Getting Strong Without Trying Too Hard


This is Dan John's 40 Workouts (also called Easy Strength) in a nutshell. Never miss a lift. If you miss, it was too heavy. Never strain. Never snort nor scream. Take it easy. When the load feels too light, go heavier.


Said another way, show up and lift for 40 workouts without missing a session nor a lift. Take it easy and make every rep.


More Details


For the next forty workouts, pick five lifts. Do them every workout. Never miss a rep, in fact,  never even get close to struggling. Go as light as you need to go and don’t go over ten reps for  any of the movements in a workout. It is going to seem easy. When the weights feel light,  simply add more weight.


The Lifts


  • Push like bench press, overhead press, push up variations, etc.
  • Pull like bent over row, pull ups, power curls, other rowing variations, etc.
  • Hinge like dead lift (any variation), hip thrusts, swings, etc.
  • alternate something dynamic like kettlebell swings or jumps with loaded carries
  • an anterior ab exercise like Ab Wheel, Hanging Leg Raise (HLR) or Dead  Bugs.

Your First Problem:

Taking it easy is your first problem. Your natural inclination is to train hard, feel the burn, push it to the max, force out extra reps, etc.

The Solution:

Don't do that here. You're hitting it five days a week. This is a different approach - This Is East Strength. Remember this - Never miss a lift. If you miss, it was too heavy. Never strain. Never snort nor scream. Take it easy. When the load feels too light, then go heavier.

Your Second Problem:

Consistency. This is a program based on your consistent effort, day in and day out. 5 Days a week, even though each session isn't too long, is tough to do.

The Solution:

If you're currently training 3 days a week consistently, you can do this easily. Do the workout as prescribed. If you want to add some arm work or extra stuff, do it at the end. Always get your primary work in first.


If you're not currently working out, so starting cold, it will be tough but still doable. Go really light for the first week so you're not in pain. Ease into it slowly and you should be fine by week 2.

The Workouts

Week #1

Header

Monday

Tuesday

Wed.

Friday

Saturday

Push

2 sets of 5

2 sets of 5

5-3-2

2 sets of 5

2 sets of 5

Pull

2 sets of 5

2 sets of 5

5-3-2

2 sets of 5

2 sets of 5

Hinge

2 sets of 5

2 sets of 5

5-3-2

2 sets of 5

2 sets of 5

Swings or Carries

KB Swings

2 sets of 25

Carries

KB Swings

2 sets of 25

Carries

KB Swings

2 sets of 25

Abs

1 set of 5 for Ab Wheel; 1 set of max for HLR

1 set of 5 for Ab Wheel; 1 set of max for HLR

1 set of 5 for Ab Wheel; 1 set of max for HLR

1 set of 5 for Ab Wheel; 1 set of max for HLR

1 set of 6 for Ab Wheel; 1 set of max for HLR

The Fine Print


Not shown, but implied is a warm up. Do your warm up before getting started each day. In addition to a general, get your blood flowing warm up, I recommend a warm up set for the Push and the Hinge (maybe the Pull, depending on what you're doing).


For example, if I'm planning of  benching 175 for my first set of 5 reps, I don't go there directly. I'll warm up with say 8 reps at 125 or so. Same with dead lifting. Grease the skids before getting into it.


Sets and Reps

2 sets of 5 means load the bar, do a set of 5 reps. Rest. And then, either do another set of 5 with the same weight or add weight and do your second set of five. This is where you're intuitive - feeling good, go a bit heavier. Get your reps.


5-3-2 means load the bar and do 5 reps. Rest. Add weight, do a set of 3 reps. Rest. Add weight and do a set of 2 reps. On 5-3-2 days, always add weight between sets (it doesn't have to be much) and always get your reps.


6 sets of 1 (Week 2) means load the bar and do a single rep. Rest. Add weight and do another single rep. Keep adding weight with each new set. Do six sets.


1 set of 10 is an active rest day that follows your 6 sets of 1 work day. Keep the weight light and get get 10 easy reps. This is more for flushing out lactic acid, minimizing soreness and pain and helping you recover.


Swings and Carries


Do two-handed kettlebell swings with a weight that makes 25 reps pretty tough (you're winded). Do two sets of 25 or so. If you can get more (as the program moves along) go ahead a do more reps.


Vary your load, distance and variation for the Loaded Carries. Just switch it up each time you do them. Heavy and short; lighter and longer; Farmer's Walks, Suitcase Carries, Racked Walks, whatever version you want. They're all good.


Ab Wheel


Take your time with the ab wheel. You can hurt yourself if you're not careful. Keep the reps low and strict. Go slow and just try to get farther and farther out onto the plane at the bottom. It may be a long time before you can do a full range rep. That's OK. They're still working your anterior core very well.


Week 2

Header

Monday

Tuesday

Wed.

Friday

Saturday

Push

2 sets of 5

6 sets of 1

1 set of 10

2 sets of 5

5-3-2

Pull

2 sets of 5

6 sets of 1

1 set of 10

2 sets of 5

5-3-2

Hinge

2 sets of 5

6 sets of 1

1 set of 10

2 sets of 5

5-3-2

Swings or Carries

Carries

KB Swings

2 sets of 25-40

Carries

KB Swings

2 sets of 25-40

Carries

Abs

1 set of 6 for Ab Wheel; 1 set of max for HLR

1 set of 6 for Ab Wheel; 1 set of max for HLR

1 set of 6 for Ab Wheel; 1 set of max for HLR

1 set of 6 for Ab Wheel; 1 set of max for HLR

1 set of 7 for Ab Wheel; 1 set of max for HLR

Week 3 and beyond


Sets and reps repeat in two-week cycles throughout the next six weeks.

Week 3 is the same as Week 1. Week 4 is the same as Week 2.

Then back to the Week 1 schedule in Week 5. You get it.


Your Workout Objectives

1

2 Sets of 5

This is Easy Strength. Pick the load based on how you feel each day. Get your reps and feel good afterwards.

2

5-3-2

These are strength building days. Increase the load each set and get your reps. Push it but always get your reps.

3

6 Sets of  1

Once every two weeks, you'll build maximum  strength by doing singles with increasing load. I don't care how you do it but increase the weight every set and get every rep.

4

1 Set of  10

This is active rest after your heavy day. Just one set of 10 easy tonic reps to speed recovery and keep you feeling good.

Need to Lose Your Fat Belly Too?

40 Workouts will get you strong.


2 Rule Easy Fat Loss will shred your fat gut.

Why Do the 40 Workouts

Who is it for and not for?

Pros

  • Get strong, Strength is a skill and you'll learn it here.
  • Great conditioning workout as well as a strength builder.
  • Workouts are relatively easy. You'll feel good afterwards.
  • Doesn't take a lot of time per session.

Cons

  • Consistency is required. Don't start it if you're not committed.
  • You must follow directions and do the workout as prescribed. Don't improvise.
  • 40 workouts takes 8 weeks. However, you'll notice jumps in strength during week 5 (probably).

Are You Ready:

Let's start the 40 Workouts and go at least 6 weeks. There is a lot to be gained. And it's Easy Strength (or kinda).

About the author 

Mark Fickler

Mark aka The Old Spartan and Over-50 Fitness Savior is a 64 year old coffee guzzling father of five wandering the outdoors around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark helps Active Boomers get lean, healthy and strong so they live rewarding, fun lives using his signature 2 Rule Easy Fat Loss training program.

  • hi Mark-started last week & hardest lesson in fact; not to go all out. by third w/o i had to remind myself on rules. Other challenge is finding the right set of exercises w/limited home equipment. ill shoot you an update in another week of so. btw-like the new website, nice improvement!

    Reply

    • yes the workout mix is harder with limited options. Like I’m doing 6×1 workout today and doing pull ups. I’m going to add a little weight each set. I also pulled my calf a bit last week (trail running) and it messed up my next w/o. Overall, I like the workout

      Reply

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