Shredded! A Complete Guide To Getting to 10% Body Fat

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
January 15th, 2017
Updated: April 20th, 2021
Categories: Articles Fat Loss
1M Reads
Shredded! A Complete Guide To Getting to 10% Body Fat
Learn how having an effective diet, training, and recovery plan are key components to getting amazing body transformation results.

Is your goal to get “see your abs” lean? Would you like to fill out your t-shirt but still have a waspish waist? Do you want to look like you’re flexing without actually flexing?

To get that jacked you need to get lean, and I mean LEAN. 10% to be exact. Forget for a moment the braggarts who claim single digit body fat levels. Yes, there are some in this world who walk around at 8, 6, even 4% body fat levels, but not many. If you’re 10% you’re pretty flippin lean. So let’s see how to get there.

Cycle Your Diet

Yes, what is an article about getting lean without mentioning diet? Abs are made in the kitchen, right? Well, yes, to an extent. But diet is still a key factor in the making of a leaner you. To get to an extreme level of said leanness takes a strict habit of meal planning, disciplined adherence to that plan and the wherewithal to listen to your body and adjust when needed. 

Carb cycling, although seen somewhat archaic in these times of the fasting fad, is still a viable, effective option for cutting body fat and staying sane in the process. Cycling your carbohydrate intake normally calls for several days in the red and then a day or two of a surplus.

This process cuts calories down for a limited time forcing your body to burn fat, even at rest. Once your body starts to get wise and tries to slow down your metabolism to conserve energy due to the lack of calories you jack up the carb intake and give it a much-needed surge to kick start your fat-burning furnace once again.

  • Start by choosing which days will be high and low carb days. For example, lower body training days may be good for high carb periods, other training days could be for low to moderate carb levels and off days could be reserved for very low carb days.
  • In the beginning it will be difficult to predict what your exact levels should be for each day so here is a good starting point: For low days go with .5 to .75 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight, for moderate days go with 1 to 1.25 grams per pound and for high days aim for around 2 grams per pound.
  • Be sure you are getting in at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. This can realistically be increased to 1.5 as your diet progresses.
  • Healthy fats should consist of around 20-30% of your total daily calories. These fats will come in handy on those crazy, low carb times when you need some extra fuel to get you through your workouts.

Healthy Food

The Importance of Training

Most individuals think only in terms of diet when wanting to get ultra-lean without much thought given to training. The belief that the workout will take care of itself and diet is the main focus is a big mistake.

Is your training the best it can be? Are you utilizing every minute to its fullest? How are your rest periods? Are they monitored to burn some extra calories and rev up your metabolism long after training?

Training acts as a trigger to spark the metabolic fire. Without proper, effective resistance training a good bit of the weight you will eventually lose will be muscle. Weight training keeps the muscle on – it acts as an insurance policy against atrophy.

  • Try a higher frequency of training such as training every body part twice per week. This, in turn, will coax your body into recovering quicker and will burn more body fat in the process.
  • Keep a close eye on rest periods. Nothing will affect your training progress and subsequent fat loss regarding training than getting into the habit of setting rest times. For starters, go with 2 minutes for the big lifts like squats and deadlifts and 1 minute for all other lifts.
  • Moderate your volume. If you have decided to train more frequently it would be wise to use a more moderate volume. 12 or so for chest, back and quads and around 9 for arms, shoulders, calves and hams. 
  • Leave your ego at the door – this isn’t a powerlifting meet. Ditch trying to max out for each set. Instead, shoot for a bit higher of a rep range such as 8-12 or 10-15 – but still go to failure.

Female Athlete who is very lean

Recover Properly

Finally, the catalyst to set the whole lose-fat-but-keep-my-muscle equation is proper recovery – namely sleep and managing stress. Getting proper rest is paramount and all your effort in the gym and in the kitchen will be for naught if you don’t get enough of it. During sleep key hormones such as growth hormone are excreted to help repair and regulate your body’s processes.

Stress management is another important part of staying on the course of progress. No, you won’t be able to rid your life of stress completely, but reducing it and managing the rest in a healthy way with consistency will make getting to your goals that much easier.

  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Also, get up in the morning at the same time each day including weekends. You don’t want to start messing with your meal times and screw up your rest schedule.
  • Keep stress to a minimum. Nothing will wreck your plan like constantly being in a state of stress. Find ways to effectively manage stress and reduce or eliminate it where you see fit.

Get Synergistic

Synergy isn’t just a corporate term reserved for conference room power point presentations. It should be your goal toward a leaner you. The synergy I am talking about includes having an effective diet, training and recovery plan so all factors can produce amazing results – results not able to be achieved by just one or two factors alone.

Practice discipline, consistency and stay positive. Together, they will all lead you to where you want to be. Then you can look back and admire the work you put in.

Athlete Training

Sample Diet and Training Plans

Below are sample diet and training plans taking into consideration the points outlined above. The training is for someone who wants to burn some fat but also keep and maybe even build some new muscle.

The diet plan is for an average 200 pound male who wants to get to that coveted 10% body fat. Although the diet will get you going in the right direction, it isn’t loaded with guarantees and false promises. You will need to adjust when necessary, you will need to practice discipline and you will need to take action and stay consistent.

High-Carb Days:

Meal 1: 1 cup of oatmeal with 2 tbsp of natural peanut butter, 2 eggs and 5 egg whites
Meal 2: 6-8 ounces of chicken breast, turkey or meat in a salad with 2 tbsp of oil-based dressing and veggies, 1 ½ cup (cooked) rice, 1 ounce of nuts
Pre-workout: 1 apple, 1 scoop of whey protein powder or 6 egg whites
Post-workout: 2 scoops of whey protein powder, 1-2 cups of berries
Meal 3: 6-8 ounces of chicken, turkey, meat or fish, 1 cup of green veggies, 2 cups of sweet potato

Moderate-Carb Days:

Meal 1: 2/3 cup of oatmeal with 2 tbsp of natural peanut butter, 2 eggs and 5 egg whites
Meal 2: 6-8 ounces of chicken breast, turkey or meat in a salad with 2 tbsp of oil-based dressing and veggies, 1 cup (cooked) rice, 1 ounce of nuts
Pre-workout: 1 apple, 1 scoop of whey protein powder or 6 egg whites
Post-workout: 2 scoops of whey protein powder, 1 cups of berries
Meal 3: 6-8 ounces of chicken, turkey, meat or fish, 1 cup of green veggies, 1 cup of sweet potato

Low-Carb Days:

Meal 1: ½ cup of oatmeal with 2 tbsp of natural peanut butter, 2 eggs and 5 egg whites
Meal 2: 6-8 ounces of chicken breast, turkey or meat in a salad with 2 tbsp of oil-based dressing and veggies, ½ cup (cooked) rice, 1 ounce of nuts
Pre-workout: ½ apple, 1 scoop of whey protein powder or 6 egg whites
Post-workout: 2 scoops of whey protein powder, 1 cup of berries
Meal 3: 6-8 ounces of chicken, turkey, meat or fish, 2 cups of green veggies, ½ cup of sweet potato

Healthy Foods

Training Plan:

Train two days on, one day off, two days on and two days off such as Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday with Wednesday and weekends off. Add in 30 minutes of cardio on off days.

Day 1 Exercises Warm-Up Sets Work Sets Rest
Incline Barbell Bench Press 2x12 3x8-12 60
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press - 3x8-12 60
Wide-Grip Pull-Up 2x12 3x8-12 60
Two-Arm Dumbbell Row - 3x8-12 60
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 1x12 3x8-12 60
Floor Crunch - 3x20 30
Hanging Leg Raise - 3x20 30
Day 2 Exercises Warm-Up Sets Work Sets Rest
Barbell Curl 2x12 3x8-12 60
Lying Nosebreaker 2x12 3x8-12 60
Seated Calf Raise 1x12 3x8-12 60
Barbell Squat 2x12 3x8-12 120
Walking or Static Lunge - 3x8-12 60
Lying or Seated Leg Curl - 3x8-12 60
3-Way Sit-Up - 3x20 30
Lying Leg Raise - 3x20 30
Day 3 Exercises Warm-Up Sets Work Sets Rest
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 2x12 3x8-12 60
Flat Barbell Bench Press - 3x8-12 60
Close-Grip Pull-Up 2x12 3x8-12 60
Barbell Row - 3x8-12 60
Standing Barbell Military Press 1x12 3x8-12 60
Wide-Grip Upright Row - 3x8-12 60
Floor Crunch - 3x20 30
Hanging Leg Raise - 3x20 30
Day 4 Exercises Warm-Up Sets Work Sets Rest
Standing Dumbbell Curl 2x12 3x8-12 60
Close-Grip Bench Press 2x12 3x8-12 60
Standing Calf Raise 1x12 3x8-12 60
Leg Extension 2x12 3x8-12 60
Leg Press 1x12 3x8-12 90
Romanian Deadlift - 3x8-12 60
3-Way Sit-Up - 3x20 30
Lying Leg-Raise - 3x20 30
Posted on: Thu, 08/19/2021 - 16:14


I'm of endomorph body type & total beginner
Is this type of plan are suitable to me
As for the workout I'll be doing at home using dumbbells
Your advise would be very much appreciated

Thank you

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/07/2021 - 09:51

Hi, Ahmed. Yes, this would be suitable for you. For more dumbbell exercises to choose from, check out the Exercises section and click on the bodypart you need exercises for. Hope this helps.

Sebastian Payan
Posted on: Mon, 07/26/2021 - 15:35

Hey Brad, thanks for the great article. I’m 15yo, 245 lbs. and 6’2”. I’m trying to get to 10% body fat, which I figure will be around 215 lbs. for me. How do I need to adjust this diet plan?

Posted on: Thu, 09/24/2020 - 10:23

is the oat meal cup dry or cocked ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/24/2020 - 11:16

Hey ghaoues - the oatmeal is measured dry and then cooked.

Posted on: Fri, 09/25/2020 - 10:37

thank you

Tina Russell
Posted on: Sun, 09/20/2020 - 23:42

I'm a female, only barely 5'2", currently at 135 but wanting to get to 105 or 110 roughly.....lean with muscle. How would I adjust the diet to that....I mean no way could I even come close to eating like a 200 lb man. I still work out really hard but can't get the fat off. Want it off for my 50th birthday in 6 months.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 09/21/2020 - 10:07
Chris Lyles
Posted on: Sun, 09/20/2020 - 22:29

What should my calorie goals be using this plan? What kind of deficit should I be trying to hit?

Posted on: Sun, 09/20/2020 - 08:46


Like all other plans this is a great one but it does not have download link for the pdf file. Can you kindly provide a downloadable link for the entire plan and diet plan included.
Thank you.

Ernest J Heine
Posted on: Fri, 09/04/2020 - 11:53

how would you do this meal for 51 yr old male with type 2 diabetes

Daniel Granger
Posted on: Thu, 12/19/2019 - 12:17

Hey Brad,

Great article, Maybe you can help some I'm 6'6" 260lbs, trying to get down in BF% but not lose a ton of muscle. I'm going to follow your workout continue with the PHAT workout, both increase the frequency, I prefer working out 5 or 6 days a week just because it's me time. I can never figure out the calories I need though, I seem to drop pounds fast on low carbs but that stops, I blow up when I do high carbs. My issue is that all my weight is in my gut and face, viens popping out my arms and legs. Any suggestion

Posted on: Sun, 05/19/2019 - 02:26

5'9, 166 lb 30 yo male, been on a 1800-2000 calorie diet with a 50/30/20 (pro, carb, fat) split for a month. Lost 20 pounds but still dont look sub 10 body fat. Workout has been a push/pull/push/pull/legs with an hour of max incline tredmill each day. Should i scale this suggested meal plan back or do you have a better idea?

Posted on: Mon, 04/08/2019 - 08:04

Is there anyway to switch this up for someone who works out in the morning?

Posted on: Sat, 10/13/2018 - 12:48

Could you please adjust diet plan for a 5’5”, 35 y/o, 150lb female?

Posted on: Thu, 10/11/2018 - 16:54

First off. Thank you for your service.
Second is there a way to adjust the diet for 140 lb female.
Would love to have to all spelled out like for the men. 3 egg whites 1/2 oatmeal etc.... :)

Posted on: Mon, 09/10/2018 - 09:25

High carbs days
Post-workout 2 scoopes of Whey protein,,,LMAO
Where is thecarb meal here post workout !?

Please don’t fool people over here!! What a joke!

Craig Boyd
Posted on: Sun, 09/20/2020 - 12:38

There are carbs with other meals in the day, perhaps you should spend more time reading the article

Rajat Sharma
Posted on: Thu, 05/03/2018 - 00:52

Hey Brad,
How should I plan my high Carb days,moderate and low carb days? Is there any separate plan for this?

Posted on: Sun, 04/15/2018 - 15:49

A scoop of whey protein varies. How many grams are in each scoop in the diet plan? Or what protein is recommended?

Joshua Correia
Posted on: Sun, 12/24/2017 - 17:37

I got to 10% unitentinally just decided to get it tested as I'm pretty fit to begin with and was surprised when it was that low

Posted on: Sun, 09/17/2017 - 13:12

Hey Brad, been on trt for 3 long years now have gained 25 lbs sitting almost at 190 5'7 38 years old. Rest test is 130, max test 400 test cypionate at 100 a week not sure if it's enough. I do have a pituitary cyst the surgeon says is nothing. Worried I am going to inject the rest of my life. Is there another reason my test is so low. I quit everything but, no alcohal or even ibuprofen. What gives. I have seen 3 endocrinologist and Mass amounts of blood taken! Should I do a cleanse I heard parasites could wreak havoc on testosterone levels?? I work in supplement sales and trying to learn what I can do naturally to heal thyeself! Thanks again.

gaurav jain
Posted on: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 18:07

Hey brad, whats the minimum time frame for this above mentioned training plan? 8 weeks or 12 weeks?

Mohammed Alkhthami
Posted on: Thu, 07/13/2017 - 00:24

Hello brad can I use this program for fat loss I am 35% body fat plz help

Akhilraj Grandhi
Posted on: Sun, 02/26/2017 - 22:09

Hi I never used any supplements and I want to keep it just that way so instead of whey can I eat 2 full eggs ?? hopefully I'm gonna get a reply thanks

Posted on: Mon, 06/19/2017 - 23:44

Dear Akhilraj.. u need to give more info on your goal..
what transformation are you going for?losing weight,build muscle, be fit, be strong be bigger, be leaner etc.. yr height and bodyweight also play a role in determining how much u should eat..

just a friendly suggestion.

Jason G
Posted on: Mon, 07/17/2017 - 10:58

There are about 10 to 12 grams of protein and 150 calories in 2 eggs. In comparison the whey protein I use has 120 calories for about 25 grams of protein. So to get the equivalent protein with eggs you would need to eat 4 to 5 eggs which would add an extra 180 calories(this could result in a third of a pound less weight loss a week) to your diet each day compared with the whey option. Eating only egg whites would be a similar caloric load as the whey. However whey protein is basically healthy for most people and is a great tool to keep protein intake high on a low calorie diet. Whey protein also has Glutathione which is a very potent antioxidant.

Posted on: Sat, 02/15/2020 - 13:58

Except that even your best protein powders are "spiking" the protein count. So your getting about 15gm of real usable protein each serving, not 25.

Posted on: Fri, 02/24/2017 - 09:16

Dear Brad,

I currently weight 170lbs and have 19% body fat. I want to be able to lower my body fat percentage to 10% by summer. Do you think that this is doable? I use to weigh 177lbs earlier this year but now have hit a plateau to where its not changing. What foods do you think I need to eat to lose fat?

Posted on: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 04:40

Hi Brad,
I'm thinking of starting up this plan of getting shredded - but a little question.. I am 42 years old, and have a socalled ectomorph-body, although I have some unwanted fat around my stomach.
Would you still recommend this type of program, or is it more intended for younger men/women?
I know you haven't seen a picture of me, but hope you can come up with an answer anyway.. :)
Thanks so much in advance...

Robin sharma
Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2016 - 11:33

Hey brad i started ur plan from today and wnna knw that it will help me to loss obliques fat and fat from body ?

Posted on: Sat, 08/13/2016 - 20:28

Can i supersets the workout routine?

Posted on: Mon, 06/06/2016 - 03:50

Hi Brad, why not conventional deadlifts in this program?

Posted on: Tue, 05/31/2016 - 11:55

I'm training for a marathon and would like to start this for program to lose some weight and tone up. Do you see any issues with implementing this along with my marathon training? I was planning on doing high card days the day before my long runs. Great article!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 05/31/2016 - 16:10

Yes, there are a number of issues. This wouldn't be a wise idea if you're going to try to run this concomitantly with marathon training. Pick a goal and stick to it but if your goal is MAXIMAL performance then trying to diet down to 10% while simultaneously packing in miles each week is a recipe for disaster.

Posted on: Mon, 12/21/2015 - 14:47

Is it to much to do cardio or yoga in the evening every day if I'm weight training in the morning?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 12/22/2015 - 12:10

Hi Justin. No, not at all. : )

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 12/24/2015 - 09:59

Thanks, Justin. I'm glad I can be of help.

Posted on: Tue, 12/22/2015 - 16:52

Thanks. I read all of you posts. They are very helpful in my training.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 02/05/2016 - 10:06

I wouldn't recommend the circuit idea unless it 's for time constraints and even though, you would have to setup it up correctly rather than just going for it haphazardly.

If you're a natural trainee (i.e. you're not using anabolics) you have to decide upon your goal - muscle gain or fat loss. Most can't do both. That being said though, it's usually not advisable for males to continue adding bodyweight (lean body mass plus fat mass) once they pass 15% bodyweight as doing so can present some insulin sensitivity and hormonal issues. Just something to keep in mind when making your decision...

Posted on: Sat, 02/06/2016 - 13:45

Thanks for the input Mike, so basically what you recommending here is to drop my body fat percentage before trying to add on lean mass, correct? I've recently started the keto diet and can already notice a fat drop.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 10:28

I think it would be wiser from a hormonal and nutrient partitioning perspective to start a massing phase from a lower body fat percentage.

Keep in mind that keto diets really aren't all they're cracked up to be for the majority:

Not to mention, if the only way you're measuring "fat loss" is via the scale then you're going to have a tough time keeping things consistent as hydration, gastrointestinal motility (i.e. constipation), glycogen storage (via carb intake), and stress can all cause transient increases/decreases in your weight irrespective of changes to lean mass. You need to keep that in mind if you're going to continue with your keto approach.

Posted on: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 15:42

WOW!! Thank you for the link! Soo much information I wasn't familiar with, alot of good insight to the diet, ill for sure have to read the article again to better comprehend everything. So Mike would you recommend following the above mentioned diet/exercise plan strictly to reach my overall goal, or is there something more you could toss my way? Thanks for all the information!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 17:02

I don't think generic programs are the best option for everyone so it would be tough to make specific recommendations for you given I haven't put your through an entire assessment or discussed your specific goals and preferences. However, that being said, there are a variety of different options one can use to accomplish their goal. They may not always be the best option but they will still work despite the fact that they will take more work to complete.

This article isn't a terrible idea but like I said, there are a number of different options. Which one you choose will be determined by what works best for your lifestyle and your genetics. That's a tough question to answer over the internet.

Posted on: Thu, 02/04/2016 - 22:35

I just saw this article, and well I'm trying to do exactly what it's says here and get to a 10% body fat at 200 pounds. I'm currently 187 and 17% body fat. But I had a question about the training, would you consider is good to run some of these work sets in a circuit with less rest time in between sets? It would help burn some fat but would it be comperable to making muscle/weight gains since I am searching to hit a 200 pound goal? I currently weight train in a circuit of 2-3 or four lifts and do a few rounds then switch to a different circuit of the same amount of exercises.

Posted on: Mon, 10/12/2015 - 16:08

Should the oats be measured dry or cooked?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/12/2015 - 16:38

You can do either depending upon how accurate you want to be.

Posted on: Mon, 10/12/2015 - 20:03

I'm a little confused. Couldn't you essentially turn one packet of oatmeal into a cup or two packets into a cup depending on how much water you add?

Posted on: Wed, 08/05/2015 - 09:02

Hi there, I started this program this week, but I have a question about the warm=up sets.. For example, for the wide-grip pull-up, it says that the warm-up should be 2 sets of 12 and the work sets 3 x8-12.. But isnt 2 sets of 12 (full body weight) reps too much? this equals or is even more than the reps of the work sets..

Free Workouts & Expert Advice

Get a weekly email with the latest workouts, tools, expert guides and deals from M&S.