Have you ever wondered what the ideal body fat percentage for men is? If so, then you are definitely going to want to watch this video. In this one, I am going to discuss what I think is the ideal body fat percentage for men and whether or not that is achievable for you to get to as well as maintain that as well.

In today’s AX Jeff, Jesse and I are going to discuss a comment that was left on one of my videos regarding body fat. While the commenter seems to think that I’ve said that 6% body fat is the ideal spot to be in for men, especially in comparison to the 15% that was attributed to others, I’ve never actually stated that. I myself am extremely lean with a body fat percentage around 6 or 7%, but do I think that everyone can and should be at the same level of leanness as me? Well, no.

I understand that being as lean as Jeff Cavaliere is a goal for some, but not the goal for everyone and that’s okay. Let’s start with figuring out what your goal is and that comes with identifying whether you are looking at aesthetics, athletics / performance, strength, or in the case of Jesse; all the above.

For athletics / performance, your body fat levels should be determined by the demands of your sport. But even within the same sport, different positions will have different requirements. In the case of football, a wide receiver is going to need to be at a lower body fat percentage in order to perform at the highest level compared to an offensive lineman who is try to carry as much size as possible to prevent being run over by the defense. Depending on the sport and the position, the idea that lower body fat leads to compromised athletic performance is nonsense.

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When it comes to strength, we’ve all heard the notion that you need to carry as much weight on their body as possible to move heavy weight on the bar. This often comes with a bulk and cut – adding as much size to your frame as possible to move as much weight as you can in order to grow via overload. After that, cut back down to a level of leanness that is desirable. I will tell you right now, you can still be strong without bulking. You can be lean and strong. Jesse is living proof of this with his deadlift at 550 lbs and his squat over 400 lbs while remaining fairly lean.

When it comes to aesthetics, there are 3 important things to take note of. First, is that we should be describing leanness in percentages instead of using terminology. Ripped, shredded, lean, and diced all could mean different things to different people – at least with percentages there is an objective view that all can agree on.

Second, the leaner you are, the more muscular you will appear. Lower levels of body fat will show more definition, giving the appearance of greater muscularity. Take a look at Bruce Lee, someone considered a fitness icon, and his muscularity. He was not a large individual, but he was very lean which made his muscles appear larger. If he added body fat, inversely he would be considered to be skinny.

Thirdly, while subjectivity rules here, I can safely say that 9-10% body fat percentage looks better than 15-17%. The definition and muscularity are going to be enhanced at the lower levels of body fat, creating the appearance of more muscle. If aesthetics is part of the goal, then having a lower body fat level, such as 10% is likely where you are going to want to be.

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As I have said previously, body fat levels as low as mine which is in the 6-7% range, is not for everyone. In fact, I would argue that while most people can get to this level of leanness, a large percentage of people won’t be able to maintain it. Why? Our bodies have a set point at which we are able to comfortable remain at a lower body fat level. Some people simply cannot get past a certain body fat percentage and others can, but feel the side effects of it.

The idea is to find your set point; the lowest you can get to and maintain it in a healthy manner without any negative side effects. Once you find your set point, you know exactly how lean you can get and maintain year round with the proper discipline.

If you are looking for a day-by-day meal plan to go along with your workouts to help you get lean and athletic, they are included with every workout program I designed that can be found at the ATHLEAN-X website via the link below.

For more videos on nutrition and building muscle, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on YouTube using the link below and make sure to turn on your notifications so that you never miss a new video when it's published.

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50 thoughts on “6% Body Fat is Ideal For Men (HARSH TRUTH!)”
  1. *THE GIVEAWAY IS BACK* – I’m giving away my brand new complete 90 Day Beaxst PPL program to 40 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 40, but those randomly selected within the first hour the video is published. Click the link to see if you’ve won. No strings attached! Clicking twice does nothing. Only one entry per video. Remember to watch to the end for more workouts.
    https://giveaway.athleanx.com/ytg/6-percent-body-fat

    If you don’t win, no worries, you’re not going away empty handed. Just be sure you have your notifications turned on so you can get to my next video quickly and try again. Good luck and thanks for being a loyal subscriber…

    1. At 3:36 time you mentioned “rugby players” AND THEY WERE NOT RUGBY PLAYERS.. Im from Australia and what you showed on your YouTube upload at that time stamp was “A.F.L. Football” (its Australian Football..), not rugby… Just letting you know Jeff!

    2. Just letting you know it’s not Rugby it’s Aussie Rules you showed in your clip. Also the player you showed was Ben Cousins who had a drug problem. Played AFL using recreational drugs.

  2. I’m an MMA fighter, and I absolutely hate getting shredded before a fight. I can’t focus, I’m hungry, I’m groggy, I just hate my life at that level of leanness. When I fought at sub 10%, I got absolutely destroyed. I am never cutting below 10% ever again.

  3. Great video, Jeff and Jesse, I’m 53 and I just keep eating right and doing your workouts and I’m seeing great results, keep up the good work

  4. Although your titles are controversial your advice definitely isn’t. There is a reason you are an authority in the fitness world. Still can’t believe I have access to this incredible information at the tap of a screen. You’re a legend sir.

  5. The last few years I’ve taken my gym and dieting goals very seriously. I tried to reach a 10% body fat, and the lowest I got to was 11.2 (according to the machine I was using, I know a number of factors can change that). Tbh, I don’t see the point. If I was an influencer or getting paid or sponsored to build my lifestyle around it, I’d keep going. But I do it for myself, and it’s exhausting maintaining an unnecessarily low bodyfat for no real practical purpose. Nowadays I am anywhere between 12-15%, which is a maintainable level that I’m happy and comfortable at. I can still have some leeway on my diet, look good and have solid muscle definition even without a pump, and having a little higher bodyfat helps fill you out your clothes which is how everyone except my wife see me anyway. When you’re sub 10% like Jeff and all these influencers, you might look great in pictures and videos but in person you’re actually quite tiny and don’t even look like you lift. Respect to people who do maintain a sub 10% BF, but the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze in my life.

    1. Exactly Joshua…..it’s hard to maintain. I took the InBody test on the machine at my local gym and I’m at 12%. It is all about being consistent. I want to see if I can get to 10% and see if it’s something hard to maintain. If not then I can be happy being at 12%. I look at it as a “bucket list” item of getting that 6 pack. Is it easily maintained? Spoke with some trainers and it is hard year-round unless you’re genetic freak. There’s that saying….”You do You…I’ll do Me”.

    2. @G Jara I’m rooting for you, respect if you can get it down that low and maintain it. But yes, after a certain point it becomes a game of balancing on a rocking boat. And tbh, when I was at my lowest % the other thing I forgot to mention is my energy levels were pretty low. The fact is, having SOME body fat is not only necessary, but more healthy than being shredded 24/7. I’m not saying obese people are healthy or anything, but maintaining a ridiculously low level has its drawbacks to the average person. Not to mention my gym goals are about 70% strength and maybe 30% aesthetics. I want to be strong and have high PRs while also not looking like a bloated powerlifter, if that makes sense. It’s hard to maintain and build strength levels while also cutting weight all the time.

  6. I’m stuck at 15% but I know and understand that I don’t carry a lot of muscle, I need to focus on adding more muscle mass to look great, my goal is to be able to be lower than 10% but let’s just see how my body transforms during the years! Thank you Jeff

    1. @Adam T Lewis why? So he can screw up his lifting gains? Why would you recommend someone trying to add muscle to do HIIT after a lifting workout?
      I’m 5-11 194 10.5% now… @12.5% body fat scanned the first week of January. Oh…I’m 53. I did carnivore for nine months and loved it mostly for the elimination of sugar and low carbs helped with skin and inflammation. Reintroduced low carbs and some veggies in January(<200mg) primarily through grapes, celery, blueberries, and rice cakes. I’m comfortable at 190-196lbs and can drop if I want but am still building lean muscle without gear. I take whey protein w/water shakes, creatine and collagen peptides. If I wasn’t athletic I wouldn’t have have any issue taking low TRT as a couple of friends have but it’s not needed even though my levels are considered low. My other labs which I had tested before and six months into my carnivore diet all checked out clean and no significant changes. Full disclosure…I ate well before carnivore but drank a little more than I should have and had too much sugar usually due to sauces/condiments. I went from a slight bull to 210 to 188 and then balanced out at 194 when I got the right fat intake for energy. Hope this helps someone.

    2. I was at 38% now around 13%. Shooting for 9 or 10 %. See how if feels from there. I agree that muscle size will make a huge difference in appearance. 12% on small muscles doesn’t look like much. 12% on 18″ arms looks pretty good.

  7. Good stuff as always! I sleep well, workout (following Jeff’s advice and programs), but I decided a long time ago that I was not going to give up the food. I have stayed 15% body fat for years now and I am happy. Before I made this decision, I was miserable because I craved eating all sorts of food from different cultures and I would deny myself the joy of eating. Once I figured out that my mental, emotional and physical state of happiness was at 15% and I could easily maintain it by eating what I wanted, just not overeating, I became very happy. Got to go, the wife is making red chile enchiladas with a fried egg on top! (overeating would be two fried eggs on top, lol)

  8. 0:33 Question
    2:10 Athletics
    5:20 Strength
    6:50 Aesthetics
    8:10 Myth
    11:00 Explore
    12:35 Health
    14:10 Fact
    16:10 Answer

  9. This man never fail to deliver a clear message without the BS that most people have. I love his videos

  10. Severely reducing my sugar intake and fasting has allowed me to lose 30 lbs in 3 months. Food is the biggest and hardest factor because although I’ve been exercising the whole time, I’m only doing like 3 days out the week and very little exercising at that. Walks, situps, and pushups mostly.

  11. Thanks for the honest video Jeff! Every time I try to get leaner than 9% my energy levels tank and I get ravenous. The body set point is totally true!!

    I’m glad I pushed the limits and know what I can comfortably maintain year round.

  12. Over the years I have found out, that the more intense I train, the less hungry I feel over the course of the day. On the contrary, the lighter the training, the more hungry I feel.
    Intuitively, it seems to me that it should be the exact opposite…
    Thanks Jeff for the great content!

  13. I was at 7% once (lowest I’ve ever been) and I started to feel mentally slow. Whats the cause and solution to that?

  14. I would like to say thanks to Jeff, for his advice on rotator cuff injuries and the importance of not forgetting to work on this area, this has helped me bench press and overhead press heavier single arm weights. If you have any advice on knee tendon strength I’d be interested to hear your advice as well Jeff as currently recovering from an overuse injuries from squatting weights incorrectly a video on this would be interesting to raise this issue, thanks

  15. Man you are helping soo many young dudes! You deserve the highest level of respect. Actually for me you helped to come back into sprot after a long pause and even more! I tried filming my workouts and I really loved it so now I feel like I found my passion in making workout videos. God bless you

  16. At 6% I went from elite level college swimmer to being in a treatment center for disordered eating. At 12-15% I competed as a professional triathlete for 4 years in my late 30s, with kids and a full time job. Focus on the process and the rest will work itself out the way it’s supposed to.

  17. When asking “What is your goal” the goals considered were “Aesthetics, Athletics, and Strength.” My brain went straight to, “What is the ideal body fat percentage for optimal health, longevity and disease prevention?”

    1. Which goes back to what he was talking about with set points. There isn’t going to be an ideal percentage for everyone. More so there would be a range, and there’s no magic spell that can be cast to tell you what your specific percent is based on your genetic makeup. It’s gonna change with gender, age, height, hormone levels, etc.

  18. I think another component to discuss is HOW a person carries body fat genetically. For instance, I will ALWAYS gain excessively in the spare tire compared to elsewhere. As such, I do NOT look very lean at 10%, whereas someone else might have defined abs at 10%.
    The important thing is to have some fun and experiment! Love your content, Jeff!

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