Brian Alsruhe’s Dark Horse Training Template Blog – Week 9


For the next 12 weeks I’ll be training with the free training template created by Brian Alsruhe, known as the “Dark Horse” program. His YouTube video explains all the details and lays out the program. Lift Vault has done the work for m̶e̶ you and created a Google Sheets copy of the program.

The program is a total of 12 weeks, with nine working weeks, split into three phases of three weeks. One week is a deload week and there is a two week testing phase. The program takes up four days a week. It is also a self-regulating program, which makes it great for trainees of any skill level.

In essence, the program is a powerlifting & strongman hybrid program based on conjugate periodization. Dark Horse also utilizes ‘giant sets’, which are in essence circuit training with weights. The focus isn’t primarily on building one rep max increase, rather building a more general strength and conditioning program, which would serve well for a strongman competitor or other athlete.

Check out my Training Vlog on YouTube, where I document each of my workouts and provide my thoughts about the training program.

Week 9

Day 1

The first day of the last week, wasn’t terribly successful. Again, the pattern of being fatigued for the last week continues. A period of two days separated the end of week 8 and now, so the recovery between workouts, shouldn’t have been an issue. There has been less sleep over the last couple of days due to the family, so that could have also been contributing to the extra fatigue for day 1.

For the first moves I did replace the suitcase deadlift with the stiff leg deadlift for the last week of variation, this is another deviation from the last two weeks, so there hasn’t been any measurable way to track progress, since another variable has changed. The Anderson squat was prescribed for a heavy single, which I had failed my first attempt at 365lbs, but got it on the second attempt, which was the fourth giant set.

The volume set was continued sets of the SLDL, because I cut out the last two sets of max effort, I didn’t reduce the weights since I figured, I would at least have completed two more sets of ME. The box squats felt sluggish and not so great, but I was able to complete two sets of five at 290lbs.

I did run out of time and felt very fatigued after the second set and had to stop the workout, after the 60 minute mark and was unable to do any dynamic effort deadlifts for the day.

Day 2

The final day two went well, finishing the program off with a high sets for the T-Bar & close grip bench. It feels like my conditioning is catching up to the program as it felt less tiring to get through the set and I was able to complete the four working sets with the weights staying relatively heavy.

For time sake, I had to cut out sets from the volume, and I was unable to complete more than 10 reps for the first AMRAP set. The dynamic effort overhead press, was somewhat disappointing, I had hoped to increase the weights for the last week, but had to gradually decrease the weights, as the set went on. At least I was able to stick to the 10 minute time limit.

Day 3

Day three saw big drops from the program, incomplete max effort, volume and dynamic effort. This was due more to fatigue, than it was due to time.

The program’s lower body days, really seem to have a much larger fatiguing affect on me than the upper body days, this seems normal, since I am working with heavier weights and utilizing more muscle mass.

Day 4

Not as strong with the neutral grip pull up as I am with the regular grip pullup. I was stoked to hit a new Z-Press PR, 185lbs, for three sets across, given the new PR, I opted to stop the last two sets, as I wasn’t able to pyramid up over the sets, as I think I hit my new PR too soon in the progression. The final rep of the PR, was quite a struggle and was significantly slower than the first rep.

The dynamic effort bench continued to go well, with improvements for the last half of the section as well as sticking within the 10 minute time frame.


Because it was the last week of the program, I tried to cut out slightly less from the program than usual. I think another rest week will be good followed by some testing of the big four lifts. I don’t think the progress has been so clear cut in the final phase of the program, but we will see what the results say when I start my testing of strength levels.

If I had to draw early conclusions, I would predict my bench press and deadlift both increase, my squat stays the same and unknown with the overhead press.

Learn more about Brian Alsruhe at his website, and his YouTube Channel for more great resources.

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