Workout Routines

The workout plan to transform 15 pounds of holiday fat into lean muscle

Burn off that layer of winter flab and sharpen your physique with this workout plan to trade that excess flab for some new muscle and strength.

squat
RossHelen/Getty Images
RossHelen/Getty Images
Duration 30-60
Exercises 7-9
Equipment Yes

You worked hard all year to build a strong and healthy body—you got your waist down a few more inches, abs were visible, fat was under control, and your muscles were feeling hard and dense.

But then the holidays hit. First came Thanksgiving, during which you took it easy, wolfed down mostly lean protein, and refused dinner rolls or an extra serving of pumpkin pie. But then as Christmas approached, your food choices became worse and worse. Your mom brought over her special sugar cookies, your neighbor gave you a box of fudge, and then over the holiday you sat around all day eating salty snacks and fatty dips. New Year’s saw a little too much alcohol and more finger food, and when 2018 dawned, the scale spat back a rude number—15lbs over your recent best. And there's no denying it—that 15lbs is starting to show.

It’s a tough thing to behold, but the reality is that your slide wasn’t that bad. You still have a solid foundation of muscle underneath all of that stuffing, pie, eggnog, and gingerbread. You'll just need to buckle back down on a clean and lean diet, and spend a few weeks sweating to get back your pre-holiday body.

For nutrition, you should already know the plan by now: sticking to whole foods, ditching anything processed, nixing sugar as much as possible, heaping on lean meats, and loading up on fibrous foods. (But take a look at our 10% body fat workout and nutrition plan to help get you back on track.)

For the workout portion of your march back to becoming mean and lean again, we hit up Nick Pags, N.C.C.P.T., co-owner and an ACE-certified instructor at RIPPED Fitness in New York City. “This program is not for the faint of heart,” he says. “It’s a bit unorthodox, and the results will produce a spike in lean muscle mass and size, as well as a serious shred of body fat making for a plan that hits the best of both worlds. But the price you have to pay is an intense amount of work and some serious soreness.”

How it works

The workout is a five-day split:

  • Day 1 focuses on the upper body,
  • Day 2 gives you some HIIT using bodyweight and cardio equipment,
  • Day 3 targets the lower body,
  • Day 4 hits the abs and focuses on recovery (yoga/stretching/rolling),
  • Day 5 goes back to bodyweight HIIT and/or on cardio equipment.

“For the HIIT days, have fun,” says Pags. “I’m an advocate of treadmill interval training because it’s so effective.” Go for 20–30 minutes of 30-second intervals: 30 walking, 30 jogging, and 30 max-effort sprinting. Your speed doesn't need to be the same each go-around, he says, and adjust your pace if you’re gassing out early into the run—you can do the same thing on a rower, elliptical, or any other cardio equipment.

The 15-pound transformation workout plan Day 1: Upper-body workout

Exercise 1.

Chest Press How to
Chest Press thumbnail
5 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest

Exercise 2.

Incline Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Incline Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
5 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest
Use a challenging weight for a 15-rep set.

Exercise 3.

Seated Cable Row You'll need: Lat Pulldown Bar How to
Seated Cable Row thumbnail
5 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Lat Pulldown You'll need: Cable Machine How to
Lat Pulldown thumbnail
5 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest
Use a challenging weight for a 15-rep set.

Exercise 5.

Dumbbell Curl You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Curl thumbnail
5 sets
10 (alternate between each arm) reps
60-120 sec. rest

Exercise 6.

EZ-Bar Curl You'll need: EZ-Bar How to
EZ-Bar Curl thumbnail
3 sets
7 half-range from bottom + 7 half-range from top + 7 full-range reps
60-120 rest

Exercise 7.

EZ-Curl Skull Crusher You'll need: EZ-Bar How to
exercise image placeholder
5 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest
Use a challenging weight for a 12-rep set.

Exercise 8.

Dumbbell Kickback You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Underhand Kickback  thumbnail
5 sets
10 (alternate each side) reps
60-120 sec. rest
Use a challenging weight for a 12-rep set.

The 15-pound transformation workout plan Day 2: Interval cardio workout

Exercise Intervals:

Run How to
Run thumbnail
10 sets
Walk 30 sec., run 30 sec., sprint 30 sec. reps
30 sec. rest

The 15-pound transformation workout plan Day 3: Lower-body workout

Exercise 1.

Squat You'll need: Squat Rack How to
Squat thumbnail
5 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest

Exercise 2.

Trap-Bar Deadlift You'll need: Trap Bar How to
Trap-Bar Deadlift thumbnail
5 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest

Exercise 3.

Walking Lunge You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Walking Lunge  thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Leg Extension How to
Leg Extension thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest

Exercise 5.

Hamstring Curl You'll need: Swiss Ball How to
Hamstring Curl thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest

Exercise 6.

Barbell Hip Thrust You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Hip Thrust  thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest

Exercise 7A.

Seated Calf Raise- Toes Out You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Seated Calf Raise- Toes Out  thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 7B.

Seated Calf Raise- Toes Neutral You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Seated Calf Raise- Toes Neutral  thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 7C.

Seated Calf Raise- Toes In You'll need: Barbell How to
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10 reps
60-120 sec. rest

The 15-pound transformation workout plan Day 4: Abs circuit (do 3–5 rounds)

Exercise A.

Spiderman Pushup You'll need: No Equipment How to
exercise image placeholder
-- sets
30 sec. reps
10 sec. rest

Exercise B.

V-Up How to
How to do a v-up thumbnail
-- sets
30 sec. reps
10 sec. rest

Exercise C.

Side Plank With Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Side Plank With Lateral Raise thumbnail
-- sets
30 sec. (each side) reps
10 sec. rest

Exercise D.

Toe Touch You'll need: Medicine Ball How to
Toe Touch thumbnail
-- sets
30 sec. (alternate sides) reps
10 sec. rest

Exercise E.

Mountain Climber on Sliders You'll need: Sliding Discs How to
Mountain Climber on Sliders  thumbnail
-- sets
30 sec. reps
10 sec. rest

Exercise F.

Lying windshield wiper How to
Lying windshield wiper thumbnail
-- sets
30 sec. reps
10 sec. rest

Exercise G.

Hollow Rock
exercise image placeholder
-- sets
30 sec. reps
10 sec. rest

Exercise H.

Up-down plank pushup How to
Up-down plank pushup thumbnail
-- sets
30 sec. reps
10 sec. rest

Exercise I.

Bicycle Crunch You'll need: No Equipment How to
Bicycle Crunch thumbnail
-- sets
30 sec. reps
10 sec. rest

The 15-pound transformation workout plan Day 5: Interval cardio workout

Exercise Intervals:

Run How to
Run thumbnail
10 sets
Walk 30 sec., run 30 sec., sprint 30 sec. reps
30 sec. rest
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