Replace 10 lbs of Fat with 10 lbs of Lean Muscle in 4 Weeks using this Simple Workout Program

A Complete Bodyweight Workout Program to Help You Burn Fat, Build Muscle, and Get Stronger In Less Than One Month (Zero Equipment Required)

If you want to build a foundation of total body strength by strengthening your legs, core, and upper body musculature, burn some fat to lean out, reveal your abs, and enhance the muscle definition, AND if you want a do-it-yourself, braindead-simple training program that was created specifically for reducing bodyfat and building lean muscle, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find a complete bodyweight workout program that you can use to accomplish these goals – at home or at the gym.

So, I’ll make you a deal: I’ll provide the complete program and let you use it for free IF you’ll follow the instructions below AND if you’ll tell me about your success four weeks from now. Deal? Deal.

bodyweight workout program

How I got in Shape for the First Time in my Life using Bodyweight Exercises

Most people don’t know this about me, but I wasn’t always a fit guy. Actually, I was a pretty chubby kid from time to time growing up. Although, I was fortunate that my parents signed me up for sports and supported me in that area, which helped to balance my otherwise sedentary lifestyle. You see, besides playing sports, I also liked playing video games, which isn’t exactly the most physically active thing you can do. Combine that with school and you have a fairly inactive off-season, if you know what I mean. I had my off-season fun (video games), and my in-season training (sports). So, every new sports season would come around, and I’d have to fight really hard to get back in shape – not all that unlike the predicament a yo-yo dieter faces. But all that changed one day in my parents poorly-lit, dusty basement. It was in that basement where my love of physical training was born and forged – deep in the night.

You see, my father bought me a book called The Marine Corps 3X Fitness Program, and that little book sparked a flame that quickly turned into an obsession. So, what usually happened was after I could barely keep my eyes open to keep playing on my computer, I would head down to the basement to workout before bed and I started doing pullups, pushups, and situps like a madman – usually around 11pm. I just got obsessed with improving my performance. I did bodyweight exercises, and eventually got a weight set, too. Yeah, those plastic ones with a bench that was so shaky that I was sure it would collapse eventually – pinning me helplessly beneath the massive weights (note: I may be exaggerating about the actual poundage slightly). But my roots were in bodyweight training, and I’m a bit lucky in that regard.

Why Bodyweight Training Rocks (in a nutshell)

Bodyweight training can be done by anyone, anywhere, and it works really really well. It’s especially good for building a foundation of strength in beginner and intermediate trainees and, done correctly, it teaches whole body integration of strength and conditioning. It can be used for a variety of training goals like fat loss, muscle building, strength and conditioning, and performance enhancement. Plus, it’s pretty cool to master your own bodyweight and build a high strength to weight ratio. And did I mention it works really really well?

The 4-Week Fat-Replacement Bodyweight Training Program

Who is this program for?

For men and women who want to get leaner and stronger (and healthier, too!) and are willing to work hard for a goal they desire using bodyweight training and other positive daily habits.

What you need:

1) This program. Print this out!
2) 20-30 minutes to exercise per day
3) a little bit of room to move around on the ground
4) hard work ethic

How it Works

It’s called body recomposition, and it’s essentially when the body both loses fat and builds muscle during a set period of time. This often results when a beginner starts a new exercise program and notices significant changes in their body, but little change in scale weight. You see, over the course of a few weeks, you could lose 10 lbs of fat while simultaneously gaining 10 lbs of muscle, which will result in no change in total body weight.

This is particularly common with women when starting a new workout program and diet. So, you’ll likely notice things like your clothes fitting differently, your waist-size coming down, less jiggle in your arms/legs/etc. So, if you do this program and your weight remains the same, don’t worry – you’re probably doing it just fine if you notice some of these other changes. Of course, you could always take bodyfat or girth measurements if you really want to know how much and where you’re making progress.

Training Schedule + Program Info

There are only two strength training workouts in this entire month-long program, but they have been designed to be super-effective to both burn fat and build muscle when used correctly.

Instructions: Perform the following workouts, alternating between the two, on non-consecutive days three times per week.

Example of the workout schedule…

week 1:
Monday – workout A
Wednesday – workout B
Friday – workout A

week 2:
Monday – workout B
Wednesday – workout A
Friday – workout B

Of course, you can perform the workouts on any days you’d like, just make sure that you’re giving yourself at least a day to recover in between sessions.

How to Personalize The Program to Your Needs (Important!)

The level of intensity is self-regulated from using the two specific training protocols outlined in the workout sections below. You will decide on your own difficulty level based on your current conditioning by using a perceived rating of your maximum ability (again, all explained below). However, you will also need to customize one aspect of this program to your own skill and conditioning level: exercise selection.

Each exercise listed in the workouts below represent a specific movement patten (e.g. squatting, pushing, etc.), and thus, represents a “family” of exercises (e.g. the squatting family, the pushup family, etc.). You get to play around with which exercises you choose so that you can customize the program to your skill level. This aspect of the program is left completely up to you since I don’t know you personally and can’t be sure what your current conditioning level is.

So, you should feel free to adjust the exercise difficulty up or down based on your skill and conditioning level. What this means is that if the traditional pushup (ie military-style) is too hard for you, then you can do knee pushups instead – or wall pushups, if necessary. On the other hand, if the regular pushup is a bit too easy for you, you can try elevating your feet on a bench, doing clapping pushups, or even one-arm pushups if you’re feeling burly. The point is that you should feel free to customize the exercise selection to your own needs because I don’t know what level you’re starting at.

Here are a few examples of exercise progressions from a few exercise “families” in order of easiest to hardest:

Squat family: hand-assisted half ROM bodyweight squats, hand-assisted full ROM bodyweight squats, bodyweight squats, bodyweight jump squats

Lunge family: split squats, reverse lunges, forward lunges, walking lunges, jumping lunges

Pushup family: wall pushups, knee pushups, regular pushups, clapping pushups

Pullup family: flexed-arm hang, negative rep pull-ups, pull-ups or chin-ups, weighted pullups

Plank family: front plank on knees, front plank, front plank on hands, front plank with one arm or leg elevated

So, you should take liberty to select the most appropriate exercise based on where you’re at. And don’t feel limited by the list above – use any exercise that would fall into the main exercise family. The key is to find one that you can perform with good technique that will challenge you.

WORKOUT A (Escalating Intensity Training – Circuit Sets)

Warmup:

Perform the following joint mobility exercises for 30-60 seconds each:

Shoulder shrug circles
Arm circles
Elbow circles
Spinal circles
Knee circles
Hula-hoop hip circles
Leg swings

Workout

Instructions: Perform three circuit sets with the following exercises using the escalating intensity circuit training protocol – no rest between exercises, 1-2 minutes rest after each circuit…

First circuit: warmup set at approximately 50% of maximum intensity (ie low-moderate intensity)
Second circuit: work set at approximately 60-70% of maximum intensity (ie moderate intensity)
Third circuit: near-max effort set at approximately 90+% of maximum intensity (ie high intensity)

Skill-appropriate front plank variation
Assisted squat, bodyweight squat, OR jump squat
Flexed arm hang, negative rep pull-ups, OR pull-ups/chin-ups
Bird dog, superman, OR back bridging
Forward, reverse, OR walking lunges
Wall pushups, knee pushups, pushups, OR clapping pushups
Skill-appropriate side plank variation

Cooldown

Hold the following yoga poses for 1-2 minutes each, trying to get deeper into the pose with every exhale:

Pigeon pose OR kneeling hip extension pose
Seated spinal twisting pose
Seal pose
Cat/Cow pose
Side bend pose

WORKOUT B (Escalating Intensity Training – HIIT Workout)

If the following workout is pig latin to you, then, Click Here to learn exactly how to use this specific training protocol.

Warmup:

Perform the following joint mobility exercises for 30-60 seconds each:

Shoulder shrug circles
Arm circles
Elbow circles
Hula-hoop hip circles
Leg swings + lateral leg swings
Knee circles
Ankle circles

Workout

Instructions: perform each of the following exercises in a 20/10×8 HIIT circuit, resting 1-2 minutes between each exercise.

Burpee – 20/10×8, rest 1-2 minutes
Bodyweight row (or other pulling/rowing movement) – 20/10×8, rest 1-2 minutes
Lateral lunge (or other lunge variation) – 20/10×8, rest 1-2 minutes
Tricep dip (on bench, parallel bars, etc., or other vertical pushing variation) – 20/10×8, rest 1-2 minutes
Spinal rock variation (optional) – 20/10×8, rest 1-2 minutes
Mountain climber (optional) – 20/10×8, rest 1-2 minutes

Cooldown

Hold the following yoga poses for 1-2 minutes each, trying to get deeper into the pose with every exhale:

Pigeon pose OR kneeling hip extension pose
Upward facing dog
Cat/Cow pose
Frog pose
Table pose

There. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

What to do on non-workout days

Physical training is optional on non-workout days, but it is encouraged. Here are a few things that would complement the strength training sessions that you can and should do on your non-workout days:

Walk or Run – If you’ve got two good legs, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be walking or running. And if you’ve got a bum knee or bad arches, etc., then working on alleviating these problems should be priority uno in your training program. Walking tends to get a bad rap because it’s so simple, easy, and accessible to everyone (plus, there’s no money in it!). But walking comes with a TON of health and fitness benefits, and anyone can claim them by just putting one foot in front of the other. Running is much the same way, if not moreso. If you’re looking for a way to incorporate this into your life, look no further than my complete walking program (free to all and can also be applied to running!). Or, you could check out the Physical Living running hub if that’s up your alley.

Yoga – I know what you’re thinking… “yoga just isn’t for me.” Heck, I said the same thing – even after trying it for myself (maybe because I nearly died in front of dozens of spandex-wearing nymphs in a 115 degree room!). But a simple, personal yoga practice has made a world of difference in my training program. I recover faster, prevent injuries from occuring in the first place, relieve muscle tension, and all sorts of other things. So, if you’re one of those people who just isn’t into it, consider giving it a try. Do it for me? Now, you don’t have to join a class and embarrass yourself with your lack of grace. Click Here to see how I’ve incorporated yoga (note: it’s very different from what you might expect)

Joint Mobility – This is one of the single-greatest things I’ve incorporated into my fitness program and lifestyle. I’ve been doing joint mobility exercises almost daily since 2006 and I will never go back. Seriously, if you haven’t been using this superb training method, you need to get with the program. This will fill a large chunk of fitness programs in the future. Mark my words. You can get a couple of free mini-programs here and here, or you can get a killer deal on a complete joint mobility system here (seriously, it’s a steal).

Play – What? You were only looking for WORK to do? Well well, let me tell you that sometimes, play is the best thing you can do for your health, fitness, and quality of life. So have at it. You’ll find some ideas here: 100 Ways to Disguise Exercise Through Play

Note: you can always do more active recovery training, but don’t increase the number of actual workouts you do past the prescribed limits unless you’re an advanced trainee and monitoring your training feedback.

Over-achiever? Bonus instructions for you go-getter types…

I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that building muscle and burning fat requires more than just a good workout program. Exercise is a critical component, but it takes other changes, too, and several changes in many cases. So, it’s important to get into the habit of changing habits that will lead you toward your goals. Here’s a simple way to do it. You’ll notice that each habit involves incremental steps to help you gradually improve your results.

Instructions: Pick just one of the following habits you’d like to work on over the next four weeks in addition to following the training program and follow the instructions associated with it.

Suggestion: if you think sticking with a habit for a whole month will be difficult, then choose the easiest one (not limited to this list). If you think sticking to one habit this month will be easy-peasy, then pick the one that you think will make the biggest difference.

Drinking more water:

week 1: drink a glass of water immediately upon waking, and cut down non-water intake to a reasonably manageable level (e.g. 2 coffees/sodas/beers per day). Tip: fill the glass the night before so that it’s waiting for you when you wake up.
week 2: same as week 1 except have an extra glass of water about 30 minutes prior to your last meal
week 3: same as week 2
week 4: same as week 2 except decrease your non-water intake by one drink per day (e.g. go from 2 coffees/sodas/beers per day to just one per day – or from 3 to 2, etc.).

Eating more protein:

week 1: eat at least one serving of protein (preferably complete/animal protein) with one meal every day
week 2: eat at least one serving of protein (preferably complete/animal protein) with two meals every day
week 3: eat at least one serving of protein (preferably complete/animal protein) with three meals every day
week 4: eat at least one serving of protein (preferably complete/animal protein) with every meal each day

note: you’ll have to plan ahead to have protein foods at home. Get out that shopping list!

Eating more vegetables:

week 1: eat at least one serving of vegetables with one meal every day
week 2: eat at least one serving of vegetables with two meals every day
week 3: eat at least one serving of vegetables with three meals every day
week 4: eat at least one serving of vegetables with every meal each day

note: you’ll have to plan ahead to have vegetables at home. Get out that shopping list!

Getting more quality sleep:

week 1: Establish a bedtime that you think you’ll be able to achieve at least 90% of the time (even if it’s late – just give yourself a deadline, then stick with it). Also, ensure you have a perfectly dark room to sleep in (get blinds/drapes/etc. for your windows, turn off night lights, cover electrical displays, etc.). Also, if at all possible, avoid blue lights in or near the bedroom.
week 2: Avoid screen time or other electronic use at least one hour before bed. No computer, TV, smart phones, tablets, etc.
week 3: setup a pre-bed ritual to help you wind down (e.g. reading, yoga, meditation, prayer, bath/shower etc.)
week 4: Bump your bedtime to a half-hour earlier than you established in week 1.

Doing more active recovery:

week 1: spend 7 minutes per day on joint mobility training
week 2: spend 14 minutes per day on joint mobility training
week 3: same as week 2 + spend 7 minutes per day on yoga
week 4: same as week 2 + spend 14 minutes per day on yoga

Note: I cannot stress enough that I recommend you stick to only one habit at a time, unless you’re a habit acquiring superhero and/or are on willpower-enhancing drugs.

Also note: these are just examples that will be particularly suited for body recomposition. You can select any habit you’d like to work on. Just be sure to break it down into manageable, incremental steps.

One last note (for real): make sure you set yourself up for success by only giving yourself tasks that you think you can handle with 90% or greater compliance. For example, if you think you can get to bed by 10pm no more than 75% of the time, then select a bedtime that you can nail 90% of the time or more (e.g. 11pm) and then nail it. Don’t make this process any harder than it needs to be.

The Bottom Line

If you follow the above program, then I guarantee that you will amaze yourself, as I have again and again, with the results you can achieve in only four week’s time. There’s nothing quite like knowing that you’ve mastered your own bodyweight, and on top of that, you’ll continue to surprise yourself about how well bodyweight training works for fitness goals. Oh, and you’ll burn fat, build muscle, and all that good stuff, too.

All right. I’ve handled my side of the deal. It’s in your hands now. You can thank me later.

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CST Coach, CST-KS
Health-First Fitness Coach

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P.P.S. Now, if you’re totally PUMPED and are going to get started, why not leave a comment below to tell us that you’re in. You know, grab some free accountability. Then four weeks from now, once you’ve finished, you can give us all an update about your success.

11 comments to Replace 10 lbs of Fat with 10 lbs of Lean Muscle in 4 Weeks using this Simple Workout Program

  • Jo

    Hey John,

    Always love reading your blog! It’s refreshing and full of treasure-like info :)

    Really enjoyed reading this post, simple but good information, so I am definitely in for the next 4 weeks. I like the fact that it leaves room for creativity and play. My goal is that, through this, I can devote a little time to regular mobility exercises. So, till then and I will let you know how it goes!

    Jo ;)

  • Liam

    Hi John,

    I really like this month long plan and the progressive approach within the workouts to maintain form and prevent injury. I can’t wait to get going on the program!

    I’d like to clarify some detail on the Escalating Intensity strategy used in Workout B. How would you recommend scaling up the intensity in each of the 8 rounds? For example should I find out the max number of triceps dips I can do in 20secs then do 30% of that number in round 1, 50% in round 2 etc. or is it a more subjective approach where I perform the exercise at what I feel is 30% or 30% of my maximum on that given day. I’m curious to what approach you take to this detail

    Thanks!

    • John

      Good question, Liam. It’s a subjective measure that you’ll decide in the moment each and every set based on your perceived maximum ability. So, when you feel like you’ve gotten to 30% of your max in that particular set, that’s when you stop. But by all means, if you know what your maximum is already from prior testing, then simply do a percentage of that number to get started. Keep in mind that your max may change after you become fatigued, so be willing to adjust down as necessary. I’s more important to adhere to the percentage bracket than conform to a specific repetition count.

  • Erin

    Hey John,
    love your blog. I’m in for the next 4 weeks. I can’t keep up with my bootcamp class – I’m in school for midwifery and I keep getting called to catch babies and missing class! I need something more flexible so this should do the trick. Did a nice 1/2 hour barefoot walk and then my first workout tonight – felt good and helped me realize how stiff I have been getting. Thanks for posting this – really appreciate it.

  • Wendy

    John – I’ve been playing with this workout for 3 weeks now. It came as just the right time as I recuperated from injury and illness.

    – I’ll admit I am having a difficult time figuring out percentage of effort for me in Workout A. I find that I go out too hard on the first round only to miss my targets on the 3rd.

    – For the stationary items in workout A (planks, back bridges), I’ve been setting benchmark times for each round (usually 15/30/45 seconds). It helps, but I wasn’t sure whether that’s what you intended.

    – Workout B – I’ve been trying to hit the same numbers each round. So if my first round of pushups was 6, I try to maintain 6 strict form pushups on each round. That seems to be working for me, but I wasn’t certain if that was your intent.

    I’ve been re-exploring Yoga and Pilates in between sessions along with some golfing.

    Results: I am getting my strict pushup and strict pullup stamina back. Getting a lot better at planks (time and form) and, according to my PT, I am managing to get more symmetrical strength and flexibility. Cardiovascular stamina is also improving.

    Couldn’t tell you about losing 10 lbs of fat and gaining 10 lbs of muscle because I didn’t measure either of those before starting. My clothes still fit the same – which is perfectly fine by me.

    Great program, great blog and thank you for posting this. It’s been fun.

    • John

      Wendy,

      I’m glad to hear it’s been working well for you!

      In Workout A, when in doubt about the intensity level, go easier on rounds 1 and 2, and really push the last round. The first round should be ridiculously easy – almost feels like no work at all.

      Setting benchmark times is fine for the timed exercises, but do try to push the envelope on the last round. With those exercises, in particular, I think you may surprise yourself with how well you can do – especially after a few weeks of work.

      Going for the same numbers each round during Workout B is perfect. What you want to avoid is petering out during the later rounds.

      Thank you so much for the update – always love hearing from those who try my programs. Let me know if you have any further questions and keep up the great work!

  • April

    Hi, I’m looking to replace ten for ten, I’m currently 120 pounds and i need to lose fat and replace it. I just wanted to know when i will start seeing results. This coming Monday will be the second week.

    • John

      Hi April,

      Are you measuring your body composition with a skinfold caliper or another comparable method? The reason I ask is because you should see some changes even after the first week – assuming the program is challenging you and your nutrition is in line.

      One thing you can keep in mind is that if you’re starting a new program for the first time (especially if you haven’t been training recently), then progress tends to come a little more slowly for women. It’s very common for it to take 2, even 3 weeks to see a change in the mirror or on the scale. But you should see at least SOME changes from bodyfat testing – even after the first week.

      So, if you ARE calculating your body fat percentage and lean body mass (via bodyfat testing), and you’re seeing NO results, then I would say something is wrong. If you aren’t doing BF testing, then I’d recommend taking some progress pictures to compare to each other every week. And sometimes, it helps to have a trusted confidant take a look to point out the changes that may not be as obvious to you (we are our own worst critics).

      Anyways, I hope that helps, and I hope you do indeed “replace 10 for 10.”

  • Alex

    Dear John,
    This looks like a great program, I’m going to give it a try for al of Feb’ except I am modifying it and ading Kb swings in as well as well as walking:
    Mon: walk circuit
    Tue: jog then swim joint mobility
    Wed: walk circuit
    Thur:jog then swim joint mobility
    Fri: walk circuit
    Sat: jog then swim joint mobility
    Sun: walk joint mobility

    To be honest, i don’t think it is possible to gain 4.5kg/10 lbs of muscle in four weeks unless on a bulking diet or a 20 rep squat program but I will see what happens and post my results at the end of Feb.
    P.s. John, could you write a sequel to this program that includes a small amount of kb and clubbell exercises – overall, I think that would be an unbeatable combination!

    Cheers,
    A

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