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.

Editor's Note: Make sure you’re doing all the right things you need to be doing to lose body fat. For those looking for a more in-depth resource to teach them how to lose fat, we’ve created a FREE 5 day Fat Loss Email Course.

The course will teach you how your body loses fat, how to utilize workout plans on our website to maximize fat loss, how to eat for fat loss, how to supplement to lose body fat and how to track your progress.

Sign up below today to learn and ensure you get the most out of this workout program.

Need help losing fat? Take our FREE 5-part email Fat Loss Course!

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!

487 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 08/03/2020 - 22:41
Posso

I am going to try this 12 week program and i will post my result.
Age 45 ,height 172 cm, weight is 98 kg and i have a big belly.

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Posted Tue, 08/04/2020 - 10:07
Yoshi_M&S

Excited to see your results Posso!

This is a great program. If you stick with it you're gonna feel amazing at the end.

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Posted Thu, 07/30/2020 - 08:04
Bilal

I will have a week of traveling during week 4 of this program. What would you suggest as the course of action if I am not able to stick to this workout? Should I just get back and resume as normal or add another week?

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Posted Thu, 07/30/2020 - 09:51
Yoshi_M&S

Hey Bilal

Do your best to stay active while you're traveling! Hotel workouts or something. When you get back resume from where you left off.

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Posted Wed, 07/29/2020 - 14:19
Mano

would you explain how to input the cardio plan into the schedule as the the workout pattern is 4 days whlie the cardio (for example) the 1st 6 WKs the 3 session 1 day on 1 day off so, would you explain more.

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Posted Thu, 07/30/2020 - 10:01
Yoshi_M&S

Hey Mano

For the first 6 weeks you'll pick 3 of your 4 days and add cardio on to the end of your workout. Once you get to your 4 days per week cardio you'll just do it at the end of each workout.

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Posted Wed, 07/22/2020 - 20:52
Jason

Hello.

How necessary is it to consume the posted minimum 180 grams of protein each day. This seems like a lot. I was always under the impression that 1 gram per lb of weight is all that is necessary to build muscle. Is the 180 gram recommendation essential in helping remove body fat. I am 45, and weigh 165ish lbs, 5’11ish in height. I was a steady 150 lbs until the past few years and now carry the extra 15ish lbs in my mid section, so I would consider myself skinny fat. I would like to remove the fat I carry on my mid section, and have always wanted to gain a little more muscle and become fit(ter) and confident. Maybe I’m answering my own question here. That said, if I do experience positive results from participating in this plan, will I need to maintain the 180 gram intake of protein each day to maintain the muscle I grow and the fat I lose, or could I maintain my results by lowering my protein intake and following another plan that you might be able to recommend. Thanks in advance. :)

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Posted Thu, 07/23/2020 - 15:46
Yoshi_M&S

Hey Jason

You'll want to stick to these guidelines to see the results. Trying to eat your way to your protein goal without blowing past your calorie can be a daunting task. I recommend supplementing with a good protein powder. The average serving size contains anywhere from 25-50 grams of protein. 2-3 shakes a day throughout the day makes hitting your numbers much more doable for most people.

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Posted Tue, 07/28/2020 - 16:15
Yoshi_M&S

Hey Jason

You're doing a great job keeping on top of things! From my experience, and from what I've gather from other trainers and clients, a good many people prefer MyFitnessPal. It is a lot of information though and you've got to play with it quite a bit to be able to record things accurately.

As far as the number of daily calories goes, consider these numbers more as guidelines. Every person's body is different, so every person's calorie goals are going to slightly vary.

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Posted Thu, 07/23/2020 - 18:33
Jason

Hi Yoshi. Thanks for replying so quickly. I have been taking in two protein shakes per day, equalling 70g of protein, on top of my food intake. Trying to stay away from beef and pork for now (trying to watch my LDL cholesterol intake), eating mainly skinless chicken breast, fish, canned tuna, legumes, low fat dairy as my main sources of protein. It has been a lot of work counting calories, carbs, protein, and fat since I started this program about a week ago. I have been using the MyFitnessPal app (free version) to help organize this for me. Do you have any tips on how I can use this app more effectively as I have noticed that there are so many food options with nutritional information that does not add up. Or do you recommend another source for this information?

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Posted Thu, 07/23/2020 - 18:53
Jason

Also... How important is it that I reach the calorie allowance for the day. I have been able to keep under the maximum allowed calories, but do I need to reach them?

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Posted Wed, 07/22/2020 - 12:54
Lovepreet

when to take fat burner , BCAA and creatine monohydrate ?

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Posted Wed, 07/15/2020 - 09:30
sonia

Into week 2 and doing great with the workouts, cardio and nutrition. When should I start seeing results?

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Posted Mon, 07/20/2020 - 15:35
Yoshi_M&S

Hey Sonia - While your friends and family may notice your changes sooner than you do, most individuals don't see their own progress for at least 4-6 weeks. Keep up the great work!

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Posted Mon, 06/15/2020 - 05:38
Alison

Week 1 - 3 low carb days with 1500 calories, 3 moderate carbs days with 1600 calories, 1 high carb day of 1900 calories.

I'm 44 and not in great shape, what would be classed as low, med and high carbs? so what would fats and protein need to be compared to carbs on low, med and high days?

Thanks

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Posted Fri, 03/06/2020 - 12:35
Mike

Ideally, how should the diet plan days be placed in comparison to the workout days?

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Posted Sat, 02/29/2020 - 23:17
joel kinsman

So for the cardio, do you want us to do the amount of minutes listed per day or all those minutes in one workout for the the whole week?

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Posted Fri, 07/10/2020 - 15:49
Angie

It would be 3 or 4 different days in one week.

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Posted Mon, 02/17/2020 - 21:54
Andrew

Would you suggest intermittent fasting with this workout plan or balanced spaced out meals? Thanks and appreciate it!

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Posted Thu, 01/23/2020 - 14:34
Perry Tankard II

Tomorrow will complete my 12 weeks. I have lost almost 30lbs. When i started i was 262 now im 233. My blood pressure was averaging 142 over 84 now im at 117 over 81. I feel great and my family and friends can see the difference. I will be starting a fresh 12 weeks with more intensity. This plan works!!!!

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Posted Fri, 07/03/2020 - 11:27
Alan Salgado

Hey can you tell me more about how you did it?

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Posted Mon, 07/06/2020 - 13:38
sonia

with the cardio, did you run or did you walk? I don't see anywhere how to do cardio except for how long it should be.

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Posted Tue, 01/07/2020 - 15:34
Cory

Hi I'm 48 yo Male 5'11 1/2 weighing 203 but started the 12 week workout. How many calories should I be consuming in 1 day and what should those calories consist of?

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Posted Thu, 01/30/2020 - 07:28
John

What’s your body fat percentage?

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Posted Tue, 12/31/2019 - 08:18
Kal

Hey.
What do you recommend as warm up and cool down?

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Posted Thu, 01/30/2020 - 07:30
John

5 min on a treadmill or other pc of cardio equipment. 2 lighter sets of prescribed exercise followed by 3 working sets. Cool down with stretching.

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Posted Tue, 12/31/2019 - 04:58
Pete

Hi- Would you recommend doing the cardio work on the rest days of weight training? or is it best to do both cardio and weights on the same day and then rest totally? Thanks for the great articles.

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Posted Tue, 02/11/2020 - 16:15
Hank

Great question!! Response!?

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Posted Wed, 02/26/2020 - 02:17
Måns Ljunggren

For the first 6 weeks, do the cardio on days 2, 5 & 7.
For the last 6 weeks, do the cardio on days 2, 3, 5 & 7.

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Posted Mon, 12/30/2019 - 17:42
Jay

Hi can you help if already got from 215 pounds to 175 just from changing my eating and more walking and starting to see my abs a bit just need help on getting as lean as possible as don't no what diet to do or workout so on if you can help that would be great my workout experience is ex army and used to go gym so know what does what so on kind regards jay

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Posted Thu, 12/26/2019 - 18:44
UJR

Hi, at 55 I've had a tough year fighting depression and on medication. Its swings and roundabouts, I feel better but have gained 12lb over the last 10 months. It doesnt sound a lot, but my waist was 34" now 38" Chest was 42" now 44" - I'm motivated to exercise but need a plan. Please help.

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Posted Thu, 01/30/2020 - 07:31
John

What are you looking for? Goals?

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Posted Mon, 05/25/2020 - 18:31
Matt

As someone who has severe depression as well and is about to start this plan I am sending thoughts your way, stay strong and stay determined. we can do this!

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Posted Sat, 03/14/2020 - 17:13
UEL J. READIOFF

Hu John sorry for the late reply. To lose weight and tone up. Last year Jan 2029 I weighed 14 3 stone this weeks weigh in, 15.3 stone.

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Posted Thu, 12/19/2019 - 16:06
Youssef

HI
....with the carb cycling, can you help me with how many carbs on a low carb day and how many on a medium and high ??!

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Posted Fri, 12/06/2019 - 14:20
Charlie

I'm 41 years old, 5' 11" and 265 lbs. Recently finished up back to back rotator cuff surgeries (1 on each shoulder). I'm about 50 lbs. overweight since I have a bigger upper body from weight training normally.

Update #1 (5 weeks): I'm almost 5 weeks in and down 9lbs. on the scale. But in terms of fat loss off of my body I'm sure it's around 11-13 lbs. Upper body is doing very well as my muscles are coming back. I think the Upper A&B workouts are great if you apply yourself. I do 1 lower body workout a week instead of the 2 as designed because my elliptical I'm doing for cardio works my calves (I use balls of my feet) and quads are being worked very well. I focus more on dead lifts for hamstrings, glutes, and lower back and toe tosses for my 1 lower workout a week. The ramp up approach for cardio has worked perfectly for me, exactly what I needed. I use an app on my android to track my meals/calories. I think I'm killing that the most. For me I had to watch the fat % intake, calories are easy I think. I'm 1 notch down on my belt and can almost reach the 2nd notch down if I wanted. I look better and feel better through not yet even 5 full weeks. I'm currently on pace to lose 22-25 lbs. total through the 12 weeks (while probably adding 5 lbs. muscle), especially since cardio will be increasing in time and iterations.

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Posted Mon, 11/25/2019 - 12:51
Lakshay

What should be the rep tempo for lifting weights? Please clarify

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Posted Mon, 11/11/2019 - 17:44
Julia

I’ve just started this program and need some clarification on the weights portion please. Am I supposed to do each exercise 3 times and move on to the next exercise or do all exercises in a circuit 3 times? Thanks for the help.

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Posted Thu, 11/07/2019 - 00:25
Greg

Hey there,

Since everyone keeps asking this, I thought I'd share my results since I've completed the program. I'm a 32 year old male, 178cm height. I've stuck to the calorie values above, as well as the timings for cardio. Now, for cardio I went with cycling and I've always done it right after the weight training. I tried to keep my heart rate at around 135 throughout.
For the diet, it mostly consisted of Oats, sweet potatoes and pumpernickel bread for carbs, chicken, tuna, Greek yoghurt and whey protein for protein and nuts, olive oil for fats. I did stay away from any snacks apart from dark chocolate. Here's my results after 12 weeks.

Weight ~80kg to 74.5
Fat ~25% to 19.5%

Overall, it's a good program that will allow you to loose weight and burn fat at a steady pace, which is good. The conditioning works a treat as well, I'm quite surprised that now I can go on for 45 minutes with a steady 135 hr.

To the good people of M&S, what would you recommend next for someone like myself? Is there a point of another "cutting" program to drop to something like 15% body fat or is it better to focus on muscle mass now and cut again at a later stage? If so, what programs would you recommend?

Many thanks.

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Posted Sun, 10/27/2019 - 16:49
Fajer

I used the workout plan only 4. Weeks and I noticed it’s really work with me my back and legs got shaped more . My cardio was 30 minutes for first 2 weeks then I increased it to 40 Minutes. My intake was fixed calories with deficient 200 cals . I recommend this workout for beginners it will help you a lot. Thank u

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Posted Tue, 10/08/2019 - 04:55
Raqy

Hi i wanna know more about this workout because I started the 1and half week i lost 2,5 kg then on the this week i gained the weight back plus 1kg on.. I followed the program i do cardio and strength training together and it takes me to finish it about 1 hour and the time increase by the cardio time and it's irritated me that I push hard and then instead of losing weight I gain........ So a quick question
do i have to do a 12 week cardio and then do another 12 week weightlifting to see results ??

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Posted Mon, 10/07/2019 - 20:52
Joshua Lim

Hi, great article. I’m 17, not overweight but generally want to be more in shape. What should the daily carb intake be relative to my metabolism?

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Posted Sun, 09/29/2019 - 17:43
Cheryl

HI
....with the carb cycling, can you help me with how many carbs on a low carb day and how many on a medium and high. IM on a low carb day today but Int Fasting ( 1 meal a day) . thank you in advance.

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Posted Mon, 09/23/2019 - 20:40
Mike

Two weeks in, down 9lbs. I struggle to get the protein in some days though. I have added a two sets of pushups on the upper body days at the end of the work out. been running or biking(as long as the weather holds) for cardio.

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Posted Thu, 09/12/2019 - 17:38
Natti

Hi, probably a really obvious answer to this. But when you come to talk about cardio you listed it as:
Week 1 - 3 cardio sessions. 5, 8 and 5 minutes.
Week 2 - 3 cardio sessions. 8, 10 and 8 minutes

I beg your patience, but what does that mean? does it mean that in week 1 - you perform 3 cardio sessions. But in the - 1st session you do a total of 5 minutes, 2nd session a total of 8 minutes and 3rd session a total of 5 minutes of cardio?

Just need some clarification, thanks again. Great post. I look forward to starting this

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Posted Sun, 09/29/2019 - 20:44
Cheryl

I take that as
1st week 3 days of cardio, 1 day a 5 mins cardio, 2nd day a 8 min cardio and 3rd day a 5 mins cardio again.
It is slowly building people up to 4 days of cardio over the week and long sessions.

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Posted Sat, 09/07/2019 - 10:28
CSR

Great program! I lost 20lbs in the 12 weeks without doing the cardio. Highly recommended for beginners or anyone who has been away from fitness for awhile.

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Posted Sun, 09/29/2019 - 21:19
Cheryl

Brilliant

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Posted Tue, 10/08/2019 - 12:29
Qasim

Really? How much fat you lost ?

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Posted Thu, 08/08/2019 - 04:31
Robin

What should i do if i cant do pull ups? Im 175cm 104 kg around 30% body fat.. Is this program good to start with? Been off workout for almost 1.5 years. Or is there any other programs that are better?