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Dan John's 40 Day W/O vs Complexes

Can somebody explain to me why one would use complexes for hypertrophy and the the 40 day workout for overall strength and fat loss?! I did complexes before for fat loss, seemed to me the better option as you are more or less super-setting a number of exercises. I want to give the 40 day workout a try, but i’m confused as to how it would be for fat loss.

I’ve spent a couple of evenings sifting through the forums here, and Dan John himself recommends 40 day for fat loss and complexes for hypertrophy. I respect the guy very much, it just seems to me that complexes make you sweat like a beast (i’ve done them and dropped 6 kg’s on them) and the 40 day (do not max out/short workout) would do very little for fat loss.

I know a lot has to do with diet, but surely loading a bar with a couple of kg’s, squatting it, pressing it, b/o rowing it, cleaning it, dead-lifting it, etc. will burn every ounce of fat from your body as apposed to 2x5 deadlifts, 2x5 pullups, 1x20-30 kettlebell snatches?!

Any thoughts?

I just read the 40-day workout article again.

The 40-day program isn’t the fat-loss or the hypertrophy program.

The complexes cover both hypertrophy and fat-loss, he linked to an old article.

The point he made was that a lot of people are too weak to get any hypertrophy benefit out of complexes. That’s where the 40-day program comes in, to build up the requisite level of strength to effectively use complexes for both fat-loss and hypertrophy.

Yep, exactly what themumbler said is what I got from re-reading it again. But thanks for bringing it up again, I’ve been looking for something to do to bring up my strength levels again after my shoulder dislocation.

JjSchmidt, I’m thinking about doing this 40 day program, and just adding sprints for the fat loss. I think that should be sufficient, provided you got your nutrition in check. I’m just worried about how heavy I can actually go with deads as of yet. 2x5 with like 100 lbs won’t do much, even if it’s 5x a week, I’d think.

I definitely like the idea of finishing the workout pretty quickly, even if I’m there 5 days a week.

Jldume, I’d like to see how you get on with it. I’m currently banging my way through 5/3/1… want to change things a bit. Maybe you could write up your progress here in a few weeks, just to see your progress with it. As for deads, they are out for me… it’ll be heavy box squats/back squats, lower back is a serious issue, DEADS are a no go.

Yeah, sprints sounds great for fat loss… and agility/athleticism.

Good luck with it, looking forward to your feedback.#

Anyone else here do the 40 day workout?

I’m doing the 40 day program currently. The only problem I’m having is that 2x5 just doesn’t cut it. Especially with deads I need some warm up sets. I snatch before moving on to the actual program but still. I’ve used weights from 100kg-160kg for 2x5 and I simply can’t use, say, 140kg without doing a few warm up sets first.
It’s also difficult to judge the amount of weight to use…You obviously want some effect but at the same time don’t want to strain too hard. I started out doing 5 days a week and did three heavy-ish days and two light. Now moving on to three days a week but trying to go heavier. I also try to use the 5-3-2 scheme once a week to get some heavier lifting in.

In terms of complexes for hypertrophy…I understand why Dan is saying these things. The more time spent under the bar the faster you will grow, but I also agree with you in that complexes are a great fat loss tool.
I think the key are rep ranges. Using 5-rep complexes can really be a great conditioning tool. Using 2 reps works well for me for hypertrophy, I really like these heavy, low rep ones.

I am not sure how the 40 day program works for fat loss. But it does help me to keep my diet clean somehow. I will write more as I progress.

Let me know if there’s anything else you want to know.

@JJSchmidt Sure thing man, just keep in my mind that my numbers are going to be crap and super low. I dint realize how many lifts the shoulder affected, from Squats (lacking the ROM to hold the bar tight on my upper back), to deadlifts (My shoulder joint being able to hold anything more than 100lbs without pain) to the move obvious ones like the bench and the military press. I will be starting very, very low. But I will attempt at least a 6 day a week protocol. Only because by the time I get out of work on Saturdays and Sundays the gym is closed, but I work every other sunday that frees up that day for me.

I’m going with this set up:

  1. Deadlift: 2x5
  2. Flat Bench: 2x5
  3. Machine Rows: 2x5
  4. Dumbbell Swing 30-50 ( I will see how many I can tolerate)
  5. Weighted Incline Leg Raises 1x5

I’m not going for broke, but I feel as if this week will be the week where I feel where all my strength’s/weaknesses lie. So I’m going to see how heavy I can go and be comfortable with 2x5. I will also make every rep a focus as pointed out in the article and just focus straight on quality. I’m really curious to see how quickly I will get used to the weighted incline leg raises seeing as how it’s only 1x5 but I will see tomorrow. And my nutrition is geared towards fat loss, I’m already at a 500 calorie deficit trying to lose a bit of body fat, so we will see how that goes. I doubt I will be really fatigued even when at a calorie deficit as this isn’t balls to the wall intensive training per one day, rather just stretched out through the week.

But also if you are doing 5/3/1 program and still making gains, I’d just stick with that honestly. That’s what I was doing prior to my injury and I loved it. If you’re getting bored try using different templates of the assistance workouts.

I’m liking the feedback… yeah i might give 5/3/1 another two cycles before moving to 4o day. JLdume, don’t worry about numbers, i’m hurt myself. I’d just like to see how you are progressing, if you feel stronger after a while, etc.

JT91, Man, it’ll be great to see how you’re fixed in a couple of weeks/days, interesting point on the complexes, I did the 6 exercises for 8 reps approach, it broke my heart. Sweat, sweat and more sweat, cut up nicely though, nutrition was paleo, so that helped. Lower reps sounds interesting… might look at that after the 40 day, keep us posted on your progress…


Definitely will JJ. What exercises are you using?

Now, i’m blasting through 5/3/1 with bodybuilding style work as assistance. the complexes were varied… i looked at what Dan suggests in his coplexes article and changed a couple of lifts: A,B,C,D’s… for the 40 day, most likely: Box Squat, Incline press, Pullups and ab wheel.