12 Week Fat Destroyer: Complete Fat Loss Workout & Diet Program

This is a complete 12 week program to help you get ripped. Feature includes detailed diet plan and cardio schedule, along with a 4 day upper/lower muscle building split.

Workout Summary

Lose Fat
Full Body
Beginner
12 weeks
4
30-45 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Kettle Bells
Male & Female
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Workout Description

This workout plan is designed to help you shred fat and get in shape in only 12 weeks. This might sound like hype, but it's not. The following plan is not easy. It starts slowly, but builds rapidly.

Every detail of your diet and training for the next 12 weeks will be laid out for you. You will be told exactly what to eat, how much cardio to do, and how to weight train.

The goal is simple: lose fat, maintain muscle mass, get in shape and transform your physique as much as possible over the next 3 months. You want to not only look better, but have the fitness level and strength to match your new body.

12 Week Program Expectations

Over the next 12 weeks your goals and expectations are:

  • Fat Loss - To lose at least 10 pounds of fat.
  • Muscle Mass - To maintain, or even gain lean muscle mass.
  • Conditioning - To be in amazing shape; perhaps the best shape in years.

The 12 Week Diet Plan

Each week will consist of 3 different types of eating days.

  • High Carb Days - 1 day per week
  • Moderate Carb Days - 3 days per week
  • Low Carb Days - 3 days per week

You may structure these days in any preferred manner. I suggest keeping the high carb day for special occasions. That way you can attend family functions, or eat out with friends, and indulge a little more than normal.

It should be noted that calorie intake can be adjusted based on metabolism. The follow changes are recommended:

  • Men 40+ - Reduce daily calories by 300.
  • Men 20-25 - Increase daily calories by 300.
  • Women 40+ - Reduce daily calories by 200.
  • Women 20-25 - Increase daily calories by 200.
12 Week Eating Plan for Men
  • Week 1 - 3 low carb days with 2300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2400 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 2 - 3 low carb days with 2200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2400 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 3 - 3 low carb days with 2100 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2400 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 4 - 3 low carb days with 2000 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2400 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 5 - 3 low carb days with 2300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2300 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 6 - 3 low carb days with 2200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2300 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 7 - 3 low carb days with 2100 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2300 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 8 - 3 low carb days with 2000 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2300 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 9 - 3 low carb days with 2300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2200 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 10 - 3 low carb days with 2200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2200 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 11 - 3 low carb days with 2100 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2200 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.
  • Week 12 - 3 low carb days with 2000 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 2200 calories, 1 high carb day of 2700 calories.

Protein intake should be a minimum of 180 grams per day. If you are a bigger guy, or have a fair amount of muscle mass, then eat 200 to 220 grams of protein per day. If you eat a little more protein the drop your daily fat intake to make up for the calories.

Fat intake should be approximately 20-30% of your daily calories. Once you have determined your daily calories from proteins and fats, fill in your eating plan with carbohydrates.

Also, you are allowed up to 10% of your daily calories from dirty foods/junk foods. You do not have to eat any junk if you prefer. This option exists as a convenience, should you be battling a craving, or attending a social gathering where you would prefer to have a small snack.

12 Week Eating Plan for Women
  • Week 1 - 3 low carb days with 1500 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1600 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 2 - 3 low carb days with 1400 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1600 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 3 - 3 low carb days with 1300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1600 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 4 - 3 low carb days with 1200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1600 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 5 - 3 low carb days with 1500 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1500 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 6 - 3 low carb days with 1400 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1500 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 7 - 3 low carb days with 1300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1500 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 8 - 3 low carb days with 1200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1500 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 9 - 3 low carb days with 1500 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1400 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 10 - 3 low carb days with 1400 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1400 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 11 - 3 low carb days with 1300 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1400 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.
  • Week 12 - 3 low carb days with 1200 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1400 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.

For women, protein intake should be a minimum of 100 grams per day. If you are in good shape and have a fair amount of muscle mass, then eat 120 grams of protein per day. If you eat a little more protein the drop your daily fat intake to make up for the calories.

Fat intake should be approximately 20-30% of your daily calories. Once you have determined your daily calories from proteins and fats, fill in your eating plan with carbohydrates.

Also, you are allowed up to 10% of your daily calories from dirty foods/junk foods. You do not have to eat any junk if you prefer. This option exists as a convenience, should you be battling a craving, or attending a social gathering where you would prefer to have a small snack.

The 12 Week Cardio Plan

It doesn't matter which form of cardio you use for these 12 weeks. Pick something that gets your heart moving, be it treadmill, elliptical, or swimming.

The first thing you will notice about this cardio plan is that it starts slow. That's ok. Right now you are out of shape. This program is designed to get you in shape over the course of 12 weeks.

Be patient. Trust the plan and stick to the plan. After the end of 12 weeks your level of conditioning may surprise you.

During the first 6 weeks take at least one day of rest between cardio workouts. After week 6 it is recommended that you perform cardio using a 2 days on, 1-2 days off pattern.

  • Week 1 - 3 cardio sessions. 5, 8 and 5 minutes.
  • Week 2 - 3 cardio sessions. 8, 10 and 8 minutes.
  • Week 3 - 3 cardio sessions. 10, 12 and 10 minutes.
  • Week 4 - 3 cardio sessions. 12, 15 and 12 minutes.
  • Week 5 - 3 cardio sessions. 15, 20 and 15 minutes.
  • Week 6 - 3 cardio sessions. 20, 20 and 20 minutes.
  • Week 7 - 4 cardio sessions. 20, 22, 20 and 22 minutes.
  • Week 7 - 4 cardio sessions. 22, 25, 22 and 25 minutes.
  • Week 9 - 4 cardio sessions. 25, 27, 25 and 27 minutes.
  • Week 10 - 4 cardio sessions. 27, 30, 27 and 30 minutes.
  • Week 11 - 4 cardio sessions. 30, 35, 30 and 35 minutes.
  • Week 12 - 4 cardio sessions. 35, 40, 30 and 45 minutes.

12 Week Gym Workout Split

You will be using an upper/lower workout during the next 12 weeks. Rep schemes are merely guidelines.

When a weight becomes manageable using the given set and rep schemes, add weight to the bar. For sake of convenience, use the same weight for each of the sets for a given exercise.

  • Day 1 - Upper A
  • Day 2 - Lower A
  • Day 3 - Off
  • Day 4 - Upper B
  • Day 5 - Lower B
  • Day 6 - Off
  • Day 7 - Off
12 Week Gym Workout
Upper A
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Bench Press 3 8-10
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10-12
Seated Barbell Press 3 8-10
Pull Ups 3 10
Skullcrushers 3 10-12
Dumbbell Curl 3 10-12
12 Week Gym Workout
Lower A
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 3 8-10
Leg Curl 3 12-15
Leg Extension 3 12-15
Leg Press Calf Raise 3 15-20
Plank 3 60 sec
Twisting Hanging Knee Raise 3 20
12 Week Gym Workout
Upper B
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10
Barbell Row 3 8-10
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 12-15
Lat Pull Down 3 10-12
Cable Tricep Extensions 3 10-12
EZ Bar Preacher Curl 3 10-12
12 Week Gym Workout
Lower B
Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 3 15-20
Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 8-10
Walking Dumbbell Lunge 3 10
Seated Calf Raise 3 15-20
Cable Crunch 3 20
Russian Twist 3 20

Post your post-workout swolfies in M&S gear on IG and tag @muscleandstrength, #muscleandstrength, or DM them to us to get a shoutout on Muscle & Strength stories!

383 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 03/18/2019 - 10:14
Alyssa

I'm super excited to start this routine. It's the first one I've found that's about building up your cardio and focuses on conditioning. Most routines throw you into it hardcore and you get burned out quick.

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Posted Sat, 03/09/2019 - 19:05
Jason

Can you discuss how I work the supplements into my routine? When do I take all the recommended supplant supplements?

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Posted Tue, 03/05/2019 - 12:33
Jorge

What are the ranges for the carb intake for the low, moderate and high?

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Posted Mon, 03/04/2019 - 19:53
Matt

Anyone know what kind of rest times are needed between sets? Thanks

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Posted Mon, 03/18/2019 - 10:08
Alyssa

I would assume 1 minute but I'm trying to figure out the same thing.

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Posted Mon, 03/04/2019 - 19:16
Armando

3 Cardio sessions during the day or 3 sessions all over the week?

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Posted Fri, 03/01/2019 - 18:04
Ash

Hi, just curious on how the results have been for those who have tried out this workout. Im in my 2nd week and it's great so far- i just don't sweat much , so wondering if I should superset exercises? Thanks!

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Posted Sat, 03/09/2019 - 10:23
Alicia M Gibson

I have just been gageing it. Like I'll do 15 min of cardio because I know I can handle that. I'm finishing week 1.

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Posted Thu, 02/28/2019 - 16:10
hamza najam

Is it recommended to do cardio the same day as weight training days or the days in between weight training should be used for cardio, in other words, am I to workout 4 days a week only? or more?

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Posted Fri, 03/01/2019 - 18:06
Ash

You can do your cardio after the weight training sessions if you still got energy for it

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Posted Sun, 03/03/2019 - 14:45
Ugo Okolo

You could do cardio the same day as weight training. It also depends on when you feel the most motivated, active and energetic when it comes to cardio routines. I like to do mine before I workout but some others do theirs after their workouts. I hope that helps.

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Posted Wed, 02/27/2019 - 08:17
Stephanie oertel

If my TDEE is around 1750 do i start with the 1300 calories for a women over 40

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Posted Mon, 02/25/2019 - 19:24
Kris O'Neill

In need of some guidance - I'm on week 8/12 of this workout plan, and loving it! But I'm now searching for a new plan (for when it ends), wondering what you would suggest? (I'm male/26/6'0"/205lbs) I would like to have a plan to does all upper & lower with a focus on abs/core.

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Posted Sun, 03/10/2019 - 12:29
Alicia M Gibson

Did you see results?

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Posted Sun, 02/10/2019 - 10:24
Tariq

Can I do Regular deadlift instead of stiff-leg deadlift or you don't recomend as Regular deadlift will interfere with back body musels which were trained in previous day (upper body).
Thank you.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/11/2019 - 10:34
JoshEngland

Hi Tariq,

I'd recommend keeping the stiff-legged or Romanian variation.

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Posted Sat, 02/09/2019 - 16:43
Destiny

Max,
I am 22. 5’2’’ 158 lbs almost 10 months post partum
Looking to lose the weight I put on after birth. Prior to pregnancy I was what I would say very active in the gym but I have had a hard time getting back to it. I’m excited to start this plan. However I’m unsure for the low/moderate/high carb days what that range should look like. Could you help me out with that?
Destiny

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Posted Mon, 02/04/2019 - 07:38
John binford

Confused by a couple things in article. Why does a 40 year old cut 300 calories per day and a 25 year old add 300 calories per day to lose fat? Also, the 180 g protein you recommend- is that assuming that the man weighs 180-200 lbs ? What about a 145 lb man who wants to go from 14% bf to 10%? Still 180g protein per day?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 02/05/2019 - 14:34
JoshEngland

Hi John,

When it comes to developing a diet specifically for yourself and your individual goals I'd recommend the following:

Start Here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Go Here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-calculate-perfect-macros

Finish Up Here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

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Posted Sat, 01/26/2019 - 12:53
Kpatel

I’ve been trying to shred with around 1500 calories as a 5 ft 7 140lbs guy. Do the calories above apply to someone of my size? Any help is appreciated.

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Posted Sat, 01/12/2019 - 07:39
Reymart

Hi. I just want ask if this is a circuit training, do the six exercise - rest - six exercise - rest - six exercise. Or is this 3 sets of each excercise first before moving to the next one?. Thank you

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Posted Tue, 01/15/2019 - 11:51
Angie

I would say you do all sets for one exercise and then continue on to the next exercise. It would make no sense to do it as a circuit.

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Posted Fri, 01/11/2019 - 16:40
John Smith

I am not necessarily a beginner, but I came across this work out doing research on fat burning lifting routines. Will this work for me even though I'm not a complete beginner? I feel as though typically they recommend low rep high volume for weight loss. Can you clarify?

Thanks!

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Posted Fri, 01/11/2019 - 16:24
Rae

Quick question.

What kind of meal plan or adjustments would you recommend for one who works nights, like a nurse? We work three - four nights a week. Sleep during the day. feel as I’m following this, but not benefiting from the weight loss, it’s more like a maintaining. It’s a bit frustrating and discouraging.

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Posted Thu, 01/10/2019 - 05:22
Alan Scull

This is my 1st time exercising and dieting and have no idea what I'm doing. What's a good detailed meal plan to use? Is there one that has what specific amount of food to eat and when?

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Posted Sun, 03/10/2019 - 12:31
Alicia M Gibson

MyFitnessPal

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Posted Wed, 01/09/2019 - 11:39
Mike

Max,
I'm a 60 yo male 6'1/224lbs and have been working out for over 25 years. I want to shred fat, but notice my metabolism is slower than molasses. I do have HIIT incorporated in my weekly routine, but still find it difficult to lose any weight; even reducing my caloric intake. I don't really count Macros and I know my Protein levels are sub-par for sure (using 1gm per pound theory) Anything you can suggest outside of going to a "Fat Farm" would be great. Thank you!

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Posted Tue, 01/08/2019 - 09:47
Andrea

I’m a beginner at weightlifting and am intermediate at cardio- I’m thinking of starting my first week with 12/15/12 minute cardio sessions. Should I be pairing up my cardio with the workouts for best results, or is getting up and moving every day of the week more important?

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Posted Mon, 01/07/2019 - 04:40
Nathan

Hi! Just to clarify, does this plan help with increasing of muscle mass and fat loss as well ? Or is it just the fat loss that's focused? . Thanks in advance.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/07/2019 - 12:44
JoshEngland

Hi Nathan,

Workouts are generally similar for the two goals. Accomplishing either/or will depend on the dietary strategies you implement.

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Posted Mon, 01/07/2019 - 03:21
Brian Hicks

If I run on treadmill for my cardio, what speed should i run on to start and how to change the speed over the weeks? Please and thank you.

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Posted Fri, 01/04/2019 - 09:12
James Adcock

Thanks Max, I just finished my first workout in your 12 week fat destroyer program and can’t wait to feel good again! My goal is just to reprogram my mindset and getting back into the habit of workouts and exercise. I think this plan will really guide me through!

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Posted Thu, 12/27/2018 - 18:42
Meg

Hi! Out of interest, why should women 20-25 increase their caloric intake by 200 instead of reducing it?

Thanks!

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Posted Wed, 12/19/2018 - 12:49
Lennaire Miller

Hi. I was wondering where I should start with cardio if I am already able to do at least 45 minutes of steady cardio and 20+ minutes of HIIT?

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Posted Wed, 12/26/2018 - 05:26
Gino

That's easy. This workout plan is meant for beginners, and if you're capable of doing 20+ minutes of HIIT, I wouldnt say that you're a beginner when it comes to cardio. The goal is to reach and surpass your limits, and for a beginner, that limit would be pretty low, which is why you start with 5 - 8 minutes of cardio.
I advice you stick to HIIT over steady cardio, and I wouldn't recommend doing more than 20 minutes per session.

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Posted Sat, 12/15/2018 - 20:06
Ada

Hi I was just wondering what if you’re an 18 year old female? Should I realise my caloric intake by 200 as the females in their 20s do or should I eat less, more??

Thank you

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Posted Sun, 12/02/2018 - 20:46
Asgnov

Hi,

I work a regular schedule of 7am to 4pm. When would be the best time to workout to maximize results? If I have to workout in the morning, I would have to wake up at 430 am, be there by 5am and be done 6am, and shower and be on the road by 630 am to be at work on time. Its hard for me to right after work because I run the kids around. I guess my real question is, can I workout at night with this kind of schedule? And how weird is it to work out after dinner? It would take major adjustments to wake up at 430.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 12/03/2018 - 12:25
JoshEngland

Hi Asgnov,

You can workout at night after dinner.

The best time to workout is whatever time is best for you.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 12/26/2018 - 05:28
Gino

What Josh said is correct, the best time to work out is the time that fits your schedule and that you can consistently go to the gym.
According to research, however, there seems to be a slight benefit in going in the late afternoon. After work should thus probably be most beneficial.

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Posted Thu, 11/29/2018 - 17:55
M

Hi,
I am a beginner and I am 100% sure I can't do any pull up. Is there anything I could replace this with?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 11/30/2018 - 16:38
JoshEngland

Hi M,

Give these a try: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/pull-up-progressions

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 02/07/2019 - 12:57
Junior

U can do sit ups with a weight on your hands

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Posted Tue, 11/27/2018 - 13:48
Zulfiqar

Are those three cardio sessions are to be performed as sets? Like 5 mints cardio, little rest then perform 8 mints session and so on. OR these are separate session like 1 session in morning,1 in afternoon and 1 in evening? Need clarification

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Posted Fri, 11/30/2018 - 14:27
Eric

They're one session per day three days a week. For example, week 1 you may do 5 min on Tuesday, 8 on Thursday and 5 on Saturday. If you are in better shape than this I would start at longer cardio sessions.

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Posted Wed, 01/16/2019 - 03:36
Rob

Thanks for the clarification, the plan doesn't read to me like they are separate days, but now it makes sense. I was thinking the latter half of the 12 week plan of 4 each 20+ minute cardio sessions was extreme!

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Posted Tue, 11/20/2018 - 15:40
Mike

The plan gives recommendations for cutting/adding calories for ages 20-25 and 40+. I am 31 and looking to cut some fat. Any recommendations on whether to cut or add calories?

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Posted Fri, 11/02/2018 - 02:33
Levani

12 Week Program Expectations
Over the next 12 weeks your goals and expectations are:
Fat Loss - To lose at least 10 pounds of fat.
This made my day :D especially they say it's for beginners.

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Posted Wed, 12/26/2018 - 05:30
Gino

Losing less than a pound of fat per week really isn't that unlikely, especially as a beginner, because your body tends to change quicker. Keep in mind that, especially as a beginner, you will most likely also build muscle, which might make it seem that you're not losing any weight. The keyword here is *fat* loss.

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Posted Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:57
Deepak

Hi,

Thank you so much for this plan. I am about to start this but had a question for you before I did that. I just wanted to know that when you talk about the carbs are you referring to total carbs (fiber+sugar+starch) or are you referring Net Carbs (sugar+starch). If you are talking about total carbs is there arecommended level for sugar in this plan? Thank you.

Deepak

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Posted Fri, 10/26/2018 - 12:48
Tommy

Would this workout be suitable for a 16-17 year old to follow or could you advise in what would be good to do for the same results as above?