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Dan John's 40 Day Program

Discussion in 'Weight Training/Bulking' started by KT Monahan, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. KT Monahan

    KT Monahan Active Member

    Jan 5, 2007
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    Anyone ever hear or try Dan John's 40 Day Program? http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/the_40day_program&cr

    He gears it towards an average person interested in fat loss and gaining some muscle. Basically the "look good naked" crowd. It's more of a primer or something to get someone out of a rut I would think.

    Basically, you pick five exercises from five different groups of movements and do those every daily workout for 40 workouts. You start real light and add 5-10 lbs or so if it feels easy. He says never plan or worry about the weight or the load. Always stay within yourself and go heavy "naturally." Get your reps in and are do it daily if you can. Although it appears that he only averaged about 5 days a week because of other things in life getting in the way. He says it's ok and expected that you really aren't going to do it every day for 40 days. He also says that doing a shortened 21 day program is acceptable and often all that is needed.

    He says the five movements are:
    A large posterior chain movement (the deadlift is the right answer)

    • Upper body push (bench press, incline bench press, military press)

    • Upper body pull (pull-ups, rows, or, if you’ve ignored them like me, heavy bicep curls)

    • A simple full-body explosive move (kettlebell swings or snatches)

    • And something for what I call an “anterior chain” move (an abdominal exercise). I think the ab wheel is king here, but you can also do some movements best suited for lower reps.
    The rep scheme is two sets of five for the deads, press, and pull, one set of 20-50 for the swings, and one set of five for the abs. He doesn't say much about warm ups except maybe do some Goblet Squats to warm up. No mention of how many he suggests.

    I know some people will scream "OVERTRAINING!!!" But you start light and only add weight if you feel like it's getting too easy. These also are pretty short workouts. He got it from Pavel so it sounds a lot like greasing the groove. I work in an office at a desk. If my job suddenly required that I spend 30-45 minutes a day for the next 5-6 weeks moving boxes in the storage room, would I complain that I can only do it every other day and require a protein shake after finishing up in the storage room?

    Any thoughts? Opinions? Critiques?
  2. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

    Mar 21, 2005
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    From what you write , it sounds pretty good to me.

    My lifting philosophy matches his in a number of ways.

    In my view, "overtraining" in regards to lifting is when a person continually pushes to failure on too many reps/sets TOO FREQUENTLY.

    Instead of grow/get stronger the person just drives themselves into the ground.

    I keep a record of every workout and poundages used.

    I know if I'm getting stronger........which I am.

    In regard to strength versus bodybuilding:- according to Pavel, there was a German study done that showed a whopping 50% decline in strength if more than one day off was taken between lifts. (Power To The People...Page 21).

    Now this does not mean that you have to go out every second day and do 12 sets of 5 max reps to failure.
    Actually it means the exact opposite.
    You lift frequently...but very low reps (2 to 5) and only maybe one set.
    You do NOT lift to max....but you lift heavy.
    You do NOT go to failure.

    But over time you DO progress because you will get stronger so you will be lifting heavier as time goes by.

    Western bodybuilders just cannot grasp this concept....because they are western bodybuilders. They think it's all about mega reps and mega sets and mega weights done ad nauseum until they drop.

    The number one thing for strength lifting is breathing,form and TECHNIQUE. Pavel will open your eyes in regard to these factors.

    "Power To The People" should be read by everyone before they ever set foot in a gym.

    If Dan John promotes an idea or routine......you can bet it is pretty solid.

    The only thing I would be leery of for beginners is the ab wheel rollout.
    The "on knees" version is not as tough as the full-body rollout.
    But either one is tough for the untrained person.

    You really need to have your core (that's "core'......not just "abs") in shape for that move.

    The abs are basically composed of Type 2B fiber........which are strength fibers.

    So doing hundreds of repetitions for abs is a waste of time.

    If you wants stronger core/abs.....keep the reps way down and weight the exercise....just like you would other muscles.

    Because they are Type 2B fibers....they will grow bigger with resistance training as opposed to endurance reps.
    And the bigger they are the better you can see them...especially when the body fat isn't quite down to single digits yet.
  3. MT77

    MT77 Active Member

    Aug 2, 2010
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    I haven't followed this routine but applied some of Dan John's wisdom from August through September last year in preparation for a highland games contest. I think the results were fantastic as I improved my throwing distances / heights through the application of his split. 3 days a week I did power cleans / front squats / power snatches / back squats in sequence, 10 reps each, for 3 sets. The weight was relatively light but the progression was a challenge cardiovascularly. Eventually I got used to the work load but it was a challenge in the beginning.

    I would think that anyone would make great progress in terms of general fitness & athleticism by following something very simple like that.

    I like Dan's style.
  4. anfeyd

    anfeyd Active Member

    Sep 2, 2006
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    I have a lot of experience with both Dan's 40 Day program and his Even Easier Strength Program.

    I loved them both. I did them in the summer and I felt awesome everyday. They were good for me because I was in an inseason period and they don't fatigue you much. I can honestly say, however, that I didn't notice tremendous strength gains though. It's more of a retainer of sorts, in my opinion. You certainly learn a lot about your body though and since it's only 40 days, it's an experience I think anyone can benefit from.

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