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Wikipedia says:

Certified personal trainers will suggest to male bodybuilders that they aim for a body fat percentage between 2–4% by contest time. However it is unclear that such levels are ever actually attained since (a) the means to measure such levels are, as noted below, lacking in principle, are inaccurate, and (b) 4-6% is generally considered a physiological minimum for human males.

From forum.bodybuilding.com:

There's also guys that get leaner than me and probably are on the verge of the high 2's if not at least in the low 3's.

From forum.bodybuilding.com:

the presumption is usually 2-3 but I heard some say it is more 4-5

People are claiming that 2-4% bodyfat percentage is attainable for bodybuilding competitions. Wikipedia expresses doubt about that claim due to lacking a means of measurement at that level and cites a paper claiming that 4-6% is the physiological limit.

What does the evidence say?

  • It sounds like the evidence says "4-6% is the physiological limit" according to your research. Do you have a reason to doubt this? – Flimzy Nov 12 '13 at 14:08
  • I'm not sure what sort of answer you're hoping for. The last half of your question seems like a reasonable answer: "Studies show 2-4% is achievable, but skeptics question these claims on grounds of inaccurate measuring techniques." That would make a better answer than many questions on this site ever receive... – Flimzy Nov 12 '13 at 16:20
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    Science is never "settled." I do, however, suspect the answer to your question is already in your question. – Flimzy Nov 12 '13 at 16:35
  • I haven't said it's a bad question, nor have I downvoted or voted to close it. I'm just confused about what answer you're expecting to receive, considering it seems you've already researched the answer. – Flimzy Nov 12 '13 at 22:08
  • Obviously, the body builders mean whatever scale typical for measuring body fat reads 2-4%, not that they actually have 2-4%, as you have already pointed out measuring that is likely impossible given the rudimentary non-invasive techniques used my BBers. All of which is irreverent to the BBers, all they know is that if the scale reads 2-4% you are ready for the competition. – Jonathon Sep 9 '15 at 22:36
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  1. The 4 c body composition model which is considered as a gold standard in measuring body composition changes indicated that there were reductions of percent body fat (%BF) from 9.1 to 5.0% when measuring body composition changes in 3 elite male bodybuilders during preparation for competition.

Per Withers RT et.al. in 1997, "The 4 compartment body composition model indicated that there were reductions of: percent body fat (%BF) from 9.1 to 5.0%, fat free mass (FFM) from 90.60 to 88.14 kg and fat mass (FM) from 9.10 to 4.65 kg. Sixty-four percent of the 6.91 kg loss in body mass therefore came from the FM. The 2 compartment hydrodensitometric model yielded higher %BFs (initial = 11.2; final = 7.1) than the 4 compartment model (initial = 9.1; final = 5.0) which is theoretically more valid'.

  1. The ideal body fat percentage (BFP) % calculated in a competition was between 5.6 and 6.7 for twenty-four athletes

Per Hashem Kilani et.al. in 2010, the ideal body fat percentage (BFP) % calculated in a Mr. Fitness competition "super body category" was between 5.6 and 6.7 for twenty-four athletes intentionally selected, with heights of 166–190 cm and aged 20–42 years."Three percent is the lowest level of essential body fat needed for males to survive without hazardous health problems."

Per Yunus Barisik's research summarization on body fat levels of elite athletes, "most elite drug-free bodybuilders compete at body fat levels between 6.8 and 9.9% body fat". Also per Scientific American, Seattle-based speed skater Apolo Ohno's body consisted of only 2.8 percent fat and Marina Mourtzakis explains that "snowboarders probably have a normal amount of fat, whereas long-distance and endurance athletes [like speed skaters, cross-country skiers and biathletes] likely have less."

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  • @Nomenagentis-The body fat percentage of the athletes was between 5.6 and 6.7 in the competition researched by Hashem Kilani in 2010. – pericles316 Sep 9 '15 at 17:40

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