The Conan Program

Over the last year or so I have had some definite goals training wise, two main ones to be exact, and from those two goals grew the present one.

This may be just what you are looking for yourself.

Let me first cover the aforementioned goals, so you can see how I came upon this one.

First goal was towards my 50th birthday, a photo shoot to celebrate that point in time, and also have the shots for my book – Old But Strong.  I pulled myself in good shape, look wise, but after three years of turmoil I did not ‘feel’ good.  Look wise – nearly as good as the old days – but mind and strength, nowhere near previous levels.

After the shoot I got right into some powerlifting training for a meet.  Great program, good gains ‘but’ – but something was missing.  Again I did not feel just right, you know.  I felt not as fit as I normally do, I felt tight and heavy, and not as strong and as healthy as I know I could be.

So after the meet – a new program was born.

I wanted a program that got me in ‘shape’ not just strong – not just looking good picture wise BUT GOOD INSIDE AND OUT.  I wanted to feel awesome, and looks as a side effect of the program.

I wanted to be able to do a variety of things and look like I could.  I found myself day dreaming about when I was a kid and how the comic character Conan was my hero.

Although Conan was a drawn image, the images where no less inspiring for my young mind, and even to this day.

My favorite artist was John Buscema who created the Conan image – in just the way I thought he should and would have looked.  Strong, muscular, supple, athletic, and just lean enough.  Even though he was a ‘made up image’, John depicted this image in his art work.

Conan looked like he could do just about anything – including fighting a Sabre Tooth Tiger, which of course he did.  He looked even animal-like himself – a real man’s man, and a barbarian.

This may all sound a bit daft to you, but to me, it’s a goal, it is inspiring and exciting.  I think to myself, train for not only looking strong and agile, but bloody be it also.  Nothing is sadder than all show and no go like so many that ‘train’ for a look.  Sure I did the stage and photo shoots, but it has always been strength and health first.

So after not feeling in ‘true’ shape, the Conan Program was born.

You may remember a time when you felt just ‘in shape’ – you walk different, hold yourself proud.  Sometimes you feel like bursting into a run or tearing up the weight room just because you feel a power and energy pulsing through you.  It’s an awesome feeling I have had many times in my life and I wanted to feel that again.

For that I had to have a program that covers a portion of each area of feeling and looking awesome.

Take what you need from this program and fit it to YOU.  This was the whole focus of my recently produced book, Old But Strong – thinking for yourself and adapting.



I have a base move that I start with on each day I train, those moves are:

  • Day 1 Bench Press
  • Day 2 Dead Lift
  • Day 3 Shoulder Press
  • Day 4 Squat

Now each week is a different variation of the strength move, rotated over three weeks, so:

For Bench:

  1. Rack Bench Thick Bar
  2. Incline Bench Press
  3. Floor Press

For Dead Lift:

  1. Rack Dead Lift from Just Below the Knee
  2. Trap Bar Dead Lift
  3. Stiff Leg Dead Lift

For Shoulder Press:

  1. Rack Press Thick Bar Bench 80 Degree
  2. Hammer Press Behind Neck
  3. Push Press

For Squats:

  1. Rack Squat Off Pins at Bottom
  2. Front Squat
  3. Box Squat

These main moves are worked to a single for the day.  I may add a perfect non-grinder rep that is a perfect rep, hard, and your max – but a strict max.

I start at 5 reps after warm-ups and do set after set until I reach 3 reps, then 2 reps, then a few 1 reps until I think ‘enough’.  This could be 7 to 10 sets.

Make a note of your max — three weeks later, beat it.

After the main move I do some building work.  Hard stuff – and I work hard and fast.  This can be whatever strikes me that day.

After this building work I move to drills, fitness and agility work.  This can again be what takes my mood.

Let me give you last week’s sessions:


  • Abs to start
  • Assorted moves 9 – 12 sets total
  • Rack Bench Press Thick Bar to a single


  • Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Chins

Back to back for 5 sets, no rest, 12 -15 reps


  • Dips 3 x 12
  • Drills
  • Prowler 6 rounds heavy weight at least bodyweight on it


  • Calves and Hypers to start 6 sets total
  • Dead Lifts in Rack to a single


  • Chins
  • Rows

Back to back no rest 3 rounds 12 reps

  • Drills
  • Farmers Walk 6 rounds with around 60kg each hand


  • 300 Lunges


  • Abs to start
  • Assorted moves 9 – 12 sets total
  • Rack Shoulder Press Thick Bar to a single


  • Lat Raise
  • Bent Over Lat Raise

3 Rounds, 15 reps


  • Thick Bar Curls
  • Close Grip Floor Press

3 Rounds, 12 – 20 reps

  • Drills
  • Sled Pull 6 rounds around 50kg


  • Drill Day
  • Prowler
  • Rope Work
  • Clean and Press
  • Wheel Roll Outs
  • Skipping

Just kill it 30 minutes non-stop.


  • 300 Lunges
  • Rack Squat off the pins to a single


  • Leg Press
  • Step Ups

3 Rounds, 20 reps

  • Drills
  • Prowler 6 rounds Light Weight Sprints


  • Long Walk


The other moves can be of your choice – but man up OK!

No wimpy stuff.

Work fast and hard.

Keep a note of your weight and reps and when you do them again –beat it!

This program also works for ladies – I train with two girls that are getting ready for the stage.  Can you visualise how good they will look on stage?  Different to others, yeah?

Well that’s the program guys, that’s my goals – if it’s what your looking for give some, or all, the ideas a try.

Be a Conan – strong, agile – awesome.


I eat really clean and simple, but that’s another blog.

Until next time.

Train Hard and Eat Clean by Crom.

Ian x