Imagine a workout so ridiculously easy that you never break a sweat, yet still hit a lifetime bench press PR after only four weeks. Imagine laughing through a gentle exercise, no strain, no fuss, as your joints give a great big sigh and unlock and you immediately feel like a yoga master. Imagine adding 100lbs to your deadlift without pulling heavy, without grinding out brutal reps, and without ever really trying!
In the last few years, a handful of uber-genius coaches have taught us that the key to strength and mobility might not be gut-busting workouts after all. Based on real science and observations culled from decades of coaching, they’ve found ways to gently nudge us toward impressive athleticism, while staying fresh and paying attention to the body’s own natural rhythms.
It may sound ridiculous, but these training programs are exploding in popularity right now, and it’s not because they’re cool, well-marketed, or flashy. (They’re certainly none of the above.) Instead, they’re getting rave reviews because they’re so effective!
Take our word for it. These three training programs could change your life. They certainly changed ours!
Originally described in the game-changing book Easy Strength by Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline, EES, or the 40-Day Workout, very well might rewrite everything you know about strength training. Designed for active athletes who absolutely can’t let soreness and fatigue ruin their training, EES treats strength as a skill. It requires near-daily practice of this skill, and it prioritizes recovery. In fact, after completing an EES workout, you should still be able to run, swim, practice jujitsu or whatever else you want to do.
Like geniuses, we ignored this workout for years after Easy Strength was published. It just seemed way too simple. Here are the basics:
- Do 4 training movements: deadlift, press (overhead or bench), chin-up and ab wheel.
- Never do more than 10 reps in a workout. Usually this will be 2 sets of 5, but occasionally you’ll do 5/3/2, 3 x 3, or 6 x 1.
- Never miss a rep. Never even go heavy. Generally, you’ll find yourself floating between 60%-80% of your estimated one-rep max. But really, don’t think about it.
- Do some easy goblet squats and kettlebell swings in your warmup.
- Train 5 days a week.
That’s it. Get in the gym, punch the clock, get your 10 reps in, and move on with your life.
What are the results? Well, when I finally tried this program after reading about it for years, I somehow magically added 60lbs to my max deadlift in 6 weeks. It felt like an accident! I hadn’t strained once, hadn’t gone heavy, and in fact, I was eating at a caloric deficit and had lost 7lbs of fat!
And I’m not alone. When he first did the workout himself, Coach Dan John set a lifetime incline press PR after only 22 workouts. We’ve seen people add 80lbs to their weighted chin-ups in 8 weeks. We saw one trainee deadlift 4 big plates (405lb) for the first time in his life, without ever going above 275lbs in his workouts.
Even Easier Strength might not make you a great powerlifter. But it will make you strong. And you’ll wonder why you ever trained any other way.
At first, OS can seem a little kooky. You see people rolling around on the ground like babies. You see them crawling around on the ground like babies! You see them laying around nodding their heads, and it almost seems embarrassing at first. You definitely won’t want to try it in a crowded gym.
But then you’ll try it at home. And you’ll be amazed.
Created by a brilliant gent by the name of Tim Anderson, OS teaches you to “RESET” your neuromuscular system through oddly effective, restorative movements like nodding your head, 4-point rocks, and yes, “baby” and “leopard” crawls.
I’d heard people raving about OS for years, saying that it eliminated all sorts of their joint pains, back issues, wonky necks and more. When I tried it myself though, I wasn’t impressed. I thought it was just super-easy beginner-level yoga.
But then I did “circle rocks” for the first time, and oh man, something clicked. Or something opened up. I’m not sure what happened, but my body immediately recognized that this was a movement I seriously needed.
Before long I did a dedicated 6-week program of daily “resets” and crawling. By the 3rd week, I’d completely healed a chronic neck issue that had plagued me for years - the result of a traumatic injury in my twenties. My neck literally hasn’t bothered me since. And I became a believer.
Original Strength works great in your warmups or as a super-short 5-minute cooldown. It’s a perfect complement to EES above, and also works as a standalone training protocol. It keeps you moving gracefully and naturally. It opens up pathways in your body you’d forgotten existed.
Best of all, it almost never feels like work. It makes you feel “correct.” It makes you feel like a human is supposed to feel.
Based on the same principles as Even Easier Strength, Daily Dose Deadlifts get you strong without wearing you down. It makes your central nervous system efficient and forces you to acquire beautiful technique. For people who aren’t competitive powerlifters, it might be the fastest and easiest way to get your deadlift up above double bodyweight.
Created by Strongfirst coach Derek Miller, DDS is remarkably simple:
- Take 75% of your current max deadlift
- Pull it for 3 to 5 single reps (3-5 sets of 1 rep)
- Rest plenty.
- Train 5 days a week
- Do whatever else you want to do.
That’s a slight simplification, because once every 7 workouts or so you’ll increase the load. But as you can imagine, it’s never going to be a chalk-eating, heavy metal, screaming at the gym walls kind of workout. Daily Dose Deadlifts is exactly what it sounds like. You take your vitamins every day. You take your fish oil. You take your daily dose of deadlifts.
One of the best features of this program is that you never need more than 15 minutes to get your deadlift training done. It’s minimalism at its finest.
According to Derek Miller, the program works great for gaining muscle, losing fat (as long as your diet is on point), increasing your work capacity, and generally turning you into an all-around more useful human. And Miller knows what he’s talking about. Here he is deadlifting nearly 700lbs like it’s cotton candy:
Like EES, Daily Dose Deadlifts shows us that getting strong doesn’t have consume your entire life, and it doesn’t have to break you down.
Once you experience how these training programs can drastically increase your strength and mobility without ever feeling like you’re working, chances are you’ll never view your training the same way again. This can be slightly problematic, because you’ll want to run Even Easier Strength or Daily Dose Deadlifts all-year around. That’s probably not the best idea, because you will eventually experience diminishing marginal returns.
But 4 months of easy peasy training? That gets you MUCH stronger? And makes you feel better? That sounds like a win to us. Combine it with a clean diet and grizzly bear sleep, and we promise it’ll change your life for the better, and you’ll never look back.