Ditch the Dad Bod: your eight-week strength training plan 3 years ago

Ditch the Dad Bod: your eight-week strength training plan

You don't have to become obsessed with the gym to get results

JOE's Ditch the Dad Bod training plan consists of the following:

  • Three strength training workouts
  • One high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session
  • One steady state cardio (LISS) session

This only amounts to around five or six hours training time each week - vital if you've got a busy schedule. You really don't need to spend endless hours in the gym in order to lose weight, gain strength and get fitter.

Each strength training session should last between 45 and 60 minutes. An hour out of your day can easily fit around work, family life and various other commitments.


Eight-week strength training plan

To build a strong foundation of lean muscle, discard what you may have been told about lifting light weights for high reps. You need a variety of rep ranges to achieve your best results.

The Ditch the Dad Bod training plan is based on two key points:

  • Hitting each muscle group two or three times a week
  • Using a variety of rep ranges in monthly cycles

Preference is given to compound exercises that work multiple muscles at once. Not only will these lifts activate the most muscle fibres but they also burn a whole load of calories.

Think back to Physics class at school. The heavier an object, the more energy needed to move it. When it comes to burning fat, this is why weight training is arguably a better method than simply pounding away at the treadmill.

Without further a-do, here's the plan in full:


Weeks 1 - 4: Strength Phase
[Monday | Wednesday | Friday]

  • Bench press: 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Squat: 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Trap Bar Deadlift: 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Shoulder Press: 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Pull Ups: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Dips: 3 sets x 10-12 reps

This will provide you with a good foundation of strength. 

Worried about the guns? They'll get a good pump from the pull-ups and dips. If you feel you need to, swap either out for a preacher curl or tricep extension.

Weeks 5 - 8: Lean Muscle Phase
[Monday | Wednesday | Friday]

  • Bench press: 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Squat: 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Trap Bar Deadlift: 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Shoulder Press: 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Pull Ups: 3 sets x 12-15 reps
  • Dips: 3 sets x 12-15 reps

If you can hit 15 reps on Pull Ups and Dips, think about adding weight via a weighted vest or dipping belt.

As you progress through the weeks, you will notice that the total number of reps on each exercise grows. This increased volume is designed to maximise your results.


The weights you lift from Week 5 onwards should still be challenging - to the point where rep 10 is very difficult.

The cardio question

Yep, you've still got to do cardio. The main reason so many people hate this aspect of their training is because they get bored.

The way around this is simple: find a form you enjoy. If you don't quite fancy jogging on the pavement like Rocky Balboa, you won't have to.

Not only can cardio help you recover from weight training, but it increases your aerobic fitness levels, which will help you lift heavier weights, for longer and with greater intensity.

There are two kinds of cardio, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and LISS (low-intensity steady state).

HIIT: this version is to be performed on a watt or exercise bike.

  • 30 seconds maximum intensity effort
  • 20 seconds rest
  • Repeat for 8-10 rounds

If you don't have access to a bike, you can reap the same rewards with kettlebell swings or hill sprints.

LISS: this kind of cardio can help to flush out the lactic acid that builds up in response to weight training

  • Try incline walking or swimming for 30 - 45 minutes

Just make sure you're consuming at least 20 grams of protein prior to your cardio sessions, to avoid tucking into that hard-earned muscle tissue for energy.

Substitute for success

You've arrived at the gym during peak time and all the benches are taken. A familiar feeling, but don't worry. Feel free to substitute another compound exercise in where appropriate.

Bench Press: an incline or decline bench press will suffice, as would a weighted dip - though the latter is an advanced lift

Squat: a leg press works the same musculature

Abs-olute growth

To reveal your abs, you must be in a calorie deficit, where you're burning off more calories than you consume. That doesn't mean you shouldn't train your midsection, though.

Like any other area, the abdominals still need to be challenged and strengthened. Although your core will gain strength from the exercises in the plan, there are still ways to accelerate your results.

Try this: take the bodyweight plank and time yourself. Each week, look to add another 20 seconds to the time you can hold the position for.


If you have any questions, email [email protected] 

Catch up on the first instalment in the Ditch the Dad Bod series: how your diet burns stubborn body fat