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

Max Riley
Written By: Max Riley
May 17th, 2013
Updated: March 22nd, 2021
7M Reads
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

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.

Recommended: Need help losing fat? Take our Free Fat Loss Course

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 8 - 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

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

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

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

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

 

1.2K Comments
Mihnea
Posted on: Mon, 01/23/2023 - 11:24

I've started this workout routine and am currently in the 4th week. Would it be good to have the cardio sessions during each workout, f.e. beginning and ending with a cardio session and having another one (or two) between exercises?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 01/23/2023 - 13:03

Ending would be better than going hard on cardio at the beginning, and I don't think you need to do them in between exercises, but 20-30 minutes post-training would serve you well.

Dustin
Posted on: Tue, 01/17/2023 - 02:56

So I'm 6'7 259 with a beer gut. It's not actually beer but soda that I'm getting myself off of. if I follow this, should my protein intake be around 300/g a day or stay at 1? And will this build muscle along with losing fat because I don't want to lose most of my fat and look like a pencil haha

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 01/20/2023 - 08:27

Hey Dustin, starting out I would say stay at 1g per pound.

If you're new to training, it will help with muscle building as well. If you've been in the game for a while, it will stimulate it enough that you don't lose it. Good luck, and thanks for reading M&S!

Kam
Posted on: Sun, 01/15/2023 - 15:19

Sir, thank you for great program. Quick question, can I add few other sets for upper and lower days or can I use alternate exercises i.e replacing dumbbells with cables..would love to hear your advice.. Thank you

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 01/19/2023 - 15:37

Replacing exercises is a great call to change it up, Kam.

If you want to add one set to each exercise, that would be a good idea as well. That little extra volume could shock the muscles as Arnold would say.

Kam
Posted on: Thu, 01/19/2023 - 17:36

Thank you sir, appreciate your response..!!

Ricky
Posted on: Sun, 01/15/2023 - 06:00

Hello, I'm 20 and 5'4; I weigh 145 and I want to slowly reduce my body fat percentage. Would starting with 2300 be sufficient enough for a smaller guy like me or would something like 2000-2100 be optimal?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 01/19/2023 - 15:38

2,300 is a great starting point for you. I would rather you start higher so you have more room to trim down as you progress. 2000 wouldn't give you much room to work with. As long as you're training hard enough, you'll see the changes you want.

Duke
Posted on: Tue, 01/10/2023 - 09:19

Hi! I’m 21, currently 177 cms and 81kgs of weight. My plan is to shed fat, get ripped and get to 72-70 kgs in the next 4 months. Will this workout be effective for me?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 01/19/2023 - 15:40

I think this is a very solid option for you, Duke. That is a realistic goal as well, so I have faith you can do it. 3 kilos a month over four months would leave you at 69 kg. Give it all you got!

Stacey
Posted on: Sun, 01/08/2023 - 16:57

I am a bit confused and would greatly appreciate some clarification on the cardio portion of the workout. During weeks 1-6 there are three time periods listed and then weeks 7-12 there are four time periods. Does that mean that during those first six weeks when doing cardio three times per week that the first session is (referencing week 4) 12 minutes, the second is 15 minutes and the third is 12 minutes (totally 39 minutes for the week) and same format for week 8 ( four cardio sessions per week: first session 22 minutes, second 25 minutes, third session 25 minutes and fourth session 22 minutes (totally 94 minutes for the week)? Thank you for your help.

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 01/20/2023 - 08:26

Hello, Stacey. You are 100% correct.

Mike J
Posted on: Sat, 01/07/2023 - 18:07

How many grams of carbs or what percentage of my macros should carbs be on low carb days, moderate carb days, and high carb days? Diet has been the most difficult for me so I want to ensure that my aim is correct for the different types of eating days. Thank you!

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 01/18/2023 - 21:43

My suggestions for carbs would be 20% low carb days, 30% moderate days, 40% high days.

Thiago
Posted on: Fri, 01/06/2023 - 05:05

Hello,

How much rest time is recommended between each cardio session?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/15/2023 - 11:04

Those sessions are per day, not all in one day.

Aldo
Posted on: Wed, 01/04/2023 - 01:30

Hi! I'm looking forward to trying out this workout program, but one question I have is about the weight-lifting exercises like squats or bench presses. How heavy should you go on those workouts? Should you use percentages of your weight?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/15/2023 - 11:03

That is up to you. As long as you feel a challenge on the final sets of each exercise, you should be good. If you feel you need percentages, 65-80% of your max would be a good starting point. You can then adjust from there based on how you feel.

Gianluca
Posted on: Mon, 01/02/2023 - 16:56

Hello

Just wondering where i could find the meal plan. Not sure if i have to complete it using the recommended serving sizes, or if there is a detailed plan outlining recipes?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/15/2023 - 11:02

No specific foods were recommended for this plan, only the calories and macros. M&S does have recipe articles for you to check out so you can create your own meal plan.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/recipes

Eman
Posted on: Thu, 12/29/2022 - 11:35

I'm on week 3 on this workout plan and I'm trying to get adjusted to the new diet plan. I'm already feeling the results in my muscles. Thank you for this program! I'm eager to see the changes of my body throughout this program.

Rob
Posted on: Wed, 12/28/2022 - 09:56

Sorry if this is a double post. After reading some previous comments I see that the cardio is done after a weight training session. Question for the cardio though, the first week it is 5/8/5–does that mean do 5 minutes of cardio then rest, then do 8 minutes of cardio then rest, then finish with 5 minutes of cardio?

Also, towards the end of the program when the cardio sessions are totaling close to an hour, should they still be done right after weight training? Or can weight training be done in the morning and then cardio at night for example? Thanks for the info

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 12/30/2022 - 16:15

Hey Rob, your assessment of the 5/8/5 is correct.

The cardio should be performed after the weight training as suggested, but I get that time, schedules, and families can have an impact. You may not necessarily get the same results as you would by following as prescribed, but you should still see results by doing the cardio at night. Just make sure you get it done. That matters most.

Thanks for reading M&S!

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 01/10/2023 - 21:33

Three sessions in one week.

First session: 5 minutes
Second session: 8 minutes'
Third session: 5 minutes

Not 18 in one session, 18 total for the week.

Bal
Posted on: Fri, 01/06/2023 - 13:08

Cardio sessions are 3 in w week. I just want to make sure I am clear that 5/8/5 means one session is 18 minutes three times a week? In the last week, that would be more than an hour…..I just want to clarify it. This is because I am reading your reply above.

Luke
Posted on: Sun, 01/01/2023 - 08:13

I think it means 5mins of cardio after 1 weights session, then after the next weights session do 8 mins of cardio after then 5 mins of cardio after th next weights session again, not all 18 mins of cardio after a single weights session because when you get to week 12 there’s no way anyone can do 2 hours of cardio!

Uttam
Posted on: Wed, 12/28/2022 - 01:03

Hi,
While following this program- can I substitute the cardio sessions for group 1-hour HIIT classes? This would mean I follow the workout plan in the mornings and do the HIIT classes in the evenings.

Please let me know if I can follow this and what should my protein intake be considering I estimate I will burn 1000 calories a day if I follow the above-mentioned.

Thanks in advance,

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 12/31/2022 - 19:00

You can. Not sure how it will impact the results, but if a class is burning 1,000 calories, that is a win for weight loss.

I would add 50 grams of protein per day, split up between before and after the cardio. That is on top of your meals.

Will Pearson
Posted on: Tue, 12/27/2022 - 18:22

Hi, if I don’t have access to a treadmill, eliptical, or swimming how do you suggest I get in my cardio? If you say walking, how fast? Or what are other options of cardio? Thanks so much!

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 12/31/2022 - 18:52

Speed walking with brief bouts of jogging or running would work. 3.0 mph for walks and 5.0 mph for jogs if you need the numbers.

Outside of that, what do you have access to? Heavy bag, jump rope, anything else? We can get creative with cardio if you let me know what you can use.

Thanks for reading M&S!

Joe
Posted on: Tue, 12/27/2022 - 08:25

How intense should the cardio be?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 12/30/2022 - 16:29

Moderately intense. Don't exhaust yourself to the point you can't function, but you should feel like you did some work by the end.

Work Hard
Posted on: Sat, 12/24/2022 - 21:47

I’m 25 and been gyming off and on for about 6 years yet I still look the same even though I’ve made significant strength progress. When I’m in the gym I’m 5’8” 180 and my most recent PRs were the 100x5 for the flat dumbbell and 315 for squats. However I’ve been out of the gym for about 6 months again and I’m 200 currently looking like 27% BF. I know what’s required for building muscle I just don’t have the time for amassing the calorie intake necessary so I’m fine with that. What I would like though is to get rid of the skinny fat look whic I still have even when I’m consistently in the gym and back down to 180. Would starting at week 6 with the cardio help me shred the weight faster and any tips for what I may be missing. My weight lifting routing has been very similar to yours.

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 12/29/2022 - 10:16

Starting at Week 6 would be ok. After you finish, I would suggest moving on to another program like our Spring Shred workout. That could help take that transformation to a new level.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/8-week-spring-shred-program

Ramy
Posted on: Mon, 12/19/2022 - 09:03

good afternoon

a would like to know the meaning of 40+ for men
and also to reduce 300 calories from where is it from 2300 and 2400 and so on, or from my metabolism which I calculated as 2450 to maintain and 1980 to cut (loss fat)

thanks in advance

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 12/27/2022 - 08:35

"40+ for men" means men over the age of 40.

Reduce the 300 means from the 1980 calories.

Tasos
Posted on: Sun, 12/18/2022 - 13:15

What should i do when i finish the 12 weeks cardio?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 12/26/2022 - 10:44

Hope this helps you out, Tasos. If not, let me know and we will try to find something for you.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Michael Conard
Posted on: Mon, 12/12/2022 - 10:22

Hello,

My current weight is 250 and I want to drop down to 215-225 in a short window, then build strength on my 215-225 frame. After running this program I am assuming following this to a tee, I should lose roughly 24-30 lbs. What program would you recommend after the weight lost? Or would 5/3/1 be sufficient?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 12/12/2022 - 20:30

My suggestion would be to focus all your attention on the weight loss first, then choose the next program based on how you feel once you hit that goal. I'm a fan of 5/3/1 for sure, though. As for the weight loss, how short of a window are we talking?

Amit
Posted on: Sun, 11/27/2022 - 01:37

Hi
My weight is 40 and weight is 94 I have started gym 3 months back.
I want to reduce belly fat with heavy chest and biceps
Does this program work for me?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 11/27/2022 - 21:19

It will definitely help with fat loss. Focus on that first, then shift to making muscles bigger.

Ali
Posted on: Sat, 11/26/2022 - 15:37

Hi,

If I don't lose enough fat as I would have liked after running this program does it make sense to rerun for another 12 weeks or switch to another program for fat loss. Also at the end of the program would I implement a deload week or just restart from the beginning from the weights I left off from Week 12?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 11/27/2022 - 21:21

Hi, Ali. This is a great question.

It depends on what your goal was going in. If it was a big goal, and you made serious progress, then yes, run it again after a one week deload.

If you didn't notice significant results at all, then pivot. You can use this resource to help you find another program if you like.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Michael Labib
Posted on: Sat, 11/26/2022 - 13:08

Hi, I would like to know how much weight do I need to carry if I will follow that program?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 11/27/2022 - 21:21

Whatever is challenging for you.

Alan
Posted on: Thu, 11/24/2022 - 14:12

Hi I'm just about to start this programme. I've trained on and off over the years but haven't been to a gym since the start of the pandemic. I'm 50 and a good 20-25lb overweight. I've lymphodema in both legs - it's well managed but means running at my current weight is a no no. I'm currently walking 8-10 miles a day, every day at a brisk rate. Heart rate around 110 - is that sufficient cardio or do I need to add more in and vary it in the gym?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 11/26/2022 - 12:51

That would be sufficient, Alan. You could vary it by doing rowers, heavy bag work, or other upper body focused cardio to change it up, though.

Alan
Posted on: Sat, 11/26/2022 - 13:58

Thanks for that - quite fancy a bit of bag work!