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    Senior Member CanadianBiker32's Avatar
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    Body Fat % for Cyclists

    Ok what would be a good body fat % to achieve for a cycling. More less i want to better my results in my cycling events from Road TT's , road races and 100 mile mtb events.

    i am thinking i am around 20% at this time, according to my scale

    for the top guys who place well in citizen events
    what would be good body fat % to work towards ? would this make ones performance on the bike better?
    to be more lean?
    thanks

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    Senior Member robabeatle's Avatar
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    How are you coming up with 20%? What is your height and weight?

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    Senior Member CanadianBiker32's Avatar
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    As i said i could be wrong.
    height 5'7
    and weight 175lbs . perhaps should it be more?

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    Senior Member brianmcg123's Avatar
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    Worrying about your bodyfat % as to race results is not a good indicator of success. You need to worry about how much power you can produce.

    You'll likely line up with your 2% bodyfat one day and some middle aged pot belly will fly by you like your going backwards.
    Everyone's a roadie, they just might not know it yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianBiker32 View Post
    As i said i could be wrong.
    height 5'7
    and weight 175lbs . perhaps should it be more?
    There's some variation from person to person, but, unless you are heavily built (endomorph) or have a history of weight training, you are probably higher than 20%. An average 5'7" adult male would have about 120..130 lbs of fat-free mass, and, if you're average in this sense, it would put your bf% somewhere in 25-30% range.

    I just got myself tested and got 19% (underwater weighing) and I feel like a brick on all hills. This is the bottom point of an off-season and I'm up about 8-10 lbs from my lowest weight last fall.

    Losing weight is easier than gaining power. I don't think you'll find many serious competitive cyclists above 10% midseason. The most competitive guys, especially climbing specialists, are below 10% body fat _and_ have very little muscle mass.

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    Senior Member bmontgomery87's Avatar
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    strength train your legs (and upper body) and clean up your diet to drop a few pounds.

    I'd worry more about race results than bodyfat levels, but it surely won't hurt to improve your health and power.


    It's impossible to tell you bf based on height/weight I've been 5'7" 190 at around 20% bodyfat and I've been 160 pounds at around 20% bodyfat. Without knowing your muscle mass, it's pointless to try to guess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianBiker32 View Post
    Ok what would be a good body fat % to achieve for a cycling. More less i want to better my results in my cycling events from Road TT's , road races and 100 mile mtb events.

    i am thinking i am around 20% at this time, according to my scale

    for the top guys who place well in citizen events
    what would be good body fat % to work towards ? would this make ones performance on the bike better?
    to be more lean?
    thanks
    You continue to ask the dumbest questions. Have you not read enough to know that losing weight is going to help your performance? You could worry if you start to look anorexic but at 175lbs you're a long way from there and not likely to get there as it takes extreme discipline or an eating disorder.

    So put down the fork and drop some weight.

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    Here's my input:

    I am 6'2 and I weighed 164 pounds this morning. According to several Bod Pod measurements, I have body fat of around 10-12%. Given that I have you by seven inches and you have me by 10 pounds, you could pretty easily be higher than 20% body fat, unless you're a very muscular body type.

    The short answer to your question: to bike faster, lose weight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianBiker32 View Post
    Ok what would be a good body fat % to achieve for a cycling
    Zero percent, except for unpleasant side effect of being dead. Having once inadvertently experimented with the 5-6% range for reasons other than cycling, I think 6-7% could be manageable if you are really careful, while 7-9% is still very lean, safe and should make you relatively fast on the bike.

  10. #10
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Better than thinking about bodyfat percentage is to think about total weight. Biking isn't a bodybuilding competition. I go by BMI. If those are accurate height and weight measures, your BMI is 27.4, meaning you're overweight. Anything below 25 is a healthy BMI. To climb well, you need to be below 24. I'm 24.4 right now and need to lose at least 5 lbs.

    Going by BMI assumes that one rides a lot, and thus has adequate musculature. If something's weak on the bike, strengthen it, but don't think you're going to climb faster if you have a lot of muscle. It's the other way 'round. Skinny legs beats big legs up the hill.

    A simple way to look at it is that everyone is limited by their VO2max: how much oxygen one can deliver to their muscles. The same guy light or heavy has pretty much the same VO2max. So one is faster if one is light. I was one heck of a lot faster when my BMI was under 22. Of course that was 50 years ago and my wife wouldn't like it anyway and that's a lot more important to me than being able to climb fast.

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    BMI is only valid for people with frames that exactly match the BMI scale basis, which makes any calculation a bit absurd. According to the NIH BMI calculator, when I was around 6% body fat (not healthy) I was just into the overweight range. So using BMI I'd have to get down to 160 pounds to be in the middle of the healthy range which would put me around -15% body fat, a clearly impossible number. I imagine it's also possible to be very small boned with high body fat % and still have an "Underweight" BMI. There's no doubt that a lower BMI will result in the faster climber, but unlike body fat percentage, there may be nothing you can do about it.

  12. #12
    Has a magic bike Heathpack's Avatar
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    According to commonly accepted published information, male athletes ideal body fat percentage is 6-13%, fit non-athletes 14-17%. Men are considered obese is body fat is >25%. So your target should not be 20%, something more like 10%.

    You don't get to have a higher body fat % because you are taller. You just get to have an greater overall mass of fat, the percentage does not increase.

    I am not a man nor do I know that much about cycling. Just what I read about fitness overall.

    H

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    BMI is only valid for people with frames that exactly match the BMI scale basis, which makes any calculation a bit absurd. According to the NIH BMI calculator, when I was around 6% body fat (not healthy) I was just into the overweight range. So using BMI I'd have to get down to 160 pounds to be in the middle of the healthy range which would put me around -15% body fat, a clearly impossible number. I imagine it's also possible to be very small boned with high body fat % and still have an "Underweight" BMI. There's no doubt that a lower BMI will result in the faster climber, but unlike body fat percentage, there may be nothing you can do about it.
    But bones don't weigh much. The small frame/large frame thing is because bones weigh about 15% of total body weight. So heavy people do have more bone weight. Still at 15%, there's not a lot of pounds of difference in bone weight between a light and heavy person. It's mostly either fat or muscle or the combination that makes a person light or heavy. If you want to climb, you have to shed weight, maybe fat, maybe protein, but the numbers are what they are: watts/kg. No way around it. Lance lost 7 kilos of protein for his comeback.

    I used to be a 5'7", 175 lb. person, too. It wasn't fat, or not a lot of it: I spent several hours 3 times a week at the gym. But now I'm a 5'6", 151 lb. person. Even sprinters are light: Rodriguez is 5'10" and 148 lbs. So I'm still heavy, just not as heavy as I was. I can do better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
    According to commonly accepted published information, male athletes ideal body fat percentage is 6-13%, fit non-athletes 14-17%. Men are considered obese is body fat is >25%. So your target should not be 20%, something more
    H
    Yep. Exactly right. 20% is getting close to obese. I even think the 14-17% for fit non-athletes is high. When I train hard I'm down to 11% and I was high compared to most others on my team. I don't do races anymore, except for tris, but I am at the 12% ballpark. Anyone that trains hard and has a much higher number needs to be checking their diet closer.

    Also as you said, height has nothing to do with it. Those prior posts comparing height are just wrong.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

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    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Just calculated my BMI.. I am 6ft tall with BMI of 22.4

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    Senior Member lsberrios1's Avatar
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    I don't know exacty where i am but i think i am within 10% i am 5'10.5", 165#. My nutritionist told me that elite cyclist hover between 5-6%. My goal is 7% and since i stopped tracking i don't think i even want to get there. You need doctors when you start approaching that. I think i dug probably into the 7-8% range before and i started getting sick and i felt malnourished. To be honest i was faster when i was 12% at around 175. My legs have shrunk and while i can climb with better ability my flat speed is decreased. At 165 i am no climber either, so i gave up what i was good at to become a bit better at something i mediocre at. I cant figure out how to increase leg strength substantially without gaining weight. Conclusion, for an athlete with no doctors, nutritionist or coach? 12%
    Cat 6 going on PRO....

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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    BMI is only valid for people with frames that exactly match the BMI scale basis, which makes any calculation a bit absurd. According to the NIH BMI calculator, when I was around 6% body fat (not healthy) I was just into the overweight range. So using BMI I'd have to get down to 160 pounds to be in the middle of the healthy range which would put me around -15% body fat, a clearly impossible number. I imagine it's also possible to be very small boned with high body fat % and still have an "Underweight" BMI. There's no doubt that a lower BMI will result in the faster climber, but unlike body fat percentage, there may be nothing you can do about it.
    Using the same principle as BMI, you can calculate a number called "fat-free mass index". That's simply your fat free mass divided by height squared. If you have BMI of 25 and 6% body fat, your FFMI is 25*0.94=23.5.

    An average untrained and sedentary adult might have FFMI on the order of 19-20 if it's a male or 16-17 if it's a female (slowly decreasing with age). Endurance sports do not increase FFMI beyond these levels and, in fact, may even lower it slightly. The only way to raise it is through weight training. A male college baseball player might be at 20-22, a football player might be at 24, and Mr. Olympia bodybuilders from the pre-steroid era averaged 25.4. It is thought that you can't raise FFMI much above 25 without steroids.

    Having naturally wide bones might move you up a point or two at the most. Your reference to being at 6% body fat and overweight suggests to me that you were seriously hitting the weights at the time.

    Conversely, a FFMI below ~18 for a male is a sign of malnutrition (starvation or a protein-deficient diet) and it is generally neither healthy nor sustainable. You rarely see people below 17-18 in the developed world except for cases of extreme dieting.

    This all gives you a natural way to look at the BMI and the effect of training. At 10% body fat, BMI 19 = FFMI 17.1 (starvation), BMI 22 = FFMI 19.8 (normal for a skinny untrained person), BMI 25 = FFMI 22.5, BMI 30 = FFMI 27 (not happening without steroids). At 20% body fat, BMI 19 = FFMI 15.2 (not happening unless it's a formerly morbidly obese person in the middle of a poor-quality extreme diet), BMI 22 = FFMI 17.6 (ditto), BMI 25 = FFMI 20 (average for a sedentary and borderline overweight person), BMI 30 = FFMI 24 (college football player in a defensive position), BMI 34 = FFMI 27.2 (steroid-bulked national-level football player).

    To be honest i was faster when i was 12% at around 175.
    That would put your FFMI at the time at 21.8. Somewhat high for an average person but healthy.
    Last edited by hamster; 01-18-14 at 10:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    Using the same principle as BMI, you can calculate a number called "fat-free mass index". That's simply your fat free mass divided by height squared. If you have BMI of 25 and 6% body fat, your FFMI is 25*0.94=23.5.

    An average untrained and sedentary adult might have FFMI on the order of 19-20 if it's a male or 16-17 if it's a female (slowly decreasing with age). Endurance sports do not increase FFMI beyond these levels and, in fact, may even lower it slightly. The only way to raise it is through weight training. A male college baseball player might be at 20-22, a football player might be at 24, and Mr. Olympia bodybuilders from the pre-steroid era averaged 25.4. It is thought that you can't raise FFMI much above 25 without steroids.

    Having naturally wide bones might move you up a point or two at the most. Your reference to being at 6% body fat and overweight suggests to me that you were seriously hitting the weights at the time.
    Seriously hitting the weights? No, hardly at all, I was quite thin.

    Using this http://www.naturalphysiques.com/28/f...ass-index-ffmi and inputting some high and low weights over the years, I come up with a range of 23.3-27.4. Taken at face value, I've been near the range of pre-steroid Mr Olympias, pro football players and well into the steroids only zone? [insert laughing my _______ ___ off emoticon] That tells me this myth is busted.

    I did find a few BMI calculators that take into account bone measurement, usually with a wrist measurement. Using those I do get slightly more credible results. I think FFMI has the same problem that BMI has, actual humans, as opposed to idealized from averages humans, have a very wide variation in bone size and density. The result being that those nearer the extremes get exponentially skewed results.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    ...I did find a few BMI calculators that take into account bone measurement, usually with a wrist measurement....
    If it takes into account anything other than height and weight, it's not BMI. It's something else, which could well be more useful than BMI. As has been said, BMI, like simple max HR calculators, is good for the average, but virtually nobody is.
    Ride more. Fret less.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    Seriously hitting the weights? No, hardly at all, I was quite thin.

    Using this http://www.naturalphysiques.com/28/f...ass-index-ffmi and inputting some high and low weights over the years, I come up with a range of 23.3-27.4. Taken at face value, I've been near the range of pre-steroid Mr Olympias, pro football players and well into the steroids only zone? [insert laughing my _______ ___ off emoticon] That tells me this myth is busted.

    I did find a few BMI calculators that take into account bone measurement, usually with a wrist measurement. Using those I do get slightly more credible results. I think FFMI has the same problem that BMI has, actual humans, as opposed to idealized from averages humans, have a very wide variation in bone size and density. The result being that those nearer the extremes get exponentially skewed results.
    There is variation, but it is not wide. Here's a table with percentile values from a research paper:



    Basically, 50% of men are between 18 and 20, and 90% of men are between 17 and 22. And that includes the variation in the amount of exercise and dieting.

    (Note: this is a chart for a European population. Americans would have much wider variation on the second metric, "fat mass index". In the chart, 95th percentile by fat mass index for men is around 7. In the US, that would be 75th percentile, and 95th percentile would be closer to 15.)

    What were the numbers you put in that gave you the FFMI of 27?

    P.S. There's one article that says that African Americans average about 1 point higher than whites and Asians average 2 points lower than whites.

    Also, I meant "Mr. America", not "Mr. Olympia". ("Mr. Olympia" was created after steroids were already commonplace.)

    Even the visual difference between competitive bodybuilders in 1950's and today is staggering.

    This is what FFMI 25 looks like: (1943 Mr. America, 5'7"/175)



    26 (1950 Mr America, 5'9"/195)


    http://perlbal.hi-pi.com/blog-images...1262597370.jpg

    28 (1975 Mr America, 5'8"/200)



    33 (2011-13 Mr Olympia, 5'9"/245)



    37 (2006-10 Mr Olympia, 5'9"/275)

    Last edited by hamster; 01-19-14 at 03:14 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    What were the numbers you put in that gave you the FFMI of 27?
    6'1"/225/8%

    I had never seen any of the Mr Olympia's from the 2000's, wish I could un-see it.

    Here's the 3rd place finisher from the 1950 Mr. Universe, FFMI unknown.


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    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    All of those old school pre-steroid era bodybuilders from 1940's-1950's look a lot healthier, better and more athletic then those modern oversized meatheads whose bodies are pumped full of steroids. Imagine one of those big oversized guys trying to ride a century, he would die after 30 miles.

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    6'1"/225/8%
    Yes, if accurate, that's FFMI 27.3. Don't know, maybe you are at the high end of the bell curve naturally. Did you look anything like this guy (6'1"/215)?

    BTW, if your numbers are even slightly off, that could easily knock your real FFMI into a more reasonable range. If you were really, say, 6'2"/225/12%, that's FFMI 25.4.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    Yes, if accurate, that's FFMI 27.3. Don't know, maybe you are at the high end of the bell curve naturally. Did you look anything like this guy (6'1"/215)?

    BTW, if your numbers are even slightly off, that could easily knock your real FFMI into a more reasonable range. If you were really, say, 6'2"/225/12%, that's FFMI 25.4.
    Nothing like Reeves or any body builder, he's definitely in the small-medium frame range and that's what makes him look so muscular at 215. More like a slightly leaner version of this guy, big boned and solidly built in the lower body. And I know plenty of people bigger boned than Riggo, which makes me wonder where those so called averages come from. I have to think those test subjects were not so randomly picked.

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    So apparently having nothing more constructive to do but play around with various body mass and power output calculators, it seems that the OP is right in the sweet spot for low hanging fruit. Using the bikecalculator.com, there are significant performance gains available by dropping from 20% to 10% body fat...

    200w / 0% grade
    19.60 @ 175.0lbs
    19.73 @ 157.5lbs


    200w / 10% grade
    4.69 @ 175.0lbs
    5.14 @ 157.5lbs


    The gain would be effectively zero for time trials. But for MTB and anything involving climbing, a nearly 10% gain is like hitting the lottery for doing nothing more that dropping a little weight.

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