Your 12-Week Fitness Plan for Less Fat and More Muscle

12 Weeks Less Fat and More MuscleSpring is upon us! It’s exciting to consider the fitness goals you could accomplish in the 12 or so weeks until summer. Just think: in 12 weeks you could:

– Lose 10 to 12 pounds (or 3 percent body fat)
– Gain muscle definition in your arms, legs, chest, or butt

The secret is to have a fitness plan, so take a look at how you can spend the next 12 weeks accomplishing these goals.

Your 12-Week Plan

Can you imagine being 10 pounds lighter by summer or losing enough fat to feel “cut?” This is totally doable. Sure, you could lose weight more quickly on a diet of shakes and carrots, but your goal is to maintain/build muscle mass and practice new habits that will not only help you achieve your goal but stay there.

If want more muscle definition, there is no reason why you can’t be lean and cut in 12 weeks IF you only have a few pounds of excess body fat. The keys to muscle definition are heavy strength training, proper caloric intake, and liberal protein consumption. Body fat covers up muscle, so if you need to lose more than 10 pounds focus on reducing body fat first.

On your mark, get set, wait! Before you start, set an exact goal for next 12 weeks:

  • For body fat reduction, commit to the number of pounds or percentage of body fat you want to lose. It’s realistic to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week or 1 percent of your body fat per month. Or if you hate tracking numbers, decide on a certain pair of pants you want to fit into, for example, or a specific dress size.
  • For muscle definition, decide what you want to see in the mirror in 12 weeks: more shoulder and arm definition? Defined inner thighs and firmer butt?

—> Write these goals down on your calendar today. Now you’re ready to start.

Week 1

When I work with personal training clients, I encourage them to strive for small, incremental changes to avoid feeling overwhelmed. So in week 1, focus on nutrition and clean eating only. Here’s your checklist:

  1. Find out where you stand.
  2. Find your proper calorie intake and track your food.
  3. Start eating clean and getting more protein.
  4. Plan your workout routine.

For reducing body fat, your goal should be some type of exercise every day. Continue doing things you love (such as a sport or activity) and, depending on your fitness level, add high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training (2 to 3 days of each). Your individual training program should be based on many factors; that’s why I provide online coaching instead of one-size-fits-all workouts.

For muscle definition, you need to lift heavy stuff, too, without wasting away your muscle with too much cardio. There are a whole lot of ways to build muscle. The most important factor is having an effective, long-term program and sticking to it.

Week 2

  1. Begin your exercise program. Boom! You’re in the routine.
  2. Get into the groove of preparing food ahead. Again, start small. Grill and freeze a package of chicken breasts, buy frozen vegetables, and commit to taking your lunch to work a few times. Bring a snack with you. Eliminate one or two restaurant meals.

Weeks 3-12

  1. Keep up your exercise routine every week.
  2. Continue to eat clean. Decrease eating out a little every week and prepare more of your own food. Slowly replace processed foods with natural ones.
  3. Check your progress. Recheck your body fat and/or measurements once a month and your weight every week (keeping in mind that it fluctuates widely in the short term). If you haven’t made any progress, reduce your caloric intake a bit and increase activity. Always weigh yourself in the morning, before breakfast, and sans clothes.
  4. Revisit your calorie intake to make sure you’re still on track. If you’re not making progress, adjust your calories and/or activity level.
  5. New habits take time! Remember that even if you don’t hit your goal, you know you can do this.

That’s it! You’re on your way. I absolutely love seeing people reach their goals – what are YOURS?


12 thoughts on “Your 12-Week Fitness Plan for Less Fat and More Muscle

  1. Hi,

    This is an amazing plan!!

    I have lost 10 pounds in a month by eating balanced diet and with extreme workout..!!

    Also, can you tell me which is more beneficial ?

    Light weights with more repetitions or heavy weights with less repetitions?




    • Wow, congrats. It depends on your goals. If losing weight, a moderate rep range (10-15) is good in a circuit style. For muscle building the mid-to- lower range is best (5-12).


  2. Thanks for this, Suzanne–because it’s really inspiring to me right now. And timely. You see, I have about 12 weeks until my stepdaughter gets married, I go on vacation to Maui and I have my 20 year high school reunion. Those things are all happening within a 3 week time period and I want to look my best. Not only that, but I’m taking my PT test next week, and I want to look cut as a trainer too. I’ve been building muscle like crazy, but I know I still have some fat to cut in order to get that “cut” look you talked about here. I would probably only need to lose not more than 8 pounds, maybe even less now that I’ve gained some lean mass. Anyway, I’m taking your cue. I’m going to go hardcore on the clean eating. Such a difficult thing for me in the past, but as I’ve studied the NASM book some of this nutrition stuff is starting to sink in. I just can’t get away with what I used to. I’m going to check out your grocery store list. 🙂


    • Thanks for writing and downloading the food for fuel grocery list, Bethany. Lucky you going to Maui! I’m going to try to go this fall so I can relate with wanting to lean out for that big event. You can do it! Getting serious about clean eating is the way. And let me know how the test goes – you’re going to kill it!


  3. Such a great post Suzanne!! It really comes down to all the facets here BUT I LOVE how you made sure people knew what their goals were first! SO IMPORTANT! 🙂 Access, plan, check, recheck, revise, revisit.. you have it there for people! Now they need to hire you via online! 🙂


  4. Dang, girl!!! you hit the nail on the head A-GAIN.
    I, too, like the way you suggest that we take some time to really think about and work on what our goals should be; fly-by-night ideas often end in failure. Well thought out plans and goals are destined for SUCCESS!
    I’m going to take some time this week to work on my REAL goals for this Spring…
    Thanks for inspiring me, once again!!



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