight, then it probably is not the optimal weight for you as an athlete. And yes, an hour a day at the gym/exercising is behaving like an athlete. Maybe not an elite level athlete, but an athlete none-the-less.

Huge Collecto June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

That “rugby” player was a massive drug user. Ben Cousins!!🤣😂

Georgian Pirvu June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Hi Jeff, I like this kind of content! Very good one! You talked in this video about specificity and scope with regards to achieve something: like atleticism, marathon, esthetics. Could youl please do a video on recommandation from your experience about the scope and the excercises a basketball player should take into consideration when it comes to athelticism in this sport? Like, let's say: how would you train LeBron as young professional, LeBron in his prime and LeBron now carreer sundown ?

Invest Better June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Translation: The person who wrote that message to him is too lazy to get to 10 or 6%, and used confirmation bias to find some place where they agree with him, that15% is the right place to be

I know a lot about fitness pharmacology. June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

Love these, notably the perspective about performance not necessarily being affected by low levels of body fat.

zwriter365 June 18, 2023 - 4:36 am

I had 3 month workout and lost 17 pounds.. and I have not been able to go lower than that


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