How to Get Shredded in 12 Weeks

I am going to provide a formula for you to help you get shredded in 12 weeks. You can walk that fine line between muscular and lean in as little as 12 weeks. My game plan is realistic. There are no secrets here. Okay, maybe a few!

When it comes to getting ripped it's just not going to happen if you're not dieting. If you're brand new to the gym then you can build muscle and get leaner at the same time, but if you have been in the gym a little while it just doesn't work like that.

The first thing you need to understand is that as you get leaner you will get weaker. But if you do everything right then you shouldn't get THAT MUCH weaker!

Usually what I find is that I gas out quicker rather than get a lot weaker. I just don't have the same energy levels throughout the entire workout that I once had when I was eating more food.

The quicker you can get strength out of your mind and just focus on your look, the easier and quicker it is to getting a ripped physique!

The first thing we are going to do is what I like to call the “pre-diet diet” and that is where we clean up our daily diet and get the foundation to begin to really see the results happen week to week.

You see, the first month for most people will yield mediocre results because you just haven't lost enough fluid/body-fat to see the muscles yet. So from your perspective you just look more slender but not necessarily more shredded.

Keep pushing because after that first month the changes begin happening faster and faster! This is because as a whole the caloric deficit becomes more than it was a week or two after beginning the diet.

Lets forget precise food measurements right now and just focus on cleaner eating habits. Not everyone who is shredded measures their food!

How to Get Shredded in 12 weeks: The First 4 weeks

The first 4 wks of the “pre-diet diet” the game plan is simple.

#1 – Stop eating out

Do not eat out during this time. Restaurants are not an option!

Your food sources can change on the daily but everything should be purchased from a grocery store.

#2 – Start doing cardio 30 minutes a day for 5 times a week


You will perform cardio for 30 minutes a shot for 5 times per week or bust!

After you get used to this it will be like second nature and you'll be surprised at how fast those 30 minutes goes by!

#3 – Body weight exercises are to be included in every workout

They do not have to be the entire workout, but some form of push-ups, dips, body weight squats, sit-ups, pull-ups or chins should be included in every workout.

I believe that when you start making your body push and pull it's own weight around there is a physiological signal/response that is sent to the metabolism to kick it into overdrive!

#4 – Do not count meals, eat when you're hungry but eat good food sources

At this stage of the game we aren't as worried about muscle loss yet, because your body is tapping into fat stores before it wants to go catabolic.

Sometimes going longer between meals is beneficial and force feeding ourselves every few hours doesn't cause enough of a deficit to kick start progress.

Do not worry about specifics yet such as grams of protein to carbs or healthy fats.

Just be mindful of consistent protein intake and make sure your sources of carbs and fats are good choices such as rice, yams, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and fruit in moderation.

#5 – Chew a piece of mint gum right after eating

It will send a signal to your brain that it's full and it'll help you from overindulging.

#6 – Do not get on a scale or look at yourself in the mirror

The scale and mirror can seriously give you a mind-fuck sometimes.

Right now what we are focusing on is improving those body weight movements, improving stamina in the gym, and improving cardio output.

#7 – High intensity cardio only!

If you're not sweating then you're not working hard enough!

Forget walking at a snails crawl on a treadmill for 2 hours, you want to take that 30 minutes to kill it!

What I do is hit it really hard the first 10 minutes, back the pace down from 10 – 12 minutes to get a breather, then ramp back up from 12 – 20 minutes, back down again from 20 – 22 minutes, then 23 – 30 minutes finish out strong!

This way of doing cardio makes it mentally easier to get through, because you know at every 10 min interval you get a 2 minute breather to regroup.

You will begin to think of cardio as 10 minute blocks rather than one long drawn out session, it works!

#8 – Shorter rest intervals between sets

Forget the gossip between sets and sitting down. DO NOT SIT DOWN! Lower your rest phases to 30 seconds in between sets.

#9 – Do not be afraid to go outside of the box!

Full body workouts 3 times per week? Be my guest! Instinctive training based on  how you feel? Perfectly fine by me!

Training arms if you feel recovered enough to train them 3 – 4 time a week? Go for it!

There are no limits here and no boundaries, do what you feel is good for you. Remember that diet is key here!

#10 – Cheat meals are once a week for a 2 hour block.

Take a 2 hour time limit to eat whatever you want, then cut it off!

I look at it like this; if bodybuilders of the Golden era had a free day during the week then a 2 hour free time isn't going to kill you!

It will help you keep your head on straight and re-energize you for the upcoming week.

This would be the one exception to eating out.

Once its done it's done, and if it's not in your house then it's going to be harder to slip up during the rest of the week.

But remember, NO EATING OUT AT ANY OTHER TIME, not even at work on your lunch break!

How to Get Shredded in 12 weeks: The Last 8 weeks


This is where the fun begins!

Hunger will become real, energy levels will dip, and irritability may be on the rise.

The next 8 weeks will be survival mode, and you'll push through this to get leaner than you've ever been before!

#1 – Drop cardio to 4 times a week for 30-minute sessions

You don't want to overkill it here and I believe in putting in the bulk of the work up front so towards the end of the diet you can focus more on remaining fuller and muscular looking, rather than scrawny and emaciated!

#2 – Start looking at the diet as calories per meal to achieve a desired caloric intake.

Eating solely when hungry goes out of the window at this point. Learn to know what calories you're taking in per meal. For example, I know that 4 whole eggs is 240 calories, and 1 cup of oats is 300 calories.

So if I did 540 calories per meal 5 times a day then I'm at 2,700 calories a day. That is around where I want to be during most of my dieting. No I'm not eating eggs and oatmeal all day, this is just an example of one meal's calorie count!

You may need less or more. A good rule to start with is to find your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) then subtract 500 calories per day based on that AND what you think you're expending from exercise.

I have found for most men who are weight training and doing cardio on a regular basis that somewhere around 2,800- 3,200 calories a day is a good starting point.

For most women 1,800 – 2,200 calories a day is a good starting point. There is some trial and error here no matter what YOU THINK YOU SHOULD BE TAKING IN!

#3 – Start using a supplemental fat burner/appetite suppressant.

Make no bones about it, you're going to start getting hungry!

Here is a little tip; I take a fat burner supplement at night RIGHT BEFORE BED! This way it begins working on me while I'm asleep in a caloric deficit for 6-8 hours anyways!


Watch how fast the fat starts melting off after you start doing this! And I don't hand out that tip to just anyone, so be glad you're following JDB!

#4 – Start using Ostarine

The reason why you want to begin Ostarine at this point is because the diet itself can drive testosterone levels down and stress hormones up.

You want to use Ostarine to keep your own testosterone levels elevated high enough to stay as anabolic as possible while in caloric deficit. This will help you retain muscle while going further into the fat loss journey!

If you can try to stay strong during this time then naturally your muscles will not catabolize. We want fat loss here, not muscle loss

#5 – Increase your water intake

While I'm not a fan of drinking water like it's going out of style, it does help to be mindful of water intake and try to increase it to 1 gallon a day, or close to that.

Water helps metabolize fat because your body needs to heat up the water to use it effectively.

So cold water throughout the day in a mindful manner is where it's at.

Also, remember that muscle is 70 – 75% water, so to help stay volumized and fuller looking increasing water becomes essential.

#6 – Begin using melatonin at 5 mg a night before bed.

Melatonin will help you fall asleep easier when you're hungry and it's shown that 5mg/night of melatonin can increase your bodies own levels of human growth hormone by as much as 50 points!

>Click here to get Melatonin.

#7 – SLOWLY taper down carbs week to week

While I'm no fan of carb starved dieting, there does come a point where it's beneficial to lower them as you get leaner in order to get more lean.

However it's best to do this slowly.

So if I'm eating 8 ounces of yams a meal then I may lower to 6 ounces a meal after I'm further into my diet.

I will then lower to 4 ounces per meal when I'm a few weeks away from completing my diet (usually to compete in a bodybuilding event when they're this low)

#8- Start increasing healthy fats

Now I don't mean loading up on bacon grease and a bag of cashews here!

I mean a slow and steady increase to around 80 – 100 grams of healthy fats per day. Remember, we still want to be in a caloric deficit here!

#9 – Drop cardio down to 2 – 3 times per week for 30 minutes a session during your last 4 weeks of dieting

Most of the work has been done by now.

We want to preserve whatever muscle we can, and also look healthy and not homeless.

The last month of your diet you should be getting close to as lean as you're going to get, providing that you were not obese at the beginning of all this (and if you were, keep going with more cardio than 2 – 3 times per week)

#10 – Limit cheat meals to 1 meal per week, not a 2 hour window any longer!

That's right, this last 8 wrrks should be 1 cheat meal per week.

If you think you may cave in, try drinking a diet Coke or something with carbonation in it to help you feel fuller.

I do this a lot actually, usually once a day throughout my entire dieting process!

Sugar free popsicles also work very well and will not hurt you at all if you need to eat a couple a few days a week in order to not eat a bunch of junk.


If you follow that formula then you will be very ripped in 12 weeks!

Definitely begin the Ostarine and fat burner after your initial 4 weeks of pre-dieting, as they will only help you retain strength while continuing to burn body fat and help suppress appetite!

Don't forget to use a post cycle therapy when you're done with your 8 week run of Ostarine.

You will recover much quicker with PCT.

This formula should yield an extremely impressive look while holding more muscle mass than your average Joe, not to mention it's much more affordable than steroids and can be used by females as well!

Cut hard my friends! – JD


21 thoughts on “How to Get Shredded in 12 Weeks”

  1. hey JD, thanks for all you do. what would be your opinion on using osta red as a Bridge between cycles to keep more gains and fullness. anything is appreciated

  2. Yo jd thanks for putting this stuff out there
    I just started trt going for my first blood test @week four
    After this test i was going to start osta red to gain size and strength
    I am 55 6 ft 1 180 lbs I looking to hit 200 while loosing a bit of belly fat
    I run hill sprints for 20 minutes
    Any guidance at all would be apreciated

  3. So far what I’ve put together for my own routine:

    1 meal a day. All protein (any meat). 400 Calories max.
    Full body workout 5x a week (includes bench press, pullups, situps, bicep curls)
    1 hour cardio
    Rest on the weekend to rebuild

    Thanks for the guide.

    • only 1 meal of 400 calories a day total? Let me know how long that works for you, it takes a minimum of 1,200 cals per day to even be considered a balanced diet. That is pretty low and not a good approach in my opinion

      • I had 1 meal at 2k calories a day since January and would not drop any bodyfat. Not setting this in stone, will gradually add in more carbs/calories as soon as the abs show.

  4. John, you mentioned in the above post that dieting can have an affect on hormone levels. As a post 35 year old, my levels have been coming in relatively low for someone who trains consistently (330-500). Do you think upping the calorie intake and/or taking some time off from training would benefit?? Also, at about what test level do you think one should start to look into TRT? Thanks.

    • Yes, I would decrease frequency and increase calories. The #1 thing you want to increase first is your intake of healthy fats as they are responsible for testosterone production. As for TRT, IMO 300-350ng/dl is where I’d be looking for TRT, but determining factors would be if someone has been in the gym or not. In your case then yea, sounds like you’ve been in the gym for awhile

  5. I’m glad you picked “Stop eating out” for #`1. People believe that because a specific dish is labeled as 500 calories, it’s accurate. A lot of restaurants (perhaps most) don’t measure the amount of oil and other ingredients they use when preparing a meal.

    Many times, a 500 calorie dish is really 750 calories. Not always, but hey, is it really worth risking during a cut? It’s always a smarter idea to prepare all meals at home. Great article, John. Thanks for sharing.


  6. Howdy John Doe,

    What do you think is the better way to cut weight while maintaining max muscle – fast or over time? Meaning, would you be able to preserve more muscle if you were to cut over 6 month period than 3 months?

    I’ve been on the long cut route. Curious to hear your thoughts.


  7. Hey John, one question – do you count your cheat meal towards your daily caloric expenditure? My limit now is 2100 cals, and a good cheat meal eats up 2/3 of that right away :) I usually eat it on Saturdays right after working out (around lunchtime), so I wonder if I should avoid eating for the rest of the day since all my calories are used up by breakfast and the cheat meal.

    • Honestly I eat instinctive after a cheat meal, so let’s say I’m not hungry for awhile afterwards, then meal frequency that day doesn’t matter as much. I may only eat a few times that day as opposed to 5-6x. I try not to analyze it too much, it really goes by how I feel afterwards. It all works itself out, hope this answers helps


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