How Heavy Will You Be When Lean

How Heavy Will You Be When Lean

Here are some realistic body weight targets for the average individual.

Akash Vaghela Akash Vaghela · 02 Sep 2018

Mindset Beginner
18 Mins

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Back in 2014 before dieting for my first bodybuilding show, I remember asking my coach at the time:
 
‘So how much weight do you think I need to lose, and what bodyweight will I end up at?’
 
Before asking, I thought I knew the answer already. I was 84kg, as strong as I’d ever been, and thought I'd need to lose about 8kg to be ‘stage lean’.
 
His answered completely threw me:
 
‘You probably need to lose about 13-15kg, and will likely end up around 70kg’.
 
He wasn’t wrong either. 17 weeks later, I was bang on 70kg while being completely ripped.
 
This was my first taste into the reality of natural bodybuilding. And it served as a realisation that up till then, I’d fallen for all the marketing and claims thrown out in the magazines and on social media.
 
At my most recent competition in 2017, I reached an ‘off season bodyweight PB’ of 90kg, only to require 21 weeks to lose just under 19kg to end up a little over 71kg (and considered a ‘middleweight’). I was far more muscular and conditioned than 2014, but I was still nowhere near the numbers that I thought I’d be when I started this journey a decade ago.
 
It turns out I’m not the only one. Recently, I’ve learnt just how many people (guys especially) overestimate how much muscle they have, and completely underestimate how much body fat they carry.
 
Before starting a transformation, I always ask the client what their goal is. And almost without fail I’ll hear one of these three responses:
 
‘I want to be 80kg shredded’
 
‘I only need to drop about 10lbs’
 
‘I don’t want to go below XYZ bodyweight’
 
The misperception created by the media is insane. All it’s done is create unrealistic, almost fantasy-like goals in people that only serves to cause frustration, stress and living in constant search of the magic bullet.

Realistic Bodyweight Targets for the Average Person

On a recent RNT team call, we were discussing realistic bodyweight targets for the average person with average levels of muscle mass and average genetics.
 
The average, everyday person.
 
Not the Rock, John Cena or Arnold. Or anyone else with the best muscle building genetics on the planet.
 
During this discussion, we seemed to all come up with these numbers to achieve lean, photoshoot level condition. For men, it’s typically 60kg, 65kg, 70kg, 75kg or 80kg. For women, it’s typically 45kg, 50kg, 55kg or 60kg.
Now bear in mind we’re largely generalising here, and there will be overlap, but these numbers seem to fall in line with the data we’ve all collected over the years.
 
It will of course depend on your training experience, levels of muscle mass, genetics and all. But if we consider the guy with a few years experience, has some muscle tissue and doesn’t have the best genetics, which is whom we deal with on an everyday basis, these numbers are bang on.
 
There are tons of formulas out there to work out your ‘ultimate bodyweight when lean’, according to your potential, and while I don’t put much stock into them, I did find one from Martin Berkhan of Lean Gains particularly interesting.
 
His formula is extremely simple:
 
(Height in cm – 100) = Maximum bodyweight in kg when lean
 
These figures are a little higher than the ones listed above by about 5-10kg, but if you consider where our clients are in their journeys, this is probably about right.
 
His formula is based on working with successful natural bodybuilders, who live and breathe the lifestyle, have decades of training experience, and have good genetics. Which makes the 5-10kg difference in line with who we’re speaking about.

BMI (Body Mass Index):

Even though an individual's BMI doesn’t always tell the full story about their overall health, it can be a useful guide when determining what you will weigh at your leanest - the first transformation checkpoint.
 
Most untrained males will usually fall at the lower end of the “healthy weight” category at their leannest whereas the males with more muscle mass to begin with may end up within the midrange. From the case studies you will see below, Graham had the highest BMI at his checkpoint (23.5) whereas Anand had the lowest (19.8) due to their very different starting points. 
 
For females who are untrained and carry little muscle mass, they will actually need to dip below the “healthy weight” category in most circumstances to achieve a flat stomach with noticeable definition across all areas. This is nothing to worry about as your ‘checkpoint’ weight shouldn’t be your lifestyle solution weight (the ‘sweet spot’ bodyweight you will maintain for the rest of your life - where you feel, look and perform at your best). Staying in the underweight category for an extended period of time is NOT what we recommend, especially for females as they are far more sensitive to the negative effects of being in such a state.
 
As you’ll see below, Meera ended up at 15.6, whereas Karen, who started with a good amount of muscle mass and years of training under her belt, ended up at 19.2 (within the healthy range category) despite looking extremely lean. 

What BMI Should I Be Aiming For?

From what we have seen, the below table represents where most people fall based on one of three categories IF the goal is to get as lean as possible.

Now, we understand that not everyone wants to get as lean as possible (though we do recommend it for all the other benefits you get from such an endeavour which you can read about here), so if that is the case, the ranges would look more like this.
The reason for the larger ranges in females is down to higher body fat levels in general when compared to males. Either way, this is still only a guide and should be treated as such.
 
To calculate your own target weight based on BMI, this website allows you to input your height and desired BMI to determine what your bodyweight should be

Forget The Scale 

The scale is a funny one. On the one hand, it gives us a good gauge of what’s happening in terms of fat loss, muscle gain and rate of progress.
 
On the other, it can be a real limitation while you’re getting into shape.
 
In fact, I’d say that for many people who’ve never got into incredible condition, their irrational fear of going below a certain number is holding them back.
 
I’ve been there, and almost every client we come across who wants to be photoshoot lean has been there too. But once you disassociate your pre-conceived perceptions of the ‘right’ scale weight, and instead focus on pushing yourself into the dark place required to go to that next level, that’s when you achieve that jaw dropping transformation you’ve been after.

Example Clients

The best way to explain this is to show you a few examples of different clients who have gotten into ‘shoot condition’, but all have different backgrounds, heights and finishing body weights.

Case #1 – Rishi, 66.5kg, 5’11”, BMI= 20.5

A lot of people look at this transformation and assume Rishi’s 80+kg. The reality is a little different, and he was only 66.5kg in the ‘after’ picture.

Case #2 – Bhaumik, 63.5kg, 5’10”, BMI= 20

Bhaumik’s biggest limitation was actually getting below 70kg. Once he accepted he needed to go below 70kg to be in the condition he was after, that’s when it all came together for him.

Case #3 – Shyam, 63.1kg, 5’7”, BMI= 21.9

Shyam’s got a decent amount of muscle mass, and what people forget is his extensive training experience, which is why his end bodyweight was similar to Bhaumik’s despite being 3 inches shorter.

Case #4 – Akash, 61kg, 5’6”, BMI= 21.6

Akash needed to drop nearly 15kg to be in shape, and given his training experience, he was on the higher side of our predicted scale above.

Case #5 – Tom, 76kg, 6’1”, BMI= 22.2

Despite having the height, Tom still didn’t make the elusive ‘80kg shredded’.

Case #6 – Anand, 56kg, 5’6”, BMI= 19.8

Anand is still relatively new to training, which is why he comes out on the lower end of the scale. A couple more years of training will have him climb into low 60s when lean.

Case #7 – Biraj, 63.5kg, 5’7”, BMI= 22

You’re probably starting to notice a pattern here. Biraj got into great shape, decent amount of muscle mass, and fell near that 65kg mark.

Case #8 – Sachin, 54.3kg, 5’5”, BMI= 20

Sachin ended up quite light, but he’s also shorter than average, with lower levels of muscle mass too. A few gaining cycles should have him pushing higher up in the 50s.

Case #9 – Rashid, 75.6kg, 6’2”, BMI= 21.4

For someone who’s comfortably over 6 foot, Rashid still clocked in at the mid 70s, despite a good level of training experience.

Case #10 – Graham, 72kg, 5’9, BMI= 23.5

Graham’s extremely strong, has thick joints and good genetics, yet still only in the low 70s when lean.

Case #11- Priyanka, 40.2kg, 5’, BMI= 17.4

 
Due to her short stature, Priyanka had to accept hitting a very low number on the scale but as you can see, it was worth it!

Case #12- Meera, 44kg, 5’5, BMI= 15.6

 
Meera really pushed the envelope here as she was focused on really getting in her midsection as much as possible. Because this was the last place her body wanted to let go of fat from (as is with many) she had to dip very low in body weight due to her not starting with much muscle nor training experience.

Case #13- Karen, 57kg, 5’8, BMI= 19.2

 
Because of her long training history and ample muscle mass, Karen was able to still fall within the “healthy weight” category for BMI despite getting extremely shredded.

Case #14- Ramya, 56.5kg, 5’6, BMI= 19.8

 
Ramya represents a fantastic “lean for life” change which is why her BMI falls within the healthy weight category.

Case #15- Archana, 44kg, 5’2, 17.6 

 
Archana started from a good base already but still had to drop 10kg to get into extremely good shape.

Case #16- Vanita, 40kg, 5’3, BMI= 15.6

 
Due to not having much muscle mass to begin with along with starting quite late in her life, Vanita had to push hard to get the defined look she was after.

Case #17- Sanjeeta, 42kg, 5’2, BMI= 17.5


After going through her second process phase after a lengthy investment phase, Sanjeeta was able to reach her checkpoint a second time around with more muscle mass and less body fat!

Case #18- Poonam, 50kg, 5’2, BMI= 20


Poonam had to drop over 30kg to hit her checkpoint but you wouldn’t have thought that when first looking at her pictures!

Case #19- Jigna, 48kg, 5’4, BMI= 17.8


Despite dipping into the “underweight category” for BMI, Jigna achieved a great transformation and then maintained a very similar condition post checkpoint while feeling and looking her best.

Case #20- Amisha, 50.5kg, 5’5, BMI= 18.5


Amisha looked fantastic and because she started with a moderate amount of muscle, she could achieve a lean look without having to go extremely low in weight.

Don’t Strive For A Number, Strive For A Look

Having a specific number can be a great tool in helping you move towards an objective goal but at the end of the day, it seriously does not matter one bit when you’re in the shape of your life. 
 
Most people will end up seeing a weight that they haven’t seen since high school and that is 100% fine because when you see just how amazing you look at your checkpoint, the relevance of that number completely disappears. In fact, if you focus on aiming for a specific look (visible abs, leaner legs, flat stomach, etc) vs a number, you simply keep pushing until you have reached that desired look. 
 
The scale is a funny one. On the one hand, it gives us a good gauge of what’s happening in terms of fat loss, muscle gain and rate of progress.
 
On the other, it can be a real limitation while you’re getting into shape.
 
In fact, I’d say that for many guys who’ve never got into incredible condition, their irrational fear of going below a certain number is holding them back.
 
I’ve been there, and almost every client we come across who wants to be photoshoot lean has been there too. But once you disassociate your preconceived perceptions of the ‘right’ scale weight, and instead focus on pushing yourself into the dark place required to go to that next level, that’s when you achieve that jaw dropping transformation you’ve been after.

Where You’ll Fall On The Scale

If you’re within your first 2 years of training, expect to be on the lower end of the predicted metrics we have discussed. 
 
Unless you’re blessed with incredible genetics, it’s going to take time to build muscle.
 
Which is why once you’ve got lean, it’s so important you spend time building muscle. This is where you make the improvements to your physique so that next time, your end weight is higher, and you’re leaner. That should always be the goal.
 
If you see a picture of someone and wonder why you don’t look like that despite being a similar height, it’s likely they’ve been training consistently for longer, and they’ve spent more time building muscle. That’s all it is, outside of genetics of course (which we’ll assume is similar).
 
Your goal shouldn’t be to compare yourself, but to continue improving yourself. If you’ve gotten lean and found yourself on the lower end of the scale, you know you just need to spend time building muscle. That’s exciting, especially if you’re fairly new to training. You’re going to get a lot stronger, see some of the best gains of your life, and ultimately start making headway to your ‘ultimate physique’.

Stay Realistic & Objective

This article isn’t meant to be written to discourage you, or set limiting beliefs on yourself.
 
It’s to save you from all the frustration, stress and disappointment I put myself through. I was once told I needed to be 85kg super lean to set a good example to my clients on the gym floor.
 
At the time, I was 78-79kg in ‘OK condition’, so I had about 10kg of muscle to gain to be able to meet that objective.
 
I didn’t know better, so thought it could be achieved, but just kept finding myself banging my head against a brick wall thinking I just didn’t know what I was doing.
 
The reality was that it was a goal that was never going to be achieved. Unless of course, I started all over with a new set of parents, or I decided to use performance enhancing drugs.
 
Once I accepted that I was never going to be 85kg super lean, it freed me to stop stressing out, stop comparing myself to everyone else, and allowed me to focus on running my own race.
 
I now sit comfortably between 85 and 90kg during my muscle building phases, and know that if I want to be lean, I need to be around 75-78kg. If I want to be shredded, I know that I need to be in the low 70s. Now that I’ve been through the journey multiple times, it’s liberating to know these numbers, and it allows me to focus on the process of getting stronger, eating the right foods and most importantly, enjoying it.
Akash VaghelaAkash Vaghela

Akash Vaghela has spent 10+ years transforming bodies and lives around the world, and in May 2017, founded RNT Fitness to serve this purpose. His vision is to see a world transformed, where ambitious high performers experience the power of the physical as the vehicle to unlock their real potential. He’s the author of the Amazon best-selling book Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, which explains his unique and proven five-phase methodology, is host of the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, has been featured in the likes of Men’s Health and BBC, whilst regularly speaking across the world on all things transformation.

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