Get Ripped in 2024 with this 12-Week Diet & Training Program

transformation program

A 12-week diet and training program to get conditioned and ripped.

The New Year is just about here, the winter bulk will be coming to an end, and summer is now just a few months away. Getting ripped and shredded, getting huge, or just getting in shape are usually some of the top three New Years resolutions for most people, but this does not only apply to people who have never stepped foot inside a gym or dieted. Even lifters who have been working out for several years aim to put on a few extra pounds of muscle mass or trim down their body fat percentage every year. A training program or workout plan is something everyone can benefit from!

Contrary to what anyone might tell you, having a fitness-related New Years’ resolution is not just wishful thinking. It is, in fact, one of the best things you can do before starting a new calendar year. According to studies, being physically active has been shown to have many health benefits, both psychological and physiological. It can also help you live longer. Who wouldn’t want that? 

Lucky for you, we are providing you with a transformation program to get you started on your journey!

12-Week Beginner Diet Program

Bodybuilder Diet

A good diet is one of the most important parts when it comes to seeing progress. Until you replenish your muscles with the right fuel, you should not expect to see the desired results. Your daily macronutrient (carbs, protein, and fat) needs will depend on your current weight and transformation goal. 

As a beginner, you do not need to change your diet every week. You need to give your muscles enough time to adapt and make the most of the nutrients you are feeding them. By switching your meals too often, you end up leaving gains on the table.

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Let’s dive into a good diet plan to start your transformation program. You will be eating six small meals throughout the day. This will ensure you are maintaining a high metabolism rate which will help you burn calories all day long. 

The 12-week diet plan to get you shredded:

Meal 1

Meal 2

  • Cottage cheese: 1 serving
  • Brown rice: 1 cup

Meal 3

  • Tuna: 1 sandwich

Meal 4

  • Chicken breast: 250g
  • Brown rice: 1 serving
  • Olive oil: 1 tbsp

Meal 5 

  • Potato: 1 medium baked
  • Steak: 150g
  • Brocolli: 1 cup

Meal 6

  • Egg white: 3 large
  • Protein Shake

 Also Read: 10 Gym Terms Every Beginner Needs To Know

12-Week Beginner Training Program

Now, the fun part of the training program, the actual workout plan. The 12-week beginner workout plan will introduce you to a range of gym equipment and functional exercises. In this program, you will work towards improving your muscle mass, conditioning, endurance, and stamina.

In the first six weeks of the workout plan, you will be performing a push/pull/legs workout split. No, do not skip your leg days. During the second half of the program, you will switch to the Arnold split (named after Arnold Schwarzenegger) with increased intensity. 

Other than weight training, you will also be doing cardio throughout the 12 weeks. For the first six weeks, you will be doing a 30-minute LIIT (low-intensity interval training) cardio post-workout. From weeks 7-12, you will be performing a 10-15 minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio session post-workout. Cardio can be done on treadmills, bikes, rowers, stairclimbers, or even outside! 

NordicTrack Commercial 1750 is a great treadmill to offer interactive personal training at home. Quiet drive incline technology is matched by an HD smart touchscreen for the best workouts.

Must Read: Dear Beginner, Please Stop Making These 10 Fatal Mistakes

Training Principles For Optimal Results

To get the most out of your training, you should be following these training principles:

1. Focus on Your Form

Most beginner lifters make the mistake of chasing heavier weights while starting out, and this can compromise form. In your initial days, you should focus on perfecting your form. Learn how to perform the exercises correctly, and the weights will come.

2. Mind-Muscle Connection

If your goal is to build muscle mass, lifting weight for the sake of it is not going to cut it. Bodybuilding and weightlifting are two different sports. For optimal muscle fiber stimulation, you should focus on contracting your muscles with every rep, establishing a mind-muscle connection. Remember: Bodybuilders are primarily pump-chasers. If you do not get a muscle-ripping pump during your workout, you are doing something wrong.

Check Out: 10 Myths Most Fitness Beginners Believe

3. Visualization 

This technique was popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger. As soon as the the 7x Mr. Olympia entered a gym, he started visualizing what he wanted his muscles to look like. He used the rest time between sets to pose and visualize his dream physique. 

“Every ab crunch, every chin-up, every curl, every squat, every rep brought me closer to my vision of becoming Mr. Universe, the greatest bodybuilder of all time.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger. He went on to become one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, bodybuilders of all time, taking home several Olympia titles and inspiring generations.

Must Read: Arnold Schwarzenegger Quotes to Keep You Motivated

4. Progressive Overload 

To avoid hitting a plateau, you need to ensure you are progressively overloading your muscles. Since this is a beginner’s training program, you do not need to push yourself too hard. Try to lift a little heavier every week or perform a couple more reps with the same weight to keep challenging your muscles. 

RitFit Power Cage is a heavy-duty and stable rack with 12 variable positions to allow for many big lifts.

12-Week Beginner Workout Regimen

This beginner training program will introduce you to a variety of exercises performed with a barbell, dumbbells, cables, and machines. The 12-week workout includes:

Week 1-6: Push/Pull/Legs

The first six weeks of this transformation program will help you get accustomed to resistance training and are designed to ease you into your gym life. The push/pull/legs split is great for beginners to get used to different movements and have the opportunity to learn the machines and other equipment.

  • Monday: Push Day (chest, shoulders, triceps)
  • Tuesday: Pull (Back, rear delts, biceps)
  • Wednesday: Legs (Quads, hamstrings, calves)
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Push Day (chest, shoulders, triceps)
  • Saturday: Pull Day (back, rear delts, biceps)
  • Sunday: Legs (Quads, hamstrings, calves)

You can divide this up into different focuses for each day of your training program. For example, the first push day can be more chest focused, while the second is more shoulder focused. Then the first leg day can be more quad focused, while the second is more hamstring focused. Workouts can look something like this:

Push Day 1: 

  • Barbell bench press- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Incline dumbbell press- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Pec deck machine- 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Barbell military press- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lateral raises- 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Tricep rope pushdowns- 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Dips- 4 sets until muscular failure

Pull Day 1:

  • Barbell row- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lat pulldown- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Cable pullovers- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Reverse pec deck- 4 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Cable rope bicep curls- 4 sets of 12
  • Barbell curls- 4 sets of 12

Leg Day 1:

  • Barbell squat- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Hack squat- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Hamstring curl- 4 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Leg extensions- 4 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Calf raises- 5 sets of 12

Push Day 2:

  • Dumbbell shoulder press- 4 sets of 6-8
  • Cable lateral raises- 4 sets of 15
  • Arnold presses- 4 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Incline barbell bench press- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Cable pec fly- 4 sets of 15
  • Overhead tricep extension- 4 sets of 10-12
  • Dips- 4 sets until failure

Pull Day 2: 

  • Dumbbell row- 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Cable row- 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Cable pullovers- 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Dumbbell rear delt flies- 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell bicep curls- 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Preacher curls- 4 sets of 12 reps

Leg Day 2:

  • Stiff leg deadlifts- 4 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Hamstring curls- 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Hip thrusts- 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Leg extensions- 4 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Calf raises- 5 sets of 12 reps

knee sleeves

Week 1-3:

For the first three weeks of the workout plan, you will be able to get a good understanding of weights that work for you, as well as how the equipment works. Make sure you are maintaining high intensity throughout your workout. Do not rest for more than 60-90 seconds between sets.

Week 4-6:

For the second phase of the first six weeks, you will be using slightly heavier weights to really push yourself. By now you should have a better understanding of the way everything works and how it feels, so time to up the weight! Still aim for the same rep/set ranges, but increase the weights. It’s all part of the workout plan!

Next Read: 5 Tips for Finding Yourself a Workout Partner

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Week 7-12: The Arnold Split

In weeks 7-12, your training program will incorporate the Arnold split. This is a very popular split originally utilized by the godfather of bodybuilding himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. You will also be pushing harder in the final installment and lifting heavier than you did in the first six weeks. Let’s look at what the Arnold split entails.

Monday: Chest and back

Tuesday: Shoulders and arms

Wednesday: Legs

Thursday: Chest and back

Friday: Shoulders and arms

Saturday: Legs

Sunday: Rest

Now, you can absolutely utilize the same exercises and rep ranges from the first 6 weeks for the Arnold split, there is no reason to cut those out of your training program. You can also continue to focus more on one muscle group for the first day of the week more so than the second. For example, on the first chest and back day you can do more for your chest, on the second, do more for your back. Or on the first shoulders and arms day, do more presses for shoulders, and on the second, do more raises.

There are numerous different ways to switch up your training program to adapt for the changes that occur in your body. The best thing you can do is find what works for you, and go off of that.

Next Read: 7 Reasons Why You Can’t Build Muscle

Things to Keep in Mind When Starting a Training Program


To be honest, it is unfair to label people who give up working out only a few weeks after joining a gym as “quitters”. Most of these individuals end up quitting because they do not know what to expect when first starting a new training program or workout plan. They may not know the machines, cardio equipment, or even how to properly exercise with equipment like dumbbells or barbells. Perhaps their diet is too much to handle.

If you are reading this, do not give up. While gym veterans may complain about a gym full of resolutioners, deep down, we love to see people getting massive, getting shredded, or just getting in shape. Let’s dive into what to expect when starting a new training program or workout plan.

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1. Training Program Results Will Take Time

Although transforming your physique is not as hard as some people make it out to be, it is not an overnight process and it surely will test your willpower, as it takes time. Sure, progress happens day by day, but in reality you will more than likely not see some serious results until after the 6 month point. 

But isn’t this a 12-week transformation guide?

Yes, it is! Although we are giving you a 12-week program, please do not expect to turn into Captain America in these three months (remember, he had the secret sauce). We believe in keeping it real here. To see meaningful progress, you should adapt the regimen for another 12-weeks. Even then, you should not expect to look like Steve Rogers after he came out of the Vita-Ray machine

After six months, you will really start seeing your body changing. At this point, you may want to consider changing your training. Perhaps switching to an intermediate training program or workout plan to really continue with linear gains.

Next Read: This Is How Your Training Should Change as You Get Advanced

2. You Are Not a Lone Wolf

There is no shortage of people just starting out in the gym. Even the biggest guys in the gym started somewhere. Body transformation is a complex subject. Watch some videos, but keep in mind that what has worked for a YouTuber or an Instagram fitness model might not work for you. If you want to make the most of your time in the gym, a training program that is personalized for you may be a good idea. 

Guessing that you are a newbie, and a humble one at that, it may be a good idea to take the help of a professional, or even a coach, with a proven track record to devise your training, nutrition, and recovery program. It might cost you a little upfront, but it will pay dividends in the long run. Your body is an investment.

Related: 5 Tips For A Weight Room Beginner

3. Working Out is Only Half the Game

Many new lifters pat themselves on the back after every workout as they drive to a friendly neighborhood McDonald’s for a rewarding meal, thinking it is good to have in their diet. McDonald’s may be a good cheat meal, but as far as your actual diet you want to make sure you are getting in quality proteins, carbs, and fats. 

A transformation takes much more than running 20 minutes on a treadmill or curling dumbbells for a few reps. To carve your dream physique you need to watch your diet. What you eat has a huge effect on your results. Oh, and follow an effective recovery program. It is called a fitness lifestyle for a reason.

4. Use Supplements With Your Training Program

Transformation program

Most beginners make the mistake of staying away from sports supplements for the first few months as they think these supplements are only meant for pros. On the other hand, some gym goers disregard supplements altogether because they think they can harm their internal organs.

Not only are bodybuilding supplements (from reputed brands) safe, but they can help shorten your transformation curve. There are supplements on the market that can improve the quality of your workouts, keep you energized intra workouts, and then fasten up your recovery process. 

Here are some supplements we recommend:

Training Program Conclusion

Transformation program

While getting a gym membership is easy, sticking to a transformation program or workout plan requires determination and unwavering commitment. Although the first few months of a transformation program might get you minimal visible results, you will see exponential growth in the months that follow. Be patient. We know that a diet is hard to stick to and your training can sometimes feel like a chore, but stay hungry.

If you wish to carve the physique of your dreams, we encourage you to think long-term. As someone once said, “People overestimate what can be done in one year, and underestimate what can be done in ten.”

Stick to your diet, stay consistent in the gym, and get it done.

What is your current and goal weight? Will you be sticking to a workout plan? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.