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. /

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.

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…

2012-10-11 Intermittent Fasting

I’ve had what seems like a landslide of inquiries from our athletes about intermittent fasting (IF) in the past month. It’s clear this is the next big trend/fad in dieting, but it’s much more than that. It might really work wonders for your health, your strength, and your body fat percentage. It’s important, though, to get your info together first.

Dr. John Berardi did a great job with a short book on his self-experimenting, and it’s free here. This is a must read, especially if you’re trying to figure out what kind of fast to do.

It’s also important to remember that it’s no magic bullet. One of Dr. Berardi’s most important points:

First, eat right. Second, eat the right amounts. Third, mess with the timing. If you are struggling with #1, don’t even get started on controlling portions or fasting.

There are tons of IF protocols out there…do your research. Be smart.