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Greyskull Lp

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#1 steelcutoats



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  • Squat PR:300lbs : 1x5 (oly squats)
  • Press PR:bench 225lbs: 1x5, ohp 142.5lbs: 1x5
  • Deadlift PR:405lbs: 1x5

Posted 11 October 2011 - 08:52 PM

(SCO note: I've not actually done this program, only investigated it as a plausible beginner/intermediate transition program... people who have done the program are very welcome to chime in or make edits)

Greyskull LP is a strength training Linear progression created by Johnny Sheaffer, aka Johnny pain. It is a significant variation from the Starting Strength and Stronglifts LPs in its volume/intensity trade-offs. However, the most obvious difference to the casual observer is the amount of direct arm work in the form of chin-ups and curls.

Exercise Selection

Bench/ or Press (alternate) 2x 5, 1 x 5+
Curl 2x 10-15 (bench days) / Weighted Chins 2 x 6-8 (press days, and only if you can do at least 6-8 BW chins)
Squat 2x 5, 1x 5+
Neck Harness

Bench/ or Press (alternate) 2x5, 1x 5+
Curl 2x 10-15 (bench days) / Weighted Chins 2 x 6-8 (press days, and only if you can do at least 6-8 BW chins)
Deadlift 1x 5+ (with or without power cleans as warmups)
Neck Harness

Bench/ or Press (alternate) 2x 5, 1 x 5+
Curl 2x 10-15 (bench days) / Weighted Chins 2 x 6-8 (press days, and only if you can do at least 6-8 BW chins)
Squat 2x 5, 1x 5+
Neck Harness

Assistance Notes
Bodyweight Chins are done every day.
Curl on bench days, (weighted) chins on press days.

Johhny Pain comment on neck harness usage (from his on-line forum):
"I have people start with a weight they can do 4 x 25 with. We never do less than 100 reps in a day. We add weight or reps each time. It's pretty straight forward, and as along as you're adding weight and or reps and doing no less than 100 a day, you're not doing it wrong."

Progression Scheme

5 lb jumps on Squat and Deadlift
2.5lb jumps on pressing movements and curls (when rep ranges are satisfied)
When reps on last set fall below 5, take 10% off of bar and begin process over (on that lift only)


The biggest drawback is obviously the use of the neck harness, which is a fairly uncommon piece of equipment that you will probably have to buy yourself.

The squat and deadlift frequency makes Greyskull look like an "advanced beginner" variations of other programs. When you are trying hard to hit the 5th rep in your final set so you can add weight next time on the exercise, it works a lot like an advanced beginner variation of Starting Strength. However, in early or deloaded stages of the program, the AMRAP of the final work sets makes a significant difference---- you might be doing 10 or more reps in the final set, giving you a significant volume stimulus when the intensity is reduced.

Because of smaller weight increases and reduced training frequencies, progress will be slower on Greyskull than on SL or SS, but one might be able sustain progress for a longer length of time. If you are a raw beginner, your lifts will go up significantly faster on SL or SS than on Greyskull. If you are more advanced (or just have impaired recovery ability) the reduced squat and DL frequency might actually improve your progress by allowing full recovery.

Johnny sells an e-book on the Greyskull method here: http://strengthvillain.com/?page_id=20 . It covers all the hows and whys of the program, and offers several "tweaks" to the program.


Johnny Pain's website.
Johnny Pain's forum discussion on details of the program.
General interview with Johnny Pain at 70sbig.com
Programming oriented interview with Johnny Pain at 70sbig.com
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#2 Growler



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  • Squat PR:325 lbs
  • Press PR:Bench, 245 lbs
  • Deadlift PR:345 lbs

Posted 13 October 2011 - 03:07 PM

I have the ebook and think it's a good read. His site has a very long thread in the Q&A where he espouses most of his ideas for the LP. From reading the book and posts over on the greyskull site, the main portion of the program is really with the reps you outlined but just the core lifts:

Day 1
Bench/Press (alternating)

Day 2
Press/Bench (alternating)

Day 3
Bench/Press (alternating)

Everything else is what he calls an optional 'plug-in'. The curls, chins, and neck harness are his recommendation for what most would be familiar with as 'assistance'. He also has recommendations for building up daily sets of push-ups and chin-ups with bodyweight only. But again, those are looked at as assitance and don't make/break the program.

I read JP's attitude as fairly relaxed about assistance though, giving ideas as to what he thinks will work well for aesthetics and shoulder health but really having the attitude of this regarding assistance and other things in general:

1. you can do more work than you think. if you feel like trying out extra stuff go ahead and backoff if it becomes a problem, but you're a machine so go ahead and try to be awesome.

2. do whatever assistance you get excited about. getting excited about your workout and being consistent are more important than worrying about assistance details. but you can do pull-ups and push-ups every day with bodyweight and you'll get better at them and used to it. neck harness are curls are what JP likes for getting the 'gunz' and big impressive neck.

3. it's OK to reset main lifts and something you should do early instead of too late. the sets of 5+ will increase when you reset so you get the chance to reset more often, stay on a simple program longer, and in the long run maybe progress longer than if you do a standard SL/SS variation.

4. you don't have to get fat / stay fat to get strong. get in shape, and walking often in the morning is a great way to do it. throw in short, heavy intensity conditioning or long steady state as you can, but don't go crazy with it or forget that you're trying to get strong.
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#3 Mike


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  • Deadlift PR:365lb x1

Posted 13 October 2011 - 04:28 PM

Thanks for the write up guys. Always love having new program layouts here.
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#4 Michael



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  • Squat PR:115kg x5
  • Deadlift PR:150kg

Posted 14 October 2011 - 12:15 AM

Earlier this year I was hospitalised with appendicitis. After the surgery I decided to get a few ebooks to read while I was recovering, and Greyskull LP was one of them. I tried to purchase it using my NZ credit card, but it was declined again and again, so I gave up on it.

A day later I had an email from someone at SV asking what was up. They must have got some kind of notification. I explained what happened and told them not to worry about it.

The next day, they replied with a download link to the ebook, at no charge. Pretty good customer care, for something that wasn't even their fault.

It's a good read and has a few good ideas, even if you don't use the program. The stuff about chins is good, as are the plug-ins, which could be plugged into a bunch of programs.
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#5 Koa



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Posted 18 November 2011 - 06:59 PM

Excellent program. I've used it since April and have gotten significantly stronger on it. I guess the main message is to learn how to create intensity in the AMRAP set and don't fear the reset. Beat your previous AMRAPs.

I've only deviated from the program wrt the deadlift in the last 9 weeks
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#6 AdamW



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  • Squat PR:550 BS, 405 FS
  • Press PR:400 BP (386 paused), 275 OHP
  • Deadlift PR:601

Posted 21 November 2011 - 05:36 AM

I used the main ideas from this program for a while and enjoyed it. I still always do my main pressing exercise before my main lower body exercise as JP recommends. I've always liked the AMRAP stuff, all my training is all based around comparing rep maxes and always trying to beat my estimated 1RM no matter what weight I'm currently lifting. It's a fun way to set PRs while building strength in lots of rep ranges.
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#7 Art


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  • Press PR:115 strict, Bench 175x1
  • Deadlift PR:275x5

Posted 28 September 2014 - 06:09 PM

I still wish there was a spreadsheet for this

opp found one lol

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