Recommended Workout Programs & Diet Plans for the New Year | Not Your Average Fitness Tips

Recommended Workout Programs & Diet Plans for the New Year

For my final post of 2012, I thought I’d provide a few workout programs and diet plans that I would recommend for the New Year.  As with anything, the program you choose will depend on your ultimate training goals.  I’ve tried to include something for everyone here.  If you’re looking for some simple free tips, then check out my Best Fitness Tips section where I’ve gathered what I consider to be my most useful articles.

Men’s Workout Programs

Visual Impact Muscle Building: a long time favorite of mine, I keep coming back to this program over and over again.  This is one to do if you’re focused on building a better looking body, not necessarily the strongest or most functional body.  For example, leg training is almost exclusively focused on HIIT in all but phase 1.  Read about my results here.

Muscle Gaining Secrets: I picked up this program earlier this year when I wanted to focus on gaining mass and getting stronger.  Definitely a program designed for skinny people but tons of really good strategies that can be applied to anyone’s workout routine.

Women’s Workout Programs

Visual Impact for Women: the counterpart to the men’s program, this routine also focuses on maximizing appearance by targeting the areas that matter most.  Paired with Visual Impact Cardio, this should be an ideal workout for the look that most women would like to achieve.

New Rules of Lifting for Women: my friend Toni swears by this program and has gotten in much better shape thanks to it.  Strength training is pushed aside by too many women but it can not only help you look better, but be empowering as well.

Diet Plans

Anything Goes Diet: very simple approach to losing weight that focuses on calories, not necessarily what you eat.  For those who aren’t ready to give up all their favorite foods, this is one to consider.

Eat Stop Eat: a great intermittent fasting program for anyone and one that I’ve successfully used over the years to shed fat.  This lays out why a 24 hour fast can help you effectively lose weight without sacrificing any of your favorite foods.

Leangains: no book to download, but you can read my article on why I think this is the best approach for those looking to get down to elite body fat levels while gaining muscle.  Daily fasting combined with carb cycling and meal timing makes for a powerful combination.

Renegade Diet: a culmination of several different intermittent fasting approaches combined with dozens of other tweaks that can help you create a diet program that focuses on fat loss.  Overall, this program is probably best for people who are skinny fat or nearing lower levels of body fat.

The Best Plan

Overall, you can use any combination of these programs to get in great shape.  Ultimately, it’s going to come down to hard work and dedication.  As long as you’re willing to perform intense exercise and focus on what you’re eating, you can be successful.  The New Year is the perfect time to put a plan into action!

25 Responses to “Recommended Workout Programs & Diet Plans for the New Year”

  • Dave,

    This is a great list of resources and should cover the bases for most people. I’ve used many of these programs and I have to say Eat Stop Eat and the Visual Impact series are my favorites.


  • Toni:

    I have led so many female friends to The New Rules of Lifting for Women – it’s such a great program for a beginner and/or home trainee. I’m doing The New Rules of Lifting for Abs now and love it just as much as the women’s program. Overall, the New Rules series of books are solid workout that deliver results. And I still plan to try Visual Impact for Women in the near future as I know you’ve gotten really good results from the men’s program.

  • Shanda:

    Ok Dave, I got the Visual Impact for Woman yesterday and started it. It seems very straight forward and right on. Im really excited and looking forward to my new plan. Im wondering though if it would be better for me to use the Fat Torching Cardio plan instead of just the regular HIIT since Ive been doing that already with your Beach Body workout? It looks very hard and challenging..might be just what I need. Thanks Dave for any and all your help.

  • Shanda,
    The Fat Torching Cardio plan is definitely intense and if you’ve been doing my HIIT routine for a while, it would be a good change. I might recommend waiting 1-2 weeks so that you get used to doing the strength training in VI for Women. Then change up the cardio routine. Depends how you feel about changing everything at once vs. making incremental changes. Hope this gets you off to a good start for the New Year!

  • Shanda:

    First week down and Im really sore. I did the 2 day Split with a day off in between and I went ahead and started on the Fat torching HIIT Level 1 week 3( I loved it) but Im wondering if its ok that Im this sore after each I maybe lifting to heavy? I did take a week off before I started the VI for Woman? maybe thats why?
    Isn’t soreness a sign that your breaking down the muscle? And thats not what Im wanting to do. Just wondering if maybe Im pushing it to much. I always have this feeling of wanting to get the most out of my 5 Reps so I go pretty hard. Maybe Im going to hard?

  • Shanda,
    Soreness when you start a new workout routine is DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). It’s completely normal and is just a sign that your muscles are doing something they haven’t done before. If the pain continues for more than 2 weeks, then there might be another issue. Here’s an article if you need more info on that:

    Separately, be careful about going too hard for 5 reps. Strength training works best for the long term when you avoid failure. You should be able to complete every rep that you start.


  • Shanda:

    Ok, I was just worried I was lifting to heavy. I am able to complete every rep I start but it is kinda hard that last set of 5 but I don’t feel that Im at failure. So I think I should be fine.
    Thanks for your response.

  • crystal:

    Hey Dave,

    I need to lose about 10 lbs of fat. I heard that if I decrease my caloric intake to about 1000 calories a day for 2 weeks on the beach body diet, it could ruin my metabolism in the long run. Is this fact or fiction? In your beach body article, it states that the strict diet should be followed for two weeks and then a moderate diet should be followed afterwards. Will this cause long term damage to my metabolism? When you speak about moderate dieting for a week, how much of a caloric intake are you talking about and what kinds of foods can we have? When I do achieve my desired weight, should I stick to 1200-1400 calories for maintenance? Also, I am finally building muscle in my glutes and I am afraid if my diet will cause my glutes to be less round? Thank you for your help and advice.

  • Crystal,
    I wouldn’t recommend going until 1,200 calories unless you really need to lose the weight. Based on even the most extreme studies, you should be able to restore your metabolism (although that often requires regaining most of the fat you lost in the first place). Better to just manage it appropriately and try to generate an excess through a combination of diet and exercise.

    Calories ultimately matter but for optimal fat loss you’ll want to focus on limiting sugar and processed foods. Up your protein intake and lower your carb intake if possible. As for your glutes, just make sure to keep training them. Muscles don’t shrink if you use them.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • crystal:

    Hi Dave, since I am new to fitness can you explain to me if i can still lose weight and keep my metabolism good with 1200 calories but not with lower calories? My friends who recommended me to this site lost weight from your ebook. Thank you

  • Crystal,
    You should be able to maintain your metabolism with lower than 1200 calories but you’ll have to focus on getting enough nutrients and having enough energy to exercise. Additionally, if you keep calories too low for more than a week, you might consider using a cheat day to increase leptin levels to prevent metabolic slowdown.

  • Hi Dave, how is muscle gaining secrets working out for you? I am very skinny (less than 140lbs) and thinking of starting a workout regime to bulk up. Does mgs recommended eating lots of supplements? Ideally I won’t have to spend a ton on muscle gain supplements

  • Steve,
    Like most workout programs that I read, I’ve taken away several key points from Muscle Gaining Secrets but don’t follow the program exactly as written. Supplements are not a key part of the program. You do have to get your calories somewhere though and may have to modestly increase your diet depending on a number of factors.

  • I was pregnant over the new year so I wasn’t able to implement a healthy new regime like I wanted to. In fact, I gained 70 pounds which I attribute to being on bedrest a majority of the pregnancy. It was incredible. I have never in my life weighed over 120 pounds so being 186 was more difficult than I could have imagined. Now that my little one is 3 months I am begging to regain a healthy, active lifestyle. I am breastfeeding so I must continue to eat healthily throughout the day. I am considering trying the Anything Goes Diet you mentioned. There seems to be a bit more freedom within the guidelines of the diet. Thanks!

  • What would you recommend for a woman age 50? I don’t need to lose a lot of weight but I definitely need to tone up. But my joints protest if I try to do a lot of exercise.

  • Karen,
    The best way to tone up is by using weights. Start really slow and build up some strength so that your joints can take it.

  • I can’t do most cardio because of a back problem, so I use moderate weights and do strength training to build some muscle and rev up my metabolism. But I find it difficult to lose the belly fat. I’ve read a lot that the best way to lose the belly flab is by doing cardio. Are there other options than just cardio? Thanks

  • Julia,
    You can effectively lose fat through dieting without cardio…cardio just gives you extra flexibility and a bigger caloric deficit. Keep up the strength training.

  • Thanks, Dave. Dieting does seem to be my best option.

  • Hi Dave, I am dieting and using supplements after an accident left me bedridden for 4 months and I got really out of shape and a bit chubby. I can do cardio but have to take it easy, what would you recommend?

  • I started the year on a really good note, with exercise and healthy eating. But now, almost halfway in, I find that I need a motivation recharge. The only thing I enjoy is walking, so I do as much of that as I can! Hopefully that will maintain my weight in the long run! Thanks for sharing!

  • Hell, this was really what i was looking for. I just got my hands on New Rules of Lifting for Women, 5 days ago and i have to say it’s perfect! I love to lift weight and train for strength so i definitely will follow the program and advice that this book has given me. I started out with Mark Rippetoes Starting Strength 4 months ago and i saw dramatic increases. However, swapping programs won’t hurt. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • these workout programs will always be effective no matter what year it may be. as long as they are being done regularly, both men and women can truly get fitter and healthier through these workout programs and diet plans.

  • I don’t think this is just applicable for 2013. Haha! Thanks for this, will be using this for this year’s workout plan.

  • Jen:

    I agree with Jon….theis a great workout plan applicable to the current year as well

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