What It Really Takes To Get To 10% Body Fat (or 15% if You’re A Woman)


About half of my day is spent on the phone. Either with joint ventures, potential clients, clients, potential fitness workshops, coaches, etc.

Today I had an “intake phone call,” which is a potential client phone call to assess whether someone is a fit for our program or not.

“I’d like to get to 10% body fat,” the man said.

I don’t really interject during intake calls because I’m trying to assess their mindset, fitness level, skill, injury history, diet history, etc so I really just ask questions only and see if I believe this program would truly work for them.

BUT, here’s what was running thru my head:

1. Adherence

Do you have a military background or are an EXTREMELY structured person? Based off our statistics from DC Fitness about 90% of people can adhere to a program for 1 month, but the amount of people that can adhere year round for multiple years drops drastically to about 15%.

And I’m not just talking about training, I’m also talking about lifestyle and diet.

2. Diet

What diet you’re on is way less important than whether you can stick to it or not.

And again, I’m talking about year after year.

Let me first say here that I’m not even a “true” 10% body-fat guy. On the DEXA machine which also measures visceral fat, I’m actually about 13%.

I’ve tried every diet, and one thing I learned is this:

No one diet works for everyone, and further what works for you at one point will probably not work for your entire life.

So, what I really look for here is whether or not a person is willing to continually switch up and tweak their diet or will they just give up?

What works for me right now is “flexible dieting” or IIFYM. I have a goal amount in grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat each day that I have to hit. Food type is not as important here so it gives me the flexibility to eat McDonald’s or Ben & Jerry’s from time to time.

3. Training

I’ve said this multiple times, but the more advanced your training the more rapid your results.

So how do you measure how advanced you are?

Bodyweight exercises:

  • Chin Ups – 20 (men); 5 (women)
    Push Ups – 50 (men); 12 (women)

Weighted Exercises:

  • Barbell Back Squat – 1.5x your bodyweight for 5 reps (men); 1x your bodyweight for 5 reps (women)
    Trap Bar Deadlift – 2x your bodyweight for 5 reps; 1.5x your bodyweight for women

Cardiovascular Capacity:

  • 3 miles in 22 minutes (men)
    3 miles in 26 minutes (women)

These are just ballpark measurements based off of my experience with myself and others I have trained or know who have achieved very low body fat percentages.

Most people off the bat can’t achieve these numbers. What I’m looking for is whether people are willing to put in the work to get there even if each month they see small progress?

How often? 3-4 days of functional strength training + HIIT (or steady state cardio)

4. Lifestyle

There’s about 0.014% of the population that can run off less than 6 hours of sleep consistently. If your body isn’t recovering during deep sleep at least 6-8 hours per night, the physiological processes responsible for building muscle, hormonal function, repairing your body, etc aren’t working optimally.

Do you get easily stressed? The stress your putting on your body has consequences.

Do you work a sedentary job? Getting 10,000 steps a day is optimal for metabolic function.


You always hear the “what % training vs % nutrition does it take to accomplish goal x?”

Well if you had someone who trains intensely 4x/week but diet is garbage, it’s probably 100% diet, right?

I would say for getting to really low body fat percentages, it’s 100% training and 100% nutrition. These two no longer compete with each other and are now in their own category.

I know this was more of a rant than an article, but I hope this helps put things in perspective and some lightbulbs went off out there!

And by no means am I saying that super low body fat is optimal nor is it everyone’s goal. Whatever your goal is, even if it’s not body composition related, that is AMAZING because at the end of the day it’s all about living a long and healthy life, right?



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