Dan John’s 40-Day Workout – My Results

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Easy Strength and the 40-Day Workout

Dan-John-Intervention-Signature

Dan John’s signature in my copy of “Intervention.”

I’m a sucker for plug-and-play strength programs where I just show up in my own home gym and do the workout as written on the page. Dan John has a great program that Pavel Tsatsouline gave him years ago called “The 40-Day Workout.” It’s basically the same five movements done for 40 consecutive workouts, varying the load and intensity from workout to workout.

Dan’s site has a complete explanation if you want more of the nuts and bolts. Earlier this year, an enterprising follower of Dan’s named Eric Tiarks made a research project out of it. Eric took a scientific approach to the load and intensity, taking much of the variability and guesswork out of it, making it even more plug-and-play than the original version. My kind of thinking.

My 31-Day Program

When I was trying to get in shape for a trip to Jamaica last April, I started this version in early March and followed it for 31 workouts over six weeks. I’d been wishy washy on what program to follow to best get in shape for the trip and wasted a few weeks being indecisive. Should I do Power to the People again, or try Simple & Sinister? Or how about combining the two with treadmill cardio in the morning? I ran the idea by Dan on his forum and he didn’t exactly discourage me, but said I’d better have a big can of Alpo ready to eat if I didn’t follow through on it. I don’t particularly care for Alpo and knew that was Dan’s way of telling me to just do one thing and stop being an idiot.

I printed out the PDF version of Eric’s paper and plugged my numbers into an Excel spreadsheet, planning out my first two weeks (10 days) of workouts. Figured I’d try it out for those two weeks after work and adjust from there. I’d also do LISS (low-intensity steady-state) cardio for about 30 minutes in the morning using Phil Maffetone’s 180 heart rate formula.

The best thing I discovered about these workouts was that they only took about 30 minutes each day and so I was able to do them Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, skip Thursday, and then do Friday and Saturday. Then the next week I’d do every day from Tuesday to Saturday. I was doing a low-carb steak & eggs diet at the time with carb-ups on Wednesdays and Saturdays so that schedule worked best with the heavier days of the plan.

After the first two weeks, I took Sunday afternoon to plan out the numbers for the next two weeks and followed the same format and diet. I was getting great results during my weekly Friday morning weight and measurements sessions, losing body fat while keeping my weight pretty stable around 210 pounds.

Heading into my last two-week block, I started to fade at the end of the week and really had to force myself to just do the workouts. I gave myself pep talks as soon as I got home from work and made myself change straight into my workout clothes, head downstairs, and not pass Go! “In 30 minutes,” I’d say to myself, “you’ll be done. So just get it done.”

The results?

Dan-John-2014

With Dan John at Burr Ridge Kettlebell Club, February 2014

I lost about 2.5# and about 1-1/4″ off my waist, cutting my bodyfat from 14.5% down to 12.5%. I looked great and felt great, especially since I no longer had any pain in my left shoulder from my idiot bench press moment just before Christmas.

It was definitely an Easy Strength workout and the following week I tested my one-rep maxes on squat, bench, and deadlift and added weight to all of them. It worked great for me so I’d highly recommend Dan John’s 40-Day Workout.

9 thoughts on “Dan John’s 40-Day Workout – My Results

  • October 17, 2014 at 8:14 AM
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    Thanks for the great article and review. I am finding it easier to work out from home these days so it is good to find out what might work for me too. Blessings. :)))

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    • October 18, 2014 at 3:16 PM
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      Great to hear that you’re working out at home, too! I have such limited time but I can usually find a spare 30 minutes in the morning to do some cardio as well as make time a few nights per week to lift weights. Just having to walk downstairs to the basement makes it so much easier. Keep it up!

      Reply
  • February 4, 2015 at 6:16 PM
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    Thanks Chad! My family and I are going on a Caribbean Cruise in April, so I need a simple plan to follow and just stick with it until we leave. If I don’t, I know I will regret it! Thanks for the ideas and the inspiration!

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    • February 5, 2015 at 7:35 PM
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      Hi Roger – gotta love the Caribbean! We’re heading back to Turks & Caicos at some point this spring. There are so many workout options but if you can find one that you like and just keep at it you’re way ahead of everyone else. Keep it up!

      Reply
  • February 4, 2015 at 6:23 PM
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    This sounds like my kinda workout and similar to what I do. 5 days a week with the same workout and weights varying to a slight increase over time. Which would you say contributed more to the body fat loss and inches off your waist, the workouts or the diet? Thanks Chad!

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    • February 5, 2015 at 7:30 PM
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      Hi Dean – for me it was more the diet. The workouts were really based around not losing muscle mass while dieting down. The last few weeks I added in extra food – more meat and sweet potatoes with butter – and the fat loss stopped. Most of the diet gurus suggest bringing calories back to maintenance level for a few weeks to get your hormones back in line before cutting back the calories for another round.

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  • February 4, 2015 at 6:53 PM
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    Great schedule, I really appreciate how you switch it up with no work on Thursday one week and then rotating the next week. Why do you think it became harder to finish the work outs at the end of your cycle? Do think it was due to lack of energy from your diet?

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    • February 5, 2015 at 7:33 PM
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      It was definitely a lack of energy due to low cal and low carb. I’m going to try another variation on it starting next week, working out four days per week for 10 weeks but keeping my calories and carbs a little higher.

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  • February 6, 2015 at 5:18 PM
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    Thanks for sharing this program and how you’ve utilized it with great success! Those 30 minute workouts are so attractive: to know that I’ll be done in 30 minutes and feel amazing is so worth it. Couldn’t help but laugh about the pep talk: “In 30 minutes, you’ll be done…” — I’ve done this so many times, and it ALWAYS works!!

    Reply

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