Fast & Furious: 21 Day Shredding Workout Cycle And Diet

Fast & Furious: 21 Day Shredding Workout Cycle And Diet
This 3 week fat burning cycle focuses on low-carb food choices and hardcore workouts that restrict rest between sets, finishing with intense 15 minute cardio sessions.

Workout Summary

Lose Fat
Full Body
Intermediate
3 weeks
4
45-60 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
Male & Female
download pdfDownload Workout

Workout Description

No, this article isn't a gimmick. It wasn't written to fool people into thinking they can get shredded in only 21 days. I call this program "fast and furious" because:

Fast - You are eating only 1/3rd of your daily calories before dinner. This will feel like fasting for most of you, and is only one step away from intermittent fasting.

Furious - Workouts are fast-paced, exhausting, exhilerating and calorie-burning.

This workout and eating plan is a fat loss cycle based around a 21 day schedule. It can be run once if you only need to knock off a quick 5-15 pounds, or multiple times if you have more weight to lose.

21 day cycle expectations

This cycle is designed to strip away fat while maintaining muscle tissue. It can help you achieve that ripped or toned look you are after.

During the first week of a reduced calorie and carbohydrate diet, you will flush a lot of excess water and lose weight rapidly. This is neither unhealthy, nor an indication of what your rate of weight loss will be like during weeks 2 and 3. With that said, men should expect to see an 8 to 12 pound loss during these 3 weeks, and women will likely lose 5 to 10 pounds. 

If you continue to run this program, your rate of overall weight loss will slow during the second and third cycles. You have already flushed out quite a bit of excess water weight, so from this point forward the majority of your weight loss will be fat loss. Men should lose about 5 to 10 pounds during the second cycle, and women 3 to 6 pounds.

These 21 day cycles are perfect for individuals who gained extra weight during the past 6 months, and need to drop just a little fat to get back to a more normal weight. I don't recommend running these cycles more than twice, maybe three times max.

So, if you're ready to look better at the beach, let's get moving.

Shredded body

21 day cycle basics

Here are the basics of each 21 day cycle:

  • Limited Pre-Workout Meals - You will be eating lighter during the day, and consuming the bulk of your calories during a 4 hour window each night.
  • Resistance Training - There will be 4 gym workouts per week, focusing on limited rest between sets.
  • Cardio - Intense 15 minute cardio sessions will follow each resistance training workout. Additional cardio is optional, but examples are provided below.

This is not a beginner workout. If you do not have an understanding of the exercises used in this program, please take some time to learn them before attempting this plan. Also note that 2 eating plans are provided: a 2,100 calorie per day plan for men, and a 1,500 calorie per day plan for women.

Here is a sample workout schedule. You can play with the days anyway you want, as long as there are 2 days of rest in between upper body workouts, or 2 days of rest between lower body workouts.

  • Monday - Upper Body Workout A
  • Tuesday - Lower Body Workout A
  • Thursday - Upper Body Workout B
  • Friday - Lower Body Workout B

Rest between each set is exactly 30 seconds. Keep the same weight for each set of a given exercise. For example, when performing the dumbbell bench press, if you are using 50 pound dumbbells, use the same weight for each set.

Make sure to pick a starting weight that allows you to perform the stated sets and reps. If you are unable to perform all the reps for each listed set, lighten the weight load the next time you perform this exercise. On the other hand, if a weight doesn't feel challenging enough, add weight the next time you perform this exercise.

Optional cardio

You can add in an optional cardio workouts:

  • First thing in the morning.
  • On off days.
  • At least 4 hours before a resistance training workout, or at least 3 hours after resistance training.

These optional workouts don't have to be boring. You can go for a walk, go hiking, swimming, running, do hill sprints, etc.

Fit female

21 Day Shredding Workout

Workout A
Upper Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Bench Press 8 8
Seated Cable Row 8 8
Machine Overhead Press 8 8
Cable Curl 6 8
Skullcrushers 6 8
Workout B
Upper Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Machine Chest Press 8 8
Lat Pull Down 8 8
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press 8 8
EZ Bar Curl 6 8
Cable Tricep Extensions 6 8
Workout A
Lower Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 8 8
Leg Curl 8 8
Leg Extension 6 8
Seated Calf Raise 8 8
Planks 6 30 sec
Workout B
Lower Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Hack Squat 8 8
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 8 8
Goblet Squat 6 8
Leg Press Calf Press 8 8
Hanging Knee Raise 6 15

Workout FAQ

Do I have to use the dumbbell bench press?

No. You can use any dumbbell or barbell bench press variation.

Do I have to use machine exercises?

No. You can use any suitable dumbbell or barbell exercise replacement.

Can I use pull ups instead of lat pull downs?

Yes.

Can I use barbell rows instead of seated cable rows?

Yes.

Can I use squats instead of leg press?

You could, but the muscle soreness will be unbearable. This is a rest-pause workout. Squats might leave you in pain for a week to come.

Isn't this a lot of sets?

Yes, but it's a rest-pause workout. Because you are restricting rest in between sets, the amount of weight you will be using for each exercise will drop slightly. So while the volume is increasing, the intensity is decreasing.

Shredded six pack abs

21 day cycle Cardio Workout

Perform the following cardio workout after each resistance training session. If you are pressed for time (or the gym is packed), you can also perform this session later in the day or first thing in the morning on your training days.

For this cardio workout you will need:

This cardio session should take you around 15 minutes, or maybe longer. Perform the following sequence 5 to 6 times through using no rest between exercises and treadmill work. 

Cardio Workout
21 Day Shred
Exercise Reps
Push Ups 10
Jumping Jacks 20
Burpees 10
Treadmill walking - slow & steady pace 30 seconds
Lying Floor Knee Raise 20
Jump Squats 10
Mountain Climbers 20 each leg
Treadmill walking - slow & steady pace 30 seconds

Diet Plan For Men

This eating plan restricts food consumption prior to 5 pm. You will focus on low carb, high fat, high protein eating. Dinner (your main meal) should be eaten around 5-6 pm, and your pre-bed snack around 8-9 pm.

Here is the meal plan schedule for men:

  • 8 am - 3 scrambled eggs (large) cooked in 2 pats of butter, with any veggies you prefer such as peppers, diced onion, mushrooms, spinach, etc. This meal contains about 330 calories and 20-22 grams of protein.
  • 11 am - Whey protein shake, 3 fish oil softgels and 3 ounces of strawberries or blueberries. This meal contains about 157 calories and 22-25 grams of protein.
  • 2 pm - 2 pieces of regular fat string cheese and one ounce of almonds. This meal contains about 324 calories and 22 grams of protein.
  • Dinner (post-workout) - Pick from one of the 3 dinner choices below.
  • Pre-bed Snack - Casein protein shake, 3 fish oil softgels and a medium apple. This meal contains about 213 calories and 25 grams of protein.
Dinner - Meal 1
  • 10 ounces of baked, boneless and skinless chicken breast. (312 calories and 65 grams of protein)
  • Sour cream and salsa topping for chicken breast. Combine 2 ounces of full-fat, natural sour cream with 2 ounces of salsa. (141 calories and 2 grams of protein)
  • Spinach salad. 2 cups of spinach, 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (dressing), salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 diced onion, 10 halved cherry tomatoes, 3 ounces of diced mozzarella (full-fat) cheese, one ounce of diced black olives. (631 calories and 23.2 grams of protein)
Dinner - Meal 2
  • 8 ounces of 70% lean ground beef mixed with 1/2 packet of taco seasoning mix, and topped with 2 ounces of guacamole. (743 calories and 60 grams of protein)
  • Place the beef over a bed of: 2 cups of shredded lettuce, 1/2 cup fresh salsa, 1/2 cup shredded (full-fat) cheddar cheese, and one ounce of sour cream. (343 calories and 15.6 grams of protein)
Dinner - Meal 3
  • 8 ounces of salmon. (466 calories, 50 grams of protein)
  • Lemon butter sauce for salmon: 3 melted pats of butter combined with the juice of one lemon and 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic. (112 calories)
  • Spinach salad. 2 cups of spinach tossed with a dressing of 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 ounce of walnuts, and 1 ounce of dried cranberries. (518 calories and 3.6 grams of protein)

Lat pull downs

Diet Plan For Women

Here is the meal plan schedule for women:

  • 8 am - 2 scrambled eggs (large) cooked in 2 pats of butter, with any veggies you prefer such as peppers, diced onion, mushrooms, spinach, etc. This meal contains about 260 calories and 14-16 grams of protein.
  • 11 am - Whey protein shake, 3 fish oil softgels and 3 ounces of strawberries or blueberries. This meal contains about 157 calories and 22-25 grams of protein.
  • 2 pm - 1 piece of regular fat string cheese and one ounce of almonds. This meal contains about 244 calories and 16 grams of protein.
  • Dinner (post-workout) - Pick from one of the 3 dinner choices below.
  • Pre-bed Snack - Casein protein shake and 3 fish oil softgels. This meal contains about 143 calories and 25 grams of protein.
Dinner - Meal 1
  • 6 ounces of baked, boneless and skinless chicken breast. (187 calories and 39 grams of protein)
  • Sour cream and salsa topping for chicken breast. Combine 1 ounce of full-fat, natural sour cream with 1 ounce of salsa. (71 calories and 1 gram of protein)
  • Spinach salad. 2 cups of spinach, 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (dressing), salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 diced onion, 5 halved cherry tomatoes, 1.5 ounces of diced mozzarella (full-fat) cheese. (432 calories and 16 grams of protein)
Dinner - Meal 2
  • 6 ounces of 70% lean ground beef mixed with 1/2 packet of taco seasoning mix, and topped with 1 ounce of guacamole. (545 calories and 44 grams of protein)
  • Place the beef over a bed of: 1 cup of shredded lettuce, 1/2 cup fresh salsa, and 1/4 cup shredded (full-fat) cheddar cheese. (161 calories and 7.6 grams of protein)
Dinner - Meal 3
  • 6 ounces of salmon. (350 calories, 37.6 grams of protein)
  • Lemon butter sauce for salmon: 2 melted pats of butter combined with the juice of one lemon and 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic. (76 calories)
  • Spinach salad. 2 cups of spinach tossed with a dressing of 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 ounce of walnuts and 1/2 ounce of dried cranberries. (254 calories and 2.7 grams of protein)

Diet Plan FAQ

What if I don't like the meal choices?

These meal choices are merely examples. You can swap in any protein source, fats and veggies. Just make sure you are not eating rice, potatoes, oatmeal or any other non-fruit or veggie carbs.

For men, dinner calories should equal around 1,076. For women, calories should come to around 690.

Do I need to use casein and whey protein?

No. You can swap in any protein foods as long as the calories come to about 120.

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!

485 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 03/11/2019 - 09:39
peyes

Ian, great article but please get someone to help you with the writing.

You've used 3 different units of measurements - Ounces, pats (really? are we in 18th century?) and cups.
As you may know that even digital kitchen scales don't measure in pats and the measure for cup changes depending on how much you put in it (eg: water vs sugar vs flour vs jam), leading to needless complications.

There's nothing wrong with using 1 OR 2 measures for standardisation eg: grams (for solids) and oz (for liquids). Or whatever you prefer as long as it's consistent, easy and accessible - which I reckon is your aim if you're publishing a programme to the public.

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Posted Tue, 03/05/2019 - 11:42
Armando

Hello I will start this workout but can you tell me percentage of macros? I’m tracking with MyFitnessPal. Thanks so much

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Posted Fri, 02/22/2019 - 03:05
mzizo

Hi ,
Is there cheat meal during off days ? Can i take banana before training?

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Posted Sun, 02/17/2019 - 22:26
Nat

Hi there, I really want to try this, but I workout in the am like someone else has said. Im in the gym from 5am-6:30. How does this change how I am supposed to eat?

Thank you,

Nat

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Posted Thu, 02/07/2019 - 21:21
Raghav Saraogi

What is the recommended warm up before starting this workout!?

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Posted Sun, 01/27/2019 - 01:40
Nikhil

Why there is no Deadlift in this program? And if.one should include then on which day is it recommended?

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Posted Wed, 03/13/2019 - 18:24
Terrence Boshoff

I'm busy with the program now and trust me, the 8 x 8 stiff leg deadlift on the one lower body day is more than suitable to hit the hamstrings and even more so, the lower back! Trust me it kills. The workouts are already hectic if you're following the program to a T! Including the cardio rounds after weights (with only 30 seconds rest). Doing deadlift in this 21 day challenge would be next level but by all means if you think you could smash it out, replace the dumbell stiff leg deadlift with normal deadlift on the one lower body day. Have fun, this is a killer routine!

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Posted Tue, 01/22/2019 - 17:41
DFrench

Just wanted to say that I started this program last week and lost 10 lbs in week one. I had a (planned) remission over the weekend (some friends visiting - partying and snowboarding in the mountains for 3 days) but plan to continue. Great plan, don't think i've ever eaten so many eggs and protein shakes in one week!

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Posted Mon, 01/14/2019 - 12:45
HClarkeLDN

I get the (optional) Cardio AM, but if the Dinner is post-workout is this saying the workout should be at like 4pm?

I liked this set-up until I realised like most of them you have to work part-time to fit them in. If anyone can point me towards a workout / diet that fits outside 8am-8pm daily hours (or later) that would be great!

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Posted Mon, 01/14/2019 - 05:53
dadach

so basically what is going to get us lean is the low-carb diet primarily, not working out :)

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Posted Sat, 01/12/2019 - 12:31
PakAli

Hi. Can i reduce the set and increase the rep instead? For example. 20 rep and 5 set. instead of 8 rep 8 set. Thanks in advance

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Posted Mon, 01/07/2019 - 04:50
Raghu

Hi. I was wondering if we could do this plan normally without a low carb diet but instead being on a caloric deficit?

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

Hi Raghu,

Yes, absolutely. That's probably what I'd personally recommend.

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Posted Fri, 02/08/2019 - 04:54
Jsk

Raghu, the recommended calorie intake Is approx 2500 calories for a male, 2000 for a female, depending on where you live and exercise rate. This diet is designed to put you into a calorie deficiency by reducing carbohydrates, which is sugar. You can substitute it with a lower calorie diet but if you want results. Lower your carb intake.

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Posted Fri, 12/28/2018 - 11:11
John

Hey!

How much water should I be drinking? I know this may sound dumb, but I am sort of a beginner. How many glasses or ounces per day?

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Posted Fri, 02/08/2019 - 05:00
Jsk

Hey Tom!
There is no recommended intake of water anymore. There use to be a "8 cups a day" but People were dehydrating and getting sick because they followed this. The new advice is "drink when you are thirsty."

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Posted Mon, 12/17/2018 - 18:37
Steve

Hi this is kind of like the Vince Gironda routine right. Also you say it’s a rest pause workout so you pause on every rep? Also the diet plan is it ok to do the keto diet while doing this routine.

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Posted Sun, 12/02/2018 - 22:35
Mobin Piracha

Is it possible to do the cardio in the morning and the workout after 5pm. or would it better to do both after 5PM since we have access to food at the time.

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Posted Mon, 12/03/2018 - 12:24
JoshEngland

Hi Mobin,

Either way is fine as long as you get it in.

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Posted Mon, 11/19/2018 - 22:50
Stephanie

I’ve seen a lot of comments asking about if you workout first thing in the morning (4am/5am) but no response. How should we modify/account for meal timing? Thank you!

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Posted Tue, 11/20/2018 - 10:52
JoshEngland

Hi Stephanie,

The short answer is: meal timing isn't important for body comp, so long as you get all the meals in throughout the course of the day. For performance, it'd be ideal if you ate both before and after working out (even if that means slamming protein shakes) - or at least before. But it's not a deal breaker.

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Posted Mon, 10/29/2018 - 08:28
Jessica

Hi Josh,

Would it be possible to switch the weight training with 40-45 minute HIIT training instead?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/29/2018 - 08:59
JoshEngland

Hi Jessica,

It depends on your goals and preferences. Some weight training will be beneficial in any regimen as it'll help you build lean muscle mass, increase the amount of calories you burn daily, and aiding in body fat management. However, the total number of weight training days can be altered between 2-6 depending on what form of exercise you actually enjoy doing.

That being said, 40-45 minutes of true HIIT training isn't ideal in most cases. Most HIIT sessions don't last longer than 20-25 minutes due to how strenuous the form of exercise is.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 10/25/2018 - 17:12
BOB

Has anyone got an answer on food timing for those of us that work out in morning? I train 430-6am

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Posted Sun, 10/07/2018 - 03:36
Aravind

3 scrambled eggs (large) - Whole eggs or whites only????

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/08/2018 - 12:58
JoshEngland

Hi Aravind,

Whole eggs I believe.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 10/27/2018 - 19:41
Marls

I will be doing whites only so I will do 5-6 eggwhites

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Posted Sat, 10/06/2018 - 14:42
Aravind

8 am - 3 scrambled eggs (large) - Is it whole eggs or whites only?

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Posted Fri, 08/24/2018 - 17:14
Jordan Bowden

Hi, I would like to follow the plan but I train first thing every morning so could I still do that and eat meals in evening below? Or what do you suggest cheers

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Posted Fri, 08/10/2018 - 18:16
T Smith

I am a 50 year old male and I consider myself to be in pretty good shape. I've been body building for about 3 years and I'm around 13% body fat. I started this workout and could only get through 2 rounds of the cardio after each weight training session. You younger guys and gals might be able to get through it, but it wore my butt out! Hopefully I can get through 3 cardio sessions next week. My goal is to get to 10% body fat within the next 12-16 weeks.

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Posted Sun, 08/05/2018 - 01:46
Erwin Quioyo

Can i use this program? My stats are 5'5 tall, 59kgs im planning to use this program to lose my belly fat. Is it ok? Or should i use other program? Thank you.

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Posted Sat, 08/04/2018 - 18:05
Waqas

Hi coach,
Hope this message finds you well.
Coach I completed 3 cycles of this workout & I lost 7kg to 8kg of wait in total. Now can I switch to the other workout like a lean muscle building. I chose this one for me, please give me your feedback in this regard.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/whitney-reid-fast-21-program

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/06/2018 - 09:07
JoshEngland

Hi Waqas,

Looks like a solid transition option!

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 07/30/2018 - 12:21
ryan

Why are we keeping carbs low on this diet? Does a low carb better for short term rapid fat loss compared to just being in a calorie deficit (being that you get about 1g or protein per lbs of body weight and some dietary fats)?

Is this a better short term diet compared to a iifym approach?
Thank you

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/30/2018 - 15:06
JoshEngland

Hi Ryan,

All diets work - pick whichever you enjoy and can sustain.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 07/29/2018 - 06:50
Sam

Hi coach
Can i do some cardio , then workout , after that some (abs exercises) ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/30/2018 - 09:07
JoshEngland

Hi Sam,

I'd do workout, ab exercises, then cardio - but that's just me.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 07/21/2018 - 21:14
Shaz

Just wondering how much time you spent at the gym each session on this plan?

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Posted Fri, 07/13/2018 - 10:00
Casey Gust

Good morning coach,
Muscle soreness, what helps? After week one my muscles are really sore what can I do? What Do you recommend?

Thanks,
Casey

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 07/13/2018 - 14:04
JoshEngland
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Posted Fri, 07/13/2018 - 08:55
Luke Abbiss

I am starting this plan in a couple of weeks time. I generally go to the gym at 6am, due to work and the limited access I find at the gym in the evenings. Would you recommend any change to the diet plan or the workouts?

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Posted Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:36
Hassan

For me, this workout help me to loss 5kg weight and increase my muscle strength. Thank you JushEngland for your help.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 07/11/2018 - 09:32
JoshEngland

That's awesome Hassan! Congrats on your results!!!

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Posted Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:33
Charity Frye

Hello, I saw that the largest meal (dinner) is labeled post workout. I workout every morning @ 630am. Can I continue to do so and also follow your meal plan as written? Also, I'll be doing this in home with modifications to equipment. Should I continue past the 21 days to get the maximum benefit? I'm 41 yrs. old, super active doing high intensity 5-6 days per week. I have lost more than 21 lbs in the past 2 months but still have about 50 more to loose. any help will be appreciated.

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Posted Fri, 07/06/2018 - 00:03
Will

Hi,

What weight is the meal plan based on for men? I’m
205 and want to make sure I’m getting the right ratio for this plan.

Thanks

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Posted Thu, 07/05/2018 - 10:59
Warren

Hey coach,

Do you have any other recipes then the eggs for breakfast ?

thanks

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Posted Wed, 07/04/2018 - 05:33
Tony D

Hi, maybe stupid question but what do you eat on the none workout days?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/05/2018 - 08:54
JoshEngland

Hi Tony,

Yes, usually keeping caloric intake the same or similar during the entire week is recommended.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 07/02/2018 - 14:35
Waqas

Hi coach

I am repeating this workout for the 2nd time. It is execellent for the weight and fat loss thank you so much for such an excellent workout routine.
My question is it compulsory to take 1 week off after completing 21 days or we can continue with the new cycle without any break. Waiting for your guidance coach.
Thanks & Regards

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 07/03/2018 - 08:39
JoshEngland

Hi Waqas,

No, you don't need to take a week off if you don't feel it is necessary to do so.

Personally, I enjoy the breaks from the gym :)

Hope this helps!