In the previous article in this series, I explained how and why I combined The 40 Day Program with the PLP Program. Check it out here to get the full story: How and Why I Combined the 40 Day Program and the PLP Program.
At the end of the first article I dropped some crazy comments. Comments like:
Combining The 40 Day Program and the PLP Program…
- Was the most important training experience of my life.
- Had a crazy effect on me both mentally and physically.
- Delivered surprising results.
- Was the catalyst of conquering skinny-fat syndrome.
- Was the equivalent of going Super Saiyan 4. (My armpit hair turned red. Just a little.)
And you're probably wondering who what when were and why these things happened.
The results of the 40 Day Program + PLP
Let’s get one thing straight: For the 60 days I combined these two programs, I didn’t care about progress. Ever. I had the most lackadaisical attitude of my training life.
I don’t think I looked in the mirror, “physique gawking,” more than twice. I never cared about how strong I was. Or how strong I was getting. Training was just “something” that happened every day. I was emotionless.
90% of the time I deadlifted 225 pounds. (Around 50-60% 1RM at the time.) I floor pressed a 75 pound dumbbell. I hip thrusted the same 225 pounds that was on the bar for deadlifts. I curled 95 pounds because it was easy to throw 25’s on each side.
My exertion rating for weight stuff, on a scale of 1-10, was about a 5. Didn’t care to strain more. Sometimes strained less.
But here’s what happened…
First, I stopped hurting. Gone were the minor aches and pains I had prior to starting.
1. My right shoulder was a wreck. I couldn’t overhead or bench press. (Why I opted for the unilateral dumbbell floor press.) But my shoulder slowly started feeling awesome. Day in and day out. It never failed. Overhead carries felt so damn good. Haven’t had any shoulder problems since. And I’ve been incline pressing and overhead pressing regularly. (In addition to playing softball and throwing regularly.) Not once did I do a fancy or frilly “prehab,” “rehab,” or any other “-hab” exercise.
2. Back then my chronic knee pain was creeping back too. My left leg (bad knee leg) was the only leg I could use when I was on crutches. It hated life. But two weeks into the program the pain subsided.
3. My body felt great. No pain. Anywhere. I felt like I could tackle the world.
Second, I started growing. Ironic considering I wasn’t training or eating for growth.
My arms started showing shape. Being skinny-fat, this was a bit weird. Arms were hard to come by. Yet they were the largest they'd ever been.
The shoulder growth was most surprising. They “anchored” my arm for the first time in my life.
My body just felt solid. Didn't look in the mirror often, so it’s hard to comment on a per-body part basis. But I just seemed to “fill out.”
(Picture on right from time period of running both programs.)
Third, I noticed favorable changes in body composition.
Pants fit differently. Abs showed signs of life.
Fourth, I started to appreciate progressive overload. (Which, by the way, is different than strength.)
Throughout the 60 days I never added weight to the bar. But things churned because of the high frequency. Too often we associate progressive overload with weight on the bar. Bad mindset.
Here was my “overload” across the 60 days:
- Pull-ups, squats, push-ups: 2370 reps
- Deadlifts: 550 reps
- Curls: 1100 reps
- Hip Thrusts: 2200 reps
- Dumbbell Presses: 550 reps
- Waiter's Walks: Who knows
I don’t care to calculate this against a traditional routine. But I know it’s “more.” Trust me. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder adaptation took place.
Fifth, my chin-up and pull-up ability skyrocketed.
Sixth, it reconceptualized my idea of stress and recovery.
I guess that’s normal any time you do 50+ chin ups for 20 consecutive days and feel great every step of the way.
Seventh, it made me focus on the bigger picture.
I made progress just by showing up. Showing up, not necessarily training with eye-popping intensity, became the priority. This has since stuck with me.
Eighth, it did some interesting things for my skinny-fatness. But I’ll save this for its own section. (After the Q&A.)
Common questions about doing both programs
Common question: So should I be bulking or cutting on this program?
Common answer: I have no idea.
In the Solutions for the Skinny-Fat Series, I mentioned capping training at four days per week to optimize carbohydrate cycling.
Training daily is a carbohydrate cycling hiccup. Can’t really happen unless you’re waiving intensity with carbohydrate intake.
This kind of program doesn't really waive intensity.
I don’t think you should have a “bulk” or “cut” goal when meshing these programs.
The mesh isn't ideal for maximizing muscle mass. It's ideal for people that are tired of overthinking things. Tired of obsessing. Tired of details. People that need a mental and physical break.
Training daily might not seem like a “physical break,” but somehow it is. Just don’t be an idiot and max daily.
Common question: I’m a beginner. Can I do this program?
Common answer: No.
The 40 Day Program is for an intermediate lifter. I was deadlifting 225 pounds emotionlessly. This really isn’t that much weight. But it’s certainly above beginner range. You have to build a base of strength first.
Something like a 315 pound deadlift and 10 consecutive chin-ups is a good place to start.
Common question: Can I change exercises?
Common answer: Do whatever you want.
I violated The 40 Day Program structure because I needed to. Because it worked for my specific situation.
Do whatever you need or want to do. Just don't go and substitute tricep kickbacks for deadlifts.
Common question: Am I going to get strong doing this?
Common answer: Die.
I’m going to be honest. I didn’t notice very much in the way of strength gains. But I don’t blame The 40 Day Program for this. I blame myself. Because I didn’t care. There were days I could have lifted more for my 2×5. But I didn’t. Just didn’t care to.
As I said: Don’t do this program if you have a specific, tangible goal. Do it out of apathy. Sounds nuts, but it’s just what I recommend.
And if you're looking for strength gains, I think this program is more applicable to bring up a “similar but different” lift. For instance: If you're a great bench presser, but haven't inclined. You'd tackle the 40 Day Program with the incline press. Not sure tackling it with the bench press would yield huge benefits. Or I should say I don't think it will deliver the same benefits. (Just my opinion though.)
Common question: How should I eat? Do I carb cycle with this?
Common answer: Dunno. And no.
80% of my diet was paleo. Eggs, meats, vegetables, fruits. The other 20% was whey protein and oats when I wanted to eat them. Was usually only once or twice per week.
Again…the apathy thing.
Common question: Will I lose muscle on this program?
Common answer: No. Unless you forego a movement responsible for your growth.
If you’re used to doing squats and you ditch squats, your legs will probably shrink a little. But I know of no one that trains consistently and loses their muscle. Nonsense if you ask me.
Common question: What lifts should I do on The 40 Day Program?
Common answer: Whatever you want.
Dan John gives you the guidelines. Just sack up and pick things you enjoy doing. Just don’t get all obsessive and pick twelve different pressing variations with the thought of rotating them on a daily basis or something crazy.
Pick one press you love. Pick one posterior chain movement you love. Etc…
You do them often. Better enjoy whatever it is you pick.
Common question: How did you train that often? Didn't you spontaneously combust!?
Common answer: If you're asking this, you're overthinking it.
Common question: How did you spend so much time training like this?
Common answer: Simple. It's really not that much time.
PLP workouts took about ten minutes. The 40 Day Program workouts took about 30-45 minutes. That's about an hour every day.
Common question: Do you have any thoughts on incorporating hill sprints into this?
Common answer: Absolutely!
I actually did hill sprints during this. Just do them once or twice per week. Treat them more as speed training sessions. Less as HIIT. Spend 20-30 minutes getting quality runs in.
Did you do any warm up sets for the deadlift before the 2×5?
Common answer: Yeah, usually some reps at 135.
Common question: Technical question, based on what you said: you did BW squats in the PLP instead of lunges?
Common answer: Good observation.
I actually intermixed them at my preference. If you have severe knee pain, go with body weight squats. Otherwise, lunge. Your legs will grow more. (More volume.)
Common question: Why are you answering questions like an asshole?
Common answer: Because they don't matter.
For one time — just one time — stop over thinking things. I could lie about some magical things I did in combination with the program. Perhaps plug a certain diet or advertise a supplement — deceive you somehow.
I could say that “X” was the sole reason this “worked.” That “Y” might make it work better. And I'd probably make a lot of money from plugging some expensive things into those X's and Y's.
But I'm not here to do that. I'm never here to do that.
I'm here to tell you something. Something important. Something you don't want to hear. Something that someone needs to tell you.
Combining The 40 Day Program and the PLP Program works because it teaches you the most important concept in fitness: just show up.
As my inbox floods with questions (this is fine, I like when people say hello), I can't help but wonder how many people are going to “ask” themselves out of a training program like this.
“I'm sorry, I don't know how to calculate my carbohydrates given the daily aspect of this program. Therefore, I can't do it.”
“I”m sorry, I don't know how much weight to lift. Therefore, I can't do it.”
“I'm sorry, I can't pick one press. Therefore, I can't do it.”
“I'm sorry, I don't have Master Roshi to coach me. Therefore, I can't do it.”
To all of those people not willing to show up, I'm the one that's sorry. Sorry for you.
There’s something about committing yourself to daily training that’s stimulating. But you have to be ready for it. You have to know your body “just a little bit.”
But you can’t focus on progress. You have to numb yourself. Otherwise you’ll overtrain.
You have to do one thing to make this program mesh “work.” That's it.
Just one thing.
Here's some icing.
- Don’t look in mirrors.
- Don’t obsess about bulking.
- Don’t think about cutting.
- Keep your diet mostly paleo.
- Add some tolerable starchy carbs a few times per week; on the days you feel drained.
But none of that matter unless you're showing up day in, day out.
The skinny on what it did to my skinny-fatness
The program combination and daily stimulation does some wild things to your physiology. I consider the combination the catalyst that suppressed my skinny-fat shell.
But I'll be back Wednesday with the full details of that, and details of how to become a charter member for my skinny-fat program. (Get the reduced price, free coaching, and all that fun stuff.)
In the meantime, send me any question you have about combining The 40 Day Program and the PLP program. Drop them below. I'll give a serious (read: non-ass) answer and add them to this post.