Ketogains Novice Strength Training Program (5×5)

If you are a novice or beginner in strength training / muscle building (a beginner will be defined by your strength standards, not by if you have exercised before in your life) and actually want to make gains in muscle mass and strength, then this is the program for you. 

The Ketogains 5×5 program is based on the classic 5×5 program popularized by Reg Park and has a reputation for being a tough. high volume but rewarding and simple program.


Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to do lots of repetitions at low weight to get “toned” and “defined”, and even less when you are in a way, a novice in strength training.


You achieve the “toned” look by having a low enough Body Fat % and at least somewhat decent muscle size. This program will help you achieve that goal, as long as your diet is also on par.


Think of building your body as building a house. You need to set up the foundations first, before you start adding extra rooms, furniture, and decorations. This program is in my opinion, the best to help you start your journey towards body muscle gain and fat loss, which improves your body composition.


The Ketogains 5×5 this is well suited for both males and females of any age.


If you are totally new to Strength Training, you can start with an empty barbell, otherwise start with a decent load in which you can do 5 sets of 5 reps with good control, form, and cadence.


The program is to be conducted 3 days a week for Strength Training (and 2 optional HIIT days) by alternating workout A&B on non-consecutive days.


Here is the abridged version of what the program is:


Lift adequate weight on the barbell. Do the Exercises. Add weight each workout. Deload when you stall. Repeat. Simple.


This routine will cover the following goals:


  1. Strength & Hypertrophy (provided your diet is in check)
  2. Fat Loss (provided your diet is in check)

Feel free to download the Ketogains 5×5 Novice Strength program:

  • On PDF HERE.
  • On Excel HERE.
  • If you don’t have Barbells, check the Kettlebell / Dumbbell version HERE.

Refer to the FAQ after the layout of the program for any questions, and click on the name of each exercise and you will see a video of the lift in question.


Day 1 – Strength: Workout ADay 1 – Strength: Workout B
Day 2 – HIIT (Optional)Day 2 – HIIT (Optional)
Day 3 – Strength: Workout BDay 3 – Strength: Workout A
Day 4 – HIIT (Optional)Day 4 – HIIT (Optional)
Day 5 – Strength: Workout ADay 5 – Strength: Workout B
Days 6 & 7 – RestDays 6 & 7 – Rest



Barbell SquatsBarbellLegs55
Barbell Bench PressBarbellChest55
Bent Over RowBarbellBack55
Barbell ShrugsBarbellTraps38
Standing Overhead Tricep ExtensionBarbellTriceps38
Standing Barbell Bicep CurlsBarbellBiceps38


Barbell SquatsBarbellLegs55
Barbell DeadliftBarbellBack15
Standing Overhead Shoulder PressBarbellShoulders55
Bent Over Row BarbellBack55
Close Grip Bench PressBarbellTriceps38
Standing Barbell Bicep CurlsBarbellBiceps38

Note: Sets do not include warm-up sets. Do 1-2 sets at 30-40% RM (Rep Max), 12 to 8 reps. To calculate your Rep Max, use this calculator.


HIIT: Kettlebell SwingsKettlebellCore / Body520
LISS CardioMachine of your choiceHeart 20 min

Note: For Cardio, follow the instructions above. I suggest a cardio machine that you are not used to and is hard, such as Stair Climbing machine. You do not add weight to these exercises. Start Kettlebells swings with 20 to 30 lbs., increase if easy.





1.    For optimal muscle gains, do not strength-train fasted and for this, ingest the Ketogains Pre-Workout Coffee about 30 minutes before training.

2.    Aim for correct form first, but do not be afraid of lifting heavy.

3.   You should aim to add 5-10 lbs. each week to the ×5 exercises, and 2-5 lbs. to the ×8 exercises (Female lifters can add half the amount).

4.    If you fail a rep/set/whatever, you repeat that same weight during the next workout. If you fail again the next workout, lower your weight by a rounded down 10% and continue to use that until you progress.

5.    Break times between sets are 3-5 minutes for the x5 sets and 1-2 minutes for the x8 sets.

6.    Unless you are unable to do this program for medical reasons: do not alter the program.

7.    If you have bad knees, do box squats. Otherwise, unless you are medically unable you should squat.

8.  Deadlifts are 1×5 for a reason. They are very taxing and its paramount to learn proper technique first: if you mess around you may get hurt.

9.    Do the reps and sets as they are laid out in the program.

10. You do not need to add any more extra accessory work except for maybe some abdominal and calf exercises.

11. If you have done this program for more than 6 months and want to progress even further, you can follow with an intermediate program by joining the Ketogains Bootcamp.



1.   Preferably, done first thing in the morning. Fasted training is optional.


2.   Start with ~10 minutes of interval training (HIIT) – I suggest doing the Kettlebell Swings.


3.   Rest for 2-5 minutes.


4. Perform 30 up to 40 minutes of aerobic activity, ideally below the near the threshold of significant fatigue (where you can barely keep up with a conversation).



  1. 1.  Adding Exercises. This is a full body routine. Overhead Press, Triceps Extensions & Bench Press works your triceps. Barbell Rows, and Barbell Curls work your biceps. Overhead Press,
    Squats, Deadlifts work your core. Focus on the big picture: getting your Squat up to 1.5x your body weight, and stick to the exercises as outlined.


    2.  Dropping Exercises. Lots of people do not like to Squat or Deadlift because it is hard. Avoiding what is hard does not get you results. Do not drop any exercises, especially not the Squat. The whole program revolves around the compound lifts.


    3.  Substituting Exercises. For now, you don’t need Front Squats, Zercher Deadlifts, Push Press, etc. First master the basics. When you have base strength and good technique, you can add or substitute for variations different exercises.


    4.    Changing Exercises Order. The exercise order is chosen for a reason. Squats first because they are most important, but also heaviest. Stick to the exercise order, it works best that way.


    5.  Using Machines. Strength built on machines doesn’t transfer to free weights or real life: machines balance the weight for you. Some machines are also potentially dangerous: they force your body into fixed, unnatural movement patterns. No Leg Press. Do Squats. No Smith
    Squats. Do Squats. Safety depends on technique. If you are totally new, start with an empty barbell. Focus on technique.
    Add weight each workout.


    6.  Using Anything but Barbells. Barbells work best because you can use more weight. More weight is more stress on your body, thus more results. It is also easier to add weight each workout with barbells as you’re using both sides. You want to use dumbbells or kettlebells?
    Follow a training program designed for those. But remember: if you want to become strong you need barbells for your main exercise.
    Use dumbbells only for as assistance.


    7.    Changing Sets. The best way to learn exercise technique is to do the exercise a lot.  5×5 has 25 reps/exercise to practice technique. 5×5 Deadlifts is too much on your lower back, especially for a novice lifter. Also, your back is already worked on Squats, Barbell Rows & Overhead Press. Stick to 1×5 Deadlifts. When you can Squat 1x your body weight you’ll be happy with 1×5 Deadlifts.


    8.  Changing Reps. Stick to the reps as laid out. 5 is the magic rep range where you learn exercise technique best. You can add weight more easily. And you build strength, power & muscle mass. High reps 8-15 reps work endurance. You cannot lift as much weight and fatigue gets in the way of learning exercise technique. Lower reps like 1-3 are more for maximal strength, speed & power work.


    9.   Lowering the Weight. Never lower the weight because the first 2 sets were hard. Go for 5 reps. If you only get 1 rep per set, so be it. The only way to get used to lifting a weight, is to lift it. Only lower the weight if you got injured if you are not confident about your technique or if you stalled 3 times with the same weight.


    10. Not Adding Weight. Lifting the same weight forever does not force your body out of its comfort zone. It becomes lazy and you lose strength. Add weight each workout until you stall. If you are not sure about your technique, lower the weight by 20%. If you got injured, start with an empty bar. Add weight slowly, but systematically.


    11. Adding too Much Weight. Use bigger increments if you have weightlifting experience, are confident about your technique and started too light. You can also use bigger increments if you just come out of a layoff. However, if you just did 180 lbs Squats and they were heavy, don’t add 10lbs the next workout. Stick to 5lbs. Bigger increments make you stall faster. Small increments delay stalling and are better for your technique & confidence.


    12. Underestimating the Program. You are a beginner longer than you think. Weightlifting experience does not make you an intermediate. Squatting 1.5x your body weight with good technique does. Weightlifters, strongmen, powerlifters, athletes… work their legs several times
    per week. Bodybuilders are the only exception. If you never did Squats more than once per week, do 5×5.


    13. Overestimating Yourself. Starting with heavier weights will make your legs sore. Sore legs will make it hard to Squat again 2 days later. Worse, you might not make the gym because your legs hurt too much. Start with an empty barbell and add weight each workout. Less soreness, and you can better focus on technique. Proper exercise technique is more important than weight. Adding weight becomes easy once you can lift correctly.


    14. Skipping Workouts Because You’re Sore. The best solution for soreness is to train the muscle again. This flushes blood into your muscles, speeding up recovery. Start with an empty bar and go the gym no matter what.


    15. Switching Program too Soon. This is not just an 8-week program. Change routine once you can at least Squat 1.5x your body weight. You will stall 2-3 times on your Squat before getting there. You can progress faster on this program because you are adding weight each workout. Intermediate programs use weekly increases. Stick with this program until you stall at least 2-3 times on your Squat. Trust the program. Try it as laid out for 2 months. Measure your progress by tracking your measurements, strength stats and taking pictures. After 2 months you can evaluate for yourself if it works, or need to switch it upont’