Skip to main content

The Ultimate Body Transformation Plan

Body transformation plan
(Image credit: Unknown)

How much can you change your body in four weeks? More than you think – but only if you have three things: a good exercise plan, smart eating rules, and the right attitude to follow both with focus and determination.

This four-week plan has been designed to constantly test your body and push it outside of its comfort zone so your body has no choice but to build new muscle mass and burn away body fat to radically change your physique. That’s why there are small tweaks to the programme each week: these changes keep your body guessing and, therefore, changing.

Making a big alteration to your body in just four weeks is hard, but it can be done. Start as you mean to go on, both in the gym and the kitchen, and soon these small steps will lead to big changes in how you look with your shirt off .

1. The plan

The plan contains two two-week blocks. The first has four sessions a week: chest and back; legs and abs; arms; and shoulders and abs. The second has four sessions a week, and they’re different: chest and triceps; legs and shoulders; chest and triceps; and back and biceps.

2. Strong start

The workouts for the first week of the first block are below, then the sessions for the second week of the block are detailed in the tables below that. Do the workouts in order, sticking to the sets, reps, tempo and rest periods detailed to start the plan as strongly as possible.

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.

3. Big finish

The big change in the second block of the plan is that you’ll train your chest, back and arms muscles twice a week. This increase in training volume will shock your body into building more muscle mass, while also stripping away unwanted body fat so you get both bigger and leaner. 

4. Steady gains

The workouts contain the same exercises in the same order for weeks one and two, and then weeks three and four, but the sets and reps change from week to week so you push your muscles harder. This approach will keep your positive body composition changes coming.

5. Get your rest

We won’t lie: this four-week plan is tough, but that’s what it takes to transform your body for the better quickly. This means that good nutrition and quality rest are essential. Follow the food rules below to give your body the nutrients it needs, and try to get to bed early each night.

Diet Tips

To build lean muscle mass and get a flat belly, what you eat is as important as how you exercise. Follow these four rules for success

Protein

If you don’t eat enough protein – red and white meat, fish and eggs – then don’t be surprised when you don’t add muscle as fast as you want. Lifting weights causes microscopic tears in your muscles, and it’s the consumption of protein that repairs this damage and rebuilds your muscles bigger and stronger. Aim for at least a fist-sized portion of high-quality lean protein at every meal.

Carbs

You don’t need to cut out carbs altogether to transform your body, but making smarter carb choices will help you get bigger, stronger and leaner. Avoid sugar and limit consumption of fast-release carbs like processed white bread and pasta, which have been stripped of many of their nutrients and fibre. Instead choose slow-release carbs, such as sweet potatoes and brown rice, as well as plenty of fibre-rich, nutrient-dense veg.

Vegetables

If you struggle to get your daily five-a-day then you’re missing out on a wealth of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential to both better health and getting leaner. Eat a wide variety of different-coloured veg to give your body the nutrients it needs after hard training, as well as fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer and stabilise blood sugar levels so you won’t be tempted by sweet snacks.

Alcohol

To make the biggest positive change to your body in four weeks you should consider cutting out alcohol. It’s high in calories you don’t need, and too much booze will kill your motivation to hit the gym hard and eat well. Your best bet is to stick to water, green tea and black coffee to stay hydrated and load up on antioxidants that will help you recover from exercise.

See related

Block 1: Week 1

Monday Workout: Chest And Back

Bench press

Bench press

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 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.

Bent-over row

Bent-over row

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Bend forwards, hinging from your hips, but keep your chest up and your core braced. Row the bar up to your body, leading with your elbows, pause at the top, then lower.

3 Incline dumbbell flye

Incline dumbbell flye

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 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.

Lat pull-down

Lat pull-down

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 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.

5 One-arm cable press

One-arm cable press

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 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 forward until your arm is straight. Reverse back to the start and repeat for all the reps, then switch arms.

Dumbbell pull-over

Dumbbell pull-over

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 4010 Rest 60sec

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

Wednesday Workout: Legs And Abs

Back squat

Back squat

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding the bar across the back of your shoulders. Keeping your chest up and your whole body tight, 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.

Romanian deadlift

Romanian deadlift

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. Keeping your chest up and core braced, bend forwards, hinging at the hips, to let the bar roll down the front of your legs until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Reverse the movement.

Leg extension

Leg extension

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

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

Hamstring curl

Hamstring curl

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 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 tight, push your feet down to bend your legs. Pause at the top with your hamstrings engaged, then lower back to the start.

Crunch

Crunch

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on your back with hands by your temples and knees bent. Engage your upper abs to raise your torso off the ground, then crunch your upper body up to meet your knees. Lower slowly, keeping tension on your abs throughout.

Plank

Plank

(Image credit: unknown)

Sets 3 Time 30sec Tempo N/A Rest 60sec

Get into position with your elbows under your shoulders, your feet together, and your hips raised with abs and glutes engaged so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Hold this position without letting your hips drop.

Friday Workout: Biceps And Triceps

1 Underhand lat pull-down

Underhand lat pull-down

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Position yourself at the machine with a shoulder-width 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.

Triceps dip

Triceps dip

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 6-10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

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

Dumbbell biceps curl

Dumbbell biceps curl

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tight to your sides, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights back to the start.

Dumbbell triceps extension

Dumbbell triceps extension

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms straight over your head. Keeping your elbows pointing to the ceiling, lower the weights behind your head, then straighten your arms to return to the start.

5 Cable biceps curl

Cable biceps curl

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a cable machine, holding a double-rope handle attached to the lower pulley with palms facing. 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.

Cable triceps press-down

Cable triceps press-down

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a cable machine, holding a double-rope handle attached to the high pulley with palms facing. 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: Shoulders And Abs

1 Seated dumbbell overhead press

Seated dumbbell overhead press

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 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

Seated dumbbell lateral raise

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 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, then return slowly to the start.

3 EZ-bar upright row

EZ-bar upright row

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 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.

Hanging knee raise

Hanging knee raise

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 1111 Rest 60sec

Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and straight legs. Brace your core and glutes and keep your feet together as your draw your knees up towards your chest. Hold this position, then straighten your legs to return to the start.

5 Weighted crunch

Weighted crunch

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on a bench, holding a dumbbell or weight plate against your chest with both hands, with your knees bent. Engage your upper abs to raise your torso off the ground, then crunch your upper body up to meet your knees. Lower slowly.

Reverse crunch

Reverse crunch

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on your back with your arms flat on the floor and knees bent. Keeping your abs fully engaged throughout, use your lower abs to draw your knees in towards your chest, then raise your hips off the ground. Lower back to the start.

Block 1: Week 2

Keep adding lean muscle and blitzing belly fat by upping your effort levels and pushing hard

With the first four sessions of week 1 in the bag, you may already been feeling a little stronger and lighter on your feet, which is why we are now going to up the ante to accelerate your positive body composition changes.

The four workouts of the second week are similar to those of the first week. In order you’ll train chest and triceps; legs and abs; arms; and then shoulders and abs. But there are two big differences in the programme design to keep you on track. First, you’re going to do an extra set of the first and second move of each workout. Then, for the final four moves of each session, the rep count increase by two to 12.

Why? Because you now know how to do these workouts well, so increasing the amount of work your muscles must do will encourage your body to keep adding muscle and burning off excess fat. Stay focused and maintain good form throughout all four sessions to keep progressing as fast as possible.

Monday Workout: Chest And Back

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
1 Bench press410201060sec
2 Bent-over row410201160sec
3 Incline dumbbell flye312201060sec
4 Lat pull-down312201160sec
5 One-arm cable press312201160sec
6 Dumbbell pull-over312201060sec

Wednesday Workout: Legs And Abs

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
1 Squat410201060sec
2 Romanian deadlift410201060sec
3 Leg extension312201160sec
4 Hamstring curl312201160sec
5 Crunch312201160sec
6 Plank345secN/A60sec

Friday Workout: Biceps And Triceps

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
1 Underhand lat pull-down410201160sec
2 Triceps dip46-10201060sec
3 Dumbbell biceps curl312201160sec
4 Dumbbell triceps ext312201060sec
5 Cable hammer curl312201160sec
6 Cable triceps extension312201160sec

Saturday Workout: Shoulders And Abs

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
1 Dumbbell overhead press410201060sec
2 Dumbbell lateral raise410201160sec
3 EZ-bar upright row312201160sec
4 Hanging knee raise312201160sec
5 Weighted crunch312201160sec
6 Reverse crunch312201160sec

Block 2: Week 1

Monday Workout: Chest And Back

1 Incline bench press

Incline bench press

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 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 down until it touches your chest, then press it back up powerfully.

2 Wide lat pull-down

Wide lat pull-down

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Position yourself at the machine with a double 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.

Dumbbell bench press

Dumbbell bench press

(Image credit: Unknown)

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.

Seated cable row

Seated cable row

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 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.

5 One-arm cable press

One-arm cable press

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 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 forward until your arm is straight. Reverse back to the start and repeat for all the reps, then switch arms.

6 Straight-arm cable pull-down

Straight-arm cable pull-down

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

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

Wednesday Workout: Legs And Shoulders

Back squat

Back squat

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding the bar across the back of your shoulders. Keeping your chest up and your whole body tight, 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.

Overhead press

Overhead press

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding the bar 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.

Leg extension

Leg extension

(Image credit: Unknown)

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 tight, raise your feet to straighten your legs. Pause at the top with your quads engaged, then lower back to the start.

4 Seated dumbbell lateral raise

Seated dumbbell lateral raise

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 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, then return slowly to the start.

Hamstring curl

Hamstring curl

(Image credit: Unknown)

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 tight, push your feet down to bend your legs. Pause at the top with your hamstrings engaged, then lower back to the start.

6 EZ-bar upright row

EZ-bar upright row

(Image credit: Unknown)

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.

Friday Workout: Chest And Triceps

Bench press

Bench press

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on a flat 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 Incline dumbbell flye

Incline dumbbell flye

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 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.

Triceps dip

Triceps dip

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 6-10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

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

4 Incline dumbbell shoulder press

4 Incline dumbbell shoulder press

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Lie flat on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand at chest height with palms facing. 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.

Cable triceps press-down

Cable triceps press-down

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

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

Press-up

Press-up

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10-15 Tempo 3010 Rest 60sec

Start in the press-up position – hands on the floor, shoulders, elbows and wrists aligned, and feet together. Brace your core, then bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Press back up powerfully to return to the start.

Saturday Workout: Back And Biceps

Chin-up

Chin-up

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 6-10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Hang from a bar with a shoulder-width underhand grip. Engage your abs and glutes and, keeping your chest up, pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Pause in this position, then slowly lower yourself back to the start.

Lat pull-down

Lat pull-down

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 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

3 Prone dumbbell row

Prone dumbbell row

(Image credit: Unknown)

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, then lower the weights back to the start .

4 Prone dumbbell reverse flye

Prone dumbbell reverse flye

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 60sec 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 to the sides, leading with your elbows. Hold the top position, then lower the weights back to the start.

Dumbbell biceps curl

Dumbbell biceps curl

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tight to your sides, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights back to the start.

Dumbbell hammer curl

Dumbbell hammer curl

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 10 Tempo 3011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other. Keeping your elbows tight to your sides, curl the weights up to shoulder height. Squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower the weights back to the start.

Block 2: Week 2

As you noticed in the first week of the second block of this plan, some new moves have been introduced to the programme to shake things up and keep your muscles guessing so they keep on growing. The sets, reps and tempo have also been adjusted to make each set of each workout a little more testing for both your mind and muscles. That means the second block of the plan is mentally and physically challenging, but stay focused and determined to complete each session to the best of your abilities and you’ll be amazed by how much progress you can make in sculpting a bigger, stronger and leaner body.

The final week’s workouts are listed in table form below and while they use the same exercises in the same order as the first week of the block, the sets and reps have again been tweaked. This means you’ll keep pushing your muscles a little harder every time you step into the gym, because that’s the only way to keep your results coming.

Monday Workout: Chest And Back

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
1 Incline bench press510301060sec
2 Wide lat pull-down510301160sec
3 Dumbbell bench press412301060sec
4 Seated row412301160sec
5 One-arm cable press412301160sec
6 Straight-arm pull-down412301160sec

Wednesday Workout: Legs And Shoulders

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
1 Squat510301060sec
2 Overhead press510301060sec
3 Leg extension412301160sec
4 Dumbbell lateral raise412301160sec
5 Hamstring curl412301160sec
6 EZ-bar upright row412301160sec

Friday Workout: Chest And Triceps

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
1 Bench press510301060sec
2 Incline dumbbell flye510301160sec
3 Triceps dip48-12301060sec
4 Dumbbell hammer press412301060sec
5 Cable triceps press-down412301160sec
6 Press-up412-15301060sec

Saturday Workout: Back And Biceps

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
1 Chin-up56-10301160sec
2 Lat pull-down510301160sec
3 Prone dumbbell row412301160sec
4 Prone dumbbell flye412301160sec
5 Dumbbell biceps curl412301160sec
6 Dumbbell hammer curl412301160sec

Joe Warner worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach, from 2008 to 2013, then returned as editor of Men’s Fitness UK from 2016 to 2019.

With contributions from