T Nation

BoonieRat Gets Tactical: Operator Template + Base Building


Long time T-Nation lurker, time to take the plunge and start participating. The logging will give me a feeling of accountability, and every little bit helps! Little about me;

37 yrs old
180lbs / 5ft8

Former military, and now private sector. Not in terrible shape, but a far cry from what I used to be. After getting out I was pretty banged up, and pulled back a little on my training…which turned into a long period of not doing fuck all. Now I’m feeling that motivation again and chomping at the bit to get back in shape. My role these days isn’t as physical as it used to be, and thankfully I’m in charge of my own PT now.

Strength - Work up to a 300lb bench press/500lb squat
Develop high levels of conditioning/cardiovascular fitness - Work towards a 9ish minute 1.5 mile/40-45 minute 10k

*I’ll be happy with whatever aesthetics happen as I chase my goals. Don’t particularly care or approach things in a bulking/cutting manner. I’m just going to eat as much as I need to fuel my performance. Roughly 1-2gms protein per lb, plus a healthy amount of carb and fat with each meal. 3-4 meals per day + post workout shake.

Strength - Tactical Barbell’s Operator template
Conditioning - Aerobic Base Building followed by High Intensity Continuation Protocol (from Tactical Barbell 2)

  • Most of my colleagues are using TB or variations of it, and seem to be making good progress. I’m jumping on the bandwagon, plus from what I’ve read it seems solid.

Here’s my training plan for the next few months.

Block 1 - Base Building - 8 Weeks:

Aerobic Base Building (3-5 LISS style workouts per week, running/rucking mostly)
Maximal Strength (Squat/ Bench/Weighted Pull-ups/Deadlift Cluster used with Operator template) 3 x week

The idea behind block 1 is to lay a foundation. Build up a solid aerobic base which later gets converted/used to build anaerobic capacity during Block 2. This is an approach that’s fairly common with elite runners and endurance athletes, and the reasoning behind it as laid out in the book makes a ton of sense. I’ll also kick off my strength training. Not sure how my strength training’s going to respond alongside all the weekly cardio, but I guess I’m going to find out. Used to do cardio all-day everyday when I was in, so I’m hoping that muscle memory kicks in quickly.

Block 2 - Continuation Protocol - 12 Weeks

Maximal Strength 3 x week
High Intensity Conditioning 2 x week
LISS 1 x week

During this block most of the distance running gets dropped and the focus is on strength and shorter HIIT style training to beef up the anaerobic system.

Tomorrow I’ll test my max’s on my lifts, day after I’ll do a 1.5 miler. Depending on how I feel I’ll run a 10k sometime during the week or next weekend to get a rough time to use as my baseline.

This is my first time logging my training online, so thanks for reading so far, and hopefully I covered everything off.



Welcome to T-Nation! Looking forward to seeing your training log, could pick up something about how military type guys train for strength while maintaining good run times.


Thanks Benanything! Combining the strength and cardio balls-to-the wall was a little easier in my 20s, for now I’ll just have to be a little smarter in my approach.


Test Day

Tested my 1-3RM today. My maximums for this block will be:

Squat 265
Bench 200
WPU 215 (+35lbs - including my bodyweight in my calculation)
Deadlift 300

I’ll be using a training max, so the final numbers I’ll be working off of for this block are:

Squat 240
Bench 180
WPU 195 (+15lbs)
Deadlift 270

First time incorporating a TM. My strength has dropped a little since my ‘time off’, but I’m hoping it’ll bounce back pretty quick. Used to have higher maximums across the board.
Tomorrow I’ll get a timed 1.5 mile in, and then day after will be my official “Day 1”. When the block’s over, I’ll be able to retest everything and check my progress.


TBB is a solid program. Just keep in mind that once you get north of 400lbs for lower and 300 upper, most people do not have the recovery capability to perform those lifts three times a week without quickly crashing their nervous system. My point is don’t get too caught up in a specific program when your body tells you it is time to change it up, listen. Good luck.


Tested my 1.5 miler today, clocked in at 11:27. Disappointing. That’s probably the worst it’s ever been, looks like I’ve let myself go more than I thought! No where to go from here but up I guess.

Day 1 of my 8 week base building block starts tomorrow. It’ll be a light week, lifting at 70% RM intensity. Strength 3 x week, plus 3 E (endurance sessions) per week. I’ll stick to LSS, Triples, and maybe the occasional fun run or ruck march for E - just the basics, nothing fancy.


Good point. I don’t anticipate sticking with Operator forever, when things get too heavy I’ll probably make the switch to Zulu or maybe even Fighter. What kind of experience do you have with TB? I didn’t really know too much about it until recently tbh, but a couple of my SOF buddies were raving about it. From what I’ve read so far, the program set-up looks solid, especially the method of building an aerobic base first before switching up to the metcon style work later.


Hi, I’ve been looking around online and I can’t seem to find a sample of the Operator template with rep schemes and such given. From my very limited research on it however, it seems to resemble some form of full body training type system(?). Could you perhaps do a short write up on how the program works? I’m sure it’ll help the other readers of your training log. And I know, sheesh, I haven’t been on this site for 2 days and some ass hole is asking me to do shit for him already. Thanks!


I have done the Greyman template with the TBB2, I still do a slightly altered form of the TBB2 Black protocol but my lifts have progressed to the point where I make better progress lifting once a week but you can substitute any strength program with the TBB2 conditioning templates so it works out. Keep charging!


Interesting, I can’t find the Greyman template in my book. I’ve got Operator, Zulu, Fighter, Mass and Gladiator.

Yup, I’m planning on Black protocol too after base building - the 2 x HIC + 1 Endurance set-up.


Sounds good will do, don’t have much time right now but will write something up shortly. The actual TB system trains everything; strength, strength-endurance, aerobic base, anaerobic/work capacity etc. Operator temp is just one small part, just one of the maximal strength templates you can incorporate in your overall training plan. TB is nothing like Crossfit by the way (which is severely limited IMO), it doesn’t mishmash everything in one workout. It’s more like annual periodization.


DAY 1! Base-Building/Week 1

Squat 165
Bench 125
WPU - Bodyweight 4 x 5

3 x 5/70%

Too easy. Very light start, felt a little odd only benching 125, but managed to keep my ego in check and stick to the prescribed load. I’m guessing things will ramp up soon enough, so I’ll enjoy the gimme workouts while I can.


I have the original version of TBB, there is no gladiator in my copy so maybe the same.


To show respect to T-Nation, I am not going to list the website, but, go either to YouTube or Google, and research Pat McNamara and Combat Strength Training. It may be something you are interested in.


Day 2/Week 1 Base Building - Endurance

LISS run x 30 mins

Easy pace, aerobic zone 130-150bpm. No issues.


Thanks for the tip, I checked his stuff out. There’s no doubt he’s an animal, but CST looks a little too much like Crossfit/SEALFit/Gym Jones. TB is a totally different animal, especially the conditioning book TB2 (white cover).


I’ll check it out, thanks for the recommendation!


Day 3 / Week 1 Base Building

Squat 165
Bench 125
WPU - Bodyweight 4 x 5

3 x 5/70%


Yesterday/ Week 1 BB

E x 30 mins = LISS run

Today/ Day 5

Squat 165
Bench 125
WPU - Bodyweight 4 x 5

3 x 5/70%


Day 6 - E

Strapped on the ruck (+40lbs), and did 2hrs. A few gentle hills nothing too crazy. Good way to end the training week.