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Boatguy's DH/BFB/Juggernaut/Smolov Jr-Road back to 405FS


So, I found Brian’s Dark Horse program recently (forget how I came across the video) and was intrigued. As I mentioned in chaoshander’s log, I copy-catted workouts from his ‘alpha’ log on here several years ago. Forget how long I ran them - I’m away from home and can’t look at my log books to tell. I do remember my conditioning getting better, while it felt like my strength stayed where it was for the most part (again, don’t remember for sure and I don’t think I did any legit testing to gauge before/after).

This log will be me running the Dark Horse program for the foreseeable future. I have been running Juggernaut’s basic template for a couple years now (10/5/8/3 set up). I didn’t like doing back squats and deadlifts in the same week, so I have been doing front squats and deads - I had gotten my squat up to 500 and my hips, shoulders, lower back, and wrists were constantly grumbling at me. I don’t typically plan deloads because life usually gets in the way of training and creates them for me periodically (had to re-qual for work a few months ago and missed the gym for three weeks straight - was not happy about that).

41 yo male, been lifting about 24 years give or take.
6’, about 220 right now.
Full disclosure: I am on TRT and just started bumping my weekly dose from 100mg/week back up to 150mg/week where it was before I started seeing a doc (and I liked that level much better). Also have about 3-4 weeks left on a 600mg/week EQ cycle.
EDIT to add tbol at 40mg/day for the rest of this cycle (just finished first week back on the tbol).

Was in the first week of the ‘3’ wave on Juggernaut when I decided to switch things up and run this. My training maxes were thus:
Front squat - 375
Deadlift - 500
Bench - 320
OHP - 162.5 (has always been my weak point, I went a few years without doing any specific delt work<dumb, I know> and I am trying to work on some mobility issues <can’t press directly overhead, arms end up forward even with a bit of thoracic curve to compensate>)
Weighted Pullup - 95 (not actually part of Juggernaut, but I’ve been supersetting agonist/antagonist for upper body for years and it bugs me not to)

So anyway, here we are. For the percentages that work off the ‘comp max’, I will be using those training maxes.

First lifting day will be tomorrow, Monday 4 June.


Damn dude. You are strong. I’m 43. Now I got a guy to run down and beat his numbers. I’ve only been lifting a year. So buckle up I’m coming for ya…

I was the skinny kid growing up, and the guys in my family have never really been gym rats so I thought I was condemned to a life of skinnyness (it’s a real word…). Once I got started training and eating right, apparently I have the right genetics for it. Not to brag, but pull ups have always been kind of ‘easy’ for me - even when I was the scrawny kid I could knock out some pull ups (the rest of the upper body stuff, not so much - have had to work my ass off for those).

I look forward to it, dude. Like you said, maybe we can build off each other.
EDIT to add: You’re doing pretty solid for one year. Good work.

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In for this one.
Good luck with the Darkhorse. Be prepared for some sweat :blush:

I’m in for the log

06/04/18 - Dead Man Walking
First Wave/Week 1/Day 1

10:00 MetCon: 100 x 53lb KB Swings AFAP (3 burpee buy in at the top of each minute)
Forgot to record the time from this one, but it was around 5:00, so I used the rest of the allotted 10:00 to rest and set up for the ME giant sets…and lost track of time and wasted an extra 5 or so.

30:00 ME Deadlift - 3RM (275 x 5 warm up set of just deads prior to starting clock)
-Deadlift 315/365/405/425/445 x 5 (5RM…oops)
-KB Swing x 5 (70# - biggest we have)
-Hanging Leg Raise x 10
-Snatch High Pull from hang x 3 135/155/175/195/205 (used versa grip wraps on last set so I could concentrate on the pull and not worry about losing grip - bar seems a little warped and was trying to roll in my hands)

15:00 Volume - 3 x 10 @ 80% 5RM
-Set 1 - AMRAP - 355 x 10 (body just kind of…stopped…at 10; def had 1-2 more but stopped here)
-Set 2 - 355 x 10
-Set 3 - 355 x 10

10:00 DE - Front Squat @ 50% training max

  • 190 x 3 EMOM (30 total)

Ho. Lee. Shit. It’s funny how you look at something on paper and think, that looks a bit rough but not too bad. Can’t remember the last time I did giant sets with strength training - probably last time I did alpha’s stuff. That wasn’t too bad, until I got to the top of my weights. The last set of 445, those last 2 reps were a bit of a grinder but I was able to go on and complete the giant set with no issue. I decided that was my 5RM for the day and was about to reset the bar for volume, when I looked at my notes and realized today was supposed to be a 3RM. Looked at the clock, and was basically out of time so I said screw it - even doing a triple, I was probably only good for another 20 pounds or so. I’ll have to adjust the RM rotation for the 9 week layout, but no real issue.

After ME, 355 felt a lot heavier than it should have. Cranked through those 3 sets fairly quick, and started resetting again. Brian has specific time windows for each phase of the workout, and on this first workout I beat most of them by at least a couple minutes. My intention going forward is to use that extra time (when there is any, and without creating it on purpose by sandbagging) as rest time. When (if) my conditioning catches up so I’m not sucking hind tit so bad, then I’ll start cutting that extra time out to cut down the total gym time.

After volume, moved to front squats for DE work (not doing back squats). On Juggernaut, I was doing the Wendler Boring But Big template on opposing days (kind of like this program) which had me doing 5 x 10 with 50% - end result, I am used to grinding out reps even at that lower weight. Never tried doing explosive/dynamic front squats before, so I just focused on bar speed, driving up as fast and hard as I could.

Once I finished DE, I was already at 1:20-1:25 and pretty well smoked. I wasted some time in a few places, part of that was getting used to the new program, part of it was just fatigue - we’ll get that tightened up pretty quick. Had planned on a little conditioning ladder (last thing I wanted to do was anything resembling a deadlift), but between the clock and fatigue I called it. I’ll still plan on those in the future, but play it by ear like Brian recommends (while trying not to be a pussy all the time).

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Nutrition: I am currently overseas and have basically no control over what I eat. The kitchen makes one or two meats and a few veggies/starches per meal, and that’s it. Tonight was a rather greasy brisket (flavor was good…but greasy), and I had white rice with it (I don’t really eat veggies).

I have been using 2 scoops of Plazma while I was doing Juggernaut, since this obviously has a higher energy demand I upped it to 3 servings. So, I set 2 alarms when I go to bed. First one goes off, I slam about a shot and a half of espresso, then down a serving of vitalyte before laying back down for about 30 minutes till the next one goes off. Then I get up, drink a serving of Plazma and get ready for the gym - I’m out the door pretty quick. Food is right next to the gym, so I box up my meals for my shift (I work nights) before starting.

On Dark Horse, I did the MetCon, then downed another serving, did the ME, then finished off the last of it. After finishing my workout, I go in the dining hall and make a protein shake, then go back to my room and get a nap in until shift starts, about an hour or so. I always eat my first solid meal at the beginning of shift - except tonight. This routine did a number on my appetite.

Couple hours later I go back for another protein shake (can feel it just sitting in my stomach as I type this), then a couple hours after that I eat another solid meal. Last thing I eat is breakfast, typically an hour or two before I go to bed.

Had to force the first protein shake down tonight, since the workout killed my appetite. Laid down to take my nap, and just as I was getting comfortable my daughter called from Germany (she’s on a school trip, and close to the same time zone as me). So we chatted for pretty much my entire napping period - but I was still lying down. Felt a little stiff when I got up, and I definitely feel tighter than normal right now. Also had to take a celebrex for the first time in a couple months - this workout caused my sciatica to flare up.

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Ummm. Nice DL. When I catch you it’s gonna be glorious. Dude you are moving some serious weight. Nice work!

Thanks, but I can already tell I’m gonna be feeling it tomorrow. And the next day…

What variation do you use for deadlift?
Do you use bands or chains on the DE lift?

And yeah lower body days are really taxing. Upper is much better.
I have planned assistance on both days, but was really not able to do it, really trashed.
Next week I’m starting for real, and I will do assistance or at least I’ll plan to.

Standard barbell deadlift, hands a little wide to clear my legs.

I’ve done sumo in the past, and didn’t really care for it. I tried that sumo-dead-squat variation one of the TNation coaches came up with a while back - again, didn’t like it.

I have bands, but only singles of 3 different sizes. No chains.

05 June 2018 - OHP
First Wave/Week 1/Day 2

10:00 MetCon: EMOM - 2 burpees, 3 pull ups, 5 push ups, 10 BW squats

30:00 ME - 3RM (OHP 65 x 8 warm up set prior to starting clcok)
-weighted pull up 5 x 40/50/60/70/70/70/70
-OHP 5 x 85/3 x 95/105/115/125/135/145
-pike leg raise x 10
-20# med ball slam x 10
15:00 Volume - 3 x 8 @80% 3RM
-Set 1 AMRAP - 115 x 10
-Set 2 - 115 x 8
-Set 3(&4) - 115 x 5, 3

10:00 DE - Bench @ 50% training max

  • 115 x 3 EMOM

AFAP Assistance - 5 rounds giant set
-BW pull up to chest x 3
-seated Behind the neck press 75 x 5
-KB bottom up press x 5/side 18(first set)/20(all others)
-lateral raise 25 x 8

Today was much better. Like mort said above, lower days are always taxing and upper are easier. Noticed the same thing doing Juggernaut, but the training intensity wasn’t quite the same. Definitely feeling some soreness from yesterday as well.

The metcon was a little more challenging than I expected, but nothing crazy. I expected that volume of pull ups (even done in little chunks like that) to negatively effect my strength work, but it really didn’t. I stopped at 70 pounds on pull ups because that is the biggest pair we have here, and I didn’t feel like combining plates or DBs to go heavier - probably will in the future.

All told, had a good training sesh. I think this is going to be a lot of trial and error as I progress (at least the first wave or so), trying different move combos and discarding what I didn’t like or what didn’t fit. Perfect example: pike leg raises. Barely felt any ab involvement from those, so I’ll probably drop them from the rotation. Had written down to do a BW pull up set at the beginning of ME (right before the 65 x 8 OHP set), then had a durrr moment - I just did 30 BW pull ups, if that didn’t warm my back and shoulders up I should just pack it in.

Anyway, happy with today’s training. OHP has always been my weak point (probably doesn’t help that a while back I went a few years with no consistent direct shoulder work, and my shoulder mobility sucks), so I’m interested to see how I respond to this style of training over Juggernaut or 531. Even before I went on TRT (or other assistance), I was able to do some wazoo training programs and recover with no real issue. Didn’t always make progress in everything, but was always able to at least maintain my strength while jacking my conditioning up considerably.

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So, quite a ways off, but anybody have ideas on what to do during the deload week?

I did them a few times when I was doing 531, then stopped because I felt I was taking a step back each time. Have never done deloads with Juggernaut for that reason. I think I posted somewhere above, life throws off weeks at me periodically, so I typically just train straight through cause you never know when those are gonna hit.

No ideas. I’ll go to the gym and hit some lifts. Explore some more variations. Nothing super heavy or big volume.

I’ll pull some sleds, farmers walks, maybe freshen up the big three some hit some accessory. I don’t do deload weeks well.

I am going to do the 7th week deload from Jims site.
Working up to a heavy single about 90% maybe 95% of my old max lift.

I’ll do it on the comp lift and not a variation. Gives me a week to feel a heavy weight on the comp lift.

I think we run the darkhorse a little different.
Brian says do ME work with a variation of the lift that would work the weak spot of the lift.
The DE work is done with the comp lift, with band or chains.

But I can’t see there should be a downside using the comp/main lift on the ME lift as well as the DE lift.

Yeah, I saw that in the video. I’m not competing and I haven’t identified any weak spots in most of my lifts yet , and I’ve always preferred just doing the full ROM lift. Not knocking the use of them, I just can’t say I ever felt like they helped me in the past.

Having said that, I typically miss OHP somewhere between mid and lock out but I’ve always attributed that to my shoulder mobility. Even unloaded, I can’t put my arms straight up over head - they are always at least a little forward, even when my form really starts tanking and I get a nasty thoracic extension going on. I’ve started trying to work on that, we’ll see if I can do anything about it.

06 June 2018 - cardio/arms

A. Screw Curl - 30 x 10/45 x 10, 10, 10, 10
B. Dec Skull Crusher - 25 x 10/40 x 8, 8, 8, 8

Ellipt - 10:00
Bike - 20:00

Normally this would have been a day where I run intervals of some kind on the treadmill (I am training after dark so can’t do anything outside the gym), with supersetted bis/tris before and after. Since I am doing a more intense program now, I figure a recovery/cardiac output session would serve me better. I also used that reason to drop the volume on direct arm work. After the next two days of DH lifting, I will do another day like this with something similar. Once I am ‘acclimatized’ to DH I may add the full arm volume back in, along with possibly more intense cardio on these off days.

07 June 2018 - Front Squat
First Wave/Week 1/Day 3

10:00 Met Con-
–20 deadlift w/ BW on bar (225)
–1:00 skip rope
–15 squats/BW (225)
–1:00 skip rope
–10 power cleans w/ .75 BW (165)

30:00 ME - 1RM (135 x 5 warm up set prior to clock)
-front squat 5x185/3x225/275/1x315/345/365
-box jump (38") x 3
-decline sit up x 10

15:00 Volume - 3 x 5 @ 80% 1RM
–290 x 5, 5, 5

10:00 DE - SGHP from pins (knee height)
–175 x 3 EMOM

Front squats went decent. I’ve 1-repped 405 two different times, but for the last 6 or so months I’ve been losing the weight forward once I get around 365. That didn’t happen today, but 365 was a straight up grind. Since I was certain nothing higher was happening, I ended ME there even though I had some time left on the clock. Volume reps sucked - I stopped at 5 on the AMRAP set so I still had a couple in the tank. 80% sounds like a good drop from your max, till you actually do the math.

DE felt great, I got more and more explosive as the sets progressed. I’ve never done that volume of SGHP in one workout, so that was gratifying to see.

Workout clocked in right at an hour, but I skipped assistance again - felt smoked again to a certain extent, now I look back and maybe I just wussed out. Definitely wasn’t going to do the amount of stuff I had written down (5 rounds of BSS, RDL, and goblet squats…uh, no). Still getting used to this program, so I’ll start adding the assistance in the future. I also need to go back and look at the matrix Brian devised, showing medium low and heavy for assistance work depending on the week/day.

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08 June 2018
First Wave/Week 1/Day 4

10:00 MetCon - Karen
-20# wall ball x 150 - 6:37

30:00 ME - 5RM (135 x 10 warm up set prior to clock)
-cable row x 8 95/110/110/115/120
-bench x 5 185/205/225/245/255
-dragon flag x 8
-3-4 foot butt walk

15:00 volume - 3 x 10 @ 80% 5RM (took less than 15:00)
-Set 1 - 205 x 12(AMRAP)
-Set 2 - 205 x 7
-Set 3 - 205 x 8
-cleanup set - 205 x 5

10:00 DE - kneeling scrape the rack press

  • 75 x 3 EMOM

10:00 Assistance
3 rounds

  • 40 x 12 Low Incline DB Press (varied grip)
  • 15 x 15 rear delt flyes (face down on incline bench)

Karen went decent, I haven’t done her in quite some time. I know I used to do her faster, but I could feel my shoulders getting pumped and burning so I broke her into smaller chunks after the first 50.

Bench went good, felt solid. Probably could have got 260, but (call me a wuss) I have never liked doing one more set only 5 pounds higher than the previous one. And if I did, it would have been a hell of a grinder. Forgot how sucky dragon flags are - doesn’t help I haven’t really trained my abs too hard for some time.

Volume felt alright, after the AMRAP set 10 just wasn’t happening. Just took an extra set to get all my reps.

I had started throwing scrape the rack presses in the mix a couple weeks ago, both for some variety and as a way to try and help open my shoulders up (by forcing them to go more overhead rather than forward). To that end, I’m concentrating on keeping my hips under me as I near the top, trying to keep my upper body in a straight line under my arms.

Did assistance tonight, and now I’m writing this it occurs to me I was supposed to do a ‘heavy’ assistance following the 5RM. Maybe I’ll actually remember that during a workout some day…

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09 June 2018

30:00 treadmill walk, 4 incline, approx. 4mph

A. Screw Curl 30 x 10 warm up set), Incline Curl - 35 x 8, 8, 8;
B. Elbow Out Extension - 25 x 10 w/u, 40 x 8, 8, 8;

Nothing to this one, pretty easy day
Back at it tomorrow

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