Farmstrength’s Weblog

The Wolfhound Protocol: Or How a Working Stiff Plans His Training by farmstrength
February 17, 2011, 12:50 am
Filed under: Doc, Health and Longevity, Uncategorized, Wolfhound Protocol

After training consistently for 13 years, I have figured a few things out.  A simple plan has coalesced out of the journey.  A plan that I like to call The Wolfhound Protocol, because every training template is better when given a awesome name and that was the best I could do.

The genesis of The Wolfhound Protocol lies in the balancing act of a physically demanding job with fluid working hours and a love of physical endeavor outside work.  My job requires that I be able to climb stairs while carrying up to 100lbs of tools.  I love to play rugby with the neighborhood kids.  At work, I may be called upon to push 500 pound weight carts up a ramp to load a truck.  Recently, I discovered the Highland Games heavy events which fit well into a long time passion for lifting stones. Along with these things, I am committed to being able to pursue my passions well into my 9th decade. The Wolfhound Protocol seeks to balance the three demands of work, play, and longevity by building significant bodily strength, by pursuing a high level of cardiovascular and muscular endurance, and by practicing disciplines that sow seeds to be reaped in retirement.

Strength development in The Wolfhound Protocol is addressed by choosing a simple, long-term approach to progression.  I have personally used Steve Shafley’s Power Ladders, Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1, and Bill Starr’s 5×5 all to good effect.  The key is not the specific tactic, but the big picture. We are looking for strength gains over the long term in a sustainable program that allows for the other demands upon our time.  The beauty of the progression schemes I listed above is that I can cut any given session down to simply the main lifts and be done in a short amount of time while still making progress towards my strength goals.

Conditioning, as I like to call it, is a much talked about topic with lots of silly terms put to it. The advent of CrossFit has made conditioning a hill people will die on. The Wolfhound Protocol asks one simple question of conditioning, “Can I do what I want without feeling like I’m going to keel over?”. I think it really is that simple. Can I chug up 9, 10, or 40 flights of stairs?  Can I keep up with high school kids for a 2 hour game of pickup rugby?  Can I do those things and still function well at work the next day? If the answer is yes, then my conditioning is good.  If no, then I need to figure out what I need to do to improve.

“Abraham lived a good, long life and was buried with his ancestors.” That line from the Bible is something I want said of me. Not just a good life, not just a long life.  A good, long life.  I have a dear friend who, in his 60’s, models the “go anywhere, do anything” capacity that I want to sow into my physical self. I do this by eating a sensible diet, by consistently practicing yoga, by pursuing interests outside the weightroom.  Each of those disciplines is another brick built in the edifice of a life well lived.


Chris Rice is my hero.

Now all that is well and good, but how do you turn that into a plan for today, this month, this year.  Well, I do things like this:

January 1 to March 31 No competitions. Focus on long, slow distance work and increasing muscle mass.

April 1 to June 30 Tune up competitions. Focus is on increasingly specific work for competition. I begin throwing sessions 2 or 3 times a week and reduce volume in the gym to a main lift and specific conditioning work for strongman.

July 1 to September 30 Goal Competitions. Continue throwing sessions; increase frequency to 3 or 4 times per week. Gym time is restricted to a single main lift per session and practice for an event in the upcoming strongman contests.

October 1 to December 31 Taper. I may compete, or not. I reduce throwing sessions, and begin increasing volume at lower intensities on gym work. Return to longer conditioning efforts.

That’s it.  In a bloody, great nutshell, I plan my training around this thought process.  I am sure I will continue to adjust it, but for now I’ve seen some very good progress.



1 Comment so far
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Absolutely love the comment about “can I do what I want without feeling like I’m going to keel over”.

Josh Dale

Comment by Josh Dale

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