What it Takes

By the Powerlifting Preacher


This article is for two groups of people.

  1. You’ve never worked out seriously and haven’t been in shape since Middle School.  Sure you have a Gazelle in your garage and a copy of 6 Minute Abs on VHS, and maybe a Planet Fitness tag on your keychain, but you know you haven’t gotten any further than start.
  2. You actually show up at the gym 3 days a week.  You rotate through the machines – particularly the ones that say they are for abs.  You buy the light ice cream, but you’re just spinning your wheels, and you know it.  You look and weigh the same as you did last month and last year and have nothing to show for the 3 hours a week you put in.


There’s only a few things you really need to know – and commit to – to move from where you are to where you want and need to be.  Today we’re going to talk about what I believe is the most important of them all.

I’ve spent several years as a trainer but my real calling is being a preacher (no, really)  The one thing that ties together these two areas of my life is this: I call it like I see it.  No B.S. and if you don’t like it, take it up with Jesus because I’m not lying to you here.


Pastor/Trainer Dan Masshardt


See, I believe that the best and most caring thing you can do is tell the truth.  Even when nobody wants to hear it.

And the truth is that most people are just plain lazy.  You probably are.  And before you go getting all worked up, I’m not necessarily talking about your entire life (although that’s possible too).

What I mean is that you’ve got to accept from the outset – RIGHT NOW – that getting in great shape will take working harder than you want to or even think you’re capable of.

It will require buckets full of sweat, possibly tears, and a whole lot more time than 8 minutes in the morning.

Have you ever seen The Biggest Loser (while eating ice cream) and thought how great it would be to be able to lose that much fat and transform your life?  Lots of people have.  But the overwhelming majority never do anything.

That’s why you’re sitting on the couch and they are losing weight. It’s that simple.

Yet somehow we don’t think the yelling, swearing, crying and vomiting will apply to us on our way to becoming lean, fit and truly healthy.

Reality check.  It’s time for a serious change in perspective because that road you’re power walking down is leading you nowhere fast.

You have a choice to make and that choice can’t be made next week or next year.

You’ve got to decide now.


There are really only two roads, two paths, two choices.

You can be one of those guys we see at the gym day after day, year after year, with the same 15 pounds you need to lose and nothing to show for the three days a week  you’ve put in except for high cholesterol and borderline type II diabetes.

You can keep blaming your genetics, your work schedule, your kids, your alleged thyroid problem or whatever else helps you sleep at night.

Or you can can have something else.  Something better.  Strength.  Endurance.  A lean strong body.


You’ve got to be willing to pay the cost. That cost is high. Harder work than you’ve ever done before.  Then you even think you are capable of.

So, what’s it gonna be?

Are you in?

Okay, so everybody who’s left – yeah, I’m talking to both of you – let’s get to work.


There are some basic rules to lifting preacher style no matter what type of a routine you’re using.

  1. Choose hard exercises.  Get off the Nautilus circuit and pick up barbells and dumbbells.  You will be better for it, trust me.
  2. Use real weight. If you can do many more reps, the weight is not heavy enough, regardless of your goals.  You are probably stronger than you think you are.
  3. If your goals revolve primarily around improving body composition (more muscle and less fat), consider doing exercise pairings (see the workout below) and keeping rest periods in check.
  4. Ditch the long cardio sessions at an easy pace.  Instead do interval training (like I suggest below) and then begin to incorporate conditioning exercises with kettlebell swings and strongman style drills like farmers walk, sandbag carries and best of all, prowler pushes.



Let me give you an idea of what that looks like with a sample program that will get you jumpstarted.

Assuming you’ve been coming to the gym and putting in a leisurely 20 minutes on the elliptical and then wandering around among the machines, this is going to be quite a bit harder.

We’re going to be lifting 3 days a week and getting an additional two conditioning workouts that can be done either at or outside of the gym.  If you’re gonna tell me you don’t have enough time to do all that, you might as well head back to the couch right now.  Don’t worry, Dr. Phil will make you feel better.


Here’s the workout.  If you don’t know how to perform these exercises correctly, please contact a good trainer/coach (like someone on the Ironmill team), not that guy at your gym that’s having his clients do curls while standing on one leg on the Bosu ball.

All of these exercises are in pairs.  You will do the first set of the first exercise (i.e. A1), rest 60 seconds and then do the first set of the second exercise in the pair (i.e. A2) until all sets are done for the first pair.  Then move on.  There will be 6 exercises per workout and the workout will be much harder than it looks on paper if you keep the rest periods and use adequate weight (it’s okay to stop a rep or two short of muscle failure because of the short rest periods, but no more)  Actually, I’d challenge some of the strongest guys on the team to try these workouts if you think they’re too easy!  Most of us are actually taking about five minutes of total rest between sets.  This workout has a pace that will keep your heart going!


Do a warmup set or two for the first few major exercises before jumping into the work sets.


Day 1:

A1: Incline Dumbbell Press 4×10
A2: Barbell Squat 4×10

B1: Pushup 4×10
B2: Inverted Row* 4×10

C1: Standing Dumbbell Curl 4×10
C2: Reverse Crunch 4×10

*use a smith machine or bar placed in squat rack.  Pull yourself up until the your chest touches the bar, then lower back down.


Day 2:

Warm Up by jogging for about 5 minutes.

Run 10 sprints (try to find a distance that’s about 40 yards)

Walk back to the starting point after each sprint.

This should be a very quick workout.

(Alternatively, you may do sprints on a treadmill.  Set the incline to 2%, sprint hard for 30 seconds followed by 60 seconds recovery.)


Day 3:

A1: Lat Pulldown (wide grip to front) 3×15
A2: Standing Barbell Shoulder Press 3×15

B1: Dumbbell Stepups (use a bench) 3×15
B2: Bicycle Ab Crunches 3×15

C1: Close Grip Barbell Bench Press 3×15
C2: Seated Cable Rows 3×15


Day 4: Rowing Machine

Row as hard as you can for 3 minutes, followed by 3 minutes of rest.

Repeat 4 times.

(if a rowing machine is not available, you may use a stationary bike.)

Also, if you have a dragging sled or prowler available, that’s a great alternative choice.


Day 5:

A1: Barbell Deadlift 4×8
A2: Standing Dumbbell Press 4×8

B1: Incline Barbell Bench Press 4×8
B2: Plank Hold 30 seconds

C1: Lat Pulldown (palms facing you) 4×8
C2: Tricep Pressdown (with rope) 4×8


Days 6-7: Rest


I’m glad you decided to stick around  Although the vast majority of people will never take the hard road that you’ve now committed to, the few that have will be like family.

Were here to push you until we’re convinced you’ve reached your fullest potential.

So congrats on reading your first week’s workout.  Now stop hoping that your body changes and get out there and do it!

Please feel free to post any comments or questions.



Thanks for reading,
The Powerlifting Preacher

Dan Masshardt

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4 Responses to What it Takes

  1. ironmill July 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Great Article Dan!

    Looking forward to next weeks!

  2. Patty Stevenson July 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Great job Dan! Didn’t even know you were a trainer as well. Congratulations on your hard work paying off! You are inspirational in many ways.

  3. Karen Zoda July 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    I am totally interested in this workout and am excited to get it started! Thanks guys!

  4. Dan Masshardt July 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    Thanks for the comments guys. Karen, if you have any questions once you get started, just let me know.

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