Cyclical Ketogenic Dieting

Q: I read your hardgainer workout with the 10-8-6-15 recommendation. I increase the weight each time (decrease for the 15). This is a good idea isn’t it? How else will I push my body to get stronger if I don’t increase the weight? Tell me what you think.

OR should I keep the 10 and 8 rep sets the same weight from workout to workout but push myself on the 6 rep one? Then eventually increase the 10 and 8? I want to try to increase weight every workout, so I don’t plateau. I am a hardgainer and want to get big with solid muscle.

Thank you,


My Answer: I thought pyramid training was pretty clear, but I guess I need to keep reiterating this. Yes, increase the weight from set to set (with the exception of the 4th set of 15 reps, where you decrease the weight). Increase the weight slightly every workout.


Q: “I am starting a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. Would you recommend doing the Complete Strength Athlete program while on this diet or would you recommend a Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)?



My Answer: Go with a Targeted Ketogenic Diet, since you’ll need the carbs for the explosive lifting and general strength performance while on the Complete Strength Athlete program.

For those of you who don’t know, a TKD is different from a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD). Whereas you eat carbs only on the weekends with a CKD, on a TKD you spread your carb intake throughout the week by ingesting carbs before and after your workouts. This is much better for athletic performance and will give you some fat loss benefits.

But a CKD is superior in terms of fat loss and extreme leanness. It takes a few days to weeks to get your body into ketosis, whereby your body fractures fats for fuel and uses them as its main energy source. A Targeted Ketogenic Diet is not a true ketogenic diet. You never enter ketosis, because you’re ingesting two meals of carbs every day.


Q: “James, I also read your program called strength training for the police officer. I currently work for ICE/DRO. I don’t know if you had a chance to meet any officers from my agency, but in a nutshell we are the marshals of Immigration & Customs Enforcement. We do work in correctional environments as well as fugitive operations. Could you provide a simple and basic power lifting program to follow?”

Thank you very much and stay safe.


My Answer: Simple? Basic? You can’t get simpler than the 3-5 Power Periodization program. If you want to adapt this program for powerlifting, then simply substitute the competition lifts (bench press, squat, deadlift) and assistance lifts, but stick to the basic parameters:

Weeks 1 and 2: 5×5, 3 minutes rest, 5 days a week

Week 3: 3×3, 5 minutes rest, 3 days a week

Also, don’t do squats and deadlifts in the same workout. Alternate between the 2 from workout to workout for your legs. Test for your 1RM during Week 4.


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