Ideal Body Weight for a Male Athlete

14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 - Day Four

The ideal body weight for a male athlete depends on a number of different factors, which mainly revolve around what type of sport you play. In many sporting activities, for instance, being lighter and leaner is beneficial, whereas in other sports, the higher your body weight and the more muscle you carry the better. Assess the demands of your sport before deciding whether you need to lose weight or bulk up to improve your performance.

Low Body Weight

Competitors in endurance sports are typically light, carry little body fat and have lower levels of muscle fat. The less weight you have to carry, the easier it is for your muscles and cardiovascular system to sustain the energy needed for you to maintain speed over a longer distance. According to Jennifer Evans from Rice University, there is a direct correlation between BMI -- height-to-weight ratio -- and speed in distance runners. The lighter you are, the better you perform. The same applies in any endurance sport, such as doing a triathlon, cycling and long-distance swimming.

High Body Weight

Being heavier has its advantages, particularly in strength and power or contact sports. Being heavier and carrying more muscle increases your power-to-weight ratio, notes strength coach Marc Perry of Built Lean. This can improve your power and strength. When it comes to strength sports, such as powerlifting, Olympic lifting or strongman competitions, as you get heavier, there are natural increases in strength, adds Mike Robertson of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training.

Body Fat

Your body fat levels may be even more important than total body weight. According to the American Council on Exercise, men need between 2 and 5 percent of their body weight to be fat in order to survive. Above this, any extra fat doesn't serve much purpose when it comes to athletic performance. Most athletes have between 6 and 13 percent body fat.

Weight Categories

Whether or not your sport has weight categories is another consideration. Team sports don't have weight guidelines, so your ideal body weight is the one you perform best at. Other sports such as wrestling, weightlifting and boxing, however, do have weight categories, so you'll need to pick a weight class and make sure you're within the boundaries come contest time. Assess the demands of your sport before deciding to alter your body weight, as different sports require different qualities. At the 2012 Olympics, for instance, the body weight of athletes varied greatly, from cyclists and divers, who averaged weighing between 57 and 59.8 kilograms, to tennis players at 72.9 kilograms, right up to water polo and basketball players at an average of 85.4 and 87 kilograms respectively.