Charlie’s 40 Workout Challenge

Is Your Strength Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

40 Workouts – 8 Weeks

It’s so easy you won’t do it!

Disclaimer:  I did not invent this.  I plucked this gem out of a book called Easy Strength written by Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline.  I know, they sound like strong dudes, so I trusted them.

 The summer season was coming to a close, the leaves were turning, and old man winter was closing in.  I thought to myself, “time to get strong.”  For the last year or so I’ve always wanted to try this plan, but always had a lame excuse.  “It’s too long.” “I want to climb more.” “This will hurt my conditioning.”  All valid: I did climb less, it was long, and my conditioning did suffer.  But guess what, I got a heck of a lot stronger and strength is the foundation for anything we do.  I was still able to climb and ski a bit, but this workout was the focus.  Remember, make the goal the goal… and strength was my goal.  I have failed at making the goal the goal many times before, but this time I followed through.  The feeling at the end was worth it. Trust me.

Don’t over think this, it’s really as easy as it looks!

Here is the description of the workout as written by Dan John:

1. For the next 40 workouts, do the exact same training program every day. (For the record, I find that most of my goals are reached by day 20 or 22, so you can also opt for a shorter period.)

2. Pick five exercises. I suggest you do a squatting movement like the goblet squat or overhead squat as part of the warm-up, as you don’t want to ignore the movement, but it might be fun to focus on other aspects of your body.

3. Focus on these five movements:

• A large posterior chain movement (the deadlift is the right answer)

• Upper body push (bench press, incline bench press, military press)

• Upper body pull (pull-ups, rows, or, if you’ve ignored them like me, heavy bicep curls)

• A simple full-body explosive move (kettlebell swings or snatches)

• And something for what I call an “anterior chain” move (an abdominal exercise). I think the ab wheel is king here, but you can also do some other movements best suited for lower reps.

4. Only do two sets of five reps per workout for the deadlift and push/pull exercises, and one set of 20 to 50 for the explosive move. Do a solid single set of five reps for the abs.  Also, you can vary your load by also mixing in five sets of two reps per workout for the deadlift and push/pull exercises.

5. Never plan or worry about the weight or the load. Always stay within yourself and go heavy “naturally.”

6. Don’t eat chalk, scream, or pound on walls. Simply do each lift without any emotion or excitement and strive for perfect technique.

That’s it!

Here is what I chose to do:

Weighted Pistol Squat –  2×5+5 or 5×2+2

One-Arm One-Leg Push-up – 2×5+5, 5×2+2. or 5,3,2 (Varying heights)

Weigthed Pull-up – 2×5 or 5×2

Two-Arm Kettlebell Swing – 2×25 or 2×50

Barbell Roll-out – 1×5

80% effort and gradually go up!

A look at my progression:


Workout 1

Weighted Pistol Squat –  2×5 (25lbs)

One-Arm One-Leg Push-up – 2×5 on 24” box

Weighted Pull-up – 2×5 (25lbs)

Two-Arm Kettlebell Swing – 2×25 (35lbs)

Barbell Roll-out – 1×5 (135lbs on bar)


Workout 20

Weighted Pistol Squat –  2×5 (50lbs)

One-Arm One-Leg Push-up – 5,3,2 – 5 at 9” – 3 at 6” – 2 on ground

Weighted Pull-up – 2×5 (50lbs)

Two-Arm Kettlebell Swing – 2×25 (70lbs)

Barbell Roll-out – 1×5 (135lbs on bar) Almost did from stand

Workout 40

Weighted Pistol Squat –  5×2 (70lbs)

One-Arm One-Leg Push-up – 5×2 – 2×2 at 6” and 3×2 on ground

Weighted Pull-up – 5×2 (70lbs)

Two-Arm Kettlebell Swing – 2×50 (60lbs)

Barbell Roll-out – 1×5 (135lbs on bar) Didn’t quite get from stand

I purposely chose not to do the deadlift, even though it was suggested.  I had already deadlifted a lot before I started this plan. Instead, I chose the pistol squat, which is knee/quad dominant and I read articles where folks head a lot of success with the pistol in this plan.  Also, ski season was just around the corner!

The following week after the last workout I was able to pistol squat 100lbs (two-thirds my bodyweight) with my left leg, military press 70lbs with my right arm, which I couldn’t budge before this workout, performed a 100lbs get-up with my right arm, and almost did a pull-up with 100lbs…I kind of chicken necked at the very end.  All were PRs by a long shot!

This is all I did for 40 straight workouts, Monday through Friday for eight weeks and the results were amazing.  The New Year is here.  If getting stronger is one of your goals for 2015, give this workout a shot.  If you stick with it and follow through you won’t be disappointed.  Is it boring, yup.  Is it a sexy and fun workout, nope.  Does it work, hell yes!




Charlie Manganiello


“Absolute strength is the glass.  Everything else is the liquid in the glass.  The bigger the glass, the more of everything else you can do.” – Brett Jones

October Kettlebell Clinic

The 2014 Elemental Performance + Fitness Kettlebell Strength Clinic will be held on Saturday, October 18th from 8am to 1pm. This five hour course will cover fundamental kettlebell techniques, training safety, and effective ways to add kettlebell training to your program.

Who is it for?

This course will be useful to beginners and experienced kettlebell lifters alike. No previous experience is required.


What will you learn?

We’ll cover:

  • Kettlebell training safety

  • State of the art breathing techniques for strength, endurance, back safety, and stress reduction

  • Tension skills for instant strength gains

  • A proven way to train your abs 300% more intensely than with traditional exercises

  • The deadlift

  • The goblet squat

  • The swing

  • The get-up

  • The press

  • Kettlebell program design


How much does it cost?

This course is $99 for five hours’ instruction. The course is FREE for Elemental Performance + Fitness members.

This course will be co-instructed by Charlie Manganiello SFG and Steve Bechtel SFG. For further information please feel free to contact either instructor at 332-0480 or via email. /

Handicapping the Elemental Winter Bouldering Competition

Indoor bouldering competitions have been a staple of Wyoming winters for more than ten years. The mostly informal Wyoming Bouldering Series takes place each winter and features at least one competition in several different towns. The Lander competition is the smallest venue in the state, but frequently sees the most intense competition.

For several years, the men’s comp ended up being a head-to-head fight between local legend and all-around talent BJ Tilden and Casper’s indoor climbing specialist, Colby Frontiero. In the past couple of years, though, the tides have changed. The aging Tilden has been dogged by injury and a hectic work schedule and hasn’t been competing well. Frontiero and his wife welcomed a new baby to their lives last year, and well, you know what that means.

Needless to say, the torch looks like it’s due to be passed. Young, strong Chris Marley is poised to be one of the best boulderers in the country. Zack “The Human Lat” Rudy has won eight of the last nine comps he’s entered. And there’s fresh talent in Casper and Laramie. Here are my odds on who’ll come out on top during Saturday’s comp.

BJ Tilden 1:1 Hey, hes not that old. It’s his home turf…hell, he built the wall.

Zack Rudy 3:2 Zack’s weakness is that he likes BJ. If he can tap into some of BJ’s take-no-prisoners, ruthless competitiveness, you can bet he’ll come out the winner.

Chris Marley Chris isn’t competing this year as his work schedule conflicted with the comp.

Colby Frontiero Colby will be setting for the comp. He admitted to me in strict confidence that he felt like his best days were behind him and he’s gained weight…so it’s for the best that he’s not competing.

Micah Rush 4:1 This guy just gets stronger. Sure he can crush the Cirque traverse, redpoint a few 5.13s, and ski the Grand Teton, but can he pull out a win?

Danny Baker 3:1 Danny has been getting better and better with each year. With a solid season of hard sends under his belt and a recently updated Facebook profile picture, he’s a real contender.

Tony Stark 2:1 Holy crap this guy is strong. ‘Nuff said.

Vance White 15:1 He’s won before. It’s been a busy year for Vance and he usually does better later in the spring, but crazier things have happened.

Tom Rangitsch 12:1 He’s 40, but climbing the best he ever has. Will he have to work that night?

Justin Iskra 4:1 I have no idea how he’ll do, but I wouldn’t bet against a top three. Will he, too, have to work?

Ben Sears 21:2 A dark horse, but a clear contender for a top five. The big question is whether he wasted the fall trying to redpoint hard routes when he should have been in the gym training for this.

Jesse Brown 7:1 A former director of the WBS, Jesse could win this thing. Especially if no one else on the list shows up.

Ryan Haydel 10:1 If the problems are hard to read and thuggish, this guy will be in the top five. Another one that gets better each year.

Kevin Wallingford 20:1 This strong man has been dogged by injury this year. Can he overcome it and place?

Sam Lightner 98:1 He’s too old and just doesn’t have it anymore. Who knows he might just pull off a Brett Favre. I mean the comeback part, not the taking inappropriate pictures part…

Tim Long 3:1 Will he show?

David Lloyd 5:1 He literally wrote the book on bouldering, but has work sucked the life from him?


On the women’s side, things are harder to predict. The competition has been inconsistent the past couple of years, but there are some really exciting new faces to watch out for.

Ashley Lloyd 3:2 If she competes, bet on her to do well. If ever there was someone who was born with kevlar tendons, this is the one.

Emmy Voigt 1:1 Emmy rarely enters a competition she doesn’t win. It’s really hard to bet against her.

Becca Roseberry 3:1 Becca has been focusing on endurance redpointing which doesn’t transfer well to indoor problems. If nothing else, she’ll be going strong for the whole evening.

Anna Junker 2:1 Another strong one, Anna has a great depth of skills and can figure out some tough sequences.

Katie Rice 8:1 Has she spent too much time outside on the rock? Can she get focused enough to win? We’ll see on Saturday.

 Cari Faye Antonovich 3:1 This girl is another up-and-comer. Last year she took 2nd. Can she move up?



Health kick ‘reverses cell ageing’

Here’s a great article by Michelle Roberts for BBC Health News regarding something I’ve always suspected, but it’s still neat to see hard scientific evidence to back it up: healthy living keeps you young (on a cellular level.)

Going on a health kick reverses ageing at the cellular level, researchers say.

Telomeres cap the end of our chromosomes

Telomeres cap the end of our chromosomes

The University of California team says it has found the first evidence a strict regime of exercise, diet and meditation can have such an effect.

But experts say although the study in Lancet Oncology is intriguing, it is too early to draw any firm conclusions.

The study looked at just 35 men with prostate cancer. Those who changed their lifestyle had demonstrably younger cells in genetic terms.

Safety caps

The researchers saw visible cellular changes in the group of 10 men who switched to a vegetarian diet and stuck to a recommended timetable of exercise and stress-busting meditation and yoga.

The changes related to protective caps at the end of our chromosomes, called telomeres.

Their role is to safeguard the end of the chromosome and to prevent the loss of genetic information during cell division.

As we age and our cells divide, our telomeres get shorter – their structural integrity weakens, which can tell cells to stop dividing and die.

Researchers have been questioning whether this process might be inevitable or something that could be halted or even reversed.

The latest work by Prof Dean Ornish and colleagues suggests telomeres can be lengthened, given the right encouragement.

They measured telomere length at the beginning of their study and again after five years.

Among the 10 men with low-risk prostate cancer who made comprehensive lifestyle changes, telomere length increased significantly by an average of 10%.

In comparison, telomere length decreased by an average of 3% in the remaining 25 men who were not asked to make any lifestyle changes.

Jury’s out

Shorter telomeres have been linked with a broad range of age-related diseases, including heart disease, and a variety of cancers.

The study did not set out to check if lifestyle changes and telomere lengthening would improve cancer outcomes, but the researchers say this is something that should be investigated.

Prof Ornish said: “The implications of this relatively small pilot study may go beyond men with prostate cancer. If validated by large-scale randomised controlled trials, these comprehensive lifestyle changes may significantly reduce the risk of a wide variety of diseases and premature mortality.

“Our genes, and our telomeres, are a predisposition, but they are not necessarily our fate.”

Dr Lyn Cox, a biochemistry expert at Oxford University in the UK, said it was not possible to draw any conclusions from the research, but added: “Overall, though, the findings of this paper that changes in lifestyle can have a positive effect on markers of ageing support the calls for adoption of and adherence to healthier lifestyles.”

Dr Tom Vulliamy, senior lecturer in Molecular Biology at Queen Mary University of London, said: “It is really important to highlight that this is a small pilot study.

“Given this, I’m definitely going to wait to see whether this can be replicated on a larger scale and with more sizeable effects before I get excited.”

Experts agree that telomere shortening is unlikely to be the sole explanation for human ageing.

For example, humans have much shorter telomeres than primates and mice, yet live for far longer.

But past work has shown that people who lead a sedentary lifestyle can experience accelerated cellular ageing in the form of more rapid shortening of their telomeres.

Change Only 1 Habit and Lose Weight

Another great article from John Berardi:

Twice per year, my team of coaches and I take on groups of male and female coaching clients. From training, to nutrition, to supplementation – it’s all covered – as our clients go through a complete, life-changing body transformation.  And, at the end of it all, $250,000 in prize money is awarded to the clients who achieve the very best results.

As we’ve been running this program for 6 years now, and coached over 20,000 people, we’ve learned a lot of important lessons about how real, life-long body transformations are actually achieved. Sure, some of the lessons are pretty straight-forward. However, several of them are surprising and counterintuitive.

So, as you go through this article, keep an open mind. Read each lesson all the way through, and ask yourself honestly: “how many of these am I actually doing?” If you really want to transform your body, then at the end, I suggest you pick one lesson and start using it right away.

1. Measure What You Want to Improve.

We keep data on everything clients want to improve. Want to lose weight? Step on the scale. Want to be more precise and lose fat? Get out the calipers (device to measure body fat percentage) and measure body fat. Want to fit into your skinny clothes? Try them on once in a while. Want to feel better? Then every few weeks, actually ask yourself how you’re feeling, write it down, and review it every few months. Basic stuff, right? Not so fast.

I work with professional athletes and teams, I consult with major gym chains on their personal training practices, I work one-on-one with clients from all walks of life from all over the world. And believe me: practically no one does this.

In fact, sometimes I feel like myself and my coaches are the only ones who really do this stuff in a purposeful way, and the reason is because it works. There’s an old saying you’d be wise to follow: “What gets measured gets done.”

2. Take Photos.

Admit it: you care — at least a little, and maybe a lot — about how you look. And that’s okay! In fact, it’s healthy and normal. Who doesn’t want to look great?

So, for the same reason you’d measure weight loss if you want to lose weight, take photos if you want to look better. In our coaching program, it’s built into the experience; every few weeks, you step in front of the camera and snap a few photos.

Of course, you should understand that it’s also normal to be a little uneasy about taking photos of yourself at first. Just know that it’s a very important step toward self-awareness, without which you simply cannot change. It’s  also the best way to document your hard work, and possibly the most motivating thing you will ever do for yourself.

Not sure how to take your “Before” and “After” and progress photos? Check this article.

3. Do Something Every Day.

One of my colleagues once put it best: “if something is important, do it every day; if it’s not important, don’t do it at all”. Bingo.

Change happens only when you slowly tear down old habits and build new ones in their place. That has to be daily, in my experience. In fact, that’s one of the reasons exercise alone doesn’t work — doing something 3 or 4 times a week isn’t enough to build a new habit. That’s also why personal training isn’t very effective (unless it combines nutrition and daily habit building.)

So I recommend doing something every day.  Exercise, read a lesson, practice a habit, get together with fit friends, etc. Truly, if you want to get in the best shape of your life, be sure you practice daily engagement.

4. Make It Easy.

To do something every day, you have to make that “something” easy enough that you’re 100 percent confident you could do it every day for 30 days. That often means scaling your ambitious plans way back.

Unfortunately, most people bite off way more than they can chew. They commit to working out an hour a day, eating four healthy meals, cutting out chocolate, running a marathon, cooking more, waking up earlier — nothing less than a complete overhaul of their lives. All or nothing. However, this strategy rarely works.

What does work is choosing smaller daily tasks and building on them over time.  Maybe it’s one healthy meal this month and two next month.  Maybe it’s a 10-minute walk this month and a 20-minute walk next month.

Now, I already know what you’re thinking: “Don’t be ridiculous, that’s not going to do anything.” Well, that’s just your ego talking. People don’t want to look foolish or admit that something so easy might be all they can muster right now. And all I can say is: stop that. That kind of thinking keeps people stuck exactly where they are.

Truly, I despise “all or nothing” thinking. Instead, at Precision Nutrition we have our clients commit to “always something” — no matter how small at first.  Because that’s the only way people get into awesome shape and stay that way for life.

5. Practice Only One Habit at a Time.

We have our clients work on just ONE habit at a time. Often they find this frustrating at first, because they expect to be able to do everything, right away. But that’s just ego-driven impatience, and unfortunately change doesn’t work that way.

Numerous studies show that people are typically quite successful when they limit their change to one behavior at a time, for say 3-4 weeks before introducing a new one. BUT: introduce even 2 new behaviors at once, and the failure rate is nearly 100 percent.

Put your ego aside, and change your expectation: people can only change one behavior at a time. So pick one — anything positive will do — and give yourself permission to leave everything else in your life as-is, at least for now.

There will be plenty of time for the rest, trust me. People overestimate how hard change will be, and underestimate how long it will take. Stick to one habit at a time, and you’ll get there.

6. No “Wondering & Worrying” Questions.

Ah, another tough lesson to learn. Change is an uncomfortable process, always.

You leave what you know (your habits, your lifestyle, your environment) and by trying something new, you take a tentative step into an unknown and uncertain place.  So, the first thing clients do is try to resolve that tension — they try to make it “certain” again — by asking all kinds of frenzied questions and working themselves into a panic:

  • “What about this supplement, or that?”
  • “What about when (unforeseeable future event) happens — what do I do then?”
  • “What about (rare, irrelevant and highly unlikely situation) — what do I do then?”
  • “What do you think about this theory / guru / article I read / study that was published?”

We call these “wondering & worrying” questions, and in our coaching program, we have a strict ban on them, because although they’re well-intentioned, they don’t reduce anxiety at all.

In fact, they do the exact opposite, whipping people into a froth of nail-biting and distracting them from the only two questions that matter: What should I do today? How do I do that? Those are the only two kinds of questions that lead to calm, focused action. They’re all we allow our clients to ask, and they’re all you should be asking too.

So next time you find yourself asking a question about fitness, take a second and think, “Am I focused on what to do right now? Or is this just wondering and worrying?”

7. Get a Little Help from Your Friends.

I call this “social support” — and it makes all the difference in the world. Who you have in your social circle — and what they do, and how they think — will have an almost magnetic pull on who you are.

In fact, there is interesting research showing that obesity spreads almost like a virus. The people in your life will forever be pulling you, even unconsciously, toward being just like them. As another of my colleagues likes to say, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

That’s why we coach people in groups, with a social component to it: you can interact daily with people who are just like you, chasing the same goals as you. No matter where you are in the world, no matter where you’re starting from, you will find people in the group just like you who understand where you’re coming from.

That reassurance, and even the mere realization that you aren’t alone in this, exerts a new sort of magnetic pull — this time, though, the pull is toward the life you want and not the one you’re leaving behind.

So, take the opportunity to join groups or befriend new people who are doing what you want to do: maybe yoga or spin class, a friendly team sport league, even reconnect with a fit friend you maybe haven’t talked to in a while. Anything.

Because if you don’t do this, beware of the subtle but powerful pull that may take you back to where you were when you started.

8. Be Accountable to Someone.

As much as you need to be picked up when you’re down, as much as you need to be helped and supported from time to time, as much as you need some positivity in your life… you also need someone to kick your butt back into gear when you’re slacking – someone to help you snap out of the simple laziness that we all fall into from time to time.

That’s why I always recommend a coach whose job it is to stay on top of you as much as it is to support you. If you miss a day, okay, fine; miss two, and you need someone letting you know that’s not acceptable.

Well, there you have it, those were eight lessons you can use right now to change your body, and ultimately your life — courtesy of my coaching clients and what I’ve learned coaching hundreds of people over the last few years.

Pick one, and put it to use today, because that’s what it really takes to change.


If you’d like to learn more about losing fat, improving your health, and feeling better, here’s something you need to see.

I’ve created two free 5-day video courses that show you how to get control of your eating and your health.  To get started, simply click one of the links below:


In these free courses you’ll discover:

– The 5 things you need to know about nutrition.
– Exactly what foods to eat to lose fat — at every meal.
– The best way to exercise to lose fat.
– Exactly how much time you need to exercise.
– How to make delicious meals with a few simple ingredients.
– Why you don’t need supplements to lose fat.
– Which four supplements work the best, if you choose to use them.
– The one thing that separates those who lose fat and those who fail every time.

Until next time,

– John Berardi

Dr John Berardi is the director of the world’s largest body transformation project.  In the last 5 years, his team has helped over 20,000 clients lose more than 300,000 pounds of body fat.  (That’s more total weight loss than all seasons of the Biggest Loser combined).  For more on his one-of-a-kind program – Lean Eating Coaching – click here.

Want more from me? Find me on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Read more:

The Obesity Era – a great article David Berreby

Years ago, after a plane trip spent reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground and Weight Watchers magazine, Woody Allen melded the two experiences into a single essay. ‘I am fat,’ it began. ‘I am disgustingly fat. I am the fattest human I know. I have nothing but excess poundage all over my body. My fingers are fat. My wrists are fat. My eyes are fat. (Can you imagine fat eyes?).’ It was 1968, when most of the world’s people were more or less ‘height-weight proportional’ and millions of the rest were starving. Weight Watchers was a new organisation for an exotic new problem. The notion that being fat could spur Russian-novel anguish was good for a laugh. read more…

Need a Job?

We are hiring! We have two part-time Membership Specialist positions open. Some duties include membership sales, customer service, minor equipment maintenance and janitorial duties. Applicants must be interested in the fitness or rock climbing industries, be positive and friendly and self-motivated. Please drop resumes off or fill out an application at Elemental Performance + Fitness at 134 Lincoln St, Lander.