Ideal “Race Weight” Formulas


First things first:

  • find your ideal weight just for being within a BMI of 18.5-25 @:
  • remember that:
    bf levels

    • Male athletes usually train in the 10-12 BF% range and compete @ 6-8 BF% range.
    • Female athletes usually train in the 18-22 BF% range and compete @ 16-18 BF% range.


The subject of adjusting weight to improve performance is a touchy one. It is however a subject which all athletes ask themselves at one point or another. The correct weight may only be obtained by trial and error, as we are all different.

Below however gives a very good indication that a runner should be about 10% under, what would be considered, ” normal weight” for a given height. No man six feet tall and weighing 176lbs (79.8kg) will ever win the London Marathon, and it is unlikely that a woman five feet six inches in height and weighing 130lbs (58.9kg) will ever do so either.  Why?

Dr Stillman’s height/weight ratio table.

He fixes the non-active man‘s average weight for height with a simple formula. He allocates 110lbs (56.2kg) for the first five feet (1.524m) in height and 5.5lbs (2.296kg) for every inch (2.54cm) thereafter. He is harsher with women, giving them 100lbs (45.3kg) for the first five feet and 5lbs (2.268kg) for every inch above this.

Having established the average, he then speculates on the ideal weight for athletic performance, as follows:
Sprinters (100-400m): 2.5% lighter
Hurdlers (100-400m): 6% lighter
Middle-distance runners (800m – 10K): 12% lighter
Long-distance runners (10 miles onwards): 15% lighter


A common way of assessing optimum running weight is by “doubling the inches” of your height to get a ballpark figure on your best weight. However, the issue with this formula is it does not take into account one’s bone structure, natural muscle mass, and goals in the sport.

With that stated, it is important to first complete a rudimentary test of your bone structure before calculating your optimum racing weight. Hold out your right hand in front on you. Using the index finger and thumb of your left hand, wrap these fingers around your right wrist.

If the fingers touch but don’t overlap, you have a medium bone structure and/or musculature. If your fingers overlap, you have a small frame. If your fingers do not touch, you have a larger than average bone structure.

Now, with you frame assessed in a general sense, let’s do some quick calculations using our “double the inches” formula as a baseline.

  • Small Frame– Double the inches, then subtract 5-10lbs to establish an optimum running weight for health and performance.
  • Medium Frame– The formula works! Keep it the same.
  • Large Frame– Double the inches, then add 5-10lbs.

***Do note that this may not work for people with bigger or smaller hands. After looking at a bunch of professioanl runners around the world i noted that this “formula” only really works for people around 5’1″ – 5’9″.

For instance many of my friends who went on to be runners in college are really tall (5’11″+) and they usually stay 165+lb.’s which is very different than what this method would suggest (132-152).***


Using the “Method 1” calculator on:


Using the estimator on:

This estimator will give you very low weight goals so just keep that in mind.

Testing It On Myself:

I’m a male whose ~150 lb.’s, 5’9″ tall, ~10% bodyfat, and 19yo.

Therefore using:

  • Method 1: (110 + (5.5 x 9)) -2.5% = ~155.51 lb.’s
  • Method 2: Large Frame + 5’9″ = (69 x 2) + 5 to 10 lb.’s = 143 – 148 lb.’s
  • Method 3:
    • 143 ideal rw
    • ~142.8 lb.’s
  • Method 4:
    • 139 ideal rw
    • ~139 lb.’s @ 2.8% bodyfat; told you it was low
    • So doing it again with different settings to achieve something close to the others I used these settings:
      • 143 ideal rw-2
      • ~142 lb.’s @ 5.2% bodyfat seems a lot better in my opinion


Use method one and stay around ± 2 to 5 lb.’s of it.


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