This is a collection of templates for the Tactical Barbell program. Included are the operator, zulu, fighter, gladiator, mass, and grey man programs – all in the same spreadsheet.
Tactical Barbell is essential reading for anyone that needs operational strength (e.g. military, law enforcement, fire fighters, and other first responders).
Definitely check out the book on Amazon if you haven’t already – it’ll make your training much more effective (which is the point, right?). If you’re not in a pure tactical (i.e. military, law enforcement special ops) environment and are interested in putting on additional muscle mass (not that the below programs won’t help with that), check out Tactical Barbell Mass Protocol.
The latest and most popular edition of K. Black's infamous Tactical Barbell series.
Tactical Barbell programming has many different flavors, all of which are pretty similar. All run in 3 week waves where intensity increases and volume decreases before resetting on week 4 with a slightly higher intensity than on week 1, at which point the volume/intensity tapers over the next 3 weeks and peaks on week 6. Pretty straightforward. Nothing sexy, but it works.
Here’s a quick summary of each Tactical Barbell program:
- Operator is a 3 times per week strength program, training every other day.
- You’ll train the squat and bench press 3 times per week. Weighted pull ups are done 2 times per week and deadlifts are done 1 time per week.
- Training takes place in the 70% to 90% of 1RM range, working in rep ranges 1 to 5. This is your bread and butter strength program.
- Retest your 1RM every 6 to 12 weeks.
- Zulu is a similar program to Operator with some key differences. Zulu calls for training 4 days per week and has 2 different training sessions that are alternated each session (A/B/A/B).
- The main lifts are all trained 2x per week, meaning this has less squatting and benching than Operator, but more deadlifting and overhead pressing (i.e. more back and shoulder work).
- The set and rep ranges are very similar to Operator if the “I/A” configuration is selected. The “standard” configuration is a little lower volume by comparison, but the intensities do not change. Like Operator, intensity ranges from 70% to 90%.
- The Fighter template is 2 days per week, but you’ll be hitting squat, bench, overhead press, and deadlift each workout. When you’re doing 3 to 5 sets of 3 reps at 90% of your 1RM on 4 lifts, those will be tough workouts.
- This is a solid option for people that do not have the schedule to train 3 or 4 days per week.
- This is very similar to Fighter, but trains 3 times per week. Like Fighter, Gladiator trains all 4 major lifts each session.
- Mass is very similar to Gladiator, but uses a higher rep count scheme (i.e. 4×6 instead of 5×5). It also doesn’t ramp intensity up to 95% in week 6, instead programming 4 sets of triples at 90% of 1RM.
- Grey Man
- This is a 12 week program (all the others are 6 weeks long) that is a little lower volume than the other program options. It is also a 3 day per week training program.
Table of Contents
Tactical Barbell: Training Max or True 1 Rep Max?
The book recommends using a training max (90% of your true 1RM). If this is your first time running Tactical Barbell programs, I’d recommend using a training max. Lots of other successful programs, including 5/3/1 and GZCL, are based on using a training max.
If you’re hoping to run this program repeatedly and continue stacking on strength gains, a training max will help you do that. Grinding out reps at 90% of a true max every 3 weeks is not going to be sustainable for most lifters.
The spreadsheet lets you pick a training max or a true max on the “Entry tab.”
Tactical Barbell Template Spreadsheets
Drop down menus and 1RM inputs allow for relatively easy customization.