How much should you weigh? It depends

We measure a lot of things at Max Velocity Fitness + Performance.

We evaluate movement patterns with a Functional Movement Screen so we can customize a corrective exercise program for our clients. We track workout results so we can evaluate improvements in strength, speed, power and conditioning.

We record periodic bodyweight and body-fat percentages, as well as girth measurements with our nutrition clients so that we can assess whether their nutrition program is working or if adjustments need to be made.

Along those lines is one of the most common questions we get: How much should I weigh?

And in a related question: How much body fat should I have?

The answer to both questions is, "It depends."

In working with real people every day on improving body composition and overall health, what stands out the most is that most people have no concept of what constitutes a healthy, realistic weight and body-fat percentage for them.

I once had a client say to me, "I want to lose all the fat on my body." Really? All of it? So you'll shrivel up and die?

More commonly, well-intentioned people really struggle when it comes to identifying a weight-loss goal. For example, losing 20 pounds in a month is not a realistic, sustainable or even healthy approach. But watching "Dr. Oz" or "The Biggest Loser" has a way of convincing us that it is.

For those who enjoy data and equations, this article does a nice job of breaking down what a so-called ideal bodyweight looks like and what various levels of leanness mean. 

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Some highlights: 

-- Body-mass index (BMI) is an antiquated and ineffective way of assessing how much someone should weigh. It doesn't take into account some of the most critical variables, like lean mass vs. fat mass, body type and activity level.

-- The average body-fat range for general population men is 18-24 percent, and for women, 25-31 percent. But this varies further when you consider age. For example, a woman in her 20s who is approximately 20 percent body fat would be in the 55th percentile for leanness at that age. The same body-fat percentage for a woman in her 40s would put her in the 75th percentile.

-- Different bodies have different needs. A 5-foot-9 man who is a distance runner should not have as much mass as a 5-foot-9 man who is a football player.

While the math is interesting, most people don't need fancy equations to determine their ideal bodyweight and level of leanness. Simple steps like weighing yourself periodically, having your body-fat and girth measurements analyzed by a qualified fitness professional, taking progress photos and noticing simple things like how your clothes fit and how much energy you have are more than enough. 

As far as where you are now in your bodyweight and body composition -- and what you should be striving for -- we consider the following:

-- Body type: A person who tends to store extra fat, especially in the belly and upper back, has different nutritional needs than a person whose engine revs high and has a difficult time gaining weight. Check out these body type guidelines and see where you fit

-- Body frame: A quick and easy way of determining your body-frame size is to measure the circumference of your wrist. A 5-2 woman with a small body frame generally should strive for a bodyweight between 108-121 pounds, according to data collected by the National Institutes of Health. But that would be an unrealistic and unhealthy bodyweight for a woman of the same height with a large body frame; she should aim for between 128-143.

As far as your goals, it's important to be realistic and understand what slow, medium and fast progress really means. In coaching tens of thousand of men and women to hundreds of thousands of pounds of safe, sustainable weight loss, Precision Nutrition has found that the average rate of weight loss for a man is .056 percent of bodyweight per week. For a woman, it's .005 percent. (Yes, life is unfair; men tend to lose weight more quickly than women.)

So for a 180-pound man, that's about 1 pound per week; for a 150-pound woman, it's .75 pounds per week. It may not seem "fast enough" or "good enough," but in six months, those individuals would lose 24 and 18 pounds, respectively.

If you have questions or need guidance in determining what your bodyweight and body composition goals should be, hit us up in the comments or on Facebook