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The Keto Workout

Lose fat and preserve muscle with this low-volume routine

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  • 3 Days

  • 15

  • Yes

barbell bench press
barbell bench press

Training when your body is in ketosis forces you to pick your weight room battles carefully. Without carbs in your system, you simply can’t perform the same kind of high-volume bodybuilding or CrossFit routines you’re probably used to and still expect to recover from them—at least not until your body has fully adapted to using fat for fuel. But that’s fine. By learning to be judicious about your training and choosing only the best exercises for stimulating muscle, you’ll keep size while the fat comes off, eliminate the risk of overtraining, and speed up your workout time.

How It Works

This program turns the volume way down. You’ll train your legs only one day per week, which will allow ample recovery time—a must, given the lower-body intensive cardio sessions you’ll be doing. You may feel like you’re not doing enough sets, but remember that it’s your ketogenic diet that is responsible for most of your fat loss. To see that muscle isn’t lost with the fat, you’ll be going heavy on most exercises, and prioritizing the bench press and squat. Big compound movements like these recruit maximum muscle mass, sending your body the message that even though the number on the scale is going down, it’s not allowed to get small and weak.

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Directions

Perform each workout (Day I, II, and III) once per week, resting a day between each session. On two other days of the week, perform cardio. See below for recommendations.

Exercises that are paired (marked “A” and “B”) are alternated, so you’ll do one set of A, rest as directed, then one set of B, rest, and repeat until all sets for the pair are complete. Note that some pairs will have one less set for one exercise in the pair than the other.

Cardio

Perform hill sprints on one of your off days from lifting. Find a hill with a steep grade and sprint to the top. Walk down and repeat. Gradually increase the number of sprints you perform over the course of several weeks. Each workout should last 15–25 minutes.

On another off day, perform cardio with a jump rope, or do steady-state work. If you jump rope, jump at an easy pace for 60 seconds and then rest 30 seconds. Repeat for 15–20 minutes. If you perform steady-state cardio, keep your heart rate between 120 and 150 beats per minute for 30–60 minutes.

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Routine

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The Workout

Day 1

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 15

Barbell Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell, Bench
Sets
--
Reps
5 RM
Rest
As needed
Perform as many sets as needed. Perform several warm-up sets, gradually increasing the load until you find a weight that allows you six or seven reps, but perform only five.
Exercise 2 of 15

One-arm Dumbbell Row

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
8-10, 5-7, 12-15 (each side)
Rest
60 sec
Hold a dumbbell in one hand and rest the opposite arm and knee on a bench. Pull the weight up to the outside of your hip and lower it until you feel a stretch in your lat.
Exercise 3 of 15

One-Arm Incline Press

Equipment
Sets
2
Reps
8-10 (each side)
Rest
60 sec
Set an adjustable bench to a 30-degree angle and lie back against it with a dumbbell in one hand at shoulder level. Press the weight over your chest, and resist any twisting in your torso.
Exercise 4 of 15

Dumbbell Curl

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
8-10
Rest
60 sec
Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your side. Curl both dumbbells while keeping your upper arms at your sides. Squeeze your biceps as you curl.
Exercise 5 of 15

Decline Lying Triceps Extension

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
10-12
Rest
60 sec
Hold an EZ-curl bar with hands at shoulder width and lie back against the bench. Press the bar overhead and then let your arms drift behind your head. Bend your elbows, lowering the bar behind your head and then extend them.

Day 2

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 6 of 15

Back Squat

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
--
Reps
5RM
Rest
As needed
Perform as many sets as needed. Perform several warm-up sets, gradually increasing the load until you find a weight that allows you six or seven reps, but perform only five.
Exercise 7 of 15

Rack Pull

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
2
Reps
6
Rest
90 sec
Set a bar in a power rack or on mats so it’s just below knee level. Stand with feet hip-width apart and roll the bar up to your shins. Bend your hips back to grasp the bar outside your knees. Keeping lower back in its natural arch, push through thighs.
Exercise 8 of 15

Pallof Press

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, Resistance Band
Sets
3
Reps
8-10 (each side)
Rest
60
How to
Exercise 9 of 15

Sliding Leg Curl

Equipment
Sliding Discs
Sets
2
Reps
6-12
Rest
60 sec
Place furniture sliders or paper plates on a waxed floor. Lie on your back and dig your heels into the sliders with your knees bent and feet close to your butt. Brace your abs and drive your heels into the floor to raise your hips up.
Exercise 10 of 15

Farmer’s Walk

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
2
Reps
30 sec
Rest
60 sec
Hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand and walk as quickly as you can. Keep your shoulders back and chest out.

Day 3

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 11 of 15

Neutral-Grip Chinup

Equipment
Pullup Bar
Sets
3
Reps
6-10
Rest
60
Hang from a bar with hands shoulder-width apart and palms each other. Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar.
Exercise 12 of 15

Overhead Dumbbell Press

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
8–10, 5–7, 10–12
Rest
60 sec
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level. Brace your core and press the weights straight overhead.
Exercise 13 of 15

Bodysaw

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
8-15
Rest
60 sec
Get into pushup position on the floor and rest your feet on sliders (as you did in Day II). Bend your elbows to rest your forearms on the floor. Brace your abs and push your body backward so your legs slide straight back.
Exercise 14 of 15

Face Pull

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, Rope Attachment
Sets
3
Reps
8-12
Rest
60 sec
Attach a rope handle to a pulley and grasp an end in each hand. Stand back to put tension on the cable and pull the handle to your forehead, flaring your elbows out at the end position.
Exercise 15 of 15

Hammer Curl

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
8-10
Rest
90 sec
Hold dumbbells with palms facing your sides. Curl both weights up without moving your upper arms forward.
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