Summer is almost here. So if you need a highly effective training plan to blitz yourself into beach body shape, you’re in the right place.

This four-week plan has been designed to deliver the maximum bang for your back. To this end it’s split into two fortnight-long “blocks”: the first block will lay the foundations of bigger, stronger muscles and start the process of stripping away fat, while the second is an all-out assault on the iron to force your body to add lean hard muscle mass while burning the remainder of your body fat stores for fuel. In short, it will dramatically change how you look – and feel – without your shirt on.

Simply read the instructions below, then get started on the plan. It’s easy to follow, but it will require dedication and focus from you to get the best results possible. Give it everything you’ve got and see how much you can change your body for the better in just one month.

The Training Plan Explained

The theory

The plan contains two blocks. The first has four sessions a week: chest and arms; legs and delts; back and arms; and chest and delts. It means you’re training your major upper-body muscles twice a week, a high-frequency approach that will change your body fast.

Super start

The workouts for the first fortnight of the plan begin below. In this first two-week block each workout has six moves: the first two are performed as straight sets, then the third and fourth move are done as a superset, as are the fifth and sixth moves. Follow the order exactly. 

Gain train

This high-intensity approach means you’ll build muscle and burn fat. Do the exercises in order, sticking to the sets, reps, tempo and rest periods detailed.

The tempo code refers to the number of seconds taken to complete each part of the exercise. Taking the bench press as an example, the first digit refers to how long you take to lower the weight, the second digit how long to pause at the bottom of the lift, the third how long taken to lift the weight, and finally the fourth digit refers to how long you pause at the top of the movement.

In week two the workouts are the same, except that some key variables have been tweaked to keep your body comp gains coming. Jump to week two of block one.

Big changes

In the final fortnight of the plan the sessions have been changed to shock your body into growing as much muscle mass as possible while stripping away the maximum amount of fat. There are four sessions: chest and triceps; legs and abs; back and biceps; and chest and delts. Jump to block two, week one.

Strong finish

In this second block all the moves are done as straight sets so you can focus on lifting as heavy as you can while maintaining good form and hitting the target rep count. For the final week, the key variables have again been tweaked so that you finish as big and lean as possible. Jump to block two, week two.

Lifestyle Tips

Help your body add maximum muscle while torching as much belly fat as possible by adopting these four better-body habits.

Drink more

Water, that is. Staying hydrated has repeatedly been shown to improve physical and mental well-being and performance. Research has found people who drank more water felt less fatigued, had better focus and experienced improved mood – all factors that promote a sense of well-being. Aim for at least two litres a day, and carry a water bottle around with you so it’s easy to keep drinking all day long.

Be mindful

Focusing on what’s happening in the moment can lower your stress levels and improve motivation. If you’re new to mindfulness, start with being more mindful at mealtimes. All this means is having meals away from the TV, your phone and other distractions, so that you focus on the act of eating and how it makes you feel. It will make you more conscious about what you’re putting in your body and prevent over-eating.

Eat your greens

Eating more veg is the single most important habit to adopt for greater health. Veg is packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and other compounds such as phytochemicals that have numerous health-boosting qualities. Eat about two fist-sized portion of veggies with every meal, alongside a palm-sized portion of high-quality protein, and you’ll transform your body faster than you thought possible.

Sleep deeper

Good-quality sleep is essential to building muscle and getting lean, so put your phone and laptop to sleep at least 45 minutes before you want to go to bed to improve your chances of falling asleep and staying asleep. These screens emit blue light, which is the same wavelength as dawn light, and so is interpreted by your brain as a sign that it’s time to wake up and get active. Turn all your screens off, then turn in.

Block 1 Week 1

Monday Workout: Chest And Arms

1 Bench press

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on a bench, holding a bar with a shoulder-width grip. Plant your feet on the floor and tense your muscles. Lower the bar until it touches your chest, then press it back up powerfully.

2 Cable cross-over

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in the middle of a cable machine, holding a D-handle in each hand attached to the high pulley. Keeping your chest up and core braced, bring your hands down in a smooth arc to meet in front of your body. Hold for a second, then return to the start.

3A Incline dumbbell shoulder press

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 30sec

Lie flat on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at chest height. Plant your feet on the floor and get your body tight. Press the weights straight up so your arms are straight, then lower them under control.

3B Incline biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Sit on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forwards and your elbows tight to your sides. Keeping your elbows there, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights.

4A Cable biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 15 Tempo 2011 Rest 30sec

Stand tall in front of a cable machine, holding a bar handle attached to the lower pulley with palms facing up. Keeping your chest up and elbows tight to your sides, curl your hands up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower.

4B Cable triceps press-down

Sets 3 Reps 15 Tempo 4010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a cable machine, holding a bar handle attached to the high pulley with palms facing down. Keeping your chest up and elbows tight to your sides, press your hands down to straighten your arms, then slowly return to the start.

Wednesday Workout: Legs And Delts

1 Back squat

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a barbell across the back of your shoulders. Keeping your chest up and your whole body tense, bend your knees to squat down as low as you can but don’t let your knees roll inwards. Push through your heels to stand back up.

2 Overhead press

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a barbell across the front of your chest with an overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core engaged, press the bar directly overhead so your arms are straight. Lower it under control to return to the start.

3A Leg extension

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 30sec

Position yourself correctly on the machine with the padded bar against the bottom of your shins. Keeping your upper body tense, raise your feet to straighten your legs. Pause at the top with your quads engaged, then lower back to the start.

3B Hamstring curl

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Position yourself correctly on the machine with the padded bar against the back of your lower legs. Keeping your upper body tense, push your feet down to bend your legs. Pause at the top with your hamstrings engaged, then lower back to the start.

4A Seated dumbbell overhead press

Sets 3 Reps 15 Tempo 2010 Rest 30sec

Sit on an upright bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Keeping your chest up and core braced, press the weights directly overhead so your arms are straight. Slowly lower back to the start.

4B Seated dumbbell lateral raise

Sets 3 Reps 15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Sit on an upright bench, holding a light dumbbell in each hand by your sides with a slight bend in your elbows. Keeping your chest up and core braced, raise the weights out to shoulder height, leading with your elbows. Return slowly to the start.

Friday Workout: Back And Arms

1 Bent-over row

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Hold a barbell with a shoulder-width grip, bending your knees slightly. Bend at the hips until you’re at roughly 45° to the floor. Pull the bar up to touch your sternum, then lower under control. If you’re moving your upper body to shift the bar, the weight’s too heavy.

2 Lat pull-down

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself at the machine with a shoulder-width overhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up and abs braced, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows. Hold the bottom position for a second, then return to the start.

3A Seated cable row

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 30sec

Sit on the machine, holding a double-grip cable attachment in both hands. Keeping your chest up, row your hands in towards your body, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top position, then return to the start.

3B Underhand lat pull-down

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself at the machine with a narrow underhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up and abs braced, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows. Hold the bottom position for a second, then return to the start.

4A Cable straight-arm pull-down

Sets 3 Reps 15 Tempo 2011 Rest 30sec

Stand tall, facing the cable machine and holding a straight bar handle with both hands. Keeping your arms straight, pull the bar down towards your thighs in a smooth arc. Pause at the bottom, then reverse the movement back to the start.

4B Cable triceps press-down

Sets 3 Reps 15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, facing the cable machine and holding a straight bar handle with palms facing down. Keeping your chest up and elbows tight to your sides, press your hands down to straighten your arms, then slowly return to the start.

Saturday Workout: Chest And Delts

1 Incline bench press

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on an incline bench, holding a barbell with a shoulder-width grip. Plant your feet on the floor and tense your muscles. Lower the bar until it touches your chest, then press it back up powerfully.

2 Incline dumbbell flye

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Lie on an incline bench, holding two dumbbells directly over your chest with straight arms. Bend your elbows slightly, then lower your hands out to the sides until you feel a stretch across your chest. Squeeze your pecs to return to the start.

3A EZ-Bar upright row

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 30sec

Stand tall, holding an EZ-bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core braced, row the bar up to chin height, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top, then lower the bar back to the start under control.

3B Dumbbell lateral raise

Sets 3 Reps 12 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a light dumbbell in each hand by your sides with a slight bend in your elbows. Keeping your chest up and core braced, raise the weights out to shoulder height, leading with your elbows, then return slowly to the start.

4A Dumbbell pull-over

Sets 3 Reps 15 Tempo 2011 Rest 30sec

Lie flat on a bench, holding a dumbbell with both hands above your chest with straight arms. Lower the weight behind your head under control, keeping your arms straight, then raise it back to the start position.

4B Press-up

Sets 3 Reps 14 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Get on all fours with your legs and arms straight, your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels. Engage your abs and bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the floor, then press back up powerfully.

Block 1: Week 2

With week 1 in the bag you should be feeling and looking good. You’ll have already noticed your T-shirt sleeves feeling a little bit tighter, and maybe even moved up a notch on your belt. But now’s not the time to kick back and celebrate – it’s the time to push on harder to accelerate your results.

In this second week of the plan you’ll do the same workouts in the same order as in the first week. All the moves of each workout are the same too. This isn’t us being lazy: because you are now familiar with this routine, you can attack each session harder to create the right stimulus for your body to maximise the amount of muscle it can build and fat it can burn.

Besides, there’s one big difference in this week to make the workouts harder (and hence more effective). There’s an additional set for the first four moves of each session – so you’ll do four sets of moves 1, 2, 3A and 3B. Stay focused and keep the faith – this is a big week and you need to get after it from the first rep of every set.

Monday Workout: Chest And Arms

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Bench press 4 12 2010 60sec
2 Cable cross-over 4 12 2011 60sec
3A Incline dumbbell press 4 12 2010 30sec
3B Incline biceps curl 4 12 2011 60sec
4A Cable biceps curl 3 15 2011 30sec
4B Cable triceps press 3 15 2010 60sec

Wednesday Workout: Legs And Delts

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Squat 4 12 2010 60sec
2 Overhead press 4 12 2010 60sec
3A Leg extension 4 12 2011 30sec
3B Hamstring curl 4 12 2011 60sec
4A Seated overhead press 3 15 2010 30sec
4B Seated lateral raise 3 15 2010 60sec

Friday Workout: Back And Arms

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Bent-over row 4 12 2011 60sec
2 Lat pull-down 4 12 2011 60sec
3A Seated row 4 12 2011 30sec
3B Underhand lat pull-down 4 12 2011 60sec
4A Straight-arm pull-down 3 15 2011 30sec
4B Cable triceps press 3 15 2011 60sec

Saturday Workout: Chest And Delts

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Incline bench press 4 12 2010 60sec
2 Incline dumbbell flye 4 12 2011 60sec
3A EZ-bar upright row 4 12 2011 30sec
3B Dumbbell lateral raise 4 12 2011 60sec
4A Dumbbell pull-over 3 15 2010 30sec
4B Press-up 3 15 2010 60sec

Block 2: Week 1

Monday Workout: Chest And Triceps

1 Incline bench press

Sets 4 Reps 8 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on an incline bench, holding a bar with a shoulder-width grip. Plant your feet on the floor and tense your muscles. Lower the bar until it touches your chest, then press it back up powerfully.

2 Triceps dip

Sets 4 Reps 8 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Grip parallel bars with straight arms and your legs crossed behind you. Keeping your chest up and core braced, lower your body by bending your elbows until they’re at 90°. Press back up to return to the start.

3 Dumbbell bench press

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on a flat bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at chest height. Plant your feet on the floor and tense your muscles. Press the weights straight up so your arms are straight, then lower them under control.

4 Cable cross-over

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in the middle of a cable machine, holding a D-handle in each hand attached to the high pulley. Keeping your chest up and core braced, bring your hands down in a smooth arc to meet in front of your body. Hold for a second, then return to the start.

5 One-arm cable press

Sets 4 Reps 12 each side Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your back to a cable machine, holding a D-handle in one hand. Keeping your chest up and core braced, press your hand forwards until your arm is straight. Reverse the move to the start and repeat for all the reps, then switch arms.

6 Cable triceps press-down

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, facing the cable machine and holding a straight bar handle with palms facing down. Keeping your chest up and elbows tight to your sides, press your hands down to straighten your arms, then slowly return to the start.

Wednesday Workout: Legs And Abs

1 Back squat

Sets 4 Reps 8 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a barbell across the back of your shoulders. Keeping your chest up and your whole body tense, bend your knees to squat down as low as you can but don’t let your knees roll inwards. Push through your heels to stand back up.

2 Romanian deadlift

Sets 4 Reps 8 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge forwards from the hips and lower the bar until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Reverse the move to the start.

3 Leg extension

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself correctly on the machine with the padded bar against the bottom of your shins. Keeping your upper body tense, raise your feet to straighten your legs. Pause at the top with your quads engaged, then lower back to the start.

4 Hamstring curl

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself correctly on the machine with the padded bar against the back of your lower legs. Keeping your upper body tense, push your feet down to bend your legs. Pause at the top with your hamstrings engaged, then lower back to the start.

5 Hanging knee raise

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Hang from a bar with your legs straight and abs braced. Use your lower abs to draw your knees up towards your torso, then lower your feet until your legs are straight. Keep tension on your core throughout.

6 Crunch

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, and cross your arms over your chest (or touch your fingers to your temples). Engage your abs, then raise your torso off the floor without tensing your neck. Lower back to the start.

Friday Workout: Back And Biceps

1 Hammer-grip chin-up

Sets 4 Reps 8 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Grip the handles with palms facing and hang with your body straight. Brace your abs and glutes and engage your lats, then pull up until your chin is above your hands. Pause at the top, then lower yourself back to the start under control.

2 Wide-grip lat pull-down

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself at the machine, holding the bar with hands as wide apart as possible. Keeping your chest up and abs braced, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows. Hold the bottom position for a second, then return to the start.

3 Prone dumbbell row

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Lie chest-down on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your chest against the bench, row the weights up, leading with your elbows. Hold the top position for a second, then lower the weights back to the start .

4 Prone dumbbell flye

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Lie chest-down on an incline bench holding a light dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your chest against the bench, raise the weights out to the sides, leading with your elbows. Hold the top position for a second, then lower the weights back to the start.

5 Seated cable row

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Sit on the machine, holding a double-grip cable attachment in both hands. Keeping your chest up, row your hands in towards your body, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top position, then return to the start.

6 Incline biceps curl

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Sit on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forwards and your elbows tight to your sides. Keeping your elbows there, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights.

Saturday Workout: Delts And Abs

1 Seated dumbbell overhead press

Sets 4 Reps 8 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Sit on an upright bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Keeping your chest up and core braced, press the weights directly overhead so your arms are straight. Slowly lower back to the start.

2 Seated dumbbell lateral raise

Sets 4 Reps 8 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Sit on an upright bench, holding a light dumbbell in each hand by your sides with a slight bend in your elbows. Keeping your chest up and core braced, raise the weights out to shoulder height, leading with your elbows. Return slowly to the start.

3 EZ-bar upright row

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding an EZ-bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core braced, row the bar up to chin height, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top, then lower the bar back to the start under control.

4 Weighted bench crunch

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on a bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, holding a dumbbell in both hands above your chest. Engage your abs, then raise your torso off the bench without tensing your neck. Lower back to the start.

5 Hanging knee raise

Sets 4 Reps 12 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Hang from a bar with your legs straight and abs braced. Use your lower abs to draw your knees up towards your torso, then lower your feet until your legs are straight. Keep tension on your core throughout.

6 Plank

Sets 4 Time 45sec Tempo N/A Rest 60sec

Get into position, supporting yourself on your forearms with your elbows underneath your shoulders. Engage your abs, then raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Hold this position and don’t let your hips sag.

Block 2: Week 2

As we explained at the start of this workout plan, everything changed after the first fortnight – the second block contains sessions that hit different body groups in a different order using different moves. That’s because you need to shake things up regularly to keep your body from settling into its comfort zone so you can add significant amounts of lean muscle mass and create the right conditions for burning belly fat so those abs are revealed.

And as with the second week of block 1, there’s some key changes in the second week of block 2 too: namely that you’ll do extra reps for every set of every move. In some instances you will be able to lift the same weight as in the first week, and work your muscles even harder, but for some moves you may need to reduce the weight to hit the target rep count. Prioritise hitting the reps and tempo target over lifting as heavy as possible because that’s what gets the best results.

Monday Workout: Chest And Triceps

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Incline bench press 4 10 3010 60sec
2 Triceps dip 4 10 3010 60sec
3 Dumbbell bench press 4 12 3010 60sec
4 Cable cross-over 4 12 3011 60sec
5 One-arm cable press 4 15 3011 60sec
6 Cable triceps press 4 15 3011 60sec

Wednesday Workout: Legs And Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Squat 4 10 3010 60sec
2 Romanian deadlift 4 10 3010 60sec
3 Leg extension 4 12 3011 60sec
4 Hamstring curl 4 12 3011 60sec
5 Hanging knee raise 4 15 3011 60sec
6 Crunch 4 15 3011 60sec

Friday Workout: Back And Biceps

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Hammer-grip chin-up 4 10 3011 60sec
2 Wide-grip lat pull-down 4 10 3011 60sec
3 Prone dumbbell row 4 12 3011 60sec
4 Prone dumbbell flye 4 12 3011 60sec
5 Seated row 4 15 3011 60sec
6 Incline dumbbell curl 4 15 3011 60sec

Saturday Workout: Delts And Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
1 Seated overhead press 4 10 3010 60sec
2 Seated lateral raise 4 10 3011 60sec
3 EZ-bar upright row 4 12 3011 60sec
4 Weighted bench crunch 4 12 3011 60sec
5 Hanging knee raise 4 15 3011 60sec
6 Plank 4 60sec N/A 60sec