Keto Bodybuilding

Keto Bodybuilding

This essay is written within the context of a natural (non-steroid), recreational (for fun) lifter. I don’t compete in bodybuilding. I train 3-4 times a week and have been keto since 2012.

What you need to know:

  1. There are many ways to achieve ketosis.

  2. Bodybuilding is possible with a keto diet and has several advantages.

  3. There are disadvantages to keto-bodybuilding - but they might be worth it.

  4. Traditional keto macro ratios will not work for bodybuilding…adjustments must be made.

  5. Supplementation helps

Read More

My Best Beginner Deadlift Program

I increased my deadlift from low-300’s to mid-500’s and gained ~20 pounds of muscle, in 2 ½ years, using this program. I did it working full-time and with a newborn baby – it’s practical. I can deadlift 3x my bodyweight (540lbs @ 180) which is somewhere between “exceptional” and “elite” depending on which standard of strength averages we use for comparison. Nevertheless, I’m happy with my gains as a recreational lifter and you should be happy with yours too.

Some strength standard charts: Where do you stand?

I achieved this without injury, an unexciting but overlooked side-effect of strength training and perhaps the most relevant to readers of this blog…those who can’t afford getting hurt.

I list my stats not to impress but to inform of what you can expect from this program. I’m aware you don’t care how much I can lift. If you do care, it’s only to the extent that you’re interested in similar results for yourself.

Bottom line: If you’re interested in strength, size and Conan hormones, you should be deadlifting. If you need a pragmatic approach – this program worked for me. It’s geared toward realistic, convenient and sustainable gains, for the working man. Simplicity is key.

TL;DR – Program Overview

1.       Deadlift once per week, for 3’ish months.

2.       Begin with 12 repetitions. (1 top-set and 3 drop-sets)

3.       Add ~20 pounds each week

4.       Use specific accessory movements (listed below)

5.       Decrease repetitions as the program progresses (10,8,6,5,3,2,1) to accommodate heavier weights

6.       End program with a 1 repetition maximum PR (personal record)

7.       Take some time off - try a different sport with newfound strength

8.       Repeat the program – exceeding all prior repetition PR’s (aka – get stronger)

First Workout Overview

1.       Warm up. (need to make a deadlift warm up video)

2.       Select a weight you can deadlift 12 times with excellent form. This is your “Top Set”. Rest 2 minutes.

3.       Reduce the weight on the bar by 10-15% and do another 12 reps. That’s a “Drop Set”. Rest another 2 minutes.

4.       Do two more drop sets with additional weight reductions and 2 min rest periods.

***If drop sets are too easy, do one of 3 things:

A) shorten your rest periods to 1 min

B) lower the weight slower (4 second eccentric drops)

C) don’t reduce the weight at all – maintain top set weight for the entire workout

5.       Do a few accessory lifts, the same way (top set + drop sets w/ 2 min rest).

Accessories: Deadlift row, Deadlift-stance Box-squat, Pull-ups, Jumps, Sprinting, Paused Deadlift. *accessories are, by definition, extra - do what you have time for.

Congratulations! Your first training session is complete. That’s 90% of the entire program.

Video explanation -

Example Program: Remember, these are rough estimations. Your program must be customized to your progress, motivation and most importantly, fatigue levels.

Notice the weight rep reductions in red. Notice the weight on the bar (intensity) constantly increasing each week. Notice the weight reductions on drop sets (optional).

Notice the weight rep reductions in red. Notice the weight on the bar (intensity) constantly increasing each week. Notice the weight reductions on drop sets (optional).

3 Phase Structure: Hypertrophy, Strength, Peaking

There are three phases to this program. Hypertrophy (first ~month) for muscle growth aka “bulk”. Strength (2nd ~month) for muscle strength (move really heavy shit, fast). Peaking (last 1-2 weeks) for putting your size, strength and nervous system together, to smash a successful and safe 1 rep max (ideally in a competition).

Hypertrophy (growth):

The first month or so is for growing as much muscle mass as possible (getting bigger). The best tricks for boosting growth are:

  1. Slow eccentric contractions - lowering the weight slowly (3-4 seconds) - “1 alligator, 2 alligator, 3 alligator…”

  2. Short rest periods between sets (1-2.5 minutes). *time yourself with your phone

  3. High total volume of lifting. Maximize the total pounds lifted per week. The easiest way to do this is with moderate weights and higher rep ranges (12-6). In other words, lift a lighter weight for more total reps.

    Ex. 225 lbs X 12 reps X 4 sets = 10,800 total volume VS. 355 lbs X 5 reps X 4 sets = 7,100 total volume

    Despite the bar being 130 pounds heavier at 355, we achieve a much lower total volume because we can’t lift it as many times. Basically, lighter weights can be better for boosting muscle size.

    A great example of these principles is comparing the legs of an Olympic lifter to a cyclist. Olympic lifters move HUGE weights, very fast, for low reps/low volume, with minimal eccentric contraction. Conversely, a cyclist moves relatively light weight (bodyweight), for thousands of reps (high volume/pedaling), with constant eccentric contraction.

  4. Occlusion training

    ***Perform accessory lifts in the same fashion***

DL blog pic.jpg


As the hypertrophy phase ends, the intensity (weight on the bar) becomes too great to hit higher rep ranges (6-12). At this point, focus shifts away from volume and onto intensity. Decrease total volume by dropping the reps down (5, 4, 3, 2). Best methods for boosting strength are:

  1. Lift violently - Explode off the floor through lockout.

  2. Use “touch and go” reps with a slight, but not excessive, bounce off the floor (permits more intensity).

  3. Fast eccentric contractions - lower the bar to the floor fast.

  4. Increase rest intervals between sets to 5-7 minutes.

These four tips really just allow us to lift heavier weight. Intensity drives strength.

***Perform accessory lifts in the same fashion***



As the strength phase ends, intensity will be so great that we won’t be able to lift the bar for 2 reps. Total fatigue will be high, your muscles and joints will ache, and your strength and motivation will begin to decay. The best tips for recovering and peaking are as follows:

  1. Reduce the weight to 70% of your 2-rep max from the final week of the strength phase.

  2. Lower the reps to 1-3 and perform only a few sets per workout. These workouts should NOT generate fatigue, they should be refreshing and used to practice perfecting form and speed off the floor.

  3. Spend less time deadlifting and more time warming-up and cooling down, stimulating blood flow and recovery.

  4. Remove all accessory movements.

  5. Recovery is everything: Sauna, Contrast (hot/cold showers) eat everything, sleeping a lot, deep tissue work (massage, foam rolling, light stretching, especially hips).

As fatigue is reduced, strength and motivation will peak. That’s the perfect time to hit a 1 rep max PR and be done with the program.

The End.

Max out day/Competition day/PR day

After a successful peak it’s time to max out and test your strength…put everything together. You can be conservative and go for a weight 5 pounds more than you’ve ever lifted or Hemo-Rage that shit, take a bunch of caffeine and try for a 40 pound PR. That’s on you to decide. I generally lean toward more conservative lifting.

Thanks for reading,


p.s. I’m working on a second article which details the accessory lifts, science behind the program design and fine tuning. Sign up for the newsletter and Ill send it out as soon as its finished.

p.s.s. If you have any questions,email or comment below. I love talking shop.



Good body positioning, lumbar bracing and strength are the three most important skills for great deadlifting…and basically every human movement. Deadlifting, aka picking stuff up off the ground, is just a very human thing to do.

To improve these skills - to improve our deadlift, is to improve the way we move through the world. The paused deadlift is an excellent tool for accomplishing this.

I’ll explain how the paused deadlift works and how we can include them in our training.

Read More

How To Follow Through With A New Years Strength Resolution - 7 Steps

How To Follow Through With A New Years Strength Resolution - 7 Steps

Lets have a moment of silence for all the sorry fucks committing to a low-fat, low-calorie, low-salt, cardio program this year. May God have mercy on your soul. No doubt they will be Rage-Quitting soon...again. 

Every January swarms of resolution exercisers flood the gym, but disappear by March. People fail to follow through, despite sincerest intentions, because poor planning and torturous programs. Another year will pass without the wonders of strength potential realized. What a shame.

Try something different this year - eat more fat, eat more salt, eat as much as you want (skip the processed carbs), and lift heavy things. 

Here are 7 simple steps to locking in your “new year, new you” fit resolution - the Ancient Gains Way. This post is written in the context of powerlifting, but can be applied to any sport.

Read More

How to not train like a pussy and actually get stronger.

How to not train like a pussy and actually get stronger.

In a decade of training, I've only made legitimate strength gains in the last 2 years. #SadAF. Most people have no idea how to get stronger, especially personal trainers.

I'll prove this point using a recent study where trainers failed to produce any significant gains in trainees. I'll explain what they did wrong and I'll show you how to train in a way that actually works so you don't waste 8 years of your life, like me.

Read More

Powerlifting - the best sport for busy dads

Powerlifting - the best sport for busy dads

“Physical strength is the most important thing in life. This is true whether we want it to be or not…”

“…A weak man is not as happy as that same man would be if he were strong. This reality is offensive to some people who would like the intellectual or spiritual to take precedence. It is instructive to see what happens to these very people as their squat strength goes up.”

Read More

Dad Strength Circuits

Dad Strength Circuits

When the public gym gets boring I train like William Wallace in my backyard. 

I swing medieval weapons, hurl large stones and increase my savage points by 1000. It's a fun change of pace and nice to train at home, in the sun and fresh air.

This training builds Dad strength in a way the gym can't. It's unconventnional, dynamic and functional. This type of training translates well to real life. 

Read More




“Ketosis is a panacea” –Dr. Dominic D’Agostino

Panacea - a solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases.

In 2012 I began the ketogenic diet, made my first bulletproof coffee and lost 15 pounds. By 2014 I was running fasted half marathons, with no prior endurance training and grew my first six pack. 3 months ago I competed in my first powerlifting meet, lifting a lifetime personal record, without carbohydrates. Ketosis is working for me.

Read More



My Superpower

I can read scientific texts on nutrition and strength training all day long with fervor. Then I obsess until finding a practical application to daily life. Ok, so its not cool like supersonic flight but it's how I designed this program. 

I saw the need for a healthy and sustainable means to strength and size. Most online programs are more complicated than string theory. Everything here is based on the research of much smarter people. I pieced everyting together in a way that made sense to me.

Read More