T Nation

Dan John's 40-Day Program


I am done 9 days of Dan John’s 40-Day Program (https://www.t-nation.com/training/40-day-program), and my variant of the program is simple: 1X10 for each of 4 lifts (BB Zercher squats, DB rows with fat gripz, Ring push-ups with chains, Trap bar deadlifts with fat gripz). I like the workouts (even though they are repetitive…no time to get bored though since they are short). I also find I recover well, as opposed to longer workouts that drain me and make me miserable for a couple of days. I would like to continue with this program after 40 days, adding weight through micro-plates.

Has anyone ever continued after 40 days? Dan talks about using the program to raise your basic lifts quickly, and then move on to something else. I wonder what would happen if I just continued (yes, I know “why don’t I try?”). I will try, but I am looking for motivation to keep going, so if anyone has any experience with this, and what your results were, I would be curious to find out.

My goals are fairly balanced: bit of strength, bit of hypertrophy, bit of fat loss. I don’t expect miracles in any area.

Thanks for your experiences or thoughts.


10’s are not part of Dan John’s program. The program works because you are working with a weight for a couple sets of 5’s that you can manage day after day. In his later revision, “Even Easier Strength” he recommends working in even lower ranges a couple times a week. You aren’t maxing out, but you are getting comfortable with heavier loads at lower volume.

After 30-40d, I did the “same but different” approach, aka exercise variations. If you are working with the right loads, then after 40d, you will likely have some connective tissues complaining from overuse-type stressors. Those changes become important if you want to keep going.

This is not a hypertrophy program, but you can use it to stay strong while getting leaner. If going that route, the “leaner” comes from diet, not from the program. The program just prevents muscle loss.


Yeah its a great concept, check out his updated version below -gives a lot of clarity. I would limit any deadlift to 5-6 reps tops per set


First, you are doing a variant, which means YOU ARE NOT DOING THE PROGRAM. The whole point is to coax up the weight on the five rep days. I tried it twice. Both times I used squat, bench, and deadlift as my exercises. I usually carried kettlebells for my weighted carries just because I was too tired to set up anything else, but on occasion used sandbags, the prowler, or the hex bar. I started with 225 on bench, 315 on squat and 365 on deadlift for my daily sets sets of five. These are in the ballpark of 60% of my one rep max. Both times, I had the same result: my lower back was fried and it took a long time to get my squat and deadlift just back to where they were in the beginning of the program. My bench didn’t improve, it just stayed the same. Deadlifting and squatting 5 times in a week is a lot, even if the volume is low. The only people this program could work for are either really weak people or somebody the wants to constantly change their lifts and not make any actual progress.


Unless you are a 242 or SHW, I’m gonna guess w those numbers you are a somewhat seasoned PLer. The 40d program is about neural adaptation, so it works better w lifts you are not already really adapted to. Dan John talks about picking stuff you’ve been neglecting. He has a quote on his forum that all problems making progress on the 40d program are from using too much load.

I tried to use the main PL lifts and had a similar experience. I switched to pushpress, rack dead, front squat and chin ups. After 40d I hit PRs on all four lifts, and my bench and squat were up when I went back to 5/3/1.


Does anyone have any experiences regarding DJ’s ‘Even Easier Strength’ program, or the traditional ‘Easy Strength’ program?

I’m considering it, but 5 days per week is more than I want to lift, and I’m concerned the volume is too low per occurrence.