Ketogenic Strength Training

Think you should train while overweight? I would cut first.


When I started doing Keto I was in no condition to be in the gym training. Light walking was the best thing for me and losing fat was my main goal, not building muscle. At the time I liked having a singular focus and fat loss is 98% nutrition. I lost significant weight simply through dietary interventions and not stepping a foot into the gym (30 pounds in 6 months).

But if you are ready to train and you have been following strict keto, then it’s time to hit the gym and tweak your macros. You will need to adjust your protein intake. When I started I was so deep into the fat loss aspects of the Keto, that I neglected to increase my protein. I was very stubborn and was only getting about 60 – 80g of protein per day. Boy was that a poor choice.

Once you’re training in the gym 3 days a week you have to practically double that amount if you want to build muscle. Even on the days you’re not training. Your body can use fat or carbs for fuel, but it can’t use it for muscle synthesis. It needs the extra protein exogenously.

Strict Keto: 5% Carbs, 20% Protein, 75% Fat – Ideal for fat loss, not muscle gains.
Pumped Keto: 5 – 10% Carbs, 25 – 30% Protein, 60 – 65% Fat – Keto Muscle Building.

I’ve found for me personally, the old adage of 1G of Protein per pound of total body weight when weight training 3 days per week still holds true even for people in Nutritional Ketosis.

Always remember that you’re recovering on the days your not training. You need increased protein on days at the gym and not at the gym. Everyday you want muscle and are training, increase that protein. Days on and off.

Once you’ve added the protein with training you will feel better, look better and can train harder. At this point you’re focus should no longer be on fat loss but on muscle building. Inevitably this goes in hand with weight gain. Fear not you can always cut after you’ve built muscle and bulked up. The goal now is to be anabolic, not catabolic.

My routine takes me 45 minutes and all I do is get in stretch, warm up, lift heavy and get out. Here is the beginner routine that I’ve found to be most effective. I call it:

Keto Stronglifts 5×5.

Start with just the barbell. You’re going to do 5 Sets of 5 Reps of everything. Taking 1 to 3 minute breaks between each set. Each workout you add an additional 5lbs to each side of the bar (2.5lbs for Upperbody). Don’t worry about adding weight to chin ups until you can get 5×5 cleanly.

Bench Press
Barbell Rows
Overhead Press
Chin Ups
Mon – Wed – Fri
Week 1 – ABA
Week 2 – BAB

This is a beginner routine, but it’s great to feel strong, get used to working out and enjoy lifting. You will need either a squat rack or to sign up for a gym membership. I’ve gained more strength and mass doing this simple workout than any other directionless lifting at the gym I’ve ever done prior.

One last thing. Take your time. Be consistent and focus on form first. Watch some videos. Practice. Don’t push yourself to hard to fast. As you start lifting heavier weights you don’t want to pull something or injure your joints. I would recommend a training partner or personal trainer.

This workout is great for Keto as it uses the Creatine Phosphate system for ATP generation and you’re not relying on glycogen as much like in typical 8 – 12 rep range style workouts.

Now, this isn’t to say if you’re just starting out on Keto you shouldn’t train at the gym. I’m sure I could’ve achieved my goals faster, but in my opinion part of the lifestyle journey to being healthy is about knowing yourself and setting yourself up for success. Making incremental changes that effect you long term that you can stick with.

Most importantly my plan allowed me to be consistent and disciplined.

Consistency is key.

After you’ve done this for 3 – 6 months, you can cycle in a more traditional full body workout. I will post mine in the coming weeks.