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Easy Strength and the 40-Day Workout
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.”
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.