A Weightlifting Strength Training Routine Workout for Women

i am just your average female, who wanted to feel confident in my own skin. i am not a trainer or a dietitian – i am a real person who wanted to make a change in my lifestyle just like you

Thank you to everyone for your support on my blog coming from Pinterest, I know that is where a ton of you have found me.  My name is Adrienne and I created my blog to share my fitness and health tips after working for many years in the supplement and fitness industry. Make sure to visit the rest of my pages for meal prep ideas, diet tips, workouts and more. (and my YouTube channel for some videos)

Also all of the products I use, mention and am loving are now listed on my Amazon store for you to quickly look into and purchase.

For those of you just starting a weightlifting program (women) or for those of you who have been working out but want to start with a new program from the beginning you might want to do this one that I have listed below from www.SimplyShredded.com I have been weight training for over 5 years now, but over time I have altered my workout routine. I went from working up my proper form on various weight lifting exercises, to slowly increasing the weight and lower the reps to build muscle and burn fat. I also started to take a ton of vitamins and supplements to aid in my muscle gains and shredding down body fat – read more here on supps.

I suffered for over 15 years with body image issues, I had a terrible relationship with food since I was a child, was very self consciousness and weight training truly was the only thing that put me on the right path to living a healthier life. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I finally stepped into the weight room, starting lifting and finally felt confident in my own skin. <3

So why did I start weight training? I’ve always been an athlete (cheer leading, rowing team, track, you name it). I also went to the gym like crazy, but  I found was that eventually over time I didn’t stick to my routine and wound up going in and doing whatever I felt like doing that day and fell in the rut of being a “cardio bunny”, which made me stop and ask “Why am I getting so bored of my workout routine? Should I restart with a new one?” – the answer to both was a resounding YES! If you are looking for a routine to keep you focused and interested I always like to make my gym visits 85% weight lifting and only 15% cardio. What women fail to realize is that doing ONLY cardio won’t change the shape of your body/muscles. Sure you will lose body fat but what is underneath that fat is not going to help shape you. I hope this workout also works for you, when I found it I began it and really enjoyed it!

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Below is a picture of me at the same exact weight (108lbs)….The left is someone who dieted like crazy, did only cardio and had a poor diet and sleeping habits. I felt sluggish and always worn down, sick and frail. The right is 6 months after not giving a crap how many calories I was eating, lifting and restricting cardio. I did a 5×5 training program and never looked back.


I was what many ladies call “Skinny Fat” – in clothing I was a size 1-2 and XS but I had little to no definition and was not firm or tone is certain areas. I was not healthy, I took no supplements…I thought I should restrict food and calories, boy was I wrong!

Was I thin? Yes. Did I have real definition or muscle tone? Barely. I did pilates, yoga, some weight lifting but did the “low weight/high reps'” because I didn’t want to get “BULKY” (such a bad thought given to us women by magazines)


I cut out doing all forms of cardio and only did weight training. I did the “New Rules of Lifting for Women” workout program (you can buy the book here). What I quickly learned is my body changed more in those first few months of weight lifting than it ever did with my previous years of “going to the gym everyday and dieting”. I was also eating about 2200 calories a day of mostly high protein and moderate carbs but also healthy fats and usually 6 meals per day.

As you can imagine this was very hard for someone who was so used to eating less and less, and it took awhile to get used to it, but when I started to see results I said “just suck it up, eat and train” and it truly helped me to say good bye to my body and food issues.

Do you notice a pattern here?  All of the stuff you’ve been told all your life as a woman is a lie. You don’t have to starve. You don’t have to do exercises to “lengthen and tone” (you’ll never lengthen your body, it is what it is. exercise won’t make you taller ladies). 

Another great book I received from Spartan Race was “Spartan Up!” – after doing 2 Spartan races I was hooked and love doing these! You can buy this book by clicking here

Think of it this way:

  • Fat covers muscle
  • Weight Training builds muscle while burning fat
  • Cardio just burns fat, no muscle building
  • If you lift weights and burn fat you will SEE big results
  • If you just do cardio you will just lose the layer of fat, but not change any definition underneath


In order to get back on track and get into a routine I knew I had to have one that outlined things very clearly, gave me 2 days of rest per week, was less focused on cardio and more focused on strength training and finally, one that would still challenge me and keep me interested. So, I found the below 12 week workout program similar to a 5×5 strength training workout for women I had done before. This one breaks up the week into 4 lifting days and splits the workout days into lower body and upper body. What I like about this routine is it will give you the time to work your way up in weight and it doesn’t have you isolating just one area of the body (example: back/chest day).

Ladies, don’t be afraid to lift weights. Make sure to pick the right weight so that you are fatigued/tired at the end of your last rep. If you can do more reps then the weight is too light, if you can’t do all of the reps it’s too heavy.



As of October 21, 2014 – Current stats: 110lbs, 14.5% body fat, 26″ waist, 9″ biceps unflexed, 33″ hips. I lift weights, I do very little cardio, I don’t consider myself bulky by any means.

Am I saying that the below routine is going to get everyone the same results? No. If your goal is just to lose weight, not build muscle then maybe it’s not…but let’s get this clear first – the reason you look “bulky” is not from lifting weights. If you are lifting weights and feel like you look bulky it’s the layer of fat that is covering your muscles…so you need to lift and combine cardio to burn fat/drop your body fat % and cardio alone is not going to do that.

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You need to pair both to get maximum results. Work your lifting weight up every 2 weeks if you feel you are not feeling fatigued by the last rep of each set. I aim to do 5-10 lbs increase every 2 weeks if not sooner. It all depends on the exercise and how sore I may be still.

At about 1900-2200 calories a day I expected to gain so much weight, but it always stayed around the same 2-3 lb

Give yourself time to build your strength and make sure you are monitoring how much you are lifting each time you go to the gym. You will be surprised that over time you will slowly increase the weight. For example if I do 95lbs one week on free squats, by the 2nd week I feel that 95lbs is light, so I bump it up 10 more pounds. Over time the weight you used to think was “heavy” is now light. Your body will adapt and no, you won’t get huge and masculine. I focus very  little on cardio and use my weight training as my cardio. I’ve been down that road of endless hamster-like cardio, and it wasn’t until I lifted actual weights (not 5lb dumb bells but heavy weights) that my body changed. Below is my current routine and I highly recommend it to see results. Remember: to lose body fat you must 1. eat clean 2. eat at a deficit 3. lift weights 4. do HIIT cardio


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The 12-Week Workout Program (from www.simplyshredded.com)

As we said before, women need to lift heavy, challenging weights in order to gain muscle. Lifting heavy weights will not cause women to get big and bulky like men because women produce a fraction of the testosterone that men do. When women begin working out, their goals are to tone up and gain shape/curves and following this program will accomplish just that! In this 12-week program, you will decrease the number of reps you complete and increase the load you lift as you progress. The number of sets per exercise stays the same, but the rep range changes.

Leg day is my favorite day. Trap bar deadlifts help me to keep my posture correct and prevent back injury. This is lighter weight then i do now. but this is when I was learning how to do a trap bar deadlift.

Weeks 1-4

On my rest days i like to REST. If on Saturday and Sunday I am itching to go to the gym I will do abs, plyometric work or just a HIIT set of no more than 20 minutes.


Weeks 5-8

If you are unable to do pull ups or dips you can use the assisted machines, which I do also. it’s hard as hell to do that many pull ups so go easy on yourself.


Weeks 9-12

It took me many days, many sore muscles and months to build up my lower body. Don’t ever give up on yourself. all things can be attained with weight training, even growing a bootie when you never had one!

Above all else you MUST enjoy working out everyday. You will get sore, especially in the beginning. Make sure you take the right supplements and vitamins to help you.

I recommend taking a BCAA/Amino Drink to help with recovery, a whey protein powder to make shakes with, a multivitamin, fish oil.

Click here to view a day of foods and supplements that I use

I hope my journey helps other girls/ladies out there appreciate their bodies a bit more from reading this post. be empowered by it, know that you can get in the gym and kick ass and take names. and know that you can change your body in any way you desire with time, energy, dedication and commitment.

I also recommend having a workout partner, or make sure your spouse or significant other is also living a healthy lifestyle. This will keep you on track and away from failure. While me and my fiance do not do workouts together, we do go to the gym together and keep one another on track. I don’t know if I could be with someone who didn’t share a common interest in living a healthy life.


For those of you who managed to read all the way down here – YOU GO GIRL! I hope this helps to motivate you go to in the gym and kick some major ass. Build a healthy relationship with food (took me years to do that), and enjoy the challenge that lifting brings you. Every day do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone. If you have any questions, you can comment them here or come find me on social media 🙂 I usually go by MissADS1981 or JerseyGirlTalk <3

Some of my favorite fitness related products that I use all the time: CLICK HERE

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the writer and creator of JerseyGirlTalk.com - a blog dedicated to inspiring and helping readers to feel and look their very best both inside and out. I love writing, photography, makeup, fashion and fitness.

  1. Great post! I was wondering if you have any tips for modifying this work out to a home setting, not the gym? I have dumbbells measuring from 2.5 lbs up to 50 lbs, but I don’t have a bar, bench, etc. I actually don’t even have chairs in my apartment, just a couch, bar stools and a large exercise ball. Thanks for the help!

  2. Hi yes many of these can be done at home with some free weights, barbells or dumb bells but it might be hard to get the same results if you aren’t lifting heavier weight. Body weight is good to start but over time if you want to grow those muscles you really do need some heavier weights/equiptment

  3. Thanks for posting! Definitely not afraid of lifting, just always confused on what to combine with what and on what days. I have one question though, when do I add in cardio (is there a certain week or from week 1) and for how long?

  4. Cardio all depends on your goals. When i am focusing on lifting to gain muscle I find I am better off just lifting heavy and focusing on that than trying to add in cardio too. i may do 1-2 days of plyometric work which has a cardio benefit. Right now i am in a cutting phase so I slowly add in more cardio and do more reps with my lifting. 🙂

  5. Thanks for responding! So if I wanted to lose and tone up more I would continue this workout and add in cardio a few times a week right? I also thought about adding a gluten free diet to the mix and see what the results are.

  6. I personally don’t have much experience with gluten free. I don’t necessarily recommend eating gluten free as a method for weight loss unless you really are being told by your doctor that you have to cut out gluten. I think cardio is good but only when paired with weight training. that is what helps me burn the most calories and see the best results. cardio will not change your muscles 🙂 hope this helps

  7. I always super set. I do 2 exercises in alternating fashion with about 10-15 seconds between the two. this gives me about 1 minute of rest between each exercise.

  8. I love your weight lifting tips and it’s so refreshing to hear someone else say that 1. Women need to stop worrying about getting “bulky” and 2. Gluten free diets are doctor recommended, not a way to lose weight. It would be helpful if you described some of the exercises or added pictures to illustrate them. Most of them are common, but I’m not sure what a “Swiss ball crunch” is, for example.

  9. thank you and i am working to get better at having photos in my posts. I dont take photos in the gym usually so I will need to enlist my fiance perhaps to help with that for my blog 🙂

  10. Hi. I have a question about protein to gain weight and muscle. I tried many types of protein and always had problems in my stomach. I cannot drink anything that comes from milk nor rice, I tried soy also and i had stomachache. I want to know about a protein that can help me gain weight. Thank you and great post.

  11. Hello, not everyone can tolerate protein especially milk based like whey or isolate or casein. If you have a low tolerance for these some plant based brands might work for you like Vega and Plant head. I personally liked Vega as it was one of the first proteins I ever used. It tasted very good, like a milk shake and was easy on my stomach. You may want to look into Vega 🙂

  12. Hi, I’m just starting out on weight training I think it will help me shift stubborn weight. I’m a lot older than you but I am fairly fit, but could you tell me where it explains what the actual exercises are?? I’ve never done weight training before so don’t know these exercises. Thanks.

  13. Hello, I just love this breakdown that you have here; thank you for sharing! I’m really skinny and weigh about 98lbs usually, I have been trying my hardest with weight gainer to gain a few pounds and I’m stuck at 101. I was wondering if you used any weight gainers or just did you work out to build muscle. I’m trying to be a minimum of 107. Thanks

  14. Hello! I didn’t take weight gainers but I surely did increase my calorie intake. I used to be at 1500 or so (so unhealthy when you are lifting weights to gain muscle!) but during the winter time when I lift heavier I went up to about 2200 a day! I realized soon that even eating that much didn’t make me gain too much but it surely helped me!

  15. Can you tell me your current weight, height and activity level.
    For “toning” I assume you mean to lose body fat % while increasing muscle mass?

    In which case I can help you once i have a better idea of your current state. Thank you

  16. This plan looks super easy to follow, and I’m really hoping to try it out starting Monday in addition to the T25 I’m currently doing. I have always been under the impression that heavy weights=looking huge, but now I know that’s wrong and I’m excited to get started. Question though- for a complete beginner, how should I choose which weight I start at? Do I just add weight and go with whatever seems manageable?

  17. I’m 5’4 and 98 lbs. I just finished my first week of your workout, and it was great! However I’ve never worked out before so being 98lbs I’m a weakling lol. Yes that is exactly what I’m trying to do. Goodness that’s definitely a lot of calories but I’d love to hear more.


  18. Really like the workout you’ve outlined…am currently doing T25 but am not seeing the abs I would like to see. I have had 3 c-sections and can’t seem to lose my tummy fat…please advise.


  19. I appreciate your information. I am 41 and have been weight training for about 20 years, but in a haphazard way. I just began your series of exercises, hoping for better definition. I’m excited for the possibilities!

  20. This looks like a great plan! I’m going to start this next week. Do you happen to have the plan in a pdf form? I like to print these and hang it on my fridge. I’m really excited about this, thanks for posting 🙂

  21. How often do you do HIIT and when? If you do it the same day as you lift do you do it before, after, or during a different trip to the gym. I love HIIT but since I am trying to put on muscle I am wondering how much is too much cardio. I am 5’7 and 135lbs.

    Thanks in advance!

  22. In the summer I do much more cardio. In the fall and winter it is limited to focus on putting on muscle.
    I do HIIT in the fall/winter at most 2 times a week. Always after lifting so i can use my energy on the lifting piece. I save about 15 minutes at the end and do interval running/sprints

    In the summer or cutting season i do HIIT about 3-4 times a week but for no more than 25 minutes. again, mostly running but i also do a good amount of stairmaster too. great calorie burner!

  23. I’m very inspired by reading your routine! I definitely need to have a more structured plan so I’m starting this on Monday. Can you please let us know your height? I’m trying to figure out calculations for body weight goals. I’m 5’5 and 120-125 was always a pretty great range when I was in top form. I’m WAY over that right now but not for long. Thank you so much for the inspiration!!!!!

  24. I’ve got a bigger booty and struggle with losing weight on my bottom half. Is this workout something that will help with that? Also, do you do 1 set of each and then another set of each and so on or do you do all 3 sets of one exercise and then move on to the next? Thanks and giving this a try!

  25. For abs (I will also create a separate post for this):
    – basic ab crunches work great (flat on back, knees bent on floor, hands at base of neck, come up about half way and hold, then back down. do NOT pull on neck). I do 3-4 sets of 20 reps
    – reverse crunch (flat on back, hands under base of back, lift legs up to the ceiling then back down) 3-4 sets of 10 reps
    – hanging crunches (hang from pull up bar and raise knees up to chest) 3-4 sets of 10 reps
    – planks

  26. I always do super sets. Example I will do one exercise, then another and then back to the first one. I always do 2 exercises for each set to keep me moving and keep my heart rate up.
    if you are concerned with your bottom half then perhaps increase some HIIT cardio into 2 days a week and dont go too heavy on your leg day. You want to keep building muscle down there but also get rid of some of the fat covering it. you can do weights and cardio to achieve that. also make sure your diet is on point 🙂

  27. Thanks for writing such a great post. Its clear and concise! I have the same build as you and i have been weight lifting for about 2 months now, to try gain more weight and muscle tone. I’ve decided to use this programme from next week. Thanks for a great blog! 🙂

  28. Thanks for an awesome post. I’m now motivated to get to the gym! I have a question on food. I am 5 ft 1in tall and I weigh 140 lb. I have a very muscular physique, but I need to lose fat. I’m wondering how much I should focus on carbs. I gain weight easily eating carbs, so I want to keep that low. Do you have a range of how many carbs would be adequate for wight loss? I really don’t know what a normal range is. I try to stay at about 100g per day, but all of the fitness calculators say I need between 150 and 200! That is too much for me. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks 🙂

  29. can you tell me your activity level, how many days a week do you work out? i can help to calculate for you.
    don’t be afraid of the carbs though. if you are lifting you should def have a good # of healthy good carbs to fuel your workouts. 🙂

  30. Love your workout plan! Can you give examples of some of the meals you do? Is it the simple low carb meats, veggies, etc.. or do you do more!?

  31. Hi I want to start weight lifting to lose weight and gain muscle. I’m not sure how much weight I should start with, and how much I should be eating? thank you in advance…

  32. I just started week five of your routine…I am a complete beginner so I feel the first month helped me build a little strength and helped with my form. Starting week five is this when I’ll start to better results? I’m 98lbs and I’m looking to get to at least 107lb asap.

  33. Hello!

    I love the information… But my personal trainer has said it’s extremely important to mix up the exercises each week or else you won’t see results. Is this true? I see that you keep the same exercises but just do different reps. But you obviously got results?

  34. I dont want to disagree with your trainer, however I can’t ever image changing up a routine every single week. I change my routine every 4-6 weeks. and yes i did get good results.

  35. a big part of your growth will also come from the food and calories you eat. what is your current macros and calories per day? how much protein are you eating per day?

  36. I’d be happy to help but i need some more inforamtion:
    what is your goal in pounds to lose?
    how much do you weight now
    what is your activity level currently?

  37. i suggest going to my healthy recipes tab. it will explain some foods and meal prep i do.
    i do not do low carb, in order to lift heavy you cannot do low carb. you need carbs for energy.

  38. Can I ask you how tall you are? I’m curious about your height with a weight of 110lbs and consuming 2200 calories a day. I’d just like to compare and see what’s possible for me. I know no two people are the same. I’m 5’0″ and currently 120lbs. I need would love to be a strong 110lbs. If I don’t have any muscule then I’d need to be more like a thin 100lbs. But of course I’d rather be strong 🙂 just need to take care of the excess weight first. Thanks.

  39. Hi, I am 5’5 and am 110lb and 14% body fat. 🙂 I hope that helps.
    I only eat 2200 when I am lifting heavier in the winter time to help aid in lean muscle growth. In the summer time i usually eat around 1800

  40. i love lifting weights…..at home. I have 30-40 pounds to lose and going to my gym to do a routine of weightlifting is intemadating. There are some women but mostly men that are already fit, lifting. I come in there completely lost not knowing what to do. Now that I have your plan, I know what to do, any suggestions on getting over being intemadating? Thanks!!!!

  41. I just started this program today and I’m very excited to see more muscle being built. Just wondering if you could give me a breakdown of what your daily supplement regimen looks like. Also, are you keeping the same regimen on rest days? Thanks so much for the info and the inspiration!

  42. I think the first thing to do is to get comfortable with the layout of the gym and where the machines and free weights are. if you go in knowing the areas you need to hit and in what order you will feel a bit more confident. Also the best confidence boost is some good music. put your head phones on and dont pay attention to anyone. everyone is at the gym for the same common goal, don’t let anyone make you feel like you dont belong in the weights section. to be honest, whenever i go in that area i feel like its more of a confidence boost than intimidation. half the guys in there are so worried about their own lifting anyway, dont feel intimidated, just get in there and kick some ass!

  43. Is there any optional substitution for the pull-ups? I am starting at a beginner level with weights, especially for my arms, which I never use weights to train. So doing 3 sets of 8 push-ups is not something I am able to do just yet. Any suggestions?

  44. Hi! How come DB Shrugs are optional and how come they’re in the lower body days? Would it be more beneficial to do them on upper body days?

  45. I started out doing squats in the very beginning of my training with just an olympic bar. I worked my way up to 125lbs. Now i currently do 115lb back squats (5 lbs more than my body weight)
    my dumb bells are usually 10-15 for arm day exercises
    all depends on the exercise or machine i am doing.

  46. do you have an assisted pull up machine at your gym, that will help for sure.
    if not work your way up. pull ups are super hard, i started just do a half of one. I do 8 now but it took me a year to get there!

  47. how long did it take for you to start seeing results?
    Also – I’m 5’2 and 145lbs, do you think I should add some cardio into the mix to burn some extra fat? Thanks!

  48. This is perfect! Exactly what I have been looking for. This is definitely something doable for me and I am going to start on Monday 🙂
    I am just having a hard time finding my Macros. It is confusing to me hehe. what do you use to count them or how do you figure it out exactly? I am 5’4” and weigh 133. I want to lose body fat! Thanks for this post 🙂

  49. for me it took about 6 months to see huge results, but a good thing i did when i started was to take a weekly progress photo from all angles. i stared to see differences each week.

  50. Hi i really enjoy ur blog. I have a question . For someone that wants to start lifting weights whats the best routine?And a good eating plan im 5’3 and weigh150t i would want to loose some weight and tone up .at least 10 pounds

  51. What is the normal length of time you spend in the gym? I’m finding it very difficult to squeeze in my gym time now that my son has been born. I work full time and he takes up most of my free time so my old routine of 1-1.5 hours 3-4 times a week is just not happening. My work hours also changed recently too so I have to get up much earlier which also makes going early in the morning or at night after he goes to bed nearly impossible.

  52. its a bit tough to do it only 3 days a week…this helps to target the various areas in different ways. i wouldnt recommend altering it.

  53. If you super set between 2 exercises you can get this done in 45 minutes. most of the time people spend in the gym is on cardio machines. without cardio i do my weight training in around 45 minutes

  54. Hi. Just wanted to thank you for sharing. I just started your weight lifting plan this morning. Woke up at 5 am just to make sure I’d do it. I think I have been bitten by the weight lifting bug. I love the feeling, even though I’m weak now. I started the 5×5 Saturday but as soon as I saw yours, I switched.

    I’m 5’2 and 162lbs…I have a ways to go but I’m okay with that. Again, thank you for this.

  55. Right now for during my workout I use a Nutriforce products called Balanced Hydration. It helps to keep me hydrated and is mostly electrolytes: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JMC8I1A/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00JMC8I1A&linkCode=as2&tag=jers0b-20&linkId=EQRRB5IFYJQDIEYP

    I used to take pre workouts now I don’t like the feeling of them

    After and throughout the day I sip on Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006LLP6NS/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B006LLP6NS&linkCode=as2&tag=jers0b-20&linkId=JCHEDG3MUBMXMBRB

  56. I drink 2 water bottles of water each workout.
    If I am lifting heavy like leg days i eat oatmeal with a scoop of peanut butter in the morning then go work out (carbs for energy)
    After a workout I usually eat a protein bar or drink a protein shake

  57. I was so excited to find this blog. I recently started to do weight training but honestly am clueless about what to do. I have been alternating days on weights and just using machines. Then at the end doing cardio. But I have only been doing less weight and more reps because until now I was always told to do that not to get bulky and to do a lot of cardio. What do you do for HIIT cardio?

  58. you only are “bulky” if you have fat covering the muscle, and that will come off over time. women’s cannot get HUGE, it’s not that easy lol.
    there are men trying to get big and it takes them YEARS, women are not going to sprout huge biceps overnight so have no fear

    for cardio right now I do mostly stairmaster (the escalator moving kind) or springs on a track when its nice or treadmill running though i dont prefer a treadmill.
    alternating low impact with high off and on for about 15-20 minutes max.

  59. Are Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sunday’s rest days or is there something else we should be doing? Also how approximately how many calories are we burning per workout do you think?

  60. I just want to get this straight. Is doing just strength training something you recommend to a person who is overweight/does have excess fat? Or at least I would like to know if this will help me out loosing added weight from 3 babies in four years. I am 31 years old. I have a 4 year old, 2 year old, and almost 3 month old. Before having children I use to run off and on and do some very basic strength, in between pregnancy I did do some running to lose baby weight but never stuck with it and since I was so sick during my pregnancies I did not have any desire to exercise. My third is my final baby, closing up shop on baby making. And I want to get in some sort of shape other than round and flabby. I want to also be a good example to my children, teach them a healthier way to live. At 6 weeks post postpartum, I started eating healthy balanced meals /watching amounts/logging calories on Myfitnesspal. I am suppose to be eating 1280 calories a day to lose 1 pound a week. On top of that my sister and I started training for a half marathon to be ran next May. And It also helps that my husband is also trying to lose some weight, eat a low sodium diet (due to family inherited high blood pressure), and started lifting. So my household has really started a new lifestyle and I have a workout buddy. Her husband is military so we have been going on base and using the gym there and I have been running outside. Anyways so I started at 159 lbs (I am 5 foot 3). I am overweight with lots of excess bagggage in my tummy area, I look like I am carrying a flat tire around my middle. At this point I am really not sure what potential my belly has for being flat/washboard. I have grown 3 humanbeings inside it and I have NEVER had a flat stomach to begin with even before when I was 115 pounds ( I am naturally an apple shape type person, inherited). Two weeks ago my measurements were Waist- 40.5 inches, butt 40 inches, thigh 23, and arm 11. It has been over a month of working out/eating better and I am now down to 144. I have lost 15 pounds so far. I do a lot of cardio (running, elliptical, stair climber), but I feel it is necessary to melt the fat off me, I still have quite a bit to go there. I do want to tone my muscles and get stronger as it will help with running and tone me up. But would switching to all strength really help me at this point? I am training for a half marathon so I don’t want to get rid of all running. Should I do a mix? Is this workout truly meant for beginners/ overweight mothers of three who have never lifted? Or is it for women who are already fit just want to tone?


  61. First off having 3 babies is an amazing thing, I personally cannot wait to get to that point in my life as well so kudos to you. It is also amazing that you have an amazing support system with a hubby who is also supportive of a healthy lifestyle. I have to say your comment is amazing and i’m so glad to read it. Wanting to set a great example for your children, you can’t get better than that!

    As for your concerns with weight loss, yes I believe a mix of cardio and weight training will help. As women we hold fat in our belly and lower body (sucks to be us right?!)…so it sounds like you will benefit from your cardio routine but adding in some weight training. This routine can be done by anyone, its the weight amount you lift that gets more aggressive over time. You can even do some of these starting with body weight first and building up 5lbs at a time if you need to. I would continue to use myfitnesspal and also try to calculate your macros too (try http://www.iifym.com to calculate which foods you need to eat to hit those). I think weight training is great for moms bc it really gets your confidence back in the gym. its a challenege every workout and that will keep you motivated!

  62. Hi Michelle,
    in order to really figure out calories burned i use a polar watch. this is the only way i could figure out how much i was burning doing lifting. some days i can do 250 and some crazy leg days i do 500, it all depends

    this is the watch that i use: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EY4DGFE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00EY4DGFE&linkCode=as2&tag=jers0b-20&linkId=3RC52CYXFEH65O5A

    on rest days i like to rest. your muscles need that to repair and rebuild and GROW!
    if i feel like i want to go to the gym i will do plyometric work instead or go for a walk.

  63. Hi~
    I’m 17 years old, 5’4, and am 138 pounds the last time I checked. I am not sure what my body fat is, but I am by no means fat. I have been lifting since June, and can currently deadlift and squat 105. I’m looking to lose a little fat though. I decreased my calories to 1500 about 2-3 weeks ago and have seen some, but little progress. Any tips please? Am I eating enough? How can I lose some more body fat?

  64. This is Lauryn again. I also forgot to mention that I am lifting 5 days a week and doing cardio for 20 minutes 5 days a week. I’m scared to cut out my cardio because I DO NOT WANT TO GAIN FAT

  65. Hi!
    Loved your article! I’m currently in a 10 week routine right now but I really want to tone up and cut a bit once it’s done. I’ve always been interested in the weight lifting process and your article helps to make it feel possible. I just wanted to know if you could possibly give me a meal plan outline. You said you eat about 6 meals a day with 2200 calories during the colder seasons and 1800 in the warmer seasons. Just curious as to what I should be eating and at what periods throughout the day I should be eating. I’m 5’2 and 117 pounds. I’d greatly appreciate your help!

  66. if i do HIIT cardio i do 15-20 minutes. i do that at the end of a workout.
    also make sure your lifting the right weight for you. you should fatigue at the last 2 reps. if not then the weight is too light and you arent getting the best result.
    do you also use any type of HRM?
    maybe good to invest in a polar watch, it will help you know the calories you are actually burning. the machines are never correct when you do cardio
    plus you burn alot if you are keeping agood pace when lifting.

    I use this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EY4DGFE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00EY4DGFE&linkCode=as2&tag=jers0b-20&linkId=JQEJPK63C4WNGOJV

  67. I am so happy I found this plan! It looks great and i plan on starting it next week :D. The only thing is I am confused about the rest time is it in between each set or excersie? Also I am a really big runner ( i did xc and track) so needless to I love tredmill cardio (I can stay on for an hour ) but would that be too much to do with the weight program you provided?

  68. if you are super setting you can do the two exercises back to back. the rest period between sets is less than 1 minute. this helps to keep your heart rate up and get your body pumping.
    if you love to run, dont stop. but keep in mind it will be a bit more difficult to put muscle on if you are burning more calories than you should.

  69. Hi! Great post, thank you. I had this realization this past August. Feb – Aug I was busting myself at the gym running every day and throwing some strength training in the mix. Then my knee and hip started giving me issues so I stopped running and started doing more strength training. Between August and September/October I noticed more results than the 6 months of cardio. However, it was the low weight/high reps, it’s still gave me great results but now I have plateaued. I have a few people who keep telling me to lift heavy but I do not know how to cross over. It has been intimidating thus far. This is why I appreciate your post and will be starting this routine.

    Question – legs, what weight would you recommend I start with? Arms, same question.. I just don’t know where to start. Even a range would help.. I know it is different for each person.

    I am 5’5, weigh between 118-120 and I’m 26. I have a great healthy diet. I’ve always been active but this has been the missing link. Suggestions?

  70. Hi Brittany, I am glad to hear that lifting has been a great experience for you thus far, minus some pain here or there. It’s always good to have proper form first and then work you way up in weight. When i Started with legs I did just the olympic bar for squats. I am 110 pounds now, but when I started i was 103. It took me a good 6 months to work my way up to lifting my body weight in a back squat. But I added weight almost every other week even if it was 5-10lbs. The most I have ever done in a back squat is 135lbs (45 lb plates on each side) but I slowly progressed down to around 115lb. For me form is more important and when I get too heavy i can sometimes hurt my lower back.

    When it comes to dumb bells for upper body I started with 5-7.5 and worked my way up to 10 and 15lbs. it all depends on the exercise.

    i am to do 8-10 reps max now. if i can do 12 i add more weight. but with this training program i started with lighter and worked my way up.
    dont add weight at the expense of injury take your time and work your way up 🙂

  71. That is exactly what I needed. Thank you!!

    Do you have any HIIT routines you swear by? I do love running – I just can’t do it daily or I have pain in my knee and hip but once or twice a week is no problem.

  72. For HIIT I like to do walking and sprints on the track in the warmer weather. If its cold i can do it on the treadmill though the impact bothers my hamstring (prior injury)
    I also love doing stairmaster and doing intervals on that for 15-20 minutes too.

  73. Great post! I am stuck on one thing though- Did you gradually increase your calories or one day just start eating 1900-2200 calories? Im currently tracking my macros/calories at 1750 per day with heavy weight training 5 days per week with 3 high intensity sessions per week which I believe is hindering my whole purpose to get more muscle definition and continue to drop body fat. Im not sure whether to stay at a deficit of 1750 or increase calories?? Im around 19% body fat(5’5″, 130 lbs.) and ideally want to be closer to 16%.

  74. i did it almost overnight. i went into a bulking phase and just upped my calories and started to go heavier in the gym, i started by doing 5×5 training and that was hard but built up my form and my strength. doing that i was hungry ALL the time. i would wake up hungry. my body was not used to it. but it needed the food. i used http://www.iifym.com and realized i need to eat that much to grow. it was hard at first but i ate to grow and to train. now i am at around 1850 a day.

  75. So what would a normal workout day look like? Do you just do the weights and then incorporate cardio 1-2 times per week?

  76. It depends on the time of year.
    Winter: little cardio (maybe 3 times a week and up to 20 minutes) the goal is to put on muscle mass and not drop lots of fat yet.
    Summer: HIIT 4 times a week to help drop body fat and expose winter’s muscle growth.

    I never dedicate an entire gym visit to cardio, ever.
    the work out is to lift, a little cardio is done at the end

  77. Hello! I’m currently on week three of this workout and love it! My question is how to proceed after the 12 week program? I briefly looked through other posts and didn’t see anything. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!

  78. You can switch up to a new workout program. I have my 5 day a week workout up now, this is the current workout I am doing. You can click on fitness and you should see it on the first page

  79. Great post! It is super helpful and exactly what I was looking for — I do have a question though… The three sets of reps per exercise, should you do all three sets of the 6-8 reps and then do next exercise all three sets or do you do one set of reps per exercise then do one set of reps for next exercise and keep cycling through until you do all three times?

  80. i always super set, it keeps me moving and heart rate up
    so i do exercise 1 for one set, exercise 2 for one set and alternate b/w those 2 for the full 3 sets. It keeps me moving along and also my body stays warm and high heart rate

  81. I just started this training program this week and I LOVE IT. But here’s my question, can I just stick to the heavy weight training to lose body fat or do I really have to add in 3 HIIT training sessions per week in addition to the weight training. I am really enjoying it so far and am burning aroun 250 for upper body and 500 for lower body and abs. I would guess I am around 26% body fast and am 5’3″ and 146 lbs. I am just coming off doing Insantiy Asylum and am sick of HIIT training and cardio. I work out in my home so I don’t have access to a treadmill or any cardio machines.

  82. In addition, would you recommend eating 1,800 calories for someone trying to lean out and lose bodt fat as well as gain muscle. I am current;y eating between 1,600 to 1,800. I always try and net 1,300 calories.

  83. I love this! I have been wanting to start lifting as a new healthy focus to help with my mental illnesses. I’d also like to feel strong in some area of my life since I feel like I don’t have much control over anything else. You are a great inspiration. I don’t understand the numbers though. 3x8x12 can you explain it please. 🙂 Thank you!

  84. If your goal is to gain muscle you can’t do that on 1300 calories. You need to calculate your macros and calorie needs. The only way to do this is to use a calculator like on http://www.iifym.com it will tell you how many calories you need to meet per day based on your goals.

  85. I dropped body fat doing intense lifting. it all depends on how many calories you are burnign while lifting. on a leg day i burn up to 500 calories in one hour. that is more than i do for cardio. i add HIIT cardio in as i prepare for my leaner time of year. in the winter i dont focus on it too much

  86. Good morning…
    I have been “lifting” since July but I have used the machines in the gym. I am thinking I should switch to the dumb bells to see better results? I have been stuck at 143, I wanted to get to 135. When I first began my lifestyle change I weighed 240 – after a year of walking then running I managed to lose 99lbs. For 2 years I maintained but for some reason couldn’t get to 140 and evetually I put a few pounds back on. About 6 months ago I decided to add weight lifting and honestly the scale hasn’t moved but you can see in my June picture to today that I have definitely reshaped parts of my body. So what I guess I am asking is do I change from the machines or just stick with what I currently do? I should add that I run or do some form of cardio every day and 4 days a week I am at gym 2 times a day. Thank you for your advice – love this site!

  87. Kerrie – congrats on your journey thus far! That is amazing work and you should be very proud.
    I am a big believer in keeping your body and muscles guessing and that is why I change my work out every 12 weeks. I personally prefer to use free weights when I can over machines because it helps to engage your entire body. For this reason I prefer regular olympic bar squats or goblet squats over any workout on a smith machine. You need to use your core and other body parts to do the moves. Upper body i like to use free weights when possible, though some exercise you do need a machine. 90% of all my machine work happens on the universal machines (mostly ropes and pulleys). I don’t like most other machines. I say give it a try for 4-8 weeks and see how you feel.

    keep it up. adrienne

  88. Wow, thank you so much for this post. I really appreciate all of the great tips! I recently broke my leg and began weight training while still unable to walk. I realized that I could no longer do cardio and had to really alter my diet to prevent myself from gaining unwanted weight from the rest period. I started seeing serious results including fat loss and muscle definition. I attribute this to the change in food habits as well as the strength training. Then I fell off the wagon. I was released by my doctor to walk, finals week came as the semester ended and the holidays arrived. I have found extreme difficulty working out because I believe that I have become bored with my routine. I am so extremely excited that I stumbled upon this post and I absolutely cannot wait to get back at it and continue to see results. Thank you so much for the tips on proteins as well! you are an inspiration!

  89. thank you and i hope it helps you get excited to start up a new routine. I change mine up every 12-16 weeks for that very reason. Your body and your mind needs challenge so make sure you are excited to workout or it just seems like a choir or a job. good luck lady!

  90. Hey there, love this workout plan! I am 17 years old and 105 lbs. I have always worked out but mostly just cardio. I really want to gain muscle, I’m tired of being thin with no muscle definition. I have always been concerned about the food I put in my body and focus on clean eating. I eat 1500 to 1700 calories per day right now but have realized I need to start eating a little more to get where I want to be. I started the routine today and am excited to continue on for the next 12 weeks. But I need a little help with the amount of protein I need to be consuming. I have whey protein but am not completely sure when to drink it and how much. How many grams of protein do you suggest I consume each day to reach my goal?

  91. Hi! Love this post, i am in traininfg to do a sparten race in march any tips for it? What can u exspect during the race…other then a awesome time?

  92. You should work to get protein from real foods first and then supplements the rest from whey protein. I eat 1.25 grams of protein per pound of my body weight so at the end of the day my goal is to eat about 137 grams per day. Most of it comes from lean meats and fish, cottage cheese, yogurt, protein shakes. 1 protein shake for me is about 25 grams of protein. i usually do 2 per day plus the foods mentioned above.

    go for lean proteins like salmon, turkey, grilled chicken, tuna, cottage cheese, yogurt.

  93. Hi Jersey Girl!
    First just let me say…your blog is so inspiring! The way you have everything laid out is amazing. I am so happy I came across it tonight. THANK YOU! I am 5’5 , 160 lbs and 40 years old! 2015 is my year for change. I have had many challenges in the past but I am ready to get my full sexy back:-). I am planning to begin on Mon. Jan.5, 2014. I need some guidance on a few things. I hope you can help. I looked up a calculator to give me the calories I should take in to lose weight which told me 1400-1500 eating 6-8 meals per day. My goal weight is 130lbs. I want to work hard to see where I can be by my 41st birthday which is March 10. I admit I want nice definition not just fat loss as you described in your pics above.
    First does the workout you follow need to be done at the gym only?
    What is a good start weight to begin lifting?
    What is HITT cardio? Should I include this in each weight routine? Or only on certain days.
    Do you have a food plan you follow?
    Can you go in detail a bit more about the supplements. I take a daily multivitamin along with vitamin D right now.
    Whatever guidance you can give me I am READY to receive!! Please respond as soon as you can. I look forward to your reply.
    ….Just a 40 year old ready to get my body back in shape:-). It’s time. Thank you in advance

  94. Hi Keshia and congrats on your new journey! It’s obvious you are motivated and excited, I can tell by your comment 🙂
    Your workout can be done at home if you’d prefer or if you don’t have access to a gym. You can buy a few dumb bells online on say amazon or sports authority to start I’d say 3, 5, 10 and 12 pounds if you have never lifted before. You should start with light weight to get the form right and then work your way up.
    Starting weight really depends on the exercise. Your goal is to be fatigued by your last rep in each set so whatever that is for you, that’s where you can start.
    HIIT = high intensity interval training. this is doing a cardio at a sprint and walk pace. it allows you to keep raising and lowering your heart rate which gives me of a calorie burn. I usually do short bursts of a sprint and then a walk. If I am lookign to drop body fat i do taht 3x per week. If i am looking to just grow and maintain i do it maybe 1-2 a week.
    I suggest clickgin on my health recipes section for lots of food advice. i don’t follow a “plan” but i meal prep weekly and calcualte my macros and calories on myfitnesspal to succeed
    For supplements I take a multivitamin, resveratrol, l-carnatine liquid, a probiotic, zinc tablets, whey protein powder, bcaa/amino recovery drink poweder, fish oil, silica, viviscal and green tea extract.

    I hope this all helps!

  95. Hi!!
    I am loving this article. I am going to do the bodybuilders.com transformation challenge lasting 12 weeks and am really looking forward to giving 5×5 my full dedication! Before deciding on 5×5, I was considering taking part in the Paleo diet for a minimum of 30 days – is this something you would advise for or against in pairing with 5×5?
    Thanks so much!! Keep up the amazing work!

  96. Hello! I was wondering if you have ever tried crossfit, and what your thoughts/opinions were on it.

  97. I have not attended a cross fit training class or gym. I prefer to workout solo especially due to my work schedule. Sometimes I work out in early morning, or late night. So it’s tough with crossfit to stick to a routine w/ class times.

  98. Hi,
    This was so exciting for me to find! My husband and I just started weight training. We both need a change of lifestyle. I have had two children. Our youngest is nine months. I’ve lost about 35 lbs and have 12 more to get back to pre 2nd baby weight. Additionally Id like to lose another 20lbs. I’m 26, 5ft and currently 145 lbs. We are working out at home. Going to gym with a 3 yr old and 9 month old just isn’t an option for us. We started a DVD program called Beast Body. It’s geared to appeal to men but I am throughly convinced what you say is true about lifting weight will not bulk me up. What are your thoughts on body beast for a woman? Any suggestions? Should I be doing cardio as well since I want to lose weight too? The weight I have lost after first child and now with second I’ve done following the Weight Watchers plan. I had planned on continuing this as it encourages clean eating.

  99. Me again… It’s called Body Beast lol not Beast Body and we have done just the first week of the program.

  100. Hello, I am not familiar with that workout DVD but if it is encouraging weight training + cardio it should be good. Make sure that you are using a heart rate monitor to figure out how many calories you are really burning. You will want to log that in Myfitnesspal along with all your foods for the day or the WW app.

    Let me know how it works out and how you like the program!

  101. What type of warm-ups do you do? I know too much stretching isn’t good before a weight training workout but I don’t know what else I would do.

  102. I usually do 5 minutes of walking on a treadmill or some jumping jacks or something that will get my body warm so then i can get my muscles a bit loose.

  103. Love this post! great information. I am looking to start weight training but an limited to three days a week at the gym Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Do you have any suggestions on how to still stick to this plan and do it on those days? Thank you!

  104. If you plan to do 3 days you can do Tues, Wed, Friday and then try to get some working out in on weekends if you have the time. It will be tough as you will have a few rest days in between friday and tues. Usually i am to do 5 days a week lifting with 2 rest days. If you can squeeze in four days that would be much better but 3 will still be good!

  105. love your site. I have always been interested in eight training for women. I’d love if you could help me out a bit to see what I should be doing. I’m not working out right now bc I just surgery and won’t be able to do anything for another 6-8 weeks. Here are some of my stats. I’m a 32 yr old female. I am 5’9 and weigh 175 right now. But that’s with a lot of surgery swelling. I’m not fat although my weight number is high looking. I’m just very solid. I’d love to get more definition. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Before surgery I was consuming about 1600 cal. And I was doing spin classes 3-4 times a week hard core burning anywhere from 1200-1400 cal per class. Thanks!!!

  106. Hello! Great post 🙂 I just started doing the program this week. I have never lifted weights before. I am trying to tone up before summer. I was wondering if you could comment more on the bulking/shredding theory and what you specifically do. I am trying to just lose some fat right now so I wonder if this is a good idea? Also, you said you do HIIT 3x per week in the summer… is that in addition to lifting 4x per week?


  107. bulking = heavier lifting, lower amounts of cardio and increased calories in order to put on muscle. the goal is to gain as much muscle as possible.
    cutting = more cardio with weight lifting at a bit more reps. increased HIIT to drop body fat and allow the muscle to be exposed a bit more.

    it’s a cycle, bulk in winter, cut before summer.
    the amount of cardio you need to do depends on your need for fat loss. I do 2-3 days of HIIT and that is on top of lifting. usually on my non lifting days.

  108. I have been working out for years, mostly cardio, and haven’t seen the results I want. I am most defiantly wanting to step up my gain in weight training. My question for you would be, about how much protein should I intake a day?

  109. I meant ‘Game.’ I also meant to ask, what is a great protein powder to replace whey or soy? whey is hard on my stomach and soy makes me really jittery

  110. thank you for that detailed plan!!!
    I was wondering if you have a plan for 3 days? I am a full time working mom of 2 under two and can sneak to the gym only 3 times a week

  111. Hi Anya, I do not have a 3 day plan as I pesonally work out at least 5 times a week but i can look into making one for those who have a bit less free time to make it to a gym.

  112. typically the recommended protein intake is 1 gram of protein per 1 lb of body weight. If you are looking to put on more lean muscle you can bump that up to 1.25-1.5
    I eat 160 grams per day and I weigh 108-110 lbs.

  113. Thank you for all of these helpful tools! I have some questions. I am almost 21 years old, trying to become a professional dancer, and I am in college right now. I am about 5 foot 6.5 inches tall and over the past year I have gone from weighing 147 to 112 currently. I have a very long lean frame now and I like my physique, but I really need to build muscle now, tone my stomach and upper body especially and I want to gain some weight in muscle. I always get scared that if I bump my cals up I will gain back the weight that I worked hard to lose. During Mon-Fri I dance up to 5 hours a day, at least 3 hours per day I am in dance class. I want to add strength training to my routine and was wondering how often to lift? Also, any advice on how many cals i should eat to build muscle without gaining fat? I currently eat between 1600 and 1800 cals a day and that seems to be my maintenance but I don’t necessarily gain when I eat this way when I am not dancing. Any recommendations? I eat very healthy already.

  114. Hi, I’ve been trying to get bigger legs. I do have muscle in my legs since I’m a runner but they’re still pretty skinny. Is there a way I could gain muscle mass on my legs but still be able to run.
    Thank You!

    P.S. I’m in high school so I have a pretty tight schedule with sports and homework.

  115. Legs for me was my biggest goal! I had muscle but my glutes were almost non existent and I wanted hips and curves. Typical white girl syndrome in the rear lol. It took me 2 years to build up a butt to hold up my jeans.
    It can be done though, it will take some heavy lifting, increases calories and increased protein/carbs in the diet. I focused on squats and deadlifts mostly to build the legs. You will be able to run still – focus on the largest compound movements if you have little time (back squats, deadlifts, lunges)

  116. So do you only workout 4 days a week? Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday off? That would be awesome. I started this 2 days ago. I am loving it. I am 43 years old and love the new challenge. I do not know why I have never done weight lifting. Thank you for posting this workout.

  117. With my first set i had them dyed to match my hair so they had been washed. I think its a good idea though to wash carefully the first time. otherwise you will get that awful burn type smell when you curl them.
    anytime i wear extensiosn i always curl them, for me that is the only way they bledn with my hair so i have to always use hot tools on them.

  118. hi! First just wanna say love this! I myself am a “skinny fat” girl. Lol I haven’t been to the gym since idk when, but I never really had a routine which made it hard to keep myself motivated. But now I’m about to be 30

  119. Hi I’m mom of 2 . I’m 27 years old 5’2 and 109lb. I need some tips fromyoy plz. I want to look toned and very lean like small amount of body fat.
    I workout 5 days a week . Usually workout 5:30 am starting with weight training for 40 min and them HIT on treadmil or stairs for 30 min. But still no abs

    Can u tell me what I’m doing wrong or what I should do. And I do eat pretty clean 6 days with one cheat meal a week.


  120. If you have Pilate’s on Tuesday and Thursday would you just switch the days listed or combine the upper and lower body days

  121. abs take a long time to show as they are hidden under fat. unless your fat drops lower they will be hard to see. at 109 i can’t image you have much body fat. feel free to send photos and also what your meals look like to admin@jerseygirltalk.com so i can see better

  122. I was wondering if you can help me out. I’m interested in your program and was hoping you could give me some guidance. I’m 36, no children, 5’3″ 145# 29% fat, no health issues other than hypothyroidism. I recently went from sedentary to now doing 25 min pre-run yoga and 30 min of HIIT 3x/wk, alternating an hour of ballet floor work the other 3 days/wk with 1 rest day. I try to keep my carb and protein intake equal; I eat about 1,400-1,600 cal/day. I currently don’t lift, basically because I wasn’t sure what to do. I plan to follow your program and would like to get down into the 120’s#. Do you have any advice for me? I have a gym close I can join.

  123. Hi Michelle, in order to lose 20 lbs safely you will need to combine HIIT 3x a week and also five days of lifting.
    your calories and macros are listed below
    calories 1639
    carbs 151 grams
    fat 51 grams
    protein 145 grams
    fiber 32 grams

  124. Okay and what if I wasn’t trying to reach a weight limit, but just challenge myself well and get nice and shredded? Is 5 days a week 1 hour each of those days? Following the workout you have posted?

    Any other advice?

  125. the goal with this program is to gain muscle. you will still need to eat and train the same with this program. “shredded” will come as you drop body fat

  126. I’m super interested in your program and was hoping you could give me some help on where to start. I’m 21, 5’4″, 177lbs. I am really interested in following your lifting routine, and clean eating habits. I am looking to be back at 132lbs, which was what I was at my freshman year of college when I was in incredible shape. I was wondering what protein powder and supplements you use? Do you believe that I should eat 6 times a day as well? Just wanted some guidelines to help me get started on this 12-week program.

  127. Hello if you search my site (the little magnifying glass in the top right) and type in vitamins and supplements i have a ton of posts on what i currently take. in order to calculate what you need to eat per day I highly suggest going to http://www.iifym.com and using their calculators to figure out your calories per day and macros you need to achive your own personal goals. 🙂

  128. I was just introduced to your website from my daughter in law and I would like to know if I can follow this with me being overweight at 240 pds. I’m scared that I won’t get the same results or close to the same. I have some loose skin that I would try to tone up before considering surgery to remove what I can not tone, also I would like too lose some more weight . So far I have done some walking and riding the bike and some light workouts on the machines at the gym. My daughter in law seems to think that the 12 week program that I read will help. What do you think?

  129. Any activity will help, and strength training will also help with the cardio/fat loss. In order to reach your goals you will also need to add cardio into the mix separately. You want to use the cardio to lower body fat and the strength training to build the muscle. combined together is a great way to start!

  130. I just came across your blog on Pinterest and I love it!! I am just beginning to workout and what you’ve posted has been so helpful. I am going to start the 12 week workout you were mentioning. My question is about the HIIT cardio…what are some good examples or some workouts I could do for that?

  131. HIIT is any cardio activity that gets your heart rate up and down with low intensity then quick short bursts.
    you can do a :30 walk and :30 run on the treadmill for 10-30 minutes depending on your level of intensity
    You can do :30 regular speed on eliptical then :30 minute high intensity

  132. Hey! I just completed week 4 of the program and I was curious how much I should increase the weight by for weeks 5-9. Is there a percentage that I should increase by or just slowly increase the weight to see how much I can do for that amount of reps? I don’t want to increase too much and compromise my form, but I also want to get as much as I can out of every workout. Thanks!

  133. after four weeks i would say try to up the weight by the next increment. it’s all different depending on the machine or move. for squats i will add 10 pounds or 20, dumb bells i would go up the next size, etc.

  134. I started this 12 week program tonight!! So far I absolutely love your blog. Thank you so much for sharing all this great info with us. I am a runner but I think I’ve hit a plateau with weight loss and running ability. I was totally lost and intimidated with strength training but I know how important it is, so I was ecstatic to find you blog. I will be keeping track of how I adjust weights and how many reps I can do and I’m thinking about going through this program twice to see how I improve. Do you think I will continue to see results since the routine changes every couple of weeks?

    Thanks again for taking time to share all your knowledge and giving me the confidence to get in the gym to start something new!!

  135. Yes , it’s important to change your routine after around 12 weeks so you keep your muscle guessing and target new areas. I do a new workout every 8-12 weeks.

  136. hi, I am 5’4″ and 124 lbs. I have an ahletic build and i’ve played soccer for years but just recently stopped and i have noticed fat gain around my belly. I go to the gym a lot and run a lot and do a lot of HIIT, however, i’m not seeing a change. that’s why i’m interested in your blog and lifting weights. I have just recently cleaned up my diet too. Do you think this program and a cleaner diet would be enough t get my abs back? I still want to eat about 1800 cals a day bc i dont really want to lose any weight.

  137. Thank you so much for this wonderful tool you have put together I have the same scenario you had before go to the gym run and do legs because well why not but I’m not getting much out of my workouts at the gym but now I do you better believe I’m goin to murder the machines. Thank you sooooo much May God bless you in everything you put your mind too sweety.

  138. Hi ive been looking at your blog for a while now and this is the only one that i can really relate to.. Its been hard for me to gain weight im 30 years old 5’3 110 pounds.. I wanna gain muscle because i do know that muscle weights more then fat. My question is and this is where im a little confused i know cardio makes u loose weight but im not trying to loose it on the other hand i also know tht before your muscles start showing you have to loose fat so should i do some cardio on some days or do i not do cardio at all but if i dont can i still get the same results? Specially around my belly i want to be ripped but if i do cardio wouldnt tht make me loose weight? This is where im lost so can you give my advise i love your blog and im going to start your program but first i wanna make sure i do it right. Thank you so much!

  139. Hello! I just found your site last night and I’m looking to start your weight lifting plan next week. I currently teach 8 fitness classes/ week, a kettle bell and dance fitness class. Do you recommend any pre-workouts to use? I don’t want to over train but I want to gain more muscle and my classes aren’t enough to get to me where I want to be. Any recommendations or advice you have would be greatly appreciated!

  140. I see you say you do a short amount of cardio, when do you suggest during the 12 week workout do we do the cardio and how long? Thanks you!

  141. If someone is new to strength training such as myself and doesn’t know the lingo or how to properly do these excercises what is a good blog or video that we can learn how to do them?

  142. I have a question about cardio with weights. I love spinning…seems to get some stress relief and classes are offered M,W,F. I have been sparse lately going so would love to get back into it regularly. I have gained 15lbs over the last couple years as I let life get in the way of the gym…ugh! I am a mother of two, 5’4″ and 157lbs. I would love to be back in the 137-140lb range when I was in shape after kids…less than that would be awesme as well.
    Anyways, back to my questions… There is a HITT class offered on Tues and Thurs at my gym as well. I was wondering if you have a 3x a week program that I could do on my spinning days (MWF). If not I can do the 4 days, but do you think I can do lifting on the same days as HITT and Spinning? If so, do you recommend weights before or after these classes? Realistically, lifting may have to be done after spinning and HITT as I can’t get to the gym until about 7:45am and these classes start at 8:30am…not sure how long weights will take. I am just lost on the best schedule to get on and would really love some direction. Thanks so much for any input!

  143. First off, life is hectic so its great to see you are motivated to get back to business! And congrats on the two babies!
    Typically its best to lift first then do cardio. It allows you to use your energy to lift hard and heavy and then cardio at the end. The five day a week program i have on my blog can get you done with lifting in 30-40 minutes 🙂

  144. Thanks. I wasn’t sure if I would get it done in time but will give it a try. I really hope your program can help me as I have seemed to not have success with others. Thanks again!

  145. I am so excited to start you plan! This is exactly what I was looking for. However, I had gastric bypass in December. I am already down 63 pounds, but because of the nature of the surgery, I have nutritional restrictions. What are the chances of building muscle/being successful with your program with a restricted caloric intake? Do you have any recommendations for this? Thank you!

  146. Even with restricted calories make sure to get in your protein, carbs and healthy fats. it’s all about the quality of the food you are eating. Strength training takes time but over time you will want to increase the calories and protein to help with lean muscle growth.

  147. Glad I found your website. I am training for my first Spartan Race and I was looking for a workout plan!

    I am normally a high cardio, pilates gal, but I KNOW that this is not going to help me in the slightest when it comes to conquering the obstacle course. I NEED strength.

    Thanks for sharing and wish me luck!

  148. Hey, I’ve been trying to do more weight training as I used to spend about 90mins in the gym doing endless amounts of cardio which I realised isn’t the way to do it! I have been doing strength training with a PT a couple of days a week and then train on my own. I just worry when i’m not doing much cardio!? I do HIIT on the treadmill and a bit of the bike and that’s it. How much cardio do I need to do?

  149. cardio is needed if you need to drop body fat. dont forget lifting weights IS cardio. i do 2-3 days of HIIT when i do a lot of cardio. typcially for me i do cardio only 2 times a week. it all depends on your current weight, calories eaten per day and your goals

  150. Okay I am back again with some questions. After reading more of your blog and comments, I want to clarify the cardio/HITT amount. I was planning on doing you 4 day weight training plan, but now I think I need to get the fat off first mainly. I use to be a fit girl/ athlete and always have been muscular never skinny. (5’4″ about 130lbs is a toned in shape me :)). Well, like I mentioned before, kids happened, the stress of life happened and I now I weigh 157 lbs and its not muscle gain! I think there is still some muscle under that fat but I need to lose the fat. I did a bootcamp class 3x week for 8 weeks and didn’t see much results…no weight change and about 1//2-1 inch in the waist…that was it. I enjoy spinning for stress but haven’t been consistent the last couple years.
    I have really transitioned into clean eating and never do processed…still struggling with eating so often as I went from grabbing a protein bar in the morning and then nothing until dinner. I also just purchased a vitamix to try to get more food/protein as I love a smoothie… easy grab and go.
    After that little bit of background….
    I am willing to forgo the spinning if you think I would get better results from HITT and lifting. I feel I need to get the cardio in though to lose the weight…afraid lifting with little cardio will make me stronger but not lose the fat. Should I start with mainly cardio and do weights only two days until I lose the weight? I know muscle burns fat so I am so confused!!! Any advice on a routine and/or meal plan would be awesome! I can definitely get in 4x week and sometimes 5x (M-F)…weekends are difficult with kids schedules, etc. I know this is alot to throw at you…especially since you are so generous to offer your knowledge for free! I just love your attitude and site and I have not had success elsewhere…inclus\ding paying a personal trainer. Any advice would be awesome! THANKS!

  151. You can do both at the same time for maximum benefit. don’t skip lifting and dont skip cardio if you have body fat to lose. make your cardio count and for me that means doing intervals.

  152. I have pretty low body fat (12.5%) and weigh around 112lbs, I desperately want to gain some muscle so I can gain a bit of weight. How many calories am I looking at per day to gain muscle? I am training about 5 times per week, trying to keep it to as much strength training as possible rather than focusing on cardio. Have you got an idea of what a days worth of food should look like for me?

    I’m not going to lie, the idea of gaining weight terrifies me, but i know that to build muscle you need to eat more to do it otherwise my body is just going to breakdown whatever muscle there is!!

    Thanks for your help 🙂

  153. I have been a runner and part time lifter for 20 plus years. I have the “runners build” and I am over it! I want to gain more muscle. I have almost everything I need at home, but not a leg press machine. Is there a good alternative?

  154. I came across your post and really want to try this routine. My weight is 120 and my height is 4’11 how much weight should I start of with?

  155. Hey I’m new to the weight lifting world but am really excited to get into it so I love your blog!! I am going to start doing your 12 week workout routine I currently am on a college budget so I will be using my weight bench and dumbbell set at home. So my question is for the machines you use at the gym such as the cable press down what do you recommend replacing them with when your having to workout at home?
    Thanks for your help!

  156. Today i started your week 1-4 upper body. It took me 20 minutes. Is that about right? Also, i am trying to lose 20lbs. I have a lot of extra mommy fat. How much cardio would you recommend with reach workout? I did 10 minutes after the workout. My friend and i have been in a debate about how much cardio to do. She feels like i Need to do a lot….more interval training and running. Thoughts? Thanks!

  157. Love this lifting routine. I’m currently on week 8, what do you do after week 12? Start back at week 1 with your current increased weight or do you stay at low reps and continue to increase weight

  158. Hello,
    Love this post! I am in week 8 of your program. You said it took about 6 months to see the results. So I am wondering what you did at the end of the 12 weeks. Did you just keep going with the same routine and try to increase your weights every 4 weeks?

  159. Hi!! I just wanted to say thank you so much for posting this and your new routine! So helpful and your tips are amazing! I’m 2 weeks in at the gym and I’m going to start your program tomorrow! With the dumbbell and the pull downs etc what’s a good start weight? I went threw a routine last week and did light weight to just figure it all out but what’s a challenging start weight? And I want to tone up but loose body fat, I’m 5’5 and 140lbs, should I do some cardio after the strength training? Thank you so much your site is the best! So glad I found it and thank you for putting your time into it!!! It’s so helpful!

  160. Hola! Hello JG
    First of all thanks for your time and 2nd english is not my first language, so sorry for my mistakes. I’ m 5’4 1/2, 128 lbs with 124.7% body fat latina. Thats why my body fat is mainly in my thights, always hate it. Tomorrow is my 3rd week doing weight training. And I notice that doing 3 days weight trainig and 2 days cardio I did not lose weight. I dont know that is because my eating habit is not the best or that I dont drink to much water or that I am not eating suficient protein neither suplements. My question is have I have to be born again to be as pretty as you?

  161. Hi! Awesome post…I am expecting my first child in May and am SO eager to get back into working out after the baby comes. My pre-pregnancy body type is very similar to your “before” and I also have been heavily into running with some limited light weights. I am so inspired by your results that I will absolutely be trying your plan!! Obviously when starting, I will begin light with weights but I was hoping you could share a general idea of the weight range that you used (maybe by upper vs lower) to achieve your amazing 6 month results. Thank you SO much for sharing!!

  162. Oh you are silly, you are surely pretty yourself!
    It’s really a lot about diet and making your exercises count. Make sure you have a plan going into the gym and work in some cardio if fat loss is important to you as well. But I recommend at least 4 days strength training, it will, if done right, surely change your body and body fat as well

  163. Hi Jersey girl!!
    Thank for sharing your story. Hope you could clear this for me. I want to start the 12 week program tomorrow-Clarification– in weeks 1-4 when are we doing cardio , weight training and HIIT?? For example -Mondays are UpperBody, Tuesday -Lower Body , Wednesday -rest , Thursday Upper and Friday – lower body… where does HIIT come in or low intensity Cardio. I was looking at your website as well as Simplyshredded.com. Simplyshredded.com has so many options available that it seems a little confusing. Thanks for your time.

  164. Hello, thank you for sharing this great program. What do you do on Wednesdays? I only see the routine for Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

  165. hi when i did this routine the first time i did NO cardio. i wasnt looking to lean out, i wanted to gain mass and muscle. i was only 103 lbs so i wasnt doing cardio. if you need to lean up while doing this you can use that rest day for some HIIT. but keep in mind when i did this program it was not do include cardio.you can though if youd like

  166. I know this might sound stupid. Dont know how i got on this website But can this workout be used for males?

  167. Hi – I really want to start this 12 week program but I will be going on vacation for a week in May. Will a week off disrupt it? I’m also training for a charity ride (Cape Cod Getaway) and am cycling 5x a week at the gym and will start riding outside soon. Eventually I would like to swap the some of the indoor cycling with strength. Should I wait until after vacation to start it uninterrupted? After the ride? I appreciate your thoughts 🙂

  168. Hello,
    Im 33 years old and I’m 5’2 at 115 pounds. Ive been working out at least 4-5 days a week with Combat and Body Pump since Feb 1st. Ive definitely seen some changes but I think my body has changed as much as it can with these classes. Would you recommended this program or your current one listed?

  169. personally i would say just wait until you can commit to the program non stop. i wouldn’t start if you have to take a full week off and then restart again. 🙂

  170. Oh my heavens!! I am SO excited to find this! I am a wife, and mom to 3 little boys. Ages 4yrs-7 months old. I am 5’3″ and weigh 110lb. I was reading through this and was like..yea…yea…oh my gosh yes! The whole skinny fat thing! spot on!! I work out regularly, run, and eat healthy but have not been intentional. Im beyond excited to see this through! Thanks so much for the inspiration!!

  171. Hi, i am 5’2 and 110lbs. I am a ‘skinny fat’ so i am flabby and want to tone up but I am comfortable with my weight. How do I lose the fat and build muscle without losing weight? Or maybe I do need to lose weight, im not sure. My issue isnt with my weight its with my lack of muscle tone. Im not sure if i should be doing more cardio to lose the fat or if i should be eating less calories or what. Any insight would be appreciated. I started your program last week but im not sure what my calorie intake should be since im not sure if i need to lose weight/fat or if by doing your workout it will just come off.

  172. Hey Jersey! I am new to strength training and only just started really going back to the gym the day before yesterday. My diet, over the years, has gotten a lot better. I don’t eat fast food, and I’m pretty picky when it comes to my liquids so all I drink is water and the occasional Peace Tea. I don’t eat beef or pork, stay away from processed foods and have been eating a lot cleaner. But I haven’t been getting many results. So I decided to go back to thy gym to get in cardio and now this strength training. But I’ve seen so many articles, everything is a bit overwhelming. One of the most pressing is, do I have to count calories while incorporating strength training and doing cardio?

  173. i do not do cleanses, the body rids itself of toxins naturally and there is no need medically to do a cleanse. i also advise against it as it sets your metabolism into a whirlwind. just eat clean, healthy and multiple meals throughout the day 🙂

  174. if you need to drop body fat then cardio is needed, it is not mandatory however if you are doing a really aggressive strength training routine that keeps the heart rate up for 45 minutes straight. If you are looking to gain muscle than make sure you aren’t eating less than what your body burns

  175. I came back to this post to revisit the information after a few months!

    Did you start to see results in your muscle gain right away or not until you worked up to a certain weight on the bar? I have a home gym and worried about hurting myself by going too heavy on certain lifts such as squats or an overhead press. tia!

  176. Hi! I just recently found this routine and you are a true Inspiration. My friend and I started this routine this week. We finished the first week tonight. I’ve always been scared to lift and I’m so glad I read this. I’ve only been doing cardio and some strength until I found this and haven’t dropped a pound in 3 months. I had a hysterectomy a year ago and want to tone and lose 10 pounds and it seems impossible but I refuse to give up. I’ve added in a pre workout drink this week as well.

  177. Great information!

    I am on week 11 of this routine. But now I am wondering, what next? I understand that you like to cut in the summer, but I would like to continue to build muscle mass and strength. Any suggestions on a specific routine to move to after this one?

    I tried to read through the comments and I didn’t see this question. I hope this is not a repeat. Thanks in advance!

  178. Hi, this is great post. I’ve really enjoyed strength training over the years and I would like to try out this plan. I am starting this week. Quick question; I notice that weeks 5-8 and weeks 9-12 have the same exercises, is this intentional? Thanks!

  179. Hi, please ignore my last comment, I’m so embarrassed, I now realize that it’s not the exercises that change every 4 weeks but the reps of each exercise. Sorry about that!

  180. Hello! I’m trying to lose weight , gain muscle and keep my butt… I’m 5,1 and weight 140 my goal weight is 115-125 somewhere in between there… What is the best excersise for me?….

  181. This blog post changed my entire gym existence! I am in the last phase and am so completely bummed I did not take before, during and after photos. I was so focused on cardio that I spent no time at the gym on strength training. All I ever cared about was the number on the scale and not about my strength or what my body really looked like. Now I do cardio when it fits and on Saturday. I am so happy with the results and how much my body has changed! This was the hard truth I needed to hear to give me the courage to try lifting for real. Now I also follow your blog to keep improving and have started counting macros. Thanks so much!

  182. Hi! I want to try this, but I’m slightly confused about a couple of things on the workout charts. where it says 3X8-12, does that mean 3 sets of 8-12 reps? And I noticed the number goes down in each of the other two phases of the program. Does that mean that you are increasing the weight you lift as you decrease the number of reps? So you are only increasing weight every 4 weeks? Is there a certain amount of weight you should increase by when you get to each phase, or just base it on how much feels like the right amount? Sorry if these are dumb questions – I’m a complete beginner at weight lifting!

  183. over the course of the program you will need to increase weight. always lift so that the last few reps feel a bit too hard to finish. it also means 3 sets (rounds) of 8-12 repetitions so you were right 🙂

  184. Hi! I was looking at the grouping of the workouts (weeks 1-4, 5-8 & 9-12). Is it supposed to be the same lifts for the 12 weeks but just increase the weight every 2 weeks? I’m excited to get going on this!


  185. Hello Adrienne!

    First, I just want to say that I spent the last hour browsing your blog and I truly enjoyed each and every post. You are so very insightful and delightful. Your motivating words are very much appreciated. Second, you made one BEAUTIFUL bride. Absolutely stunning! And, last, you have such a beautiful soul. Although we’re mere strangers, I teared up when I stumbled upon posts about your mom. I will pray for you! When people share such experiences, it brings us back to reality and instantaneously makes us appreciative of all that we have. Thank you for being a subtle reminder. Stay cheerful. 🙂

  186. Hi, I was wondering after doing the 12 week program do you start again from week 1-4? Also, it is great to see this workout regime as I have found it really hard finding something like this online. I believe my biggest problem is the eating part and also living aboard and not having easy access to healthy salads etc all the time.

  187. After any workout I start a new one. This one I did for 12 weeks and then started my other workout which is the 5 day a week workout program also on my blog

  188. thank you christina, that means a lot to me. I’m glad that you felt that way reading my blog. My goal is just to share my experiences as I wish some of the things I went through I wish I had a blog to turn to to help answer some questions. I’m so thankful to have a platform to share my thoughts and meet others as well 🙂

  189. Hi I been trying to gain weight too and I am currently 96.6 lbs and I am 5’1 trying too gain by lifting. I am going to try your program and see if this one works I will keep you updated and thanks for posting this, you inspire me to keep trying even if it is a slow progress. I tend to slack off sometimes and skip some days but I will try my best to keep at it. Thanks for your blog all info was helpful. 🙂

  190. I love this! Thank you for posting. After I had my son year and a half ago, I have slowed down on my workouts and have been trying to get back into my groove, cut down on my last few pounds and tone up…this is perfect! I started it this week!

  191. Hi there.
    Great website. I added weight lifting to my running routine several months ago but have not yet seen results. I am going to give this routine a try! But I do have a question or two……how many days a week do you do cardio? And how long do you do it for? What kind of cardio should I be trying out?

    Thank you,


  192. Hey Jerseygirl!! You rock! I have sent this link to some of my closest girlfriends. Thank you for your sharing. I know you have probably answered this already. After you finish the 12th week I know you suggest continuing to increase your weights I want to know how many reps do you do since as you increase your weight the reps get smaller? I also want to know your opinion about doing crunches; I know you do them and on the workout scene there has developed info about how crunches are bad for your back and they tighten your hips. What’s your perspective?



  193. I train my core 3 times per week. It’s important to have a strong mid section especially during the compound lifts like squats to keep you stabalized. After I finished this routine i did my 5 time a week workout program. I do heavier lifting in the fall/winter and more conditioning and reps in the summer to cut fat. bulk in winter/shred in summer 🙂

  194. Oh okay great. Thanks for the info! 🙂 You have sent me on a deeper educational journey about this thing we call fat. Reading simplyshredded.com ultimate female workout guide. Thank you again. I’m gonna defeat this crap once and fo all!

  195. Is this routine good for the beginner? Also, how do I know how much weight I need to be using for each exercise?

  196. I love your post and really need to get reintegrated with lifting. I was an Olympic weightlifter for over a year but didn’t reach the body composition I’d hoped for. I truly have a love for lifting weights however. I want to follow your plan, but need help tailoring my macros. Can you help me? 🙂

  197. Thanks so much for this! I’ve been working for a couple of months now, and not seeing the results I plan on, I was doing mostly cardio! This article is so helpful and I now understand what to do, and what really will make a difference

  198. Hi I’m really glad I found your post! I just need a little help figuring this out! I am 17 and weight 180- 185, (I’m 5’9) I really want to loose some weight, but also tone and strengthen my body. I’m just confused where to start. 1st how many calories should I be eating, I try usually to stick to 1250 calories a day, and I can loose a lot that way. I’m just wondering what I should be doing at the gym. Would that work out above be good for someone like me? I really enjoy the gym and working out, but I want to loose weight and really build my body. Thanks so much hope to hear from you, Shannon. 🙂

  199. Hi there, I have completed this twelve week plan and loved it. What next? Do I continue to lift heavy until I can lift 12 reps and then begin again by decreasing reps and increasing weights or do I change things up?

  200. I love this post!! You said you were going to do an ab routine post but I couldn’t find it. Have you posted it yet? I am started this 12 week program today and I am super excited to see my results! I have been looking for something like this for awhile. Thanks again!

  201. you can do my five day a week workout if you like or do this one again aim to keep increasing the weight for more muscle or you can decrease weight and increase reps to burn more fat and not increase muscle.

  202. hello. i have a question, this week i will be unable to complete my first week of the 3 x 6-8 or do any workouts, running, etc. would you suggest i start my first week of the 3 x 6-8 next week instead? or, should i start the whole program all over again (3 x 8-12)? what would you suggest? thanks for this.

  203. Hi im amanda, im 18 years old and ive been trying to lose weight at first & i did lose weight. I used to weigh 135 & now i weigh 113. All i did was body weight workouts, never did cardio but my friends & family said im too skinny & i see it too. Although i have muscle i still look skinny. & so now i wana gain muscle but still look lean. im just confused about if i should eat alot of carbs and cals to gain muscle or stay with my diet plan & just work more on weights bcuz i dont wana gain fat back.

  204. I’m not a woman, but I’ve lost a ton of weight due to stress and cardio workouts. I’m at a great place to build from. I just want to get solid and not bulk up . I want to say thanks for this, it’s good to know it’s possible! (Found this by looking at some of your recipes on Pinterest)

  205. Hi,
    Really excited to try your work out because I am just starting in the gym! I have a question, I’m wanting to really go monday through Friday and I don’t see a plan for wednesday.. is that a rest day? What can I do on that day?

    Also is there a particular protein that taste good? I’ve tried whey, true mass, and syntha 6 and all think they are awful. I’ve tried blending it in a smoothie to mask the taste with no luck! Zeal is about the only protein I’ve tried that taste good, is there a specific protein I should drink following specific workouts?

  206. Hi I am 37 years old. I used to weigh 140 lbs. I started 4 day strength training and 3 days cardio routine. I am now 151lbs. I look bigger . My tummy is also bloating even though I am drinking plant based proteing powder. I am watching what I am eating. I am so frustrated. I am working so hard in the gym, SOme of the trainers compliment me for working so hard. I am not eating any junk. Staying away from sugars . Taking vitamins and doing everything right. Why do my arms , thighs and glutes look bigger. I am not fitting in my cloths. I am so disapponited. Please advice

  207. First if you feel bloated make sure to look at the foods you are eating and also i’d consider adding a daily probiotic to your supplementation routine.
    Also when we weight train we tend to feel like we look bigger but its just that muscle is growing and we also need to shed the fat that is over those muscles. make sure the cardio you are doing is HIIT.

  208. Great info! Any chance this can be altered to 3 days a week? I work 24 hour shifts, and can only make the gym 3 days

  209. I know you cant just focus on JUST abs alone, but will doing this routine help get me to a flatter tummy? It seems like all these lifts focus on just the arms and legs.

  210. your tummy flattens as you lose body fat. lifting helps to reduce body fat while putting on lean muscle. without training like this the tummy wont just get flat 🙂

  211. Hi thanks for doing this post, its very helpful. I wanted to find out what weight I should start lifting at as a beginner and how often and by what weight I should look to progress? I am F/34/110lbs.

    e.g. should I start at my bodyweight and aim to progress 2.5lbs/week?

    Thanks for your help 🙂

  212. Is there anyway you can modify this for an at home setting? I have 3 small children and don’t have the opportunity to get to the gym. We do have a chin up/ dipping station type equipment I could use and I have free weights. I am 5 5 and 120. I have been running but don’t want to lose anymore weight! I’m like you said the “skinny fat” I am small, but have no muscle tone. (Esp in my legs) Just looking for something I can do at home. Hope you can help! I am ready to start! If you are able maybe you can email me so I can reply on there? Thanks so much.

  213. Hi! I absolutely love this post! As a definite “cardio bunny” myself, I am really working hard to overcome that and step into the weight training that I desired to do for a long time. I am following the workouts your shared in this post, as well as increasing my calories and macros. I’m also trying to stay off the scale (knowing that I may gain a pound or two due to increasing my cals!). However, I seemed to be confused on when to do cardio. Should I even do cardio? or should I challenge myself like you did to just strictly doing weights? I weigh 117 for 5’6”, which is completely normal for my height. Any reply would be really appreciated!

  214. Fantastic post! I love lifting but can’t commit to the 5-6 day programs I find. This one is perfect! I’m on week 8 and have dropped 4% body fat!! Question… After week 12, then what? Search for another program? Do this one again? I’m at 28% body fat and still need/want to trim the fact and build strong curves. Any info or counsel you can provide will be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

  215. When it says 1 minute rest period, does that mean do 1 set of 8-12 of each exercise then rest for 1 minute and repeat for 3 sets. Or do 3 sets of one exercise with 1 minute rest in-between. I’m looking at week 1 Monday as my example! Thanks

  216. Thanks for posting! You say that you take two days off a week. I’m guessing this is Saturday and Sunday. What do you do on Wednesday since the posted workout is Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri?
    Thank you!

  217. Hi Coralee this is a very old post so for now I don’t follow this routine, but usually i do 2 days then rest then 2-3 days then rest. never back to back rest days

  218. Hey! I workout 5-6 times a week, mostly cardio and some weights but I am not seeing any results and haven’t been for some time. I would really like to lose some tummy fat and see some muscle definition on my arms; will this workout routine help with that if I still continue a cardio routine? Thanks!

  219. IN order to remove tummy fat it’s all about reducing your overall body fat % so lifting nad cardio will achieve this, however it’s also about your diet and making sure you are really getting in a good workout. Lifting helps to build lean muscle mass so you will start to see the changes after a few months in

  220. Hello, I found your website yesterday on Pinterest and have been attached to it since then, going through every post. I would like to start the 12 week program the first of the year and just have a couple of questions, if you wouldn’t mind helping me. A little background on me, I once weighed 262 lbs, over years I lost-stalled-lost and stalled. I stalled for years at 165 31.9 % body fat and last year started a low carb diet (mostly clean) and started exercising. I am now 139 lbs and 22.9 % body fat. I lift some weights, do cardio, yoga, and just a little bit of everything. I exercise 1 hour 3 times a week and 30 minutes 4 times a week. I really want to get more toned and have more definition. I am not interested in losing a lot more weight I just want to look good in my skin. I still have a lot of fat and lose skin from the large amount of weight loss

    I generally eat around 1400 calories a day and try not to eat more than 70-100 grams of carbs a day. What percentage of macros would you think I would need to follow? I am worried about adding too many carbs, but I know I need to add some to be able to build muscle. I used the calculator for TDEE and it is 1781 BMR 1339.

    Also I ordered the book The New Rules Of Weight Lifting for Women. I have read some many different things and start to get confused on what direction I should be taking.

    Thank you,


  221. This is probably a dumb question, but do you just do each of the exercises in a row? 3 sets of exercise 1, then move on to 3 sets of exercise 2, and so on? I am not unfamiliar with form, or even what amount of weight I should be lifting, but the DOING has always been questionable for me. Thank you!

  222. i prefer to super set, that means you stack 2 exercises as a “grouping” do exercise 1, then exercise 2, then rest for a minute then repeat for the total number of sets. no rest between exercise 1 and 2.

  223. Hi, I found this blog post a month or so ago and am now starting the third week of this program. I also do HIIT cardio 3 times a week (mostly sprinting on the treadmill) and rest 2 nonconsecutive days a week. I am 5’3″, 110-115 lbs, and 17 years old. My primary goal is to build muscle; however, I have some midsection, hip, and thigh fat I would like to be rid of. My questions are regarding nutrition. I have tried several calorie calculators, and counting exercise I should eat between 1700 and 2000 calories a day. This is for maintenance, however. Should I eat more to build muscle, or will that only create fat? If I eat less to lose fat, will I also lose muscle? What will happen if I only eat at maintenance level? I only started working out last year, and paying attention to my diet 4-5 months ago, so I’m quite a newbie to all of this. I would greatly appreciate any advice.

  224. If you want to gain muscle you would eat a bit more calories but be mindful to eat foods that are not going to put fat on. Still eat clean but it more throughout that day and calculate the macros on http://www.iifym.com which helps a lot. if you eat less than need to mainatin you can’t possibly put on size/muscle

  225. So I would continue what I’ve been doing, and then in a few months go through a cutting phase to really show off the muscle I’ve gained? 😉 Also, if I’m bulking up now, is there any point to doing cardio, even if it’s HIIT?

  226. Hi! I read your whole article and love the workout plan. I’ve been looking for something like this, because I know you can’t build muscle with cardio. I have been doing a combination of light weight exercises for a couple months, but I’d like to start lifting. I am 16, 158 pounds and 5′ 6″. I have a slim upper body, but I carry a lot more fat on my thighs/hips. As a beginner, what weight should I start using? I never know, so I never start! Thanks!

  227. You can always do HIIT if you want to shed fat over time. If you dont have much body fat then dont do it during your heavier training months. if you have extra body fat to lose you can.

  228. Hi, I bought the book The New Rules of Lifting which recommends only working out 3 days a week. But after reading your blog and your routine I’m confused as to which one I should do. I know you said you began your weight lifting journey with the NROL. What do you recommend. I have about one year of weight lifting experience but haven’t been exercising for about 6 months. Thanks for your advise.

  229. The book was my thought starter but i need to be in the gym more than 3 times a week. My routine is not based on the book completely but in the beginning it was. I do 4-5 days in the gym a week now. I personally like to be in the gym at least 4 days a week so it’s up to you and yoru particular goals. you may only need to LIFT 3 days a week

  230. Hey Adrienne! ?

    This program is exactly what I’ve been looking for!
    Just a bit about me: I’m 23 years old, 5’4 (165cm) and 105 lbs (48kg).

    A few weeks ago I realised I was on a dangerous path. I was near addicted to calorie counting and loved watching the scale drop. As I loved watching the scale drop, I was a complete cardio bunny. I told myself I was still in a ‘cutting’ phase and would start lifting weights when I hit 100lbs.

    After the holidays I realised this view was wrong! Even though I’m a good weight (probably too underweight), I’m not going to get to where I want to go just doing cardio. I have absolutely no muscle definition, I’m ‘skinny fat’ as people call it.

    I did weights for a little bit while I was in uni but I never really saw results which is why I don’t realise their worth, I guess. I think I wasn’t lifting enough weight..

    Anyway, I just had 3 quick questions:

    1. Do I need to eat more than my BMR to gain muscle? (hard to get out of that ‘as long as I’m in a deficit’ mentality)
    2. How much protein do I need to eat a day? I used a calculator from Bodybuilding.com and it suggests 156g!
    3. Is it really critical to eat/drink protein straight after weights? Will I still build muscle if I don’t?

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    Grace ?

  231. Hi I recommend going to http://www.iifym.com to help you to calculate your individual needs 🙂

    You can have protein any time of day and get the benefits, doesn’t have to be right after workout
    I eat 1.25 average grams of protein per pound of my weight.
    You should eat in surplus if you are aiming to make gains.

  232. So I did this routine after trying to loose weight by running and only resistance training with little results. I lost about 9 kilos in body fat after the 12 weeks! What other programs would you suggest after completing it?

  233. i have a ton of exercises you can look at on my site or you can work with a local personal trainer. i dont know the extent of your training or your diet to tell you what you may or may not have done but lifting weights with HIIT and proper diet will always drop body fat.

    you can also try the http://www.crushfit.com programs. i am doing the 60 day now and have a 15% off coupon you can use. just use promo code JERSEYGIRL at checkout
    good luck

  234. Do you have any reccomendations for susbtitutes for the dips and pull ups? I font have any assisted machines?

  235. Hey, i LOVEEEEEE your blog
    i just got a macro meal plan fit for me and i am hitting the gym this week, just wondering if i do this and cardio 5 days a week ( i loveee the stair master) will that help? im trying to find a good weight lifting routine without having to pay someone, haha. i want to lose about .. 40 pounds ! thanks!!

  236. hi there! thank you for this. i am wondering if you had any suggestions on how i can split this into 3 days of lifting? i only go to the gym 3 days a week and i want to split it up in the best way possible. thank you!!!

  237. Hello! Im so happy I started working out!!
    Im just about to start week 5-6
    What days should I include cardio? I normally do cardio between 20-30 min on upper body workout and abs (10 min) when I do lower body. And rest sat and sunday. Wednesday I go for a walk with my dogs or bike.. Thank you!! Loved your post!

  238. What does your ab workout consist of? I started this plan today and I’m not sure what ab workout I should incorporate with it!

  239. Hi Adrienne,

    Thanks for sharing! I saw this plan on Simply Shredded but it was your blog post that got me to bookmark it. Question: would you recommend this program to someone who has lost weight previously with a heavy weight training program, but has gained the weight back? I lost pounds and inches a few years ago with ChaLean Extreme (a total body, heavy weights program from Beachbody) but have gained a lot of it back and have been struggling for over a year to find a program that will help me whittle down again (and that I can use hopefully use for life as long as I’m making gains). I know I want a heavy weight training program; but so far I’ve yet to see as good as results with any I’ve tried and I’m tired of spinning my wheels. (I’d say I’m 80-90% good with nutrition.)


  240. Cate, I have the same problem: older, fit and I don’t know many of the exercises… Haha I found out that either Google or YouTube are very helpful on what the exercises look like. Good luck!

  241. Hi, I just want to tell you that I love your workout, I finished the 12 program and I feel that my resistance had improved. I just want to ask you what supplements and workout routine or diet plan would you recommend me, I’m been training for 6 months and had not noticed a big change. I notice a increased in my muscles but I would like to star cutting. I don’t know what to do I am eating healthy and working out 7 days a week and I don’t notice a change in my body, just my resistance had improved. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you

  242. Do you have any advice on how to use this plan with only a basic barbell/weight set? I don’t have a gym membership, so I can’t perform any of the moves that require a machine (leg curls, leg press, cable curl, etc.). I do have a standard weight set that holds 135 lbs. I’m trying to customize a plan with what I have that would work just as well as the Simply Shredded one. Thanks!

  243. Hi. recently started this program. love it. but i workout @ home on my lil porch. i only own dumbbells. any suggestions on alternate exercises for those that require gym equipment (i.e. pullups) thanks

  244. I’m so excited to start this routine, I’m adding 15-20 min HIIT Each day. I’ve got about 50lbs I’d like to lose and I’m hoping this helps! I lalways kind of wander through the gym not knowing what to do so I’m excited to do this and stick to it and have a good diet. Thanks for sharing. I follow you in all my social media and love u 🙂

  245. Hello! So I just finished week 1 and I am SO SORE! What do you do for sore muscles? After the first leg day my hamstrings were so mad at me! Should you not lift if you are sore? Thank you!

  246. Love this! I’m a fellow Jersey girl so I was immediately on board when I read the name of your blog lol. Anyways I appreciate all of this, really! I’m excited abhor starting this journey. Will keep you posted

  247. If I do not have a gym membership but have dumbbells at home…which exercises could I do to replace the ones you have listed that require a gym machine?

  248. I am excited to start this program however I will be doing this at home with limited equipment. What are equal alternative movements for the exercise that require gym machines? Thank you

  249. Question: on Wed, Sat, & Sun are your rest days. Is this where you do no cardio & only 20 mins of HIIT? On you Abs days, what is your specific routine?

  250. I really enjoyed reading this! It was really inspirational as well as motivational! Thank you!