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February 07, 2010

Gretchen Rossi and Zuzana from : Celebrity Body Fat Percentages:

In the post two weeks ago about Heidi Montag and knowing when to stop, I touched on the different ranges of body fat percentages.

I make the case that most women are officially done and rockstars at 19% body fat. 

This is a pretty sharp contrast to bodybuilding oriented sites that say that a woman is fat if she isn't at 14% body fat.  Which I think is totally crazy.

It's ok for a girl to still look like a girl.

I got a question about Zuzana from, and what body fat percentage I think she is at:


picture from YouTube /

Now I've never actually body fat tested Zuzana, but I'm pretty good at eye-balling body fat percentages.  One of the best parts of being a Master Trainer at 24 Hour Fitness for 5 years is that I got to do body fat tests for a couple thousand people.

Just looking at Zuzana, my guess would be that she's probably in the 12-15% range.


This girl isn't messing around, she's ultra, ultra lean.

It's impressive, it's inspiring, and I totally respect it.

That being said, I don't think you need to be that lean to really be really inspired and stoked about your body.

Case in point, lets take a look at Gretchen Rossi from the Real Housewieves of Orange County.


picture credit: The Daily Fix

Gretchen looks more like the 19-20% body fat range.

Zuzana is clearly a step leaner - with more of a fitness model look.  But really, who wouldn't be stoked with Gretchen's body?

Gretchen is lean, fit, and her body is super attainable.

It doesn't take anything more than a smart workout, a smart diet, and sticking to it to get down to 19% body fat.

Photo credit:

So this gives you a perspective on what we're talking about when we throw around body fat percentages.

5-tips-abs-flatIf you're working out and you're eating right, you really should be under 26% body fat.  As your workouts and diet get sharper, you should cruise right under 23%.  And then continuing with smart workouts and diet, getting to 19% body fat should only be a matter of time.

Getting to the 12-15% body fat range like Zuzana is a different story.  To get to that range, the food has to be really, really awesome.  To even be talking about this level of fitness, I'm assuming the workouts are already on point.  But there really isn't any margin for error food wise.

I like to get women down to 19% body fat for two reasons:

1.) You look like a rockstar

2.) While it takes something to get there, it's also maintainable.  You can still have a normal life.  You still get cheat meals.  You don't have to live in the gym.  It's super realistic.

And so you get to choose.

Don't let anybody choose for you.  You can have what ever you want.

If you feel awesome at 23% body fat, I'm stoked.  If you want to be totally fitness model-ed out at 14% body fat, don't let anyone stop you.

Losing fat and leaning up is a fairly mechanical and reliable process.  Just keep refining your workouts and food until you get everything you want.

I can't emphasize this enough - You can have what ever you want.

Josh Hillis RKC Kettlebell Instructor A lot of the women have read The Stubborn Seven Pounds and have worked their way down from 25-30% body fat down to 19% body fat. 

Josh Hillis is a level 2 Kettlebell Instructor (RKC2), Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Z-Health Movement Specialist, author of The Stubborn Seven Pounds - the most powerful system for continued fitness success there is.


I totally agree. Getting to 20% is actually fairly easy if you aren't eating a lot of processed foods, and you exercise regularly. To get down to 15% takes more work, it's not impossible but you have to be dedicated. It's shocking the difference of what five pounds of body fat looks like. If Zuzana gained 5-6 pounds, she would look like Gretchen. Body fat is like an onion, the closer you are the center the more dramatic the difference. So if you have a lot of weight to lose, you actually won't see a difference for some time. Don't get discouraged changes are happening. 1% of body fat is only 1-2 pounds of fat.

Exactly! Everything you said is totally dead on.

This is great. It would be awesome if you could post more pictures of women and the BF% you estimate them to be at. I know a lot of girls who would be interested!

I've seen this collection of BF% comparison photos and always wished there was a female version:

Great post! And very useful to see examples of the different bodyfat levels. Personally, the 14% look scares me a little bit (also, I don't think I have the self discipline to ever get there!). I do admire the women who are able to achieve that level, but I agree with you that a 20% bodyfat level is completely acceptable & awesome. Enjoyed reading your previous post as well. Keep them coming!

This is a great post. Where do you get the pics?

That's a really cool link, I've never seen that!

I'd like to do at least a few more posts like this. I realized that for me to always be talking about body fat percentage, and then not really show what I mean, doesn't make sense.

I'm glad you like it!

And that's the thing that's so great, you totally get to choose which one works for you!

I get all of my stock photos from

At the level my blog is at now, I just try to credit celebrity photos. Which BTW, I'd forgotten this time, so thanks!

But I can't wait for the blog to get big enough, then I'm going to use GumGum to get all my celebrity photos.

Hi Josh

I truly did enjoy this post. Getting body fat % down is something I have been encouraging certain individuals to do (Although my goal is to teach people with muscle how to take it to the next level) for some time now. Especially guys that suffer from man boobs, as getting the body fat % down is one of the first things people may have to do to get the look they want. So it's good that you are pushing everyone to do so too!


Great post. I love hearing (and can't hear it enough) that 19%-20% is attainable. I like to play that on repeat in my head!

Hi there,

I am not disagreeing with you, but I do find it hard to believe that Zuzana is only 14-16% body fat. I am in the fitness industry and I work out regularly. Last time I got my body fat percentage taken professionally, they told me I was at 13% and I am definitely not as lean as Zuzana. I think that Zuzana is more in the 8-10% range as her skin is very thin and there does not seem to be much fat at all on her. I am 5'7, 115 lbs, which by my BMI (18.0) is underweight by 0.5. But I guarantee you that I am not underweight. Anyway, just my two cents. You can follow me on twitter if you want at

I think you're totally right. I'll adjust the post.

I mean, I still don't know if she's 8% body fat, but she's definitely under 16%.

It's totally realistic! Just takes time and discipline!

Hey Josh,

Zuzana actually wrote a post last year on how to measure one's body fat percentage with calipers. She used her own body as an example, and came up with a result of 15% body fat:

So, it seems you were right on with your first estimate.

I wonder what her dogs body fat percentage is? ....42% - 45% maybe?

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Zuzana has a alot of muscle on her (along with having little body fat)...and I can bet her BMI is higher than 20, that's why you say she looks leaner than you. Alot of fashion models, dancers, gymnasts have very little body fat too, but they don't look as lean because they have less muscle....At 8-10% body fat a woman stops looking like a woman...they also never stay at the BF% for long because it's simply unmaintainable and unhealthy for a's only female body builders, figure competitors who go that low when they're competing...they go back to 14-20% body fat as soon as competition's over. Btw, I doubt you are at 13% body fat. At that BF% you wouldn't be looking as good as you do. I've seen figure competitors with body fat below 15%...they have serious muscle definition, even the thinner ones among them, and it's not a look most women can attain easily, and not the kind of look most regular women want either.

Hi, I would love to get down to 15% but I doubt it'll ever happen :(

Great post, very true though about looking great even in the slightly higher BF range. I like to tell myself that anyway.

Do you think you could hazard an educated guess at my BF %? I'm at


I think Zuzana has a great body... but what about that girl who parodies her? I think she looks more healthy... see

Wow, Zuzana has an incredible body. Could I please ask who parodies her?

Thanks for sharing.

Hi Marianne! You look to me about 17% bodyfat, whhich is really rockstar! Plus I checked out your videos, and your kettlebell form is awesome!

I know right! She's awesome!

At first when I saw this post I thought 12-15% fat on Zuzana sounded about right, until today. I got my results back from a DEXA scan I did last week (the gold standard of body fat measurements, it doesn't get more accurate than this) - I'm at 13.7% (5'0", 98lbs - I'm tiny and strong!). I'm really lean but not yet as muscular as Zuzana - I'm not scaring-children-muscular or super ripped or anything. I do her workouts and weight train, but my eating habits still leave much room for improvement, so I will get there! But I do think she's either for sure less than 15% OR she's just has more muscle to fill things out and looks leaner.
When I got my results back I almost couldn't believe I was this lean without having to cut out carbs.
Anyway, just my two cents.

Upon second review, I'm about as lean and muscular as Zuzana is here, in these pictures. I have her abs and arms. But this is a fairly old picture of her; she's significantly leaner-looking lately. Since I follow her website every day, I've come to think of her in her super super lean current form, which is attainable for me but I'm not there yet. I believe that maybe she was 12-15% here, but is now less than that. Probably closer to 8-10.

Wow Amanda, you're doing AWESOME! You totally get a double high five!!! And you're right, it really doesn't get any more accurate than a DEXA scan!

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