A New Year, a New Body: The Complete 12 Week Body Transformation Program

Like most around the globe, you probably plan to shed a few pounds as part of a New Years Resolution. Unfortunately, like most, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure. Get started right with Primer’s 12 week program to ensure that you finally get the body you want this New Year. By Josef BrandenburgThis post may contain affiliate links, read about our editorial promise

Editors Note: This is part 1 of Josef’s 4 part, 12 week program. Be sure to check out weeks 2, 5, and 9.

Your New Year’s Resolutions Will Fail.

I hate to sound pessimistic, but chances are really good that you will:

  1. Set a New Years Resolution involving fat-loss and
  2. Be like the 99% of other Americans who FAIL to keep their New Year’s Resolutions beyond even the first two weeks.

I am offering you a step-by-step guide to making sure that 2009 is the year that you finally get your act together and achieve the body you want faster than you ever thought possible. And I am doing it absolutely free. I don’t even need your email address. However, I would REALLY appreciate your before and after pics and testimonials.

The Main Reason for New Year’s Failure and How To Set Yourself Up For Success In Advance

When I was growing up my favorite sport was hockey, and my favorite player was Wayne Gretzky. Last year was the first time in over a decade that ANYONE in hockey has scored even 60 goals in an 82 game season. Whereas, in 1981-82 Wayne Gretzky had 92 goals in only 80 games – about 150% of what Ovechkin put up last year in goals per game! As the all-time leading goal scorer in hockey history he had remarkable aim with the puck, if he picked a point on the net, it was going in whether the goalie wanted it to or not.

Wayne’s aim was so good that one time when he was behind the net he shot the puck up, over the net and bounced it off of the goalie’s back into the net. His aim was so good that if the goalie happened to be standing between him and the net he would simply turn the puck on it’s side as he shot it so that it would slide right under the goalie’s armpit. That’s amazing to see, but even more amazing after you’ve tried to play ice hockey.

I have never played in the National Hockey League, but I am an outstanding teacher. In fact I am so good that in twenty minuets I can teach you to shoot the puck in ice hockey better than Wayne Gretzky could in his prime, during the best game that he ever played – even if you can’t ice skate. No bull.

In twenty minutes I’ll have you shooting better than Wayne, assuming we had first blind-folded Wayne, and spun him around so much that he was dizzy and had no idea where the net was.

“How could Wayne ever hit a goal that he can’t see?” you say.

My question for you is, “How can you hit a goal that you don’t even have?”

Most people start off their New Year’s by pulling something vague and meaningless (to them) out of their ass like, “Oh, I should lose weight,” or “I should start exercising,” or “I should start eating better.” Those are NOT goals.

Those are thing that you feel guilty about and think that you should do, and that kind of language will ensure that you FAIL.

Goal Setting The Right Way by Spelling It The Wrong Way: S.M.M.a.r.T.

My poor spelling is not just my poor spelling or semantics.

S = specific, as in, specifically, what do you want?

I can hear a few of you tuning out right now because you are saying to yourself, “oh, I’ve heard that before!” While I am sure you have heard it before I am also pretty damn sure that you haven’t actually applied it before.

“To know and not to do is to not yet know.”

-Zen Proverb

M = Measurable, as in, it isn’t real if you can’t put a number on it.

When you ask most people “how’s your fitness program going?” they’ll reply with something like, “good” or “not so good.” The problem with both of those statements is that they are completely meaningless. How many pounds of fat = good?

This is what people who have no idea how they are doing respond, and people who have no idea how they are doing are not likely to get anywhere at all. You NEED the cold, hard facts about how you are actually doing (NUMBERS) and how that compares to where you wanted to be.

“Oh yeah, my workout plan is going real good.”

M = Meaningful, as is, why the hell do YOU actually want to do this. Not why you think you should.

Purpose is the driving force or the missing ingredient in your quest for a brand new body.

He who has a large enough why can bear almost any how.

-Nietzsche

“a” and “r” = attainable and realistic.

These are lowercase because I think that they are by far the least important things to consider and will not be in the action steps later on. Most people are so beaten down by weight-loss failures that they are pretty much shooting for the ground. So, they set extremely low and completely unmotivating goals.

If you want fire in your belly then you need goals worth getting hot and bothered about.

The Proof

With a good plan and follow through you can make progress at a staggering rate – a man in his 20’s can drop 30-40lbs of body fat in 12 weeks and pack on 10lbs of muscle in that same time period. You can do that without starving, eating food that tastes great AND while having a life outside of the gym (3-4hrs/week will get the job done).

On Day 1 his stats were:

  • 201lbs
  • 28% body-fat
  • 40″ waist (a.k.a. a walking heart attack)

On Day 84 they were:

  • 169lbs
  • 31″ waist (9″ drop)
  • 9% body-fat
  • Down 40lbs of fat
  • Gained 10lbs of muscle

*Total body composition improvement of 50lbs in 84 DAYS

The plan is yours free of charge, just don’t bastardize it by adding in low-fat cookies, bicep curls, crunches and long distance running. That shit will not be included for a lot of very good reasons.

By the time people are actually going out to seek help they’re expectations for themselves are so low that they are usually selling themselves really short. They’ve tried poor advice from friends like, “eat only one meal per day and run for an hour everyday.” When that backfires, they get depressed and discouraged and assumed that they were the problem and that it’ just not possible to make the kind of progress that they want to make.

T = Time bound, as in, how soon do you want to get there?

Work will expand to fill the time allotted to it. And the journey to the body you want will drag on forever and ever if you don’t put a solid deadline on WHEN you are absolutely committed to being there. Most people resist and dread pressure like this because they don’t want to look like a fool if they fail to achieve by that date.

That pressure is EXACTLY what you want. You WANT to be thinking, “shit, if I eat this cookie now I am going to look like a fat-ass tool when I go to the beach next month. Let me put that down and eat the apple instead.” If you just keep your goals to yourself then you’ll have no pressure and no accountability to achieve them, and odds are you will NOT achieve them.

YES, it is infinitely more comfortable to keep it all to yourself and tell yourself bullshit like, “it’ll happen when it happens.” BUT, that comfort comes with a HUGE price – no accomplishment.

As trite as it is, the difference between a lump of coal and a diamond IS heat and pressure. As much as your cynicism would have you pooh-pooh that, in your heart you know that it’s true. Business as usual = body as usual.

Putting This Into Action

You Are 30min Away From Getting Off On The Good Foot

It’s 30min if you focus for 30min and just get it done without allowing anything to distract you. You’ve already got a little momentum going, don’t waste it. If you wait then you are subject to the law of diminishing intent – the more time elapses between intention and action the less likely that intention is to be brought to life.

Turn off the phone, log out of your email and don’t read part 2 of this article, just take action and get this done now.

#1. Find out where you are now.

Before you decide on your destination figure out where you’re starting from. This is very simple:

  • Weigh yourself. pick one scale, one outfit, one day of the week and one approximate time to do so. Your weight can fluctuate by 5lbs or more in a day, so controlling as many variables as possible will ensure that you get some useful data when you weigh in. This is as simple as weighing yourself first thing on Monday mornings in the bathroom after you pee.
  • Measure yourself. for guys this is simple, just measure your waist at the plane of your belly button. If your waist gets smaller you are leaner no matter what the scale says. Women should measure waist, thighs and hips, but testosterone will just put the fat in your belly for the most part. Pick a standard time, day and outfit – probably the same time as your weigh-in.
  • Make an excel file with the date, waist circumference and your weight. You’re going to update this EVERY WEEK with your new data. We’re only talking 2-3min of “work” per week to actually know if you are on track or not.
  • Snag some “before” pics – no shirt, with short shorts – front, side and back. Yes, this will probably be embarrassing, BUT it will also be MOTIVATING. Most people have no idea how they actually look. This will really start to light a fire under your ass. Total Time: 5min (without distraction)

#2. Decide where you’d really like to be.

Where would you be EXCITED to be in 12 weeks? Figure out to the best of your guessing abilities what this would be in terms of waist size. Waist size is the most important number. If your waist shrinks, but your weight stays the same that means that you lost fat AND gained muscle at the same time. How else could you be smaller, but the same weight?

This is the best of both worlds as it means that you are accelerating your metabolism while dropping body-fat, whereas most people lose metabolism while losing weight.

Write this down. Really, write this down. In your journal or in a Word file.

Total time = 5min

#3. Decide when.

Well, this is actually pretty much decided for you as this will be a 12 week program, BUT do decide on an event where you will show off your new body in 12 weeks. Beach trip. Pool party. If there isn’t an event already set-up, organize one.

Total time = 5min

#4. Get some leverage on yourself.

Tell at least 3 supportive people about what you are about to do – where you will be, the date and about your “unveiling.” Oh, and send your before pics and your goal to me at . The more leverage you can get on yourself the better.

Total time = 5min

#5. Get clear on WHY you want to do this.

In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey says that no matter where he goes in the world, and no matter the age, culture, sex, religion, or position of the people, whenever people get clear about their mission in life it all boils down to just 4 things – to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy. Everyone is different in how they go about acting on this, but everyone’s mission comes down to just those four elements.

Now its time for you to connect the dots from fitness to the rest of your life – your whole life, not just looking hot with your shirt off.

Take a few minutes, and really reflect, and write why and how being fit affects each of the four dimensions of your life. Include both what you will get when you succeed and what it will cost you if you fail – we are driven by both the carrot and the stick. Pollyanna positivity will not serve you here. They key is to feel what you write.

  • To live: how much better will you look and feel? What kind of new clothes will you be able to get?
  • To love: how can you take care of others when you have not first taken care of yourself? Does your significant other really deserve to be with someone who is a fat slob? How can you be a great partner and lover if you don’t have the energy to be kind and passionate? As a guy who was an obese child I can tell you that being the fat kid in school is hell on earth – do you really want to be the one responsible for setting your kids up for that kind of a life?
  • To learn: how will becoming the sort of person who keeps his promises to himself help you grow into the person you’ve always wanted to be? What will you learn about time management? About self discipline? About working smarter?
  • To leave a legacy: why do you think you’re here? Whatever that answer is, are you really going to be able to make a difference in this life if you are sick and tired? If you lack confidence and self discipline? Can you practice your spirituality without health and energy?

Total time = 10min (possibly more, but the other tasks should take less than the allotted 5min, and even if it does cost a little extra to really get clear it will really be worth it.)

The Fat-Loss Blast Off

So now we get to where the rubber meets the road, BUT ONLY IF YOU HAVE ALREADY COMPLETED PART 1. Learning with action is just a waste of time. Don’t spend the time to read this part on getting started until you lay the proper foundation.

Ivan Pavlov Would Have Been A Great Personal Trainer

I’ll be honest with you, losing body-fat actually is hard work and there is some sacrifice involved in the process, BUT if you can link-up in your gut that this sacrifice = pleasure then you’ll actually have no problem with motivation whatsoever. Notice that I said link up in your gut, NOT in your head.

There is a really simple way to make that happen – fast results. If you follow my advice and your pants fit better in the first 7 days, and your energy is through the roof, then unconsciously you will link up that following Josef’s advice = pleasure, or eating right and exercising = pleasure and you will be VERY motivated to continue.

But, if I were to sell you some bullshit “slow and steady” plan where you drop 1/2lb per week, you would be sick of me and link-up that weight-loss sucks and is NOT worth the price. All change costs about the same amount of will power and mental energy. If you put forth effort and get nothing out of the process (or hardly anything) then you are going to quit.

With that in mind here is my nutrition plan to help you drop 8-10lbs of body-fat (not just scale weight) in the next 4 weeks flat.

Its called:

GREEN FACES: Eating for Maximal Fat-loss in Minimal Time

“Green Faces” is THE fastest way to drop body-fat in a healthy, safe way that will set you up to keep it off instead of rebounding. There is no calorie counting and your body will be primed to burn fat better in the future.

Green faces means that for the next 3 weeks, WITHOUT A SINGLE EXCEPTION, you will eat meals/snacks that consist of:

  1. Faces: Animal protein (came from something with a face, or that would have had a face – i.e. an egg would’ve had a face, and that tuna fish had one)
  2. Green: Non-starchy veggies (broccoli, peppers, cauliflower… a longer list is provided later)
  3. Healthy fat: You cannot cut back on carbs and fat at the same time. If you do, then your body only has the option of burning protein for fuel. That is terrible, because you will begin burning muscle tissue. Which will slow down your metabolism, further decrease your ability to handle carbs, make a “rebound” more likely, and make getting “toned” or “ripped” (depending on your gender) impossible.
  4. No fruit. No alcohol. No grains (this includes rice cakes, etc.). No bread. No soda. No juice.

How Does It Work?

At a basic level, your body has two fuel sources – carbs or fat. If you take away the carbs, then it must start meeting almost all of its energy needs from fat, provided you are taking in enough fat from your diet. (FYI, your body can manufacture its own carbohydrates from fat and protein.)

Also, the hormone insulin is of great concern for someone looking to strip away lots of body fat fast. Essentially insulin is a storage hormone – the less you have circulating in your blood, the less likely you are to store body-fat and the more likely you are to burn it.

For more info on the subject check out my article The Real Deal About Carbs and Fitness: What Every Man Needs to Know.

Is It Safe?

Absolutely, 100%, YES! It is completely safe. In fact, it is more than safe. It will probably do wonders for your health via improved glucose tolerance, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, bowel regularity, and overall energy levels. The notion that high-protein diets causes kidney damage in normal, healthy people is completely made up.

There are at least 15 years of peer-reviewed clinical research saying that there is absolutely no risk posed to normal, healthy people from short or long-term exposure to a high-protein diet. In fact, higher protein/lower carbohydrate diets have consistently been shown to outperform low-fat/high-carb/low-protein diets for fat-loss, in the treatment of diabetes, and for heart health.

What About Carbs!? Don’t I Need Carbs!?

No. There are essential fatty-acids, essential amino-acids (protein), and essential vitamins and minerals. BUT there is NO SUCH THING as an essential sugar (carbohydrate). You could go the rest of your life without a single gram of carbs and be perfectly healthy. Carbs are NOT an essential nutrient.

Am I recommending that you go the rest of your life without carbs? No. Am I suggesting that you even go the next 21 days without carbs? No way! I want you to eat carbs. I just want you to get your carbs exclusively from REAL vegetables. (Corn and potatoes are NOT veggies.) Load up on unlimited amounts of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, etc.

What Should I Eat?

Every 2 ½ to 3 ½ hrs (or 4-5x/day for women, and 5-6 for men) eat Green Faces = animal protein + non-starchy veggie + healthy fat. Pick a number – most people find that 3 meals + 2 snacks works great.

Protein Sources: (These are good, but by no means complete lists)

  • High Omega-3 eggs (1 to 3 whole eggs + egg whites)
  • Egg whites
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Reduced fat cottage cheese
  • Chicken breast
  • Chicken sausage (lean)
  • Turkey breast
  • Turkey sausage (lean)
  • Turkey bacon
  • Lean red meat (flank steak, grass-fed steak, bison, ostrich…)
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Scallops
  • Any kind of fish (so long as it’s not deep fried)
  • Protein powders (I would recommend “Metabolic Drive Super Protein Shake” available at www.metabolicdrive.com)
  • Low-carb, high-protein meal replacement shakes (I would recommend Muscle Milk ready to drink “carb conscious” available at Vitamin Shoppe, GNC – or – Aktins Shakes…)

Good Veggies

  • Eggplant
  • Tomato
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Leafy Greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Artichoke
  • Onions
  • Squash
  • Cucumber
  • Sweet peppers (any color)
  • Zucchini
  • Green Beans

Healthy Fats

  • Olives and Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Peanuts and Peanut oil
  • Flax oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Walnuts and Walnut oil
  • Avocado and Avocado oil
  • Almonds and Almond oil
  • Grass-fed butter

Count as BOTH Healthy Fat & Protein

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Grass fed beef
  • Grass fed dairy products
  • High omega-3 eggs (eat the yolk)

What Should I Drink?

Rule #1 – Do NOT drink your calories. So, if it doesn’t have calories, then it is OK.

Drink:

  • Tea: plain herbal, green, black, etc. If you really need to sweeten it use Splenda.
  • Water
  • Water with lemon juice
  • Seltzer
  • Flavored seltzer (can be really good)
  • Diet soda
  • Black coffee or coffee with Splenda

Don’t Drink:

  • Alcohol
  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Sugary coffee and tea drinks from Starbucks or wherever
  • Etc.

What About Dairy?

While low-fat dairy products should be part of your healthy maintenance lifestyle, many are NOT part of the accelerated fat-loss program because of their high sugar content (lactose).

YES:

  • Cheese
  • Reduced fat cottage cheese
  • Mascarpone
  • Greek yogurt

NO:

  • Regular Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Ice cream
  • Etc.

What Would a 3-Day Menu Look Like?

Day1 Day2 Day3
Breakfast Scrambled eggs (1 whole + 3 whites) with feta cheese and spinach (7min.) 1-2 hard boiled eggs + 1 chicken sausage + handful of your favorite raw veggie (1 min., if you pre-cook the eggs) Southwestern omelet: 1 whole egg + 3 whites. Filling: Sautéed onions + peppers + 1 piece turkey bacon + cheddar or Monterey jack cheese. Top: salsa. (10min.)
Snack Peanut butter + celery + beef jerky Cottage cheese with Splenda and vanilla extract 1 hard boiled egg + walnuts + baby carrots
Lunch Any South Beach PHASE I frozen meal Out with friends: Chicken Caesar salad (hold the croutons, and get the dressing on the side and use it sparingly) Tandoor chef frozen tandoori chicken and spinach meal
Snack Muscle Milk mint-chocolate low-carb protein drink (they come ready to drink and are widely available and are very good) String cheese + turkey lunch meat, rolled-up in lettuce (romaine and Bibb are excellent) “Reese’s Pudding” Low-fat cottage cheese + peanut butter + chocolate protein powder
Dinner Flank steak in a balsamic reduction with spinach Lemon-Pepper Tilapia with roasted asparagus 6-pack Beef Stew

What About Eating Out?

This is actually not very difficult if you live in a big city, and you give a little thought to where you go. There are just 4 things to do to ensure success:

#1. Check the menu: Look up the menu of where you are going to go online. In less than 5 minutes you should be able to find several options that will fit the green faces bill – i.e. steak, shrimp, chicken, lobster…

#2. Go with good people: Make sure that the people you are going out with know what you are trying to do and that they will be supportive. Don’t go out with someone who is going to be a jack-ass and try to put ice cream in your mouth, or who will constantly harass you to “eat my French fries! Eat them!” Life is too short to waste any of it with people like that. The good news is that most people will be supportive, or at least neutral.

#3. Drink right: Get the water or get the diet soda or the seltzer. Green Faces is only 3wks long and you don’t want to undo 4-5 days of really hard work with an alcoholic drink. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you actually have more fun completely sober – I know I do.

#4. Ask for what you want and need: Tell the waiter to “hold the bread basket.” Order a salad, or order an entrée, BUT tell them to sub your potatoes (or whatever the starch is) with broccoli or spinach, or steamed veggies. All decent places will do it. Speak up and ask for what you want.

How Do I Get Through This?

What would you say if your wife, husband, boyfriend or whatever said, “I’ll try to be faithful honey”? Exactly, that’s bullshit. People are faithful and relationships work because people commit to them. Being committed means that you will honor that commitment no matter what.

By the way this has nothing to do with being miserable. In my opinion, it is impossible to be truly happy or fulfilled in life without having commitments that you honor. While it is tough in the short run, it actually feels wonderful to honor your commitments to yourself and others over the long run. Who you become in the process is far more valuable than what you get, even though that is really cool too.

Sacrifice has nothing to do with being a martyr, it means trading something OK or good right now for something AWESOME later. It’s a choice that YOU make, not something you have to do. Remember, you WANT to do this.

The next three weeks of your life are going to pass anyway, the only question is, “will you be leaner in 3 weeks or will you just be 21 days older?”

What Should I Do Right Now?

  1. Pick a start date
  2. Create a rough meal plan
  3. Go grocery shopping
  4. Get your stats and send me your pics and goals – this will really help to put leverage on you.

Don’t overcompensate for the holidays by pushing your body too far in January. Prime your muscles for the rest of 2020.

Begin the year with a total-body circuit. You’ll fire up your back, hamstrings, and glutes, then dive into bodyweight moves infused with boxing flavor. Do this workout three times a week, resting at least 1 day between sessions. On your off days, go for a 20-minute run.

Featured Trainer: Ngo Okafor is a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champ and the owner/founder of Iconoclast Fitness Studio in Manhattan. He constructs workouts around classic bodybuilding moves, with occasional dashes of boxing spice, as you’ll see in the burpee below.

The Warmup

Start with 30 seconds of jumping jacks, then do 30 seconds of high knees, running in place while driving your knees upward. Then do 1 Spider-Man T-spine stretch on each side. Rest 30 seconds. Repeat twice.

Spider-Man T-Spine Stretch

Start in pushup position. Step your left foot to your left hand. Keep your right leg straight; squeeze your right glute hard. Press your left arm into your left leg. Reach your right arm toward the ceiling, feeling the stretch in your back and abs. Step your left foot back to pushup position. That’s 1 rep.

The Workout

Do this workout as a circuit, resting 30 seconds between exercises. Rest 2 minutes between rounds. Do 4 rounds. Use dumbbells that you can handle comfortably.

1. Bent-Over Row

Stand holding dumbbells at your sides, core tight. Hinge forward at the waist and push your butt back until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang naturally. This is the start. Keeping your core tight, row the dumbbells toward your rib cage. Pause, then return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 20.

2. Romanian Deadlift

Start standing, and hold dumbbells at your sides, core tight, shoulder blades squeezed, and feet hip-width apart. Hinge forward at the waist and push your butt back, lowering your torso. Lower until your torso is parallel to the floor or you feel your hamstrings tighten—whichever comes first. Pause, then straighten up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 20.

3. Reverse Lunge to Overhead Press

Start standing with a dumbbell at your left shoulder and core tight. Step back with your right leg and lower into a reverse lunge, keeping your chest up. Once your left thigh is parallel to the floor, pause, stand, and then press the dumbbell overhead. Return the weight to your shoulder. That’s 1 rep; do 10 per side.

Eb says: “Stop lowering before your back knee touches the floor. Doing so will challenge your leg muscles to continue firing.”

4. Pushup

Start in pushup position, core tight and glutes squeezed, hands directly below your shoulders. Bend at the elbows and shoulders, lowering your torso until your chest is an inch from the floor. Pause, then push back up. That’s 1 rep; do 20.

5. Burpee to Punch Combo

Start standing. In one motion, place your hands on the floor, get in pushup position, and do a pushup. Stand quickly and throw 6 punches at the air. Start with 2 jabs and 2 hooks. Finish by throwing 2 uppercuts. That’s 1 rep; repeat reps for 60 seconds.

Eb says: “Think of each punch as an opportunity to strengthen your abs. Rotate through your hips and be powerful.”

6. Mountain Climber

Start in pushup position, core and glutes tight, eyes on the floor directly below. Keeping your core tight, lift your right foot, driving your right knee to your chest. Return your right foot back to the floor and quickly repeat on the left. Continue alternating, picking up speed as you go. Repeat for 60 seconds.

Eb says: “It’s convenient to let your butt ride up high when you get fatigued during mountain climbers. Resist that urge and keep your butt below (or on the same level as) your shoulders.”

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. Ebenzer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men’s Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience.

16 Weeks of Workouts for a Big New Year

Another new year is upon us, and along with it, a pile of new resolutions. But this isn’t about shallow, short-lived promises that end up on the heap of plans gone awry. This is for people looking for permanent changes. If you’re ready to go-all in on a plan you can truly sink your teeth into, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get to the meat of the matter. You want to reshape your physique. You want to build muscle and strength while stripping away unwanted body fat. The best way to get there is to have a plan, something you can follow without second-guessing yourself and beating your head against the wall regarding sets, reps, exercises, and overall programming.

This plan is for those who want to reshape their physique into that of a Greek statue, with performance to match. It will help you optimally build muscle, burn fat, and turbocharge your metabolism without wasting any time. It’s designed to get the most out of every single training session without fancy bells and whistles. In other words, you’ll be performing more military presses than cable concentration curls.

It’s also not exclusive to men. Women can benefit just as much from a program like this, without the unreasonable fear of getting “too bulky.” Contrary to popular beliefs, women can do the same type of training as men and get great results. Testosterone dictates the amount of muscle mass one can carry, and women have around one-tenth of the stuff that men do, on average. All women will gain is a little more muscle and strength, lower body fat levels and increased performance.

The Ground Rules

In order for this plan to produce results, you’ll have to follow a few principles so you can put the wheels into motion and get everything you possibly can from it. But don’t worry, these aren’t all that difficult to follow. But be warned: you won’t have any time to check status updates on your phone—you’ll be too busy.

  1. Prime the engine: Warming up should involve more than just a brisk walk. Here you will have a 3-phase warm up series, which will include separate general, dynamic, and specific parts. The general segment is to get increased blood flow and a rise in body temperature; the dynamic is to get the motor neurons firing and ready for action; and the specific is to focus on particular areas about to be trained.
  2. Focus on technique: At the risk of beating a dead horse, form and technique are everything. I can’t stress that enough. The more you practice perfect technique, the faster you’ll progress toward your goals. Using your muscles the way they were designed to perform will guarantee that they are functioning purposefully without wasted energy.
  3. Live by the clock: One of the most undervalued and critical components of any training program is the rest between sets. For the purposes of this program, you will take minimal breaks. In order to reshape your physique, fatiguing the muscle is the name of the game. No more sitting around between sets.
  4. Get used to tracking: You will need to to keep detailed notes on your progress. Keep a notebook or journal of sets, reps, weights, and overall health such as sleep quality, stress levels, or other times life throws you a curveball and your workouts are affected.
  5. Leave the past in the past: We all have those down days where every pound lifted feels like 10, and it takes more than the average amount of willpower to make it to the gym. This time is critical, and you shouldn’t spend it wallowing in self-pity or beating yourself up over a perceived lack of self-discipline. If you stumble for any reason, don’t throw it all away. Pick up where you left off and get back at it.
  6. Commit yourself to completion: Arguably the most important rule for this program is your personal commitment. This isn’t something that you try out for a day or two. The mere act of following a structured program will ensure you will see results, but it will require dedication, consistency, and persistence on your part in order for it to have a chance.

Once you decide to take this program on make the conscious commitment to finish it until the end. Write down a mission statement or a promise to yourself and sign it. Treat it like a contract with yourself.

16 Weeks to a Big New Year

The following 16-week program is split up into four-week segments. In other words, you’ll be shifting gears every four weeks. This will help you stay interested and keep your body progressing.

After each training session, you will perform a short, high-intensity cardio conditioning session. Use your choice of exercises, such as elliptical, treadmill, bike, or running (sprints). Do 15 to 20 minutes of alternating between one minute of low intensity, and one minute of high intensity.

Click Here to Download the Training Plan

Weeks 1-4

  • Frequency: 3 days per week
  • Volume: Low to moderate
  • Load: Moderate

Perform each training day once per week on nonconsecutive days, such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On two of your non-training days, perform at least 30 minutes of moderate activity such as a recreational sport, low-impact cardio, or another mode of enjoyable exercise.

Weeks 9-12

  • Frequency: 4 days per week
  • Volume: Moderate
  • Load: Moderate

Perform each training day once per week with distributed rest days, such as Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On one or two of your non-training days, perform at least 30 minutes of moderate activity such as a recreational sport, low-impact cardio, or another mode of enjoyable exercise.

Weeks 13-16

  • Frequency: 4 days per week
  • Volume: Moderate to high
  • Load: Moderate to high

Perform each training day once per week with distributed rest days, such as Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On one or two of your non-training days, perform at least 30 minutes of moderate activity such as a recreational sport, low-impact cardio, or another mode of enjoyable exercise.

More workouts to make this year your best yet:

PR Your Fran Time: A 6-Week Workout Plan

Welcome to SELF’s New Year’s Challenge for 2019! Below you’ll find the official workout calendar—think of this as your complete schedule of events for every single workout you’ll be doing this month. Every strength workout in this challenge was designed exclusively for SELF by Alyssa Exposito, a top trainer based in New York City.

If you’ve done a challenge with SELF before, you might notice this one is a little different. Your strength workouts are all here, but your cardio workouts are up to you! Read all about how to schedule your cardio days, and get several suggested workout ideas right here. Each week you’ll have three strength workouts, two cardio workouts, and two rest or active rest days. You’ve also got several warm-up and cooldown options from which to choose. We’ll remind you of this every single day, but warm-ups and cooldowns are super important and help you lower your risk of hurting yourself. So don’t skip ’em!

Something else you’ll need: Make sure to . You can use this handy calendar to pencil in your cardio workouts, check off each day of the challenge, and track your sleep each night. Why sleep? Because workouts are only a small part of the health equation. Other factors, like getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and managing your mental health can all contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Another important thing: We are obviously big fans of fitness challenges around here (understatement of the century). But we want to be clear that our fitness challenges are not intended to lead to weight loss. There’s a lot of reasons for that: For starters, lots of evidence points to the fact that simply working out alone isn’t likely to help you lose weight. So… it won’t be effective in the first place. But more importantly, there are just so many wonderful reasons to work out that have absolutely nothing to do with your weight. Regular exercise can do amazing things for your cardiovascular health. For your strength. For your mental health and overall mood. For your sleep! And ultimately that’s what this challenge is all about: Helping you develop a fitness habit, and hopefully helping you build up some strength along the way. Just want to make sure we’re all on the same page about that before we get going. Cool? Cool.

And finally, we’ll leave you with this: It’s a good idea to check in with your healthcare practitioner before you get started with any changes in your fitness or exercise habits. And that’s especially true if you’re dealing with any underlying health conditions, which include a history of disordered eating. If you have any questions or concerns at all, definitely reach out to your doctor.

Now… let’s get to it! Happy working out!

Morgan Johnson

Week 1

Day 1 Slow & Steady Strength Workout
Day 2 Upper Body & Core Strength Builder
Day 3 REST
Day 4 CARDIO
Day 5 Total-Body Strength Workout
Day 6 CARDIO
Day 7 REST

Week 2

Day 8 Glutes & Lower-Body Burn
Day 9 Core Bodyweight Builder & Tabata Burnout
Day 10 CARDIO
Day 11 REST
Day 12 Bodyweight Combo Workout
Day 13 CARDIO
Day 14 REST

Week 3

Day 15 Lower-Body Dumbbell Workout
Day 16 CARDIO
Day 17 Upper-Body Strength Builder
Day 18 REST
Day 19 Lower-Body & Core Workout
Day 20 CARDIO
Day 21 REST

Week 4

Day 22 CARDIO
Day 23 Squat & Plank Full-Body Workout
Day 24 REST
Day 25 CARDIO
Day 26 Core Workout & Tabata Burnout
Day 27 REST
Day 28 Dumbbell Workout & AMRAP Push

Top image: Photographer: Catherine Servel at Brydges Mackinney. Hair: Tetsuya Yamakata at ArtList. Makeup: Seong Hee at Julian Watson Agency. Manicure: Julie Kandalec at Bryan Bantry. Stylist: Sara Van Pée at Quadriga. Model Mia Kang is wearing Carbon38 tank top, similar styles at carbon38.com; Athleta sports bra, similar styles at athleta.com.

20 Days in 2020 – Download the Free Workout Plan to Feel the Change

You wake up on January 1st. All of a sudden it’s 2020.

But somehow everything feels the same…

And tomorrow will feel the same, too. Unless you choose to feel different this time – starting at the beginning of the year.

Here’s how to kick-start the year and feel a change in just 20 days! (We‘re not talking about your usual New Year’s resolution…)

Why you need to try this free workout calendar

The 20IN20 calendar guides you through the first 20 days of 2020 with:

  • Workout suggestions to feel motivated (no equipment, for all fitness levels)
  • Goals and challenges to feel determined
  • Reading tips to feel inspired
  • Nutrition advice to feel nourished…

Get inspired by a new feeling every single day for 20 days!

Ready to start?

How to use the 20IN20 calendar

It’s all digital and easy:

  1. Save the full 20IN20 calendar on your device or print it.
  2. Download the free adidas Running app and adidas Training app that will guide your workouts!
  3. Join the You: Version 2.0(20) challenge in the adidas Running app to collect active minutes.
  4. Set your personal goals in the adidas Running app once a week, starting with Day 1.
  5. Get ready to feel alive, proud, strong, empowered…just follow the tips day by day!

1. Get the full calendar

Click on the image to download the full version of the 20IN20 calendar:

2. Download free adidas Running & Training apps

Not familiar with the free adidas apps yet?

You can get:

  • Home workouts with no equipment for all fitness levels
  • GPS tracking for your outdoor activities, live cheering, personal goals option
  • A Workout Creator tool to create a workout for the duration and body zone of your choice
  • Different challenges throughout the year that keep you inspired
  • …and much more!

3. Join the You: Version 2.0(20) challenge

You made the decision – this year you will feel like the best version of yourself. We’ve got a challenge to get you started!

Get active for 2h and 20min for the first 20 days of 2020. Join thousands of people around the world putting in their active minutes to feel confident and strong.

How to join the You: Version 2.0(20) challenge

Sign up between 23.12.2019 and 31.12.2019: You can sign up to join the challenge in your adidas Running app. Go to the “Progress” tab and scroll down to the “Challenges” section to open the challenge and click to join.

The challenge will start counting your active minutes from 01.01.2020! Be ready! The challenge ends on 19.01.2020.

What counts as active minutes for this challenge?

Your goal is to collect 2h and 20min of tracked activities in 20 days.

Activities from both the adidas Running and adidas Training app will count towards your goal. They can be combined.

  • adidas Training app activities that count: Standalone workouts, training plan workouts, single exercises, featured workouts, Workout Creator workouts (warm-up and stretching do not count).
  • adidas Running app activities that count: GPS-tracked running, treadmill, walking, nordic walking, hiking, handbiking, and snowshoeing.

Don’t forget to track your activities!

4. Set your personal goals

Setting goals is the only way to really make a commitment to change. It‘s such an important part of starting your fitness journey.

The adidas Running app lets you set all kinds of goals – based on duration, activity type, frequency…whatever works for you!

Here are some examples of small but smart goals:

  • 60 active minutes in one week (any sport type)
  • 15 minutes of walking every day
  • 2 workouts per week
  • 20 minutes of alternating walking/running for beginners who want to start running

How do you set your personal goal? Check out the instructions for setting goals in the adidas Running app FAQ.

Finally: Don’t just plan to change, feel it!

The 20IN20 free workout calendar is not your usual New Year’s resolution.

It introduces a healthier lifestyle slowly, by focusing on how you feel. Those feelings will make you want to adopt healthier behaviors, even after the first 20 days in 2020.

Don’t believe it? Give it a try!

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New years eve workout

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