Back in 2012 my venture into the 40-Day workout was an experiment based off a suggestion by Dewy Nielsen. I had also seen this workout posted by Dan John but never thought to give it a try. This workout involves 5 exercises, 40 straight workouts, and 2 sets of 5 repetitions for each exercise. Every repetition is done with perfect technique, and not a single repetition or set gets missed. My variation of the 40 day workout was Turkish Get-ups, Front Squats, Bench Press, Pull-ups, and Ab Roll-outs. I did the workout M-F taking Sat and Sunday off. Looking at this workout on paper my first thought was, I don’t know if this is enough, its going to be too easy. I found that as the week progressed the workout got harder, but it was never too hard. I never found myself sore in the morning, and I was always able to do at least the same weight I did the day prior. Mondays I felt the most fresh and typically was the day I added weight to my lifts. The key to this workout is the frequency and quality of the repetitions not the intensity. Therefore my priority was NOT to lift to failure or for maximum weight. Regardless, the weights DID get easier and I did find myself making improvements in EVERY lift.
|Exercise||Day 1||Day 40|
|TGU||16 kg||24 kg|
|Front Squat||175 lbs.||225 lbs|
|Bench Press||185 lbs.||225 lbs|
|Ab Roll-out||2 sets 5 reps using a fitness ball||2 sets 6 reps using ab roller|
Pretty amazing stuff! Going into this experiment I never would have thought I could make these type of gains with a lower intensity workout. I attribute my personal success to my focus on performing EVERY SINGLE repetition perfect, and making sure that I never missed a repetition. It was that focus that allowed me to learn a lot about my body and how it moves. I think that it is safe to say that most of us don’t concern ourselves with the quality of each repetition like we should. The 40-day workout is a great tool for reminding us its not always about how heavy we lift. Frequency and quality are major contributors to success.
40 days…. Yeah its a long time to be doing the exact same workout 5 days a week. Mentally I did have some struggles with it. There were days when I could not bare the thought of doing another TGU. Other days I would catch myself day dreaming about doing a few good sets of hang cleans. There is a time and place for this workout, choose wisely.
Generally speaking, my college athletes are strong but most of my freshmen did not have a high school strength and conditioning coach and are not technically sound lifters. As a coach I love this workout. Used as a fall training workout it allows me to teach my athletes safe and proper movements through a handful of exercises for 8 weeks, rather than 7-10 exercises that change every three weeks. I could also see this being a good workout while we are “in-season”. Unlike other workouts I NEVER felt sore from the 40-day workout and it never affected my hammer throwing, which is important during the season when we are focusing on technique throwing our best.