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Modified Version of Brian Alsruhe’s Dark Horse


#1

Hey everyone, long time lurker and first time poster. I’m starting this post to track the results of a modified version of Brian Alsruhe’s Dark Horse program. As far as what has led me to this point, I’ve been lifting seriously for 10-12 years now and experimented with a lot of different programs (to include following Alpha’s work on here several years ago) and found a niche in strongman for awhile which I love and did two competitions in but unfortunately I don’t have access to the implements for now anymore. The last year or so I’ve made tremendous progress with 5-3-1. I had to take a year off before that due to a left shoulder and right wrist injury and dropped from about 180ish to 160 lbs and felt miserable. Once I was ready to go back in the gym I decided to go in full force with diet, the program and also started up TRT. I managed to gain 40 lbs in 3 months and since then have maintained at about 200 lbs. I did manage to get up to 210 at one point but the cost and effort of the diet felt too much for the continual weight gain. I will post my diet then and now in a later post if anyone asks but this is mainly for me to track how this program works for me. With 5-3-1 I’ve managed to get to the following stats (I’m not big on taking videos of myself lifting but I also don’t want to appear to be a keyboard warrior so I will take videos and post them during the testing phase of this program):

Squat: 455
Deadlift: 485
Bench: 355
Push Press: 235

As far as the modification goes, I’m not doing the beginning conditioning part and with the Maximum Effort part I am solely focusing on working up to the 1,3 or 5 RM for the variation lift and then once I get to that section I am then going into the giant sets.


#2

Wave 1 / Week 1 / Day 1

Maximum Effort

Work up to 3RM Box Squat (final: 425 lbs) I feel I could have gotten a little more but felt a bit of anxiety about the additional volume to come

Volume

Then (with 80%) 3 rounds:

Leg curl x 10 @ 140 lbs

Box squat x AMRAP (10), 8, 8 @ 350 lbs

Leg raise x 12

Dynamic Effort

EMOM for 10 minutes:

Deadlift 240lbs w/ bands (first time with bands and was a lot harder than expected, used a black band draped over the center that I stepped on)

Assistance

3 rounds 10-12 reps of:

-Pull-ups

-Leg Press @450 lbs (5 plates each side)

-Cable Curl @ 57 lbs

-Cable Push-down @ 77 lbs


#3

Enjoy the program it’s a lot of fun. I had a 30% growth in weight on the bar from this program.


#4

Thanks losthog! While I havent even completed a full week of it, I’m definitely digging it so far.

Did some active recovery yesterday and ran a bit with my husky.

This morning did this:

Wave 1 / Week 1 / Day 2

Maximum Effort

Work up to 1 RM Incline Bench (final: 265 lbs)

Volume

Then (with 80%) 3 rounds:

Pendlay Rows x 5-8 @ 185 lbs

Incline Bench x AMRAP (6), 5, 5 @ 215 lbs

V-ups x 10

Dynamic Effort

EMOM for 10 minutes:

Press 95lbs w/ black bands

Assistance

3 rounds 10-12 reps of:

-Chin-ups

-Machine Flys @ 165 lbs

-Seated Cable Rows @ 165 lbs

-Cable OH Rope Triceps Extension @ 57 lbs


#5

Hey mwdsolof welcome to the log section it’s a great place to be.
I’m in.
Awesome weights you’re throwing around.

I did the Darkhorse last summer like The hog.
It’s a great program. And a killer one, buried me to the ground at the end, but ended up with some great gains.
I did take a little deload week during the middle part due to vacation, it helped a ton.


#6

Thanks mortdk! My numbers are nothing compared to Brian’s but I definitely try. I knew that if I tried the program as he wrote it it would definitely run me to the ground which is why I modified it the way I did.


#7

That’s probably a good way to modify it, I ran it as written and saw great results until I burnt out about 7 weeks in. Even after the progress stalled it was still fun to do because of the challenge


#8

loganator: Making it through 7 weeks of that as written though is admirable in itself though! Did you do any PR testing after the 7 weeks?

Starting Wednesday night I started feeling like crap and was bedridden from what turned out to be the flu from Thursday on. I started tamaflu on Friday and by Saturday morning it was a huge difference. Went back into the gym, probably a little earlier than a doctor would recommend, this afternoon though but did cut out the assistance since I definitely wasn’t at 100%

Maximum Effort

Work up to 5RM Trap Bar Deadlift (final: 455 lbs, felt I could have possibly pushed 495 here but wasn’t in the physical state to do so especially with the high rep sets to follow which I hate when it comes to deadlifts)

Volume

Then (with 80%) 3 rounds:

Hack Squat x 12 @ 225 lbs

Trap Bar Deadlift x AMRAP (10), 10, 10 @ 365 lbs

Ab wheel rollout x 12

Dynamic Effort

EMOM for 10 minutes:

Squat @ 225 lbs w/ black bands


#9

Wave 1 / Week 1 / Day 4

Maximum Effort

Work up to 3RM Push Press (final: 225 lbs which I thought I would get more with but hopefully thats just me still getting over the flu)

Volume

Then (with 80%) 3 rounds:

Weighted Chin-ups x 8-12 @ w/ 25 lb plate

Push Press x AMRAP (8), 8, 8 @180 lbs

Plank x 1 min

Dynamic Effort

EMOM for 10 minutes:

Bench Press @ 170lbs w/ black bands

Assistance

3 rounds 10-12 reps of:

-Incline DB Bench @ 80 lbs each hand

-DB Row @ 80 lbs (definitely could have gone heavier here)

-DB Squeeze Press @ 60 lbs ea. hand


#10

Wave 1 / Week 2 / Day 1

Maximum Effort

Work up to 5RM Front Squat (final: 275 lbs) I’ve always had a deep hatred for front squats and this is one of the first times I’ve really tried to go heavy with them. Obviously its a weak point though and one that I need to work on.

Volume

Then (with 80%) 3 rounds:

Leg Curl x 12-15 @ 150 lbs

Front Squat x AMRAP (10), 10, 10 @ 220 lbs

GHR Side situps x 10 ea

Dynamic Effort

EMOM for 10 minutes:

Deadlift @ 260 w/ black bands (I did the set up for this a bit different than week 1 where I draped the band over the bar and stepped on it. With minis I think that would be fine but anything thicker than that and it has shortened the band so much that it feels a bit ridiculous. So I dragged out some heavy DB’s and made a frame to wrap the bands around which worked a lot better)

Had no time to do assistance unfortunately, but even if I did I was pretty shot from those front squats anyways lol


#11

Wave 1 / Week 2 / Day 2

Maximum Effort

Work up to 3 RM 3-second pause Bench Press (final: 285 lbs)

Volume

Then (with 80%) 3 rounds:

Pendlay Rows x 8-12 @ 185 lbs

3 second pause Bench x 8, 8, 6 (without a spotter felt unsafe attempting any more) @ 225 lbs

Weighted decline sit-ups x 10 w/ 25 lb plate

Dynamic Effort

EMOM for 10 minutes:

Press 100lbs w/ black bands

Assistance

4 rounds 10-12 reps of:

-Chin-ups

-Cable Flys

-Cable Rows

-Cable OH Extension


#12

Wave 1 / Week 2 / Day 3

Maximum Effort

Work up to 1 RM Paused Deadlift (final: 435 lbs) I felt if I went any heavier on this one the paused aspect of it would be lost

Volume

Then (with 80%) 3 rounds:

Hack Squat x 5-8 @ 275 lbs

Paused DL x 5, 5, 5 @ 345 lbs (this was beyond terrible and took a ton out of me)

Ab Wheel Rollout x 10

Dynamic Effort

EMOM for 10 minutes:

Squat @ 250 w/ bands

I didnt have any time for assistance today unfortunately


#13

Wave 1 / Week 2 / Day 4

Maximum Effort

Work up to 5RM Seated BB OH Press (final: 185 lbs)

Volume

Then (with 80%) 3 rounds:

Weighted Chin-ups x 12-15 @ 25 lbs

Seated BB Press x 12, 10, 10 @ 145 lbs

Plank x 1 min

Dynamic Effort

EMOM for 10 minutes:

Bench Press @ 185lbs w/ black bands

Assistance

4 rounds 10-12 reps of:

-Incline DB Bench @ 80’s

-DB Row @ 85 lbs

-DB Squeeze Press @ 60’s

-Rope Extension


#14

The start of the end of wave 1! I’ve been going to an LA Fitness lately but I think I will be joining a different gym here next week after I’m done with this wave called Iron Valley (in Indianapolis), which adds a bit of a drive for me but its not too bad from my work. That gym has tons of strongman equipment in it though so I’m excited to play on the implements again and add them into this programming so Wave 2 and 3 should be fun.

Wave 1 / Week 3 / Day 1

Maximum Effort

Work up to 1RM 3 second pause Squat (final: 435 lbs)

Volume

Then (with 80%) 3 rounds:

Leg Curl x 5-8 @ 160 lbs

3 second Pause Squat x 6, 5, 5 @ 345 lbs

GHR Side situps x 10 ea

Dynamic Effort

EMOM for 10 minutes:

Deadlift @ 285 w/ black bands (had to switch to mixed grip at set 6)

Assistance

5 rounds 10-12 reps of:

-Pull-ups (last 3 sets were more in the 7-8 range)

-Leg Extension @ 195

-Cable Curl @ 50

-Cable Push-down @ 75


#15

Great looking workout man. I miss this program. It was a ton of fun.


#16

I’ve been using giant sets since I ran it last summer, love them.

Btw you don’t giant set the main work right.
Just the assistance and the finisher?
If I run it again I think I’ll be doing that.


#17

Thanks losthog!

mortdk: Yeah I definitely like the giant sets too, except when he adds the cardio portion in there then its just too much lol. The only thing I dont use the giant sets on is the working up to the 1,3, or 5RM (Because I know I’d get burned out) and on the Dynamic Effort part as well of course. Seems to be working well so far

For both of you or anyone else that’s ran the program, on week 6 (which if its supposed to be a different week let me know too) when the DE part drops back to 50%, do you then change the resistance to a harder resistance (i.e. since I use bands I was thinking about jumping up to the next thickest band)?

Thanks!


#18

I can’t really help, I didn’t have bands. I started at as I recall 60% and when I dialed back I dialed back to 65 ending at a bit higher weight the last week.
So a little harder band I think would do the trick.


#19

Wave 1 / Week 3 / Day 2

Maximum Effort

Work up to 5 RM Floor Press (final: 275 lbs)

Volume

Then (with 80%) 3 rounds:

Pendlay Rows x 8-12 @ 135 lbs

Floor Press x 11, 10, 10 @ 225 lbs

Weighted decline sit-ups x 10

Dynamic Effort

EMOM for 10 minutes:

Press 110lbs w/ black bands

Assistance

3 rounds (was supposed to be 5 but I was spent) 10-12 reps of:

-Chin-ups

-Pec Deck Flys @ 165 lbs

-Cable Rows @ 165 lbs

-Cable OH Extension @ 57 lbs


#20

Dark Horse is pretty near to the top of the list of programs I want to run. Looks horrible.