The Last 10 Pounds

30 Days to Abs Without Changing Your Diet

Warning: This program sucks. You'll hate me. You'll be miserable. And you'll try to Dr. Phill yourself into not doing it. But, it will work.

Well, there you are – 200 pounds and 12% bodyfat. People are patting you on the back for your progress, but you're just happy you found your penis again. And just this morning, you almost saw your abs. Almost.

But trouble's a brewin'. Judgment Day is coming. It could be a class reunion, July 4th, Labor Day, or just some pool party where you're forced to lose the shirt. Are you ready for the reveal?

Nah, you're close. But not quite there.

Realistically, most people will need to be closer to 7 or 8% bodyfat to see their abs. A few lucky SOB's can see theirs at higher percentages, but you need to get much leaner than you think. Are those tears?

Anyway, assuming no muscle loss, our Mr. Hypothetical is looking at dropping 8 to 10 pounds of fat.

But, it's the last 8 to 10. You know, those they'll-be-around-after-cockroaches pounds. And we're going to do it in 30 days.

To exterminate two pounds per week, you need to make a further deficit in your calories. It really is that simple. But don't confuse simple with easy – you're going to work.

I'm going to make some assumptions:

  1. You're between 10 to 12% bodyfat.
  2. You're lifting heavy weights regularly.
  3. Your weight is currently at maintenance (i.e. you aren't losing or gaining right now).
  4. You have the time to add activity to your current schedule. Everything you're doing activity wise needs to stay the same. We're adding to your activity levels to ramp up the fat dump.
  5. You're ready to suffer.

When TC and I first talked, we kicked around the idea of training for fat loss without changing your diet one bit. It's possible, and this program will do just that. But, it'll work faster if you do clean up the dirty dieting.

If you read my previous article, The Hierarchy of Fat Loss, you'll remember that nutrition is so powerful that it comprised one and two on my list. You can't out-train the world's crappiest diet.

Skipping the Big Mac, the feed trough of fries, and silo of soda saves you about 1,400 calories and takes zero seconds. Eating them and trying to burn off the calories will require hours of unspeakable deeds.

So, despite my promise to TC – rather than ignore the obvious first step – here's what I recommend:

  1. Establish how many calories you're currently consuming.
  2. Cut 20% or 500 calories (whichever is lower).

Assuming a current maintenance intake of 2,800 calories for our 200 pounder (14 x bodyweight) – 20% is 560. If that was you, you'd cut 500 calories from your diet. You're now at 2,300 calories.

Normally, caloric deficits are made from carbs or fats – and only carbs or fats. We keep protein at epic proportions to maintain muscle.

However, this is an extreme approach to slice off that last bit of lard. So instead of keeping protein at the standard one gram per pound of bodyweight, keep protein at one gram per pound of lean body mass (LBM).

Remember, you're not trying to build muscle at this time, just maintain it. So for our 200 pounder at 12%, 176 grams of protein is enough for now. You can go this low in the short term without risking any muscle loss. Slightly more is better, of course, but 176 grams would be the minimum for our guinea pig. This may give you a little leeway to keep your sanity (for now).

However, if you do decide to cut some calories from protein, once you hit one gram per pound of LBM, that's it. Any further deficit needs to come from somewhere else.

At 176 grams of protein and 2,300 calories, we're looking at a 30% protein diet.

Based on pure numbers, cutting 500 calories should strip another pound of fat per week from your body.

After seven days, assess your fat loss. You better have lost around 2 to 2.5 pounds. Give yourself this same gut check every seven days.

If fat loss ever drops to less than two pounds a week, cut another 10 to 20% of calories from your diet (without cutting protein) to kickstart further losses.

Hopefully you don't have to adjust, but here's what you'll do:

If you lost two pounds since the last weigh-in, there'll be no changes. Otherwise, cut another 20% or 500 calories (again, whichever is lower). In our example, we were at 2,300 calories – 20% is 460. Boom, our increasingly cranky bastard is now down to 1,840 calories. Keeping protein at 176 grams, the diet is now at about 40% protein.

This step is usually unnecessary. I've never seen anyone have to go this low. But with D-Day rapidly approaching, consider this some advanced trouble shooting.

Warning: Cutting more calories than necessary won't make the plan work better. Now read that again. It's kinda important.

next level of leanness

Since we're talking about fat loss without a dietary shock and awe, we need to look at anything and everything that might increase metabolism.

A lot has been written about cold water intake and fat loss. But does it do a damn thing? Well, let's look at what the science guys say.

One study showed a 24% increase in resting metabolic rate (RMR) for 60 minutes after consuming a half liter of ice water (1). While a second found a RMR increase of 30% after drinking the cold stuff (2).

But don't get excited yet.

Another study found a miniscule increase of 4.5% (3). Weak.

So here's the deal: We have three studies, all showing some increase in metabolism after drinking cold water. They just disagree on how much. Even at the top end, we're only looking at around 25 extra calories burned for every half liter of ice water. Not a hell of a lot. But we'll take it.

Okay, since you haven't started the workout and we're still friends, I think this recommendation, even with the research, is stretching it. But, if the diet stays, you need to burn every damn calorie you can. Since it definitely won't hurt – and mightwork – you're going to do it.

Start by slamming a half liter of ice cold water as soon as you wake up. Do that every two hours.

And even if it isn't a metabolism magic trick, you'll still burn a couple hundred calories running to the bathroom after every sip.

By now I think you understand that the goal is fat loss, so pop two capsules of Hot-Rox® Extreme twice a day. Take them as soon as you wake up and no later than 1 PM. If I take them past that, I'm not sleeping. And you won't like me when I'm not sleeping.

In terms of a PM supplement, go ahead and take an additional full serving of Carbolin 19®.

Aside from the numerous benefits of consuming fish oil, you can't pick up anything health related and not run into research showing that fish oil enhances fat loss.

Additionally, Dr. John Berardi has mentioned that preliminary data from the University of Western Ontario shows that fish oil supplementation increases LBM (during non-dieting conditions, obviously), increases basal metabolic rate by up to 400 calories a day, decreases inflammation, and improves the ratio of carbs to fats oxidized (sparing carbs and burning fat).

The skinny on fish oil: It won't hurt, and it might help. Do it.

This is where you start to hate me. It's now time to ramp up your activity levels. I'm assuming you're already pounding the weights and the pavement, but here's what you're going to add to your routine.

The Metabolic Workout consists of three zones that combine metabolic resistance training, interval training, and steady-state cardio. It's to be performed three to four times per week.

If I can't hear you cussin' me out three states over, you're not trying.

Zone 1: The 15-Minute Complex

This is done EDT style (everyone thank Charles Staley).

Perform the following in a complex of one rep each with your hands never leaving the bar:

  • Deadlift
  • Romanian deadlift
  • Bent-over row
  • High pull
  • Power clean
  • Front squat
  • Push press
  • Back squat

That's eight reps. Or all of your fingers if you lost a fight with a chainsaw.

Rest as long as you want, but perform as many rounds as you can in 15 minutes. Start with a goal of getting ten rounds done. Select a load that's challenging, but one that makes it easy to complete the set. Remember, we aren't using this to out-lift Marius Pudzianowski. We're using this to break through to that next level of leanness.


  • Week 1: For each workout in week one, try to get at least an extra round done.
  • Week 2: Add five pounds to the bar and perform two reps of each (16 reps per round). Work on increasing the total rounds performed each workout.
  • Week 3: Add five pounds to the bar and perform three reps of each (24 reps per round). Work on increasing the total rounds performed each workout.
  • Week 4: Add five pounds to the bar again and go back to performing only one rep of each (8 reps per round). Work on increasing the total rounds performed each workout.

Zone 2: 15 Minutes of Intervals

For the intervals, go wild on the cardio equipment of your choice.

  • Week 1: 60 seconds of intense work, 120 seconds of recovery (but still moving). Perform five rounds.
  • Week 2: 60 seconds of work, 105 seconds of recovery. Repeat until the 15 minutes are up.
  • Week 3: 60 seconds of work, 90 seconds of recovery. Perform six rounds in 15 minutes.
  • Week 4: 60 seconds of work, 75 seconds of recovery. Repeat until the 15 minutes are up.
Running wheel

Zone 3: Steady-State Cardio

At this point, don't increase the intensity, just the duration. So, keep these hamster wheel sessions at 75% of your max heart rate.

  • Week 1: 15 minutes
  • Week 2: 20 minutes
  • Week 3: 25 minutes
  • Week 4: 30 minutes

NEPA stands for "non-exercise physical activity." I've never been sure where NEPA ends and exercise begins, but the basic idea is to move as much as possible. In a nutshell, go have an active lifestyle outside of the gym. No, throwing the video game controller across the room and fetching it after you've hit the bottom of the Doritos doesn't cut it.

There's a balance, though. I've seen people make the mistake of stepping up their training so aggressively in order to lose fat that they're too tired to even look at nudie pictures. Don't let this happen to you.

But, every little bit counts if you're reluctant to change your diet. Thus, you need to add some NEPA activity every single day.

NEPA walks are also one of the cornerstones of success with the Velocity Diet. So starting tomorrow, and every day for the next 30 days, you're going to add in a brisk walk – rain or shine.

You can do it on a treadmill. You can do it around your neighborhood. You can wear a weighted vest. You can do it fasted. You can even do it naked (but not in myneighborhood). Just get it done.

  • Week 1: 45 minutes per day
  • Week 2: 50 minutes per day
  • Week 3: 55 minutes per day
  • Week 4: 60 minutes per day

If you or the nerd next door does the math, in the next four weeks you'll have performed an additional 24.5 hours of activity.

Most will think increasing fat loss without changing your diet is crazy talk. But with this plan, it's doable. That is, if you have the tenacity. So, do you?

I'll leave you to think about a quote from Dan John:

"Fat loss is an all-out war. Give it 28 days – only 28 days. Attack it with all you have. It's not a lifestyle choice; it's a battle. Lose fat and then get back into moderation. There's another one for you: moderation. Revelation says it best: 'You are lukewarm and I shall spit you out.' Moderation is for sissies."

Now get after it.

  1. Boschmann M et al. Water drinking induces thermogenesis through osmosensitive mechanisms. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Aug;92(8):3334-7. PubMed.
  2. Boschmann M et al. Water-induced thermogenesis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Dec;88(12):6015-9. PubMed.
  3. Brown CM et al. Water-induced thermogenesis reconsidered: the effects of osmolality and water temperature on energy expenditure after drinking. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Sep;91(9):3598-602. PubMed.
Alwyn Cosgrove co-authored nine best-selling fitness books and is a member of the Nike Performance Council. Alwyn co-owns Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California, which was named one of the top ten gyms in America by Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines. Follow Alwyn Cosgrove on Facebook