Fast & Furious: 21 Day Shredding Workout Cycle And Diet

Ian Coleman
Written By: Ian Coleman
May 27th, 2020
Updated: March 24th, 2021
Categories: Workouts Fat Loss
2.8M Reads
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

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

Reps

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 

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!

766 Comments
George
Posted on: Thu, 08/11/2022 - 13:19

I don’t want to use whey and casein protein shakes. What else can I have instead and at what quantity?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 08/15/2022 - 10:26

Any protein source would work in place of whey. Meats would be your best bet. Cottage cheese would be a good one to swap for the casein.

Julie
Posted on: Sat, 08/06/2022 - 02:38

Hey what if I want to do this cutting program but maintain my strength? Can I swap two sets of each exercise with my heaviest weight and then do the other sets with lighter weights?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 08/13/2022 - 08:15

With a weight loss program like this, you're going to probably lose some strength since you're in a calorie deficit. You can try that, Julie and see how it goes.

Danny
Posted on: Thu, 07/28/2022 - 20:36

I am following the workout plan quite well but due to my busy work life I find it tough to put together all these particular meals. As long as I maintain eating at a caloric deficit how much will it effect my progress with the program if I am not getting all of the proper protein/nutrient intake?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 08/09/2022 - 08:26

You need the nutrients as described to reach your full potential on this program. My suggestion would be to take a day and prep those meals in advance so you have them when needed. You could still lose weight in a deficit, but the altered nutrients could affect your strength, fitness level, and ability to recover.

Adam
Posted on: Tue, 07/26/2022 - 13:47

Curious about time in between exercises? I see a 30 sec rest between sets but no mention of rest between the different exercises

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 08/05/2022 - 21:16

That is 30 seconds as well, Adam. If you need more time to transition, take it, but hustle.

Shawn Zimmerman
Posted on: Tue, 07/26/2022 - 10:59

Hi, quick question for you. Can you work out in the morning with this routine or just in the later part of the day? Also if you can workout in the morning does the meal plan stay the same way as far as breakdown? Thank you for your time and have a great day! Shawn Zimmerman

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 08/01/2022 - 10:29

What's good, Shawn? Thanks for reading M&S!

You can certainly workout in the AM. The only suggestion I make is that you eat Meal 1 before you train. Don't get after it on an empty stomach.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

Khaled
Posted on: Mon, 07/25/2022 - 02:39

Hey!

nice program and diet. But shouldn't you mention the dosage for the fish oil softgels? 6 per day is more than the recommended dosage. Well ofc depending on how much mg is per capsule.

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 07/31/2022 - 11:22

Fair point, Khaled. You should follow what the label says on whatever product you choose to take.

Without knowing what the author originally had in mind, I'll say that most guidelines suggest 250-500 mg per day. I would also suggest taking half in the morning and the other half later in the day.

Lucy Jackson
Posted on: Sun, 07/10/2022 - 02:59

Is the sim ketosis? If so are the protein shakes made with water as mine usually have 13g carbs? Also I wondered what you are supposed to do after the shred. If i go back on carbs I will balloon so do you introduce them slowly or just stick to a low amount?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 07/20/2022 - 08:54

I don't know if you will actually go into ketosis, Lucy. But the carbs are to stay as low as possible. Yes, make the shakes with water. If you add carbs back in after you finish, do it very slowly. 50 a day for a week, then 100, and so on until you get back to where you want to be depending on your next goal.

rid
Posted on: Sat, 07/09/2022 - 09:53

is stuff like limited peanut butter and granola good to eat with breakfast while on this diet?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 07/20/2022 - 08:41

Peanut butter, yes. The granola is questionable because some brands have artificial sweeteners added to make them taste better, but they won't help you on a program like this. If it's a true granola with no added ingredients, you should be okay.

Danny
Posted on: Thu, 07/07/2022 - 21:09

Hello,
I work out at 7am with only pre-workout prior
Is it important for me to be eating before ?
Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 07/18/2022 - 08:13

Hi, Danny. Many experts and trainers will tell you that eating is important prior to training because the muscles need the nutrients. However, I found that if I ate a bigger meal the night before, I could train fasted just fine. So, while it's important, I'll say that in this case, the answer is based on the individual. In other words, if you find it better to train fasted, go for it. I do suggest trying to eat a meal before at least once to gauge how you do before making a final decision. Thanks for coming to M&S.

Greg
Posted on: Mon, 07/04/2022 - 12:08

I'm curious why you recommend 2,100 calories per day for men, regardless of weight/size. Being a smaller guy with a BMR around 1585, that would put me in a significant calorie surplus.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 07/11/2022 - 23:00

Obviously I've never seen you before, Greg, but that is a great point. What are your goals and where are you at now? Perhaps we can find something that will be more suited to your needs.

Alba
Posted on: Mon, 07/04/2022 - 00:28

How much is approximate 2 pats of butter in grams ??

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 07/11/2022 - 22:48

Not sure about grams, but a pat of butter is approximately 1 1.5 teaspoons of butter. It would be anywhere from 34-55 calories per pat, depending on the size.

Spencer
Posted on: Sun, 07/03/2022 - 21:26

OK, this looks exhaustingly good. I am experienced at resistance training and cardio/core work. However I train at 06:00 in the morning. How would the meal plan differ given my training time?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 07/11/2022 - 22:46

Have meal 1 at 5:30 and adjust the rest of the meals based on whatever the rest of your day looks like. The times aren't solid. They can be flexible.

Spencer
Posted on: Mon, 07/11/2022 - 22:51

OK thanks Roger, So, the scrambled eggs and veg at 05:30 before my 06:00 training. Got it.

Matthew
Posted on: Sun, 07/03/2022 - 14:30

If I workout in the morning rather than evening, how might hat effect the diet plan?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 07/10/2022 - 16:44

Simply adjust the times that you have your meals based on your schedule. Just don't train on an empty stomach. Make sure you eat at least Meal 1 before you train. I hope this helps!

Steve
Posted on: Sun, 07/03/2022 - 12:17

Hi So this is basically the Vince Gironda 8x 8 routine with a few minor changes correct?Also how much rest between sets do you recommend 30- 45 seconds? Also after you finish your 8 sets how much of a rest unit you do your next sets of 8

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 07/07/2022 - 08:18

Yes, 30-45 between sets during the 8, and 1-2 minutes before you start the next exercise. Hope this helps!

Ryan
Posted on: Sat, 06/04/2022 - 23:19

What is the function of the fish oil capsules as they relate to this diet?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 06/08/2022 - 09:57

They help provide fats and support cardiovascular health.

Tina Inman
Posted on: Fri, 05/27/2022 - 17:51

What would be okay snacks to get u through
a craving? Instead of chips.. celery or carrots?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 05/27/2022 - 21:12

Hi, Tina. Those choices would certainly be better. Here's the general guideline to follow. If it's processed, don't eat it. If it's a natural food, such as fruits, veggies, or nuts, then that would be okay.

Ludvig
Posted on: Thu, 05/19/2022 - 11:04

How much can you customize the meal plan? For example I always eat oatmeal porridge in the morning. Can I continue eating that and add some protein as two eggs?

or is the most important part that i get the 2100cals and all the protein?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 05/19/2022 - 20:36

Most important thing is to get the 2100, Ludvig. The carb sources such as oatmeal porridge could affect the overall results.

Jarrett
Posted on: Wed, 05/18/2022 - 08:37

Hey I work over night 12pm to about 8am. I decided to work out after work. Does it matter what order I eat my meals? If so can you help me on how the time line of my day would go? Typically go to bed after my workouts which is around 11am to 12pm and I try to get a 6 hours of sleep after the workout. Thanks for the advice

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 05/19/2022 - 20:34

Hi, Jarrett. The order isn't as important as much as simply doing what you got to do to get the calories in. As long as you get the meals in relatively close to the same time apart, you should be good.

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 05/25/2022 - 19:24

That would be alright, Jarrett.

Jarrett Jones
Posted on: Fri, 05/20/2022 - 14:10

Oh okay but what If I take a 2-3 hour nap before my time I go to work? The goal is to get at least 6 meals including the protein shakes

Ryan
Posted on: Wed, 05/11/2022 - 17:36

When the weight feels too easy I will increase the weight the next week, but find I can’t finish all the reps on the last couple sets. Is it better to drop the weight so I can finish the sets, or just rep until failure at that point?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 05/19/2022 - 20:33

Do the first set or two with lighter weights. Save the heaviest weight for the last set. Then, simply rep out. As long as you're coming within a rep or two, you should be good, Ryan. Hope this helps!

Ryan
Posted on: Tue, 05/24/2022 - 00:32

Thanks! Is increasing the rest time an option too? I try to be strict to the 30 seconds rest but sometimes take 10-20 seconds extra in the later sets.

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 05/24/2022 - 21:38

Yeah, that is okay. I'd rather you be able to finish than pushing too early and risk injury.

Ro Willis
Posted on: Wed, 04/27/2022 - 20:13

I am looking to start this Sunday !!!! To Cut 15lbs . But I am vegan can you help me change certain things far as string cheese , and breakfast options ?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 05/19/2022 - 20:32

Simply plug in whatever choices you prefer for protein, Ro. Vegan protein powder, pea protein, soy, or whatever choices you find work for you.

Mo
Posted on: Tue, 04/26/2022 - 08:38

Just curious regarding this training plan, how should me and mr GF’s diet be on no training days?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 05/19/2022 - 20:31

Same as the training days, Mo. No changes.

Kelly
Posted on: Mon, 04/25/2022 - 00:00

I really get benefit from hip thrusts and cable kick backs. Can I add these to lower body days?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/16/2022 - 09:24

Hi, Kelly. You can add one, but if you want to use both, then take one of the other exercises out and replace it. Doing that much more volume may impact your recovery negatively.

Alyssa
Posted on: Sat, 04/09/2022 - 07:27

I’m wanting to start this program on Monday but I don’t currently have access to a gym. Do you have a recommended alternative program similar to this one but without machines? I’m wanting to lose 10-15lbs and main goal is fat loss. I’m just not wanting to do a whole lot of substitutions since I feel like that defeats the point of the program.