The Washington Institute of Sports Medicine and Health believes that athletes
should strive for realistic goals in achieving the correct body composition and
percent fat for competition and health, which should be determined
Age, gender, sport and position, body type, genetics, and individual
variation should all be considered when telling an athlete what percent fat they
should be and how much they should weigh.
Adolescent athletes require accurate information on establishing safe weight
and body composition. This is important for athletes striving for potentially
low body fat levels, such as wrestlers, gymnasts, rowers, dancers, swimmers, and
long distance runners. The goal is to achieve a balance of fat weight in
proportion to lean muscle mass so that optimal performance is achieved, while
health is improved or maintained.
Percent body fat values for athletes typically range from 6% - 15% in males,
and 14% - 20% in females, varying between sports and positions.
Competitive wrestlers may strive for weight classes that are unrealistic low,
given their individual percent fat. Optimal percent fat should not go below 6-7%
percent. If a wrestler struggles to achieve a weight class that puts him at 2 or
3% he will have lost strength (lean muscle) and will not be able to compete as
well as if he weighed more and were stronger.
Essential fat for females is at least 12%-15%. If a young female athlete
experiences amenorrhea (no longer having periods) she is too lean. Experts say
this causes loss of calcium from bones, and potential long term health problems,
often seen in long distance female runners, as well as with those who experience
anorexia and bulimia.
Professionals, such as MD's, Nutritionists and Exercise Physiologists, who
have the knowledge, and utilize accurate body composition measurement
instrumentation, can determine an individual's ideal anatomical body weight.
For additional information on body composition, or to schedule an appointment