Forget jumping on the scale every time you want to check your progress -- measure your body fat instead. Your weight doesn't provide a true indicator of your body composition, and checking your weight constantly can make you obsess over it, notes trainer Nia Shanks on her Lift Like a Girl website. Your body fat percentage provides a more accurate picture of your current condition and progress. Thirty percent body fat isn't bad, but it's not that great, either, and you should work on reducing it.
According to guidelines set by the American Council on Exercise, 30 percent body fat is at the top end of the acceptable range for women. Body fat for female athletes is between 14 and 20 percent, while that for fit females falls between 21 and 24 percent. The acceptable range is considered anything between 25 and 31 percent body fat, with 32 percent and above obese.
Male and Female Body Fat
The last thing you want to do when discussing body fat is to compare your body fat to that of your boyfriend, husband or male friends and colleagues. Men have lower body fat percentages naturally. Women need around 15 percent body fat just to take care of their normal bodily functions, whereas men need only 5 percent, according to the Ask Dr. Len Kravitz website.
Body Fat Goals
Whether 30 percent body fat is bad also depends on what you want to achieve. If you're just into generally being fit and staying active, then 30 percent is still considered acceptable. Be careful, though -- it's only 2 percent away from what is classified as obese. Reducing your body fat percent to the low to mid 20 percent range would be beneficial to your overall health.
Opting to measure your body fat percentage rather than weighing yourself is a smart move, as it gives a much better idea of your body composition and health. Don't get too obsessed with it, though -- only measure your progress once a month. Personal trainer Marc Perry on his BuiltLean website recommends getting a qualified fitness professional to measure your body fat using calipers. Most gyms have these or other devices. You can also use a bioelectric impedance scale, or a body fat tape measure. If you can afford it, many sports conditioning facilities and universities offer hydrostatic weighing and DEXA scans, which are the most accurate way to measure your body fat percentage.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.