An Australian Gladiator Success Story

by Daevid Anderson

The following was submitted to me by Daevid Anderson, artist extraordinaire from Perth, Western Australia. He describes the success he has recently had by implementing the program outlined in my Twelve Weeks at Greyskull series title “Gladiator”. Enjoy, and check the bottom of the post for a discount offer on the two-volume “Gladiator” package in the store so that you can get results like Daevid. -JP

This little write-up is meant to give you an idea of my experience with Johnny Pain’s Gladiator Program.

Firstly, a little about me. I’m 31, 6’5″ and generally weigh around 100 kg. I work full time in an office job, train in my lunch break, and work after hours as an artist. I’ve got a girlfriend and a mortgage. I’m no freewheeling uni student with hours to spare in the gym.

About 7 years ago I started dabbling with martial arts – first Taijutsu then Kickboxing. I discovered Paleo and lost 10kg, seeing my abs for the first time, and while generally I was pretty fit, I was also weak as hell with no idea how to remedy it. Thus began the last 2 years of serious training. I immersed myself in the world of strength and conditioning learning as much as I could. I decided on a basic program (the venerable Starting Strength, followed by the much maligned but useful Stronglifts) and started getting strong (I also backed off from martial arts).

I moved on to Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 and signed up for my first powerlifting meet. 6 months later I competed for the second time and totaled 492.5kg (177.5/122.5/192.5). I kept training and was planning to compete again earlier this year – sadly I was a wreck. Despite my best efforts to stay balanced, do prehab, rehab, and conditioning, I was a mess. My shoulders hurt, I could barely squat due to painful knees, I had bad posture, my conditioning sucked and despite all my supposed hard work I was still flabby and lacked any real muscle mass. I had also tried carb-cycling, ketogenic diets, and carb backloading, but I didn’t look or feel like I had been training hard for 2 years.

Around this time I discovered Johnny Pain and the Greyskull LP. I was pretty surprised I hadn’t heard about it before and immediately I wished I’d used it from the start. The max rep sets, the layering and homework – it all made sense and I could see how much faster and more balanced my training could have been.

I felt I wouldn’t get the most out of a basic linear progression but as soon as Gladiator was released I snapped it up. I had decided I wanted a program to just follow without question. Although I consider myself pretty smart, I wanted to cede control to someone else, and trust in the process.

Gladiator touts itself as being a look into 12 weeks of training at Greyskull. A program that will transform you into a nasty son of a bitch.

At first it looked simple and easy. It didn’t look like a lot of volume. I analyzed its structure and was pleased to see the basic lifts performed most days, and lots of conditioning and bodyweight work. Some of the later workouts I couldn’t imagine myself completing.

I was sold.

I started with conservative weights. I knew that I’d need to ease my way into it to make the most of the 12 week progression, also I was weak from dieting and a few months of un-structured programming.

At the start of the program I also loosened up my diet. I still focused on whole foods, and lots of protein, but carbs found their way in most nights and I was more lenient than usual.

Those first few weeks I realized very quickly – I suck at everything. The warmups had me sweating. I couldn’t do 20 pushups in a row. I think my max was 5 chin ups, and they weren’t exactly strict. I wobbled all over the place when lunging. I had to split the warmups into sets just to get through them as best I could.

As I mentioned I was no stranger to conditioning, having performed some grueling workouts at kickboxing and doing hill sprints or prowler pushes throughout my training. That being said the conditioning workouts included in Gladiator left me gassed. I was sore as hell and it was amazing.

Body composition changes happened almost immediately. Things started to tighten up. The frequency method pushups and chin up homework grew my upper body to match my already gargantuan thighs (who was it that said Starting Strength turns people into Centaurs?)

I was already following JP on twitter and started to converse a little more with him. He gave me some insights into the programming and some tips in regards to attitude. I started buying his other books to see how Gladiator fitted into his broader programming ideology. More and more the programming made sense.

I kept at the program, recording my results on twitter and my tumblr training log. After 12 gruelling weeks I completed the program. I didn’t miss workouts. I rarely substituted exercises (and only due to equipment limitations). I ate well (though with plenty of treats), and most of all I trusted in the program and kept a positive, hard working attitude.

It paid off.

I decided to do Gladiator again aiming to beat my old scores and milk this amazing program for everything I could. I’m at Week 7 now and I’m smashing all my previous PRs. My posture has improved, my muscle imbalances are gone, I can squat pain-free. I haven’t tested 1RMs but I’m confident I can beat my powerlifting PRs now, and better yet I look the part.

A few comparisons:

I’ve gone from barely being able to do 10 strict push-ups, to being able to knock out 30, or 15 with 20 kg on my back.

5 poor chin-ups has become 12 strict pull-ups, or sets of 3 with a 20 kg vest.

My first attempts at Turkish Get-Ups were shameful, not even managing the prescribed weight. Now I can knock out 4 barbell get-ups in a row which may not seem like much but it’s a vast improvement.

The progress on the big lifts has been slower, but this week I’ve just hit 100kg x 5 on Bench Press, and will be hitting 170kg x 4-6 on deadlifts – both numbers I have not been able to hit in almost a year. I’ve recently squatted 120kg x 10, and this cycle will get to bodyweight x 20 – something I’ve been aiming for since I began training.

My conditioning has gone through the roof. I’ve cut around 2 minutes off my 1 mile time, and can actually run 3 miles – something I couldn’t do due to back pain before I started this program. Oh, and my sandbag half mile time is now at 4 minutes – but I know I can do better.

I should mention that this is all at a new bodyweight of 95-97kg, with much improved lean muscle mass, and lower bodyfat levels.

I’m sure this seems a bit like I’m selling the program, but I really have had remarkable success with it. To be fair lots of programs *can* work, but this one really worked for me. I think there’s a few reasons for this that go beyond self-belief or trusting the program.

Firstly, the warmups: they are a clever way to rectify imbalances as they often involve single leg work, and work on weaknesses prevalent in both the general population, and even those who train frequently. They are all movements people need to do more of.

Secondly, the homework: While JP touts himself as a low volume/high intensity guy, the frequency method and ladders are two great ways to increase volume on bodyweight work. This increases muscle mass, and prompts changes in body composition. These, combines with the conditioning homework are an easy way to implement twice a day training – something most consider to be an advanced training method.

Lastly, though this isn’t something you can program for, is intensity. There is a certain intensity required for some of the sessions (the sandbag half mile, max reps tests) that carries over into all your training. You simply can’t ‘go through the motions’ and this intensity, mental toughness, and determination is something that has added immensely to my training.

I’m looking forward to continuing my progress with Gladiator, before moving onto Gladiator: Stage 2. I know I’m ready for the challenge.

 Click Here to visit the store and view the Gladiator series. Use the coupon code GLADIATOR10 to receive 10 % off of your purchase of Gladiator Stage One and Two as a value pack.


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One Response

  1. Foster

    I agree Stage 1 is bad a$$. I had completed it about month ago, and it was great. I have done the GSLP for about 2 years since a deployement in Afghan. And Phase 1 was a good switch from regular GSLP. I do feel the GSLP for me at least gets me stronger in the main lifts (because thats its bread and butter) but Stage One as JP says definately will turn you in to a “nasty son of a bitch”. I just wish Stage 2 had more deadlifts in the second half.

    July 1, 2013 at 9:48 pm

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