T Nation

Easy Strength 40 Day Routine (Dan John program)

I am just coming off a powerlifting meet on July 21rst and the week afterward during hard physical work in the sun I strained my back. So, I did a lot of therapy and I just began training again on August 6th. I decided to do the Dan John routine because it begins with very low weight and the five day a week work schedule hits the whole body each day. I totaled 1430 at the meet but that is 170 lbs under my best competition, which is okay because I am only 15 months out from a serious biceps tendon surgery( result of a competition deadlift).

Stats are: 42 years old; 210 lbs body weight; 5 feet 8 inches tall.

Using this thread to log workouts. This week I usedk(55% of max): (Lift in my garage)

warm up: 100 swings with 25 lbs kettlebell
Front Squat: 245lbs x 2sets x 5reps
High Incline bench: 155 lbs x 2sets x 5reps
Fat Gripz Deadlifts: 155 lbs x 2 x 5
100 meters Farmers walk with 86 lbs in each hand.
25 Standing Crunches with 50lbs

Lifting time averaged 40 minutes.

I also do lax ball rolling for my hamstrings and feet as well as back sometimes. I do some light yoga and dense foam roller work as well. Mobility work is something I am getting in to as well and I do some dynamic stretching.
Please tell me about your experiences with your 40 Day Dan John routine and any comments are welcome.
Has anyone included overhead work with this routine? I am thinking about adding standing presses this week.
By the end of the coming week I will add 10 to 20 pounds to each lift provided I am able to keep form good and speed in my lifts for 2 sets of 5 reps.
By the way I own and operate a lawn business so I get a lot of cross-training Monday-Friday and then I take a break for a couple of hours then I lift weights(usually about 100 degrees in hot sun work).

Glad to have you aboard, gorillavanilla. I think overhead presses are important, so I think its good you are adding them, although I’ve never ran this same program. A few of the other O’35’ers are also adding Klokov Presses to their routine, I may need to check them out as well.

Good to hear. I have a forum at davedraper.com that I go to all the time, but I am glad you posted this somewhere. There are more subtle versions of this, see them at danjohn.net in the blog. I am also writing a book and this and would love to see your insights.

@jjackkrash- Thanks for the welcome.

@Dan John- I’ll check out the davedraper.com forum and look at your site for the blog. When is your book coming out? I’ve been thinking about extending the 40 days to about 60 days before I do another training block. What do you think about extending the program? Seems a person could do the easy strength routine forever for constant but slow gains and consistent strength building. I am going to run a Smolov squat routine beginning in October and I was thinking of adapting the 2x5 work for bench while doing Smolov. I’ve done Smolov before and I don’t want to lift much besides the all the squatting but light progressive bench work may fit well. What do you think?

I have planned about getting over to davedraper.com to post my experiences with Dan’s 40 Day program and will eventually, but I will post some comments here as well for your benefit.
I am a 51 YO and have a little bit of a powerlifting background. I ran the program twice and ran it for probably 20 - 22 workouts each time usually training five days a week. The 2nd time I ran through with the percentages lighter than I did the 1st past through and actually made similar gains without really ever expending much of an effort, other than getting my ass into the garage to train. So, do not be afraid to start light and stay light. I believe it is about getting into the groove of any exercise and making the light feel lighter. You want to feel stronger at the end of training day and really dominate a weight before moving up. Once you start pushing your percentages up, all the sudden you are doing extra warm-up sets and now you are adding to your workload significantly since you are training 4 or 5 days a week. Give the rule of 5’s intact and you should be in good shape. I ran chin-ups through each pass since I could only do 5 or 6 reps now carrying a few extra pounds around. So, I performed 5x2, 6x1 or 3x3 4 or five days a week on this exercise. After about day 11, I really felt strong on the sets, my form was great and the height was outstanding. At one point I felt like doing a reverse “Muscle-Up” since I was so far above the bar. That’s what is is about, dominating an exercise with impeccable form and then that one day when the weights are jumping of the floor, test it and you will understand the concept of “Easy Strength”.

I ran Bench Press with chains, but also did a couple of light sets of 5 of one arm OH presses. Really felt strong in these once I tested.



@frankf79- Thanks Franco, I appreciate the input. I do want to go heavier but I am holding back due to exactly what you mentioned. I am having faith that the easy strength will pay off.

Yesterday lifting went well:(45 min lift time)

Warm Up: 25 Goblet sqauat w/25lbs kettlebell
100 Swings w/25
1 Get Up w/10 pounds each hand;

Front Squats
High Incline Bench Press
Klokov Presses
Fat Gripz Deadlifts
100 meter Farmer’s walk with 86lbs each hand
25 Standing Crunches w/60lbs

The Klokov presses were a shock to my shoulders and I felt a new stretching in the front of my deltoids extending to the upper chest tie in area. Lifting yesterday felt good after a day off and the weight moved fairly easily.

Yesterday’s lifting was fun:(day 6)

Warm Up: 25 Goblet squats w/25lbs kettelebell
100 Swings w/25lbs kettlebell
1 get up w/10lbs each hand;

Each exercise was done for 6 sets of 1 repetition.

Front Squats: 405lbs (top set)

High Incline Bench: 210lbs (top set)

Fat Gripz Deadlift: 225lbs (top set)

1-400 meter farmer’s walk with 35lbs dumb bell in each hand (No stops)

25 Standing crunches with 60lbs.

Lifting fairly easy on this day. I didn’t max on anything but I may have been in the low to mid-90% range on my top set. I’m still enjoying the lifting so frequently and hitting all the major muscle groups. I am training myself out of the back trauma I incurred due to hard work after my last powerlifting meet. Lower back feeling better every day.

Has anyone else trained themselves out of an injury? I think the activity and strengthening of injured muscles helps them to heal faster.

I always train out of an injury–always!

Looking good in here.

The Easy Srength Program is similar to what we used to do in Sambo (grappling) to get in shape for a meet. We would work on skills then “spar” easy but everyday for varying times (10 minutes to an hour) really focusing on certain techniques for that day. We got in shape without getting beat up.

I love me some KLokov Presses as well.

I began training my squat using a safety squat bar about 2 weeks after I had biceps tendon surgery. I trained the safety bar squats every other day but did no other lifting. Then about a month later I began doing very light bar work for upper body and some extremely light dumb bell work as well as mobility work for my recovering arm and the rest of my body. My and doctor and therapist could not believe how fast I regained strength and mobility in my arm following biceps tendon surgery. As a result I was 3 months ahead of schedule in my rehabilitation and I returned to strength training (Low level) in 5 months which made the official medical protocol look silly.

I think active recovery from an injury is definitely the way to recover. One must be careful and informed on their active recovery though and be patient with increase in weight as slow as it may be.

Missed my workout on Wednesday due to wife’s extremely long doctor appointment and prior dinner engagement so I decided to move the workout to Thursday and Day 8 went well:

Warm Up: 25 Goblet Squats w/25 lbs kettle bell
100 Swings w/25 lbs kettle bell

Front squats:
1x10x165 lbs

High Incline Bench:
1x10x115 lbs

Fat Gripz Deadlift:
1x10x115 lbs

400 meter farmers walk w/35lbs each hand

25 Standing Crunches w/50lbs

Tonic day was easy and fast lasting only about 25 minutes.

Today’s lifting went pretty good:

Warm Up:
100 Swings w/25 lbs kettle bell

Front Squats:
2x5x225 lbs

High Incline Bench:

Fat Gripz Deadlifts:

100 meter loaded carry w/86lbs in each hand

25 Standing Crunches w/50 lbs

I felt strong today and the weight was moving fast. I’ll most likely bump up the weight by 5 or 10 lbs for tomorrow’s lifting.

Today’s lifting went well:(Day 10)

Warm Up: Goblet Squats w/25lbs kettle bell
100 Swings w/25lbs kettle bell

Front Squats:
5x225 lbs; 3x315 lbs; 2x365lbs

High Incline Bench:
5x135 lbs; 3x185 lbs; 2x215lbs

Fat Gripz Deadlifts:
5x135 lbs; 3 x 185 lbs; 2x225lbs

100 meter loaded carry x/86 lbs each hand

25 Standing Crunches w/50 lbs

Going to vary my lifts slightly for the next 10 days and I’m looking for bigger numbers.

That’s a big front squat. Nice work.

Thanks jjackkrash. I want to get my front squat in to the 500’s for a 1 rep max and then I’ll post a video.

Today was Day 11(Third week) and the lifting was strong:

Warm Ups:
25 Goblet Squats w/25lbs kettle bell; 100 Swings w/25lbs kettle bell

Front Squats:
2x5x275 lbs

High Incline Bench:
2x5x170 lbs

Fat Gripz Deadlifts:

400 meter loaded carry w/35lbs in each hand

25 Standing crunches w/50lbs.

Lifting today went fairly fast lasting about 40 minutes. The first sets of five on Front Squats and Benches felt sluggish but the second set felt easy. Deads were easy.

Day 12 lifting was a breeze. The lifting lasted about 40 minutes and I had a ton of energy due to a nice shot of black coffee, Agmatine, Arginine, Beta Alanine, and Carnitine pre-lifting.

Warm Ups:
25 Goblet Squats w/25 lbs kettlebell
100 Swings w/25 lbs kettlebell
5 Snatches w/45lbs bar

Front Squats:
2x5x275 lbs

High Incline Bench:

Fat Gripz Deadlift:

400 meter loaded carry w/35 lbs each hand

25 Standing Crunches w/50lbs

All the lifts were fast and easy today. I will move the weight up by 5 pounds or more on each lift for the next 2x5 day. I took a month break from the usual supplements I take pre-lifting and ingesting them again really ignited my lifting today. Going to use extra aminos tonight for more recovery. I can see moving up in weights significantly in the next weeks. Using this program I have little soreness between lifting days and my physical job is easier than when I am contest training on my Westside hybrid training.

Lifting today began with me being tired and sore most likely from not getting enough sleep the night before. Everything today felt heavy or slow but again I attribute this to lack of sleep.

Warm Up:
25 Goblet Squats w/25 lbs kettlebell
100 Swings w/25 lbs kettlebell
5 Snatches w/45 lbs-bar

Front Squat:
5x225 lbs; 3x315 lbs; 2x375 lbs

High Incline Bench:
5x135 lbs; 3x195 lbs; 2x220 lbs

Fat Gripz Deadlift:
5x135lbs; 3x185 lbs; 2x235 lbs

100 meter Loaded Carry w/86 lbs in each hand

25 Standing Crunches w/50 lbs

This was an off day but I got the work in. Looking forward to better performance on Friday.

Taking Thursday off was a good break and I actually got some good sleep last night so I hope today’s lifting will be great.

Damn 1430 is a hell of a raw total; good work. Looks like the injury is coming along nicely.