Natural Body Size

Between the ages of 9 and 16 years, it is normal and healthy for a female to gain (on average) between 2-5 kg (5 – 10 pounds) each year and to grow as many as 28 cm (10 inches).

Between the ages of 9 and 20 years, it is normal and healthy for a male to gain (on average) 40 kg (88 pounds) and to grow as many as 42 cm (18 inches).

National Centre for Health Statistics

What is natural body size and how does it relate to athletes?

All bodies have their own genetically predisposed body size and shape. You may have three athletes who all have very different bodies but are the same age.

Our bodies do not have one weight that they keep for their lifetime. Our weight will change as we grow, age, are sick, have children, and go through physical changes. We can also have dramatic daily and monthly weight changes. There is not one weight that is right for our bodies – there is a natural weight range.

An athlete’s body weight range (and body shape) has been genetically determined by his or her genetic parents and grandparents. Just like our height, eye colour or shoe size, we have little control over what our natural adult weight and shape will be.

How do I know when an athlete is at his or her natural body size?

We have to wait until our athletes are adults to know what their natural weight range will be. Female athletes who are still growing and training (generally they will grow up until two years after their menstrual period starts) naturally gain weight and height each year. If an athlete is eating at least three balanced meals with lots of variety and several snacks throughout the day, eating all the foods that they enjoy, and are living actively, it is likely that the athlete is at his or her natural body size*. The bodies of athletes should not be compared to the body size and shape of others. We are all made differently.

For an adult, natural body size refers to the weight, size and shape of your body after a year of eating a variety and balance of foods, eating when you are physically hungry, eating until you are comfortably full, and living an active lifestyle.

Each of our bodies – even an athlete’s – has a weight range, shape and size that is natural and that will maximize athletic performance.

* Natural body size can be affected by medical/psychological factors or medications.