I'll be honest for a second.
I was REALLY hesitant about starting intermittent fasting.
I got the reasoning behind it, but I wasn't sure it was a good fit for my "lifestyle." (That was just an excuse.)
And I was afraid I wouldn't be able to work out on an empty stomach. Wouldn't I feel drained, tired, and cranky all the time?
Turns out, intermittent fasting is really easy to adjust to, and AMAZINGLY effective. And yes, you absolutely can work out when fasted.
You just have to pick the right program.
Below are my favorite intermittent fasting workout routines, along with who they're best for and why I recommend them. (Plus some great intermittent fasting before and afters!)
Scroll down to read quick overviews, or click the links here to jump to my full reviews of each.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is a really simple concept:
Each day you have an extended period of fasting (not eating), and a small feeding window.
The specifics of Intermittent Fasting (IF) can vary. Some people follow a 16-8 model (a 16 hour fast and an 8 hour eating window.) Others use 20-4. Some people even go as far as having one meal a day (OMAD) and fast the rest of the time.
The benefits are vast, though many of them are up for debate. SOME literature claims that extended periods of fasting can:
- Suppress insulin levels and promote fat burn
- Improve mental clarity and focus
- Boost human growth hormone
- Speed your metabolism
- Reduce stress and inflammation
- Prevent Alzheimer's
- Extended your life expectancy
What's not up for debate is the primary benefit of intermittent fasting: It typically lowers your calorie intake and makes dieting more enjoyable and easier to stick to.
Once you adjust to the period of fasting, you naturally eat less in a smaller eating window. Therefore, weight loss becomes easier.
(That said, you can bulk and gain muscle on intermittent fasting if you eat strategically.)
How can Intermittent Fasting get you better results?
IF makes losing fat extremely simple and enjoyable.
(My favorite thing about fasting is that it makes the impossible, possible. Who else who's on a diet could have a 1200 calorie dinner at a restaurant?! With IF and some strategic snacking, it becomes a breeze.)
But IF can also improve your workout progress in some other interesting ways.
- For example, when you're new to intermittent fasting (and assuming you're not a super advanced lifter), you can sometimes experience a dramatic recomposition effect.
- Though you may be eating fewer calories overall, and in fact you may be in a calorie deficit for weight loss, because of the timing of your meals you actually have more calories available for your muscle recovery then you would on a standard diet of the same calories.
- Intermittent Fasting on a bulk may help you gain less fat and stay leaner than bulking on a traditional diet
- When you're deep into your fast, your body burns fat for energy and tries its damndest to preserve muscle. With proper training and nutrition, you should be able to lean bulk very effectively using IF.
Intermittent Fasting isn't quite a magical cheat code: The most important thing in your progress is still training and overall calorie and macro consumption.
But IF definitely has some cool benefits that make it worth trying!
Now let's take a look at the 6 best intermittent fasting workout routines!
Best Intermittent Fasting Workout Routine for Rapid Fat Loss (men & women)
If you'd like to lose 20 or more pounds, you may be able to do a more aggressive cut because of your surplus of body fat. Typically, a calorie deficit of 300-500 calories is great for weight loss, but you could potentially lose fat a little faster with a larger deficit and not feel too depleted.
Add in some low volume strength training for preserving muscle, and you're in for a dramatic transformation.
The Aggressive Fat Loss program is a perfect fit for you.
What it does: On AFL, you'll hit the gym three times per week and lift heavy weights. This triggers your muscles to either grow or maintain their current size and strength while you enter a fairly significant calorie deficit. You should lose about 1.5 pounds per week on this program (about the max you should lose safely without also losing muscle mass).
How it works: Intermittent Fasting is the backbone of this program. You'll learn to fast until the afternoon, then break the fast with some strategically timed fruits and other filling, high-energy, low-calorie snacks. At night, reward yourself with a large dinner for all your hard work! The lifting program focuses on key muscle groups for looking great as the fat continues to disappear.
Never let yourself believe that you are too far away from your dream body to start taking action today! This man dropped 80 lbs and developed the body of a spartan warrior in just 8 months. He followed my intermittent fasting protocol and it worked like a charm. Think back to 8 months ago. That was only last summer. Time flies. Take action now, and reap the rewards tomorrow. Ps. I shared this transformation a couple months ago, but it was so damn inspiring, thought it deserved another share.
Best Intermittent Fasting Workout Routine for Getting Ripped (men)
If you have somewhere between 10-30 pounds to lose, and you want to get SHREDDED (we're talking six pack abs popping out), you'll love this program. Heavy lifting focusing on key compounds lifts, some solid ab work, and using Intermittent Fasting to hit a small calorie deficit will help you drop fat and get/stay strong in the process.
The Warrior Shredding Program is the one for you.
What it does: Much like AFL, on the Warrior Program you'll lift heavy three times per week, focusing on lifts like the incline bench press, overhead press, and weighted pull ups -- all of which build a fantastic and perfectly proportioned physique. The nutrition plan is perfectly dialed in to help you drop about .5-1.5 pounds of fat per week.
How it works: The lifting program is pretty straightforward, but using IF, the nutrition is the best and most important part. You'll eat a few hundred calories over your maintenance (about 12 calories per pound of bodyweight) while eating big dinners at night and plenty of snacks. The timing of the calorie intake means early on in this program you'll probably get stronger and build some muscle while losing fat. Insane.
Check out my full review and breakdown of the Warrior Shredding Program.
Best Intermittent Fasting Workout Routine for Bulking & Gaining Muscle (men)
If you're already pretty lean, or just want to focus on gaining some serious strength and muscle, the Greek God Program is where you need to be.
What it does: On Greek God, you'll actually be eating in a surplus of calories while using Intermittent Fasting for incredible results. You should be getting measurably stronger on key lifts every week and seeing big gains in your shoulders, upper chest, and back in particular. On this program you should gain about 2 pounds of muscle per month with minimal fat.
How it works: You'll work out 3x per week on the Greek God Program but with slightly higher volume on fewer exercises to get the most gains possible in key areas. You'll have to really be diligent about your nutrition to make sure you're getting in 200-300 extra calories per day over maintenace. Using Intermittent Fasting on this bulking plan should help you burn fat during the day and stay extra lean.
Check out my full review and breakdown of the Greek God Program.
Best Intermittent Fasting Workout Routine for Advanced Lifters & SERIOUS Muscle Gain (men)
If you're lean and have a solid base of muscle, but want a great workout routine using Intermittent Fasting to REALLY crank things up a notch, I've got a perfect program for you. It's designed to get you a body like Thor, Captain America, or Bruce Wayne!
It's, naturally, called the Superhero Bulking Program.
What it does: Much like all of these programs, the nutrition in Superhero Bulking is based on Intermittent Fasting to help you stay lean while packing on size and eating in a calorie surplus. You'll lift heavy 3x per week and rotate giving extra volume to different muscle groups to really make them pop. Following this program should give you that extra 10-20% of muscle you need to really stand out.
How it works: You'll eat in a small calorie surplus here while using IF. While in the gym, you'll hit low reps for strength and dense muscle gains while also adding in high volume work to "pump" your muscles up a bit and give them more fullness and definition.
Check out my full review and breakdown of Superhero Bulking
Best Intermittent Fasting Workout Routine for Getting Lean and Toned (women)
For women who want to drop fat like crazy and get that lean, toned beach body, Intermittent Fasting workout programs are perfect. In this one, you'll gain lots of strength and muscle definition without packing on size.
It's called the Goddess Toning Program.
What it does: You'll utilize a nutrition strategy based around Intermittent Fasting to easily drop fat quickly while lifting heavy weights in the gym, adding strength and dense muscle to very specific areas. You'll get a lot stronger on this program while lowering your body fat significantly, for dramatic results.
How it works: You'll be in the gym 3x per week (there's also a home version with dumbbells) plus some optional at-home core work mixed in throughout the week. With intermittent fasting, you'll easily be able to hit a small calorie deficit and watch body fat melt away as you get stronger.
Check out my full review and breakdown of the Goddess Toning Program.
Best Intermittent Fasting Workout Routine for Building an Out-of-this-World Butt (women)
If you're a woman who's already lean, or just lacking muscle tone, you might want to add muscle... but in the right places! This program is awesome for getting that Hollywood, Instagram model body with a tight waist and a round booty. Partly, in thanks, to intermittent fasting.
It's called the KinoBooty Program.
What it does: In three phases, this program helps you lean down, pack the perfect amount of muscle on to your butt and legs while toning your back and upper body, and then enter a low-volume maintenance perfect for holding on to your booty gains! The intermittent fasting diet changes a little bit as the program progresses to help you reach those goals.
How it works: If you want to start by losing fat and leaning down, you'll use IF to eat in a small calorie deficit while you start to train your muscles in the gym. When you're ready, you'll move to a small calorie surplus in order to start adding some sculpted size to the right areas. Finally, you'll move into maintenance. The workouts get progressively harder and utilize different exercises to keep you challenged and motivated.
Check out my full review and breakdown of KinoBooty.
You're going to love the results you get with these intermittent fasting workout routines.
I've used some of them myself, and they really work!
You can definitely find free routines on the Internet to pair with IF, but these programs come tailor-made for an intermittent fasting lifestyle and give you everything you need to get an amazing transformation.
And if you're not even sure where to start (or want an easy $20 off these programs!), the fitness brand Kinobody has created an awesome physique builder quiz. It takes about 30 seconds and tells you exactly how to get started.