Congratulations, you have made it to a new year. If you are like most people, you have probably told yourself that THIS is going to be the year where you finally get it together and achieve the type of results that you've always wanted. Maybe you tried last year, and the year before that, but for some reason it just didn't pan out. Why is that?
Well, I will tell you why. In the past, you, like so many "new year resolution gym warriors", have tried and failed at getting in great shape because you have followed a familiar pattern.
During the holidays it's easy to let your training take a back seat to shopping and family functions. Your nutrition regimen, which may not be perfect to begin with, gets blindsided by office parties, Christmas cookies, and hot chocolate. You wake up in the New Year disgusted with yourself, determined to make a change.
Your solution? You head to the gym armed with your trusty old weight lifting routine, and maybe you start running or biking after your workout. You get a decent sweat and feel pretty good about yourself.
But after a week or so that extra biking starts to feel pretty monotonous. Maybe one day you are in a hurry so you skip doing cardio, and without any real conditioning plan, you aren't feeling much of a change anyway. Before you know it, it's February already and you start to think "well…maybe I'll lean up in May for summer…"
So how do we avoid the trappings of the past? The answer is you need a new plan.
Today I'm going to share with you my "21 Days to Shredded" workout plan. This is a 7 day plan that combines heavy lifting with functional conditioning and cardio, and it will be a complete shock to your system. With no true "rest days" other than an active recovery day on Sunday, you are going to be pushed to the limit.
Will you be sore? Yes. Will you feel over trained? Yes. But don't worry, your body is made to adapt, and one of the ways it will adapt to this crazy schedule is to turn your metabolism into a raging inferno and melt away body fat. After 3 straight weeks of intense training, you will finally discover that "new you" this new year.
Day 1 starts off this program just like any good week should - with a kick ass leg day.
Warm up with a light jog and stretch. For your base power movement you are going to hit 5 sets of 5 reps on Deadlift. Use the first 2 sets of 5 as warm ups to work up to the proper weight. Don't be afraid to take an extra warm up set or two, but make sure your last 3 sets are with as heavy of a weight as you can possibly handle for 5 reps.
Next up is the first of two circuits on this day that incorporate heavy lifting with a dynamic movement and an active recovery between rounds. Start with 5 reps of Front Squats then immediately grab a heavy medicine ball for 10 Thruster Throws (pick up the med ball and hold it in a front rack position. Squat down then explosively stand up as you throw the ball as high as possible. Let it hit the ground then pick up and repeat), and 10 Slams.
After your last Slam, jump on a treadmill set at 10% incline and walk for 2 minutes of active recovery before starting your next round. This will keep your heart rate up and the sweat pouring. Make note that you may have to go a little lighter than normal on your sets of 5 front squats due to the demanding nature of this circuit.
The second circuit of the day is a great superset for the posterior chain. Start by laying on your back with one leg straight up in the air and one foot on a bench. Bridge your hips up and squeeze your hamstring and glute for 3 seconds at the top. After 5 reps on each side, transition to a Glute Bridge - lay diagonal with only your shoulders touching the bench and your feet flat on the floor. Bridge up and hold for 3 seconds on each of the 10 reps. If necessary, hold a plate or dumbbell on your hips for added resistance.
Bike for 2 minutes between each round. End today’s session with a 6 minute plank, switching to side plank positions when necessary.
|2. Circuit A||5 Rounds|
|a. Front Squat||5||5|
|b. Med Ball Thruster Throws||5||10|
|c. Med Ball Slams||5||10|
|d. Treadmill Walk. 3mph @ 10% incline||5||2 minutes|
|3. Circuit B||3 Rounds|
|a. Hamstring Bridge||3||5 (each side)|
|b. Glute Bridge||3||10 (w/ 3 sec hold at top)|
|4. Plank (switch positions as needed)||1||6 min|
Day 2 is a Chest and Back day with some great supersets to give you an incredible upper body pump. Start by pairing DB Chest Press and T-bar row together for 2 sets of 10 each before grinding out 5 heavy supersets of 5 reps each. Rest 60-90 seconds in between each superset and keep the weight as heavy as possible for 5 reps.
Next up is a circuit of various types of bench press and Lat Pull downs with 3 minutes of bike or Airdyne in between each round. The difference between this circuit and the active recovery on Day 1 is you will sprint the last 15 seconds of each minute, making the 3 minute cardio block a much more challenging segment of the workout.
After 5 rounds you will end with 12 minutes of 1 minute intervals on either the bike or Airdyne.
|1. Superset||7 Sets|
|a. Dumbbell Chest Press||2, 5||10, 5|
|b. T-Bar Row||2, 5||10, 5|
|2. Circuit||5 Rounds|
|a. Close Grip Barbell Bench Press||5||5|
|b. Wide Grip Lat Pull Downs||5||5|
|c. Wide Grip Bench Press||5||8|
|d. Underhand Lat Pull Downs||5||8|
|e. Bike or Airdyne||5||3 min (sprint last 15 sec of each min)|
|3. Bike||12 min||1 min light, 1 min medium, 1 min heavy resistance|
Day 3 is a short workout but an absolute killer. After a warm up jog and stretching, run 1 mile as fast as possible. If at the end of the mile you feel like you could have ran a little longer, you didn't run hard enough. The key here is max effort. Keep track of your time and try to beat it the following week.
Rest 3 minutes after the run then Lunge (bodyweight, walking) for 10 minutes straight. Go at a pace that you can maintain for the duration. End with 3 rounds of a core circuit then crawl out of the gym.
- Warm Up: jog 3 minutes, stretch
- Run: 1 mile, max effort
- Lunges: 10 Minutes
- Complete the following core circuit (3 rounds):
|a. Barbell Rollout or Ab Wheel||12 reps|
|b. Stability Alternates||10 reps (each side)|
|c. Hip Dips||10 reps on bench (each side)|
|d. Barbell Crunches||20 Reps|
|e. Rest||1 Minute|
Day 4 is time to shred those shoulders. The base power movement for this day is DB Iso-Shoulder Press. To perform this variation of standing presses, start by pressing both dumbbells up overhead and keep one extended while you press the other one, switching sides after each rep.
Related: 5 Brutal Shoulder Workout Finishers
Next up is a circuit of 3 dumbbell shoulder movements and heavy barbell shrugs, where you will jump rope for 1 minute in between EVERY set. There should be no down time during 5 rounds and your delts, traps, and calves will be on fire.
Warm up with shoulder mobility drills and stretching, before completing the following workout.
|Exercise||Sets & Reps|
|1. Dumbbell Shoulder Iso-Press||1x10, 1x8, 3x5, 1x3|
|2. Circuit||5 Rounds|
|a. Shoulder Flys||5x10|
|b. Jump Rope||5x1 minute|
|c. Front Raises||5x10|
|d. Jump Rope||5x1 minute|
|e. Rear Delt Flys||5x10|
|f. Jump Rope||5x1 minute|
|g. Barbell Shrugs||5x10|
|h. Jump Rope||5x1 minute|
Day 5 is another leg day, with Back Squat as your base power movement.
Begin with an easy jog and some stretching to warm up. Once you have completed 7 heavy sets of Squats, transition to a superset of weighted Split Squats and bodyweight Jump Lunges with 2 minutes of active recovery on the bike between each round. End today’s session with 3 core strengthening movements, interspersing a 1 minute incline speed walk between each set for 3 rounds.
|Exercise||Sets & Reps|
|1. Squat||1x10, 3x5, 3x3|
|2. Triset||3 Sets|
|a. Split Squats||4 reps, each leg|
|b. Jump Lunges||5 reps, each side|
|c. Bike||2 minutes|
|3. Core Circuit||3 Rounds|
|a. Walk Outs||20*|
|b. Treadmill Speed Walk (15% Incline)||1 Minute|
|d. Treadmill Speed Walk (15% Incline)||1 Minute|
|e. Ab Wheel or Barbell Rollout||20*|
|f. Treadmill Speed Walk (15% Incline)||1 Minute|
|*decrease core reps by 5 each round|
Day 6 is a grueling circuit that I jokingly refer to as "Arms and Lungs". Start with a set of max reps Underhand Chin Ups then immediately go all out on a set of parallel Dips. Next grab a heavy barbell for 5 curls and then a set of DBs for 5 Skull Crushers. Finish up with 10 DB Curls where you add an extra squeeze (or 1/4 rep) to the top of each rep, and a set of Tricep press downs.
As soon as you finish the upper body circuit, jump on the treadmill and run 400meters. Rest 1 minute after the run before starting the circuit again.
Do 6 total rounds of the following circuit:
|a. Underhand Chin Ups||Max Reps|
|b. Dips||Max Reps|
|c. Barbell Curls||5|
|d. Dumbbell Skullcrushers||5|
|e. Dumbbell Curls w/ ¼ rep at top||10|
|f. Tricep Push Downs||10|
|g. Jog||.25 mile (400m)|
Day 7 is as close as you are going to get to a day off. Today's workout is an easy 4 mile jog or 40 minutes on a bike. The key is to keep an easy pace to work on your aerobic base and just get a good sweat.
The New Year is all Yours
After the first week your body is going to be begging for a day off, but don't give in! You are already one third of the way there. Just start back on day 1 and grind away. You will notice on the second week your endurance will improve and your body composition should start to change.
By the end of the third week you will finally have the results you've been searching for during past New Years - shredded in 21 days!