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
1.2M 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: Sat, 12/02/2023 - 04:57

Hi Roger!
I would like does work meal plan for me 80kg (176lbs)
I will drop my body fat from 27% to 15%
I can not do pullups and chain up these are so difficult for me can you recommend another exercise

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 12/18/2023 - 17:58

Hi, Hugo. I think this meal plan would work for you. 27 to 15 is a big drop, but you can at least make progress towards that goal on a program like this.

If you are training in a gym, then do pulldowns. If you train at home, go with dumbbell pullovers.

Posted on: Wed, 12/20/2023 - 23:04


Virgil D
Posted on: Sun, 10/08/2023 - 22:36

Sorry if this is irrelevent to this workout but I always like to drink my protein shake 2 scoops during my workout. Is this wrong?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 10/22/2023 - 10:55

Not at all. The protein can kickstart that recovery.

Jakub Sroda
Posted on: Sun, 08/27/2023 - 02:47

Overall a good article but one thing is just a myth. 1g of protein /lb is the actual cap that you should consider. Science shows there is no real benefit beyond that. Only in very specific cases 1.5 might be a good choice for a certain period of time for example if you are in GEAR mode.

So for me with 235lbs to grow its absoloutly enough to eat 180g of protein. Even 150 is still enough since 1g is the top amount and i still grow great. Actually not just scientifically proven but out of experience i had no gain from eating more than 1g of protein at all. Rather the carb intake was a game changer from growth. So this is a little bit outdated as the 1..5/2g / lb intake was thought to be the right thing in 2010 but its disproven by now so many times. It would be nice to have a proper update on this information. Also the fitness industry pushed a lot back than to sell more protein powder which i guess made sense but its nonsense

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 08/27/2023 - 12:43

Hi, Jakub. To continue this conversation, I found a study in 2018 called "How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution". It determined that the best range of protein for a subject wanting to build muscle is 1.6-2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. For a 220-pound (100 kg) individual, that would be 160 to 220 grams per day. If others want to share studies they find, they can include the name of that study along with what they found. I can't authorize direct external links, though.

We appreciate your feedback and hope this shows that M&S cares about more than pushing protein.

Posted on: Thu, 08/24/2023 - 02:29

Hi I'm 59+ and suffer from spinal spondylosis. When I do weight training it helps a lot with my pain. I usually go light but would like to get leaner and cut. Is it safe for me to follow your program. Am I too old for that type of training?

Live your articles. They are very informative and educational.

Thank you.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 08/27/2023 - 12:36

Hi, Kat. Glad you enjoy the articles and are finding something that helps. As long as you don't push it, this program should be safe, but I suggest talking to your doctor and getting that confirmed. The doctor knows your situation better than we do.

As for age, it's just a number. There are folks in their 80's using some of these programs.

Posted on: Sat, 05/13/2023 - 14:55

Hi. My question is for carb cycling I’ve seen people do low carb for 5 days then on the weekend do 2 high carb days. What do you think about that. Thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 05/16/2023 - 07:07

It seems like a vague answer, but it really does depend on the person. I've seen it work well for some people, and some folks haven't found success at all. I would suggest trying it for 2-4 weeks and determining how it helps you. At the end of the day, personal experience is what helps you decide how well it works.

Posted on: Fri, 01/13/2023 - 09:11

Aren’t Romanian Deadlifts super hard compound lifts? Why is the rest period only 60 seconds?

Can I add a casein shake with milk at nighttime?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 01/18/2023 - 21:55

It's a compound lift, but it isn't super hard. As long as you're careful with your form, you should be fine with it.

60 seconds rest is so you can get back to work quicker and keep the muscles warmed up.

Casein at night is a great idea!

jamie norrad
Posted on: Thu, 12/29/2022 - 20:55

I am at 194,, 10 percent is my goal, maybe for a competition
Im about 17 oercent now, I like this diet its easy and simple. I hate the overccomplecated ones,,, Currently im just doing moderate carbs, should I do your meal plan now. My goal for ten percent isnt till may, Then ill see about going to 6 percent or whatever for the show... if i do one. WOuld like to now as i am older, and quit my younger year dreams of this, and just got back into training this years again, good muscle memory though,,,

Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2022 - 19:24

Can the 2 scoops be consumed during work out instead of after ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 09/24/2022 - 09:17

They can, but after would be better because the protein would be helping with recovery after the workout is over and the muscle fibers are broken down.

Posted on: Wed, 07/20/2022 - 06:47


I really don't understand this 1 scoop of protein before and 2 scoops after a workout.

All proteins I used so far recommend 1 scoop after a workout. How should this translate to me?

Thanks a lot for the advice in advance!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/28/2022 - 08:38

The shakes have their own instructions on the label for making one shake. The guidance on this is to have two shakes after workouts because you can use the extra protein for recovery. If you don't feel comfortable having two, one will be fine. I hope this helps!

Posted on: Sun, 11/27/2022 - 12:50


Posted on: Fri, 07/08/2022 - 20:08

What would the food intake look like for a woman weighing in at 145?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/18/2022 - 08:20

Hi, Diana. You could start by using 2/3 of the portion sizes that are recommended here and adjust as you go along based on how you feel.

Posted on: Mon, 03/07/2022 - 13:05

I have a couple of questions. Is this lean bulking, also I’m at a 20 percent body fat percentage so can I still do this plan?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/14/2022 - 19:39

This is a plan to help reduce bodyfat, not for bulking. If you're at 20 and want to get to 10, then this is perfect for you.

Samuel Valentine
Posted on: Wed, 02/02/2022 - 18:05

Hello, I'm currently on the " growing strong program". I want to lose weight. But this article recommends a similar workout program to " growing strong..should i replace the program and do this or stick to the growing strong program

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 02/05/2022 - 19:34

Hi, Samuel. Ultimately if it was up to you. If I was in your position, I would go ahead and ride with this one.

Posted on: Sat, 10/02/2021 - 23:36


What Whey protein do you recommend
Also do you recommend using other supplements in addition to the Whey Protein

Thank you...

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 10/05/2021 - 20:28

Hi, Ahmed. Any whey protein isolate that you can purchase here on M&S would be beneficial. As for other supplements, a multivitamin would help. Focus more on food than supplements.

Posted on: Wed, 09/22/2021 - 17:35

Hi! For how long is this plan for? 8, 12 weeks? Also does this same exercise layout work for women? It seems to be more chest, upper body exercises than lower body. Thank you.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 10/05/2021 - 20:27

Hi, Kari. It depends on how close you are to achieving 10% bodyfat. Go for 12 weeks, and if you don't reach 10% sooner, reevaluate where you are before doing it again. And yes, this will work for women.

Posted on: Sun, 09/19/2021 - 06:28


Do you recommend going for 2 high carb days instead of 1 day


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 10/05/2021 - 20:25

Stick with one, Ahmed.

Posted on: Thu, 09/16/2021 - 23:41


How can i classify the level of the workout routine stated above based on the activity level on the BMR calculator

Thank you

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 10/05/2021 - 20:24

This would be considered an intermediate level workout.

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

Posted on: Mon, 08/14/2023 - 17:40

I'd start by speaking to a licensed nutritionist. You can show them this plan and ask what they think or if they recommend any adjustments to this diet based upon your specific disability or disabilities and your individual needs. Short of that, I would at a minimum speak with your primary care team prior to making any major changes to your diet or exercise regime. Better safe than sorry, my friend.

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, 08/14/2023 - 17:52

Have you thought about, or looked into, starting a ketogenic diet? You could have some stubborn body fat hanging around. Especially if you've been sticking with the same routine for a long while now - changing things up could shock the body into making those final changes you're struggling to see. A great thing about a keto diet, is after the first few days of coping with eating >50g of carbs per day for an extended time, you'll start feeling more energetic than you did prior to going into ketosis. Ketones are proven to be a better source of energy for our brains. Furthermore, it promotes many healthy changes such as reduced inflammation, increases the bodies capacity to burn more fat - more specifically visceral fat, and it has so many more benefits worth looking into. This isn't something you can do permanently, and if it turns out to work wonders for you, try cycling a keto diet. Another option worth looking into is intermittent fasting. Besides a keto diet, that has been the absolute best way of losing fat and keeping the weight off in the longer term.

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

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