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Building the Monolith Workouts in Under an Hour

So first off, Jim made something awesome in “Building the Monolith”, but I saw a lot of people talk about how workouts were taking them 1.5 to 2+ hours to get done. I’ve got an hour to train in the mornings, and was curious if I could get it all in.

I just finished the third workout of week 1 and managed to keep all workouts under an hour. I took video of all 3 workouts (I plan to do an indepth write-up of my experiences when all 6 weeks are done). I wanted to share for anyone looking to do something similar (don’t worry; I use 4x speed a lot so you don’t have to watch me train for an hour)

For those that don’t have time to power through the videos, here is the strategy per day

Day 1:
-Giant set the squats and presses with chins. I did sets of 4. It went Squat-chin-press-chin-repeat. Only rest long enough to change plates.
-Once you get through the presses, things change to squat-chin-pull apart-dip-chin-repeat. That being said, I found that doing squats after dips SUCK, so I may end up 86ing them in the set and saving them for the very end of the workout. Still sets of 4 with chins. This timed out so that I got 100 knocked out with only 1 extra set needed.

Day 2
-Giant set as deadlift-curl-bench. I stuck with sets of 10 on curls.
-This was the hardest nut to crack. It only had 4 movements, but I find rows to really interfere with recovery between sets, so I had to save them until everything else was done. Best way to include them was as part of cleaning up my equipment (yes, even when it’s your gym, you should keep it clean.
-I DID have planned program deviation on this day, in that, instead of the 5x5 bench, I employed the original 5/3/1 reps/sets and a FSL set. This is primarily because that has been working REALLY well for me and my bench is finally moving in a good direction for the first time in a decade, so I’m not going to abandon it.

Day 3
-Similar giant sets as day 1. Squat-chin-press. Once you’re out of chins, go to Squat-pull apart-press. Once you’re out of squats, go shrug-pull apart-press. Once you’re out of pull aparts, do shrug-press.
-Did sets of 20 for pull aparts and shrugs went 25,20,15,15,10,15.
-I took all the presses off the floor, just because. It’ll probably go even faster if you take it out of the rack.

Hope that helps anyone in a similar position. Be happy to answer questions about my strategy. And once again, Jim wrote an awesome program here.


Awesome work - BTM took me between 1h20m and 2 hours depending on what day of the week. Keep in mind, the volume stays the same each week, but the intensity climbs. The 5x5/3/1 squats in week 6 are going to take you a bit longer than they did in week 1. Nonetheless, I’d imagine at that pace you’re using a lower TM (very smart) and if you eat right, you’re gonna stay pretty lean while packing on some decent mass (in 6 weeks I gained 14 pounds on BTM).

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Yeah, I imagine on Day 3 it’s going to run slightly longer since it gets up to 15 sets of presses. I thankfully have enough slop on most days that I don’t think I’ll run into issues exceeding my hour time limit. Worse comes to worse, I can re-tackle things in the evening.

I stuck with the training max recommendations Jim laid out for the most part. My press is slightly too high, but that’s because I need to factor in fatigue accumualted from squatting.

Eating is going well. Cleanest I’ve eaten in a while, and still very big. Appreciate the support dude!

This is some serious work/commitment - very good to read about this.

For what it’s worth, we have moved all of our training to either Krypteia or something very similar; the results have been better than I ever expected: people are getting stronger, in better shape and much bigger. And as you’ve seen, it takes less time.

As noted in the book, Krypteia is not for everyone. However, we use the same principles and twist/tweak for people who cannot handle that specific program. Good luck in the future and keep things simple/strong.


Thanks Jim. That really does mean a lot coming from you. I definitely got inspired by seeing Krypteia in Forever, and stole a lot from that. I might end up running it if I get really deep into an off season from strongman, because looking at it, I think it’d be a fantastic base builder.

I’ll make sure to do a full write-up when it’s all said and done. Always wanted there to be more data on this program.

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This is an awesome thread, excellent work man. A second bar will be so, so sweet

Glad you appreciated it dude. If you want to make a cheap axle and get started right away, you can go to home depot and get a piece of 2" Outer Diameter galvanized steel pipe cut to 7.5’ and use gorilla tape to make collars. Should set you back like $50. Great for pressing and bench.

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I’m sad to admit I’d probably have never thought of that… Happy to report that will probably be in my basement sometime next week :joy:

No shame in that dude; strongman just makes you crazy, haha. Spring collars won’t fit on the axle, since 2" OD pipe is actually 1.9", but if you have locking collars they’ll do the trick. If you don’t have those, you can wrap a knee or wrist wrap around the bar to keep the plates in place. You can also pick up some pony clamps or battery clamps from Home Depot for a couple of bucks to do the trick.

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Haha I hear that. I have an old 80lb heavy bag that I use for random stuff on occasion. It’s not elegant but it’s awkward and slick.

I’ve got 3 sets of locking collars that never get used, well, 2 sets now!

How many times have you ran this program now? Is it one that is meant to be ran many times in a row, with deload between?

This is my first time running it. I did the upper body portion of it when I was rehabbing my ACL, but never the full program.

I don’t believe you should run it in a row. It’s probably good to take a break in between. I feel like an anchor program would work well, or maybe just start up a whole new program or challenge at that point.

Good to know, I’ve actually been having my wife do it with the modification of machines for 5x10 as substitutes for dips/pullups. I mostly wanted a 3 day a week full body program that had multiple sets of moderate difficulty for the big lifts. I think an anchor with PR sets might be a good break between these.

Have you seen anything in the new book similar to this program? I’ll give it another look, I purposely ignored the full body ones the first time I read through because I was not interested in them for myself at least in the short term.

Nothing explicilty similar to this program, but there was the combination program, which allowed you to use the supplemental work from a lot of other ones. BTM has 5x5/3/1, Widowmakers, and FSL all mixed in, so it’s a bit similar.

That’s a nice little trick with the Swiss bar…brilliant!

Thanks dude. I found using a bunch of different grips helped with minimizing fatigue.