Fast & Furious: 21 Day Shredding Workout Cycle And Diet

This 3 week fat burning cycle focuses on low-carb food choices and hardcore workouts that restrict rest between sets, finishing with intense 15 minute cardio sessions.

Workout Summary

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

Workout Description

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

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

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

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

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

21 Day Cycle Expectations

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

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

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

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

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

shredded man doing chest press

Learning the Basics

Here are the basics of each 21 day cycle:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Optional cardio

You can add in an optional cardio workouts:

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

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

Fit female

21 Day Shredding Workout

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

Shredding Workout FAQ

Do I have to use the dumbbell bench press?

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

Do I have to use machine exercises?

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

Can I use pull ups instead of lat pull downs?

Yes.

Can I use barbell rows instead of seated cable rows?

Yes.

Can I use squats instead of leg press?

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

Isn't this a lot of sets?

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

Mountain climbers outside

21 Day Cycle Cardio Workout

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

For this cardio workout you will need:

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

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

Diet Plan For Men

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

Here is the meal plan schedule for men:

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

Lat pull downs

Diet Plan For Women

Here is the meal plan schedule for women:

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

Diet Plan FAQ

What if I don't like the meal choices?

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

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

Do I need to use casein and whey protein?

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

Post your post-workout swolfies in M&S gear on IG and tag @muscleandstrength, #muscleandstrength, or DM them to us to get a shoutout on Muscle & Strength stories!

614 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 02/10/2021 - 17:03
Larry connors

I have been doing well with this program so far, the only issue I have is the cardio cycle after the workouts. There's like 8 exercises, there's no way I can do those without resting. It's not possible. And there's no way I can do 5 sets of that, let alone after a workout. And 15 minutes? That has to be a typo. Can you please shed some light on this? I want to do this right but it really doesn't add up.

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Posted Fri, 02/12/2021 - 10:01
Abigail_M&S

Hey Larry - The goal is to do the exercises back to back without rest, but you can rest as needed. I would treat the cardio portion as a 15 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible), that way you're getting in 15 minutes of cardio but aren't killing yourself in the process.

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Posted Mon, 02/08/2021 - 18:10
Josué

I workout at my house and I don’t have a leg press machine. What exercise can I do instead of leg press. I have a bar and a bench press with with leg extension and lying g leg curls machine. Thank you.

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Posted Tue, 02/09/2021 - 11:25
Abigail_M&S

Hey Josué - check out this article for alternative movements: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/lower-body-alternatives-your-...

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Posted Wed, 02/03/2021 - 16:49
Stacy

For the dinner portion of meat, for example, women eat 6 oz of chicken is that cooked or raw weight?

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Posted Thu, 02/04/2021 - 10:17
Abigail_M&S

Hey Stacy - raw weight.

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Posted Wed, 02/03/2021 - 15:07
NICK

GOOD MORNING
For 8x8 what % of the RM do you counsel ? 80% ,?
Normaly for a shredding programm it s not better to go upper 15 /20 rep with super set and a few rest ?
Thanks for your answer
nick from france

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Posted Thu, 02/04/2021 - 10:08
Abigail_M&S

Hey NICK - 80% is most likely going to be too heavy to do an 8x8 with. You should choose a weight that you can move safely and with proper form for the given number of reps and sets.

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Posted Thu, 02/04/2021 - 10:11
NICK

ok thanks for your answer but if 75% is normaly for 10 reps to build mass so 8 reps are more than 75% no?

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2021 - 16:02
Aaron Love

I workout in first thing in the morning - fasted (6am), how do I alter the meal plan / timing accordingly as it seems that it's assumed I workout in the evening... At least the way I'm reading it.

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Posted Tue, 02/02/2021 - 09:27
Abigail_M&S

Hey Aaron - you can follow the meal plan as written starting with breakfast after your morning workout.

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2021 - 07:36
Matt

I am really excited about starting this workout and diet routine. I work a second shift job and was curious about the scheduling of the workouts. Is it ok to alter the time of the workout to in between the first two meals?

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2021 - 10:50
Abigail_M&S

Hey Matt - yes it is.

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Posted Tue, 01/26/2021 - 23:22
Harry Graham

Hey,

I am currently following Thai program and have lost 3kgs quickly, however found myself wondering why the fat consumption is so high and such a big deal in the program. I’ve seen it work, but just wanted to some clarification and this seems counterintuitive that to burn fat you need to eat more fat. Thanks

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Posted Wed, 01/27/2021 - 09:04
Abigail_M&S

Hey Harry - consuming fat is not inherently bad. The only way you can lose weight is by eating in a caloric deficit. Consuming a higher fat diet will keep you satiated and fuller for longer. This will, in theory, keep you from snacking and consuming excess calories; therefore, keeping you in a caloric deficit and allowing you to lose weight.

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Posted Thu, 01/07/2021 - 11:50
Kari

My husband cannot have cheese. Can you suggest a substitution for the string cheese? He's been eating more almonds to compensate but any suggestions are welcome!

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Posted Tue, 01/05/2021 - 13:02
Laura

Can someone please clarify the total mg/day of fish oil that is safe. Six 1200 mg capsules is way over the recommendation, and that is a common dosage for OTC fish oil.

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Posted Mon, 12/14/2020 - 10:20
Christine Blake

What is the recommended rest between sets in this program?

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Posted Tue, 12/15/2020 - 09:19
Abigail_M&S

Hey Christine - rest between sets can be anywhere from 45-90 seconds

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Posted Mon, 11/30/2020 - 23:51
H.J.

What is the best protein shake alternative and brand if allergic to cow’s milk?

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Posted Sun, 02/14/2021 - 11:06
Lori

Muscle milk

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Posted Mon, 11/30/2020 - 06:55
Kyle

I’m work from 5am till 5pm and get to gym around 6pm and get to have food around 730pm
Can this still work

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Posted Mon, 11/30/2020 - 10:46
Abigail_M&S

Hey Kyle - yes this will still work.

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Posted Mon, 11/30/2020 - 00:55
Irna

Hi, I train at 9pm night 4 nights a week.. what changes should I make to meals to be able to complete the 21 day shred successfully please?

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Posted Mon, 11/30/2020 - 10:47
Abigail_M&S

Hey Irna - you can workout after your dinner meal.

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Posted Tue, 12/01/2020 - 04:51
Irna

Great thank you Abigail...I was hoping that wouldn't upset the routine too much... I'd much prefer to eat beforehand.

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Posted Sun, 11/29/2020 - 17:43
Karmen

Great plan, thank you for sharing free. I have to workout in the mornings. How should I switch up the meals to accommodate that? Thank you

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Posted Mon, 11/30/2020 - 10:24
Abigail_M&S

Hey Karmen - you can follow the meal plan as written. You can either workout before or after your workout.

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Posted Sat, 11/28/2020 - 11:20
Alice Tate

Can the upper body and lower body workouts be done on the same days? I am a fitness instructor teaching 2-3 classes per week and also participate in boot camp with a trainer 3x per week. I am trying to incorporate more strength training in my workouts while shredding and I am hoping I can use this 21 day program to jump start my 2021 goals. Thanks!

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Posted Mon, 11/30/2020 - 09:58
Abigail_M&S

Hey Alice - it is advised to do the program as written. This is a 4 day per week program and you should not combine upper and lower body days.

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Posted Fri, 11/13/2020 - 12:45
Ratheesh Shamughan

I am planning to use this program. But I workout in the early morning like 7.30am. Dinner stated above seems to be set like after workout. What changes can I make in my diet program?

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Posted Mon, 11/16/2020 - 12:28
Abigail_M&S

Hey Ratheesh - check out this program: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/12-week-fat-destroyer. It's better suited for working out in the mornings

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2021 - 04:38
Atanas Belchev

Your suggestion is a completely different routine. Does it mean that it is impossible to have a shake in the morning, then work out, them eggs and following the rest of meals?
And if not recommended, please explain why.
Thanks

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2021 - 09:54
Abigail_M&S

Hey Atanas - yes you can do that. One of the highlights of this program is only consuming 1/3 of your daily calories before dinner. As long as you stick to that guideline, you should be good.

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2021 - 10:36
Atanas Belchev

Thank you

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Posted Thu, 10/22/2020 - 15:53
Hina bukhari

Hello Ian , i m 34 yrs old female , i lost almost 5 kgs in frst 2 weeks of my diet and almost 3 hrs workout per day including cardio...and sm strength exercise...following you tube... in 3rd wk i couldn't follow the wrkout routine but my diet was almost the same with very little of cheating...so their was no weight loss in 3rd week...i want yo follow ur plan...my goal is to lose 15 kgs more... but i dnt have asses to gym or resistence exercise equipments...what can i replace the reisitance exercises with???to achieve my goal in minimum time plz.

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Posted Fri, 10/23/2020 - 09:30
Abigail_M&S

Hey Hina - we have a selection of bodyweight workouts for those without access to gym equipment: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/bodyweight

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Posted Thu, 10/22/2020 - 08:09
Srikanth

Hello Ian Coleman,

The work out schedule and the meal plan is pretty interesting who looks for short and sweet.

I would like to follow your plan but, I am working and I can go to GYM only in the morning.

So, can you suggest me any alternative to this plan or can you alter your plan for the morning workout guys.

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Posted Thu, 10/22/2020 - 09:46
Abigail_M&S

Hey Srikanth - Can you tell me a little about your goals and what you're looking for? i.e. full-body, dumbbell only, how many days per week

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Posted Fri, 10/23/2020 - 05:15
Srikanth

Hi thank you for your response.

I would like to go with Fully Body and I can go to GYM for 6 days and not dumbbell only and I can use other machines.

My goal is to SHREDD FAT. Am 68kg with 44yrs and 170cm hight.

I came down to 68 from 73 in 45 day's using other workout plans from M&S.

My belly fat not at all shredded what ever I do since last 2 months.

So, Now my goal is to Shredd and Look Lean and FIt with Lean Muscle.

I do not like much about BULK but Like Prominent Look of Muscles.

Actually my previous message about "Fast & Furious: 21 Day Shredding Workout Cycle And Diet"

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Posted Fri, 10/23/2020 - 10:21
Abigail_M&S

Your diet is going to play the largest part in losing body fat and getting leaner. Use our BMR calculator to figure out your daily caloric needs: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

For a program, I'd suggest something like this: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/4-day-power-muscle-burn-worko...

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Posted Sun, 10/18/2020 - 22:46
Noeline Jensen

I’ve been doing the OMAD ( diet ) for a year and didn’t see any reason to change even on this programme and didn’t. Meal plan was exact as prescribed in this programme only taken in one meal. First week, 3kg loss, second week, 2kg loss, third week, 2kg loss. All toll, 54 year woman 7kg loss. Leaner, fitter, clearer

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Posted Sun, 10/18/2020 - 01:55
Joseph

Hey guys, was wondering my BMR is 2700, how much should I drop and what percent should my macros fall in as its high protein/fat low carb. 40/40/20 ? Cheers Joe.

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Posted Mon, 10/19/2020 - 09:29
Abigail_M&S
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Posted Sat, 10/17/2020 - 14:28
IFRAZ

Will this program help me to reach a body fat less than 10%.. right now I'm around 16%... please help

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Posted Mon, 10/19/2020 - 09:12
Abigail_M&S

Hey IFRAZ - this program will help you drop body fat. Keep in mind that diet plays the biggest factor in dropping your body fat.

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Posted Fri, 10/16/2020 - 00:35
Brandon Abramovitz

Do we need to adjust calorie intake to our personal BMR calorie intake or stick to your calorie numbers?

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Posted Fri, 10/16/2020 - 08:34
Abigail_M&S

Hey Brandon - the calorie numbers listed in the program serve as a guide. I would use your personal BMR calorie intake as it's more personalized to you.

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Posted Sun, 10/11/2020 - 15:08
IFRAZ

8 sets.. is it ok to do 8 sets

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Posted Mon, 10/12/2020 - 11:39
Abigail_M&S

Hey IFRAZ - yes, 8 sets is okay. Use a weight that you can move safely and with proper form for the given number of reps.