The da Vinci Weight Training System


I have been weight training since I was in the seventh grade when I used to sneak my older brother’s dumbbells to my bedroom to workout. Since that time I have not gone for longer than a week without doing some type of resistance training. I have read many weight training books and tried almost every type of weight training in existence. I follow several weight training web sites weekly. Like the snappy mints, I am curiously strong for my size and age.

I think weight training is the most efficient way to keep the body in excellent condition.

For a long time it has been my hope to be able to share my knowledge and enthusiasm of the benefits of weight training with as many people as possible.

I especially want to share this information with women and the elderly, two groups of people who are not traditionally attracted to weight training.  So to this end, I offer the da Vinci Weight Training System.

There is an old Arabian proverb that goes something like this: “He or she who has health, has hope; and he or she who has hope has everything”. And a wise person once said “Strength is not everything but without it we are nothing”.

A certain kind of strength allows you to get out of bed in the morning or walk your dog or sit down and stand up from the toilet or carry your groceries to your car. As certain kinds of strength are increased you can run or jump or dance or paddle a canoe or climb a mountain. As strength increases you can do all of these things faster and more efficiently.

As strength decreases, the body can do less and less until it becomes banished to a comfy chair or a hospital bed.

A person can spend as little as 20 minutes twice a week training and can develop the strength to lift 120% of their bodyweight from the floor to over their head or to squat twice their bodyweight.   In the process a person can maintain a lean and healthy body that is capable of running a 10k race with only two weeks of training.  I know this is true because I do this. 🙂

Contrast this type of training with the popular endurance-cardio training that has trainees performing low intensity aerobic exercise such as running, biking, walking, or StairMastering for many hours a week.  The resulting body of the endurance-cardio trainee is weak and displays the appearance of skinny-fat (Google skinny-fat and you will see what I mean).

Strength training provides enough cardiovascular benefit to allow the trainee to walk, hike, or bike for miles and miles and to live a healthy life.  Most people don’t require more cardiovascular training than this in their daily lives.  If you clean the stairwell of the Empire State Building, then yes, it might be a good idea to spend some time on the StairMaster during your week off of work.

Weight training burns as many calories as endurance-cardio training during exercise.  However, the weight trainee burns more calories when not weight training because weight training raises the body’s metabolic rate for up to 12 hours after training.

In addition, muscle burns calories and muscle burns calories all day long, not just when it is training.  A pound of muscle burns between 50 and 100 calories a day with no training whatsoever.  So, if you have five more pounds of muscle than your old self, then you will effortlessly burn between 250 and 500 more calories just sitting around on your muscle-butt all day long.

Now that you are slightly convinced of the effectiveness of weight training, I will outline the da Vinci Weight Training System.

The da Vinci Weight Training System

Leonardo da Vinci once said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  And so it is with weight training.

You can look at any weight training program on the internet and feel overwhelmed, especially if you are older or out of shape.

On the contrary, the system that I’m about to show you is very simple and very effective.  It is the same basic system used by the strongest people on Earth!  (In case you didn’t know, the strongest people on Earth are Olympic weightlifters, powerlifters, and individuals that compete in Strongman/Strongwoman competitions).

The da Vinci Weight Training System is represented by three common poses that most healthy human beings should be able to assume: (1) laying, (2) sitting, and (3) standing.

The system is called the da Vinci Weight Training System because of its simplicity and because da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man represents the final or ultimate pose of the system.  In addition several sources have revealed that Leonardo da Vinci was well known for his strongman abilities.  He was able to bend horseshoes with his bare hands!

Pose 1: Laying

The first pose of the system is laying.  This pose represents the beginning of the day: awaking from sleep and getting up from bed.  If you can get up out of bed while holding your hand over your head, then you can master the movement represented by this pose.

The  movement that represents the laying pose is the Turkish get up.  To perform the Turkish get up, lie on your back with the weight overhead in one hand. While keeping your elbow locked and the weight overhead you ‘get up’ to a standing position. Then reverse the movement until you are lying back on the floor. Repeat the movement for the other arm.

*Key point to remember about the Turkish get up: keep your eye on the weight at all times.

This movement is deceptive because it looks quite simple to do, but it is very difficult to add much weight to this movement.  It is said that back in the day trainees were not allowed to learn the Olympic lifts until they could perform the Turkish get up with 100 pounds.  (!)  If you can lift 25% of your bodyweight with this movement, then you will be quite strong and in excellent condition.  The following is a video of Lauren Brooks performing this movement with 53 pounds, despite having had 2 C-sections.

Post 2: Sitting

The second pose of this system is sitting.  This pose represents sitting on a chair to eat at a table or to enjoy company or to relieve yourself.  If you can sit down on a toilet, then you can master the movement represented by this pose.

The  movement that represents the sitting pose is the squat.  To perform the squat, with the weight in your hands or on your shoulders, squat down and then stand erect.  Squat down as far as you can go.  If you have difficulty squatting, you can squat onto a chair or a box of any height you desire.  Squatting with the weight in your hands instead of across your shoulders is called a deadlift.  If you want to reduce the range of motion of the deadlift, place blocks of any height you desire under the weight.

*Key points to remember about the squat: head up, back flat, shoulders back, midsection tight, and keep your knees moving in the same line as your feet are pointed.

There are all sorts of variations on the squat that you can perform, including one-legged, overhead, front, back, on a box, split legged, wide stance, narrow stance, deep squats, shallow squats, deadlift, and the list goes on and on.  You can get very strong performing any version of the squat.

The following is a video of a 64 year old woman performing the squat movement with 250 pounds.

The following video is of the same 64 year old woman performing the deadlift movement with 342 pounds. Awesome!

Pose 3: Standing

The third pose of this system is standing.  This pose represents standing erect, walking, and interacting with objects around you.  If you can stand up and walk 10 paces and put your hands over your head, then you can master the movements represented by this pose.

The  movements that represent the standing pose are the farmer’s walk and the overhead press.  The farmer’s walk is performed by walking for a distance while supporting weights in your hands.  The overhead press is performed by lifting a weight from shoulder height to overhead.

*Key points to remember about the farmer’s walk:  head up, back flat, shoulders back, midsection tight, and keep your strides short.

*Key points to remember about the overhead press: head up, back flat, midsection tight, and shoulders back.

The farmer’s walk is illustrated in the following video featuring the worlds strongest woman.

The overhead press is illustrated in the following video featuring Amanda Purplepants.

Putting It All Together

To develop maximum strength, multiple sets with very low repetitions must be used.  Each set must consist of no more than three repetitions per set.  Ideally a set will only consist of one repetition.

The strongest and safest repetition of a set is the very first one.  So why do more than one repetition?  If you are a bodybuilder or you are not concerned with developing strength in the most efficient manner, then you should do more than three repetitions per set.

Keep in mind that somewhere between a weight that a child could lift easily and a weight that pulverizes you to the ground is the perfect weight.  Your challenge is to find that weight every workout.

How many sets per exercise should you do?  This depends.  Basically you will work up to your maximum for the day on an exercise.  For example, let’s say that you are squatting and your maximum is somewhere near 375 pounds.  After performing a general warm-up for 5-10 minutes you would start squatting as follows:

225 pounds – 2 reps
275 pounds – 2 reps
295 pounds – 1 rep
315 pounds – 1 rep
325 pounds – 1 rep
345 pounds – 1 rep
365 pounds – 1 rep
375 pounds – 1 rep

How many exercises should you perform per workout?  You should perform no more than two exercises per workout and ideally you would just perform one exercise per workout.

The exercises detailed above work the entire body.  You can only take so much entire-body exercise, especially when working with maximum poundages.  You can do lightweight curls, pec flyes, and dumbell lateral raises all day long.  You can’t squat maximum poundages for too long.  If you don’t think it’s enough work, then try it.  Hard work is hard and it works!

How many workouts should you do a week?  You should perform no more than three workouts a week and as you get stronger you should perform just two workouts a week.  A nice schedule is to workout on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

It’s a good idea to take a week off of training after six hard weeks of training.  Believe it or not, you will come back stronger and much fresher after taking that week off.  If you don’t believe me, try it.

What exercises should you do on which days?  In general, you should work at least the legs in each workout.  Ideally you would work the upper body and the legs in each workout.  The following exercise combinations would make excellent workouts:

1. Turkish get up and squats
2. Turkish get up and farmer’s walk
3. overhead press and squats
4. overhead press and farmer’s walk
5. squats
6. farmer’s walk

As you advance in your training, you can learn more complex movements that combine the basic movements mentioned above.  For example, the clean and jerk is actually a fast combination of the following movements: deadlift, front squat, squat/overhead press.  The snatch is actually a fast combination of the following movements: deadlift, overhead squat.  The snatch and the clean and jerk are illustrated in the following video featuring Olympic weightlifter Lidia Valentin.

What kind of equipment should you get if you want to train at home?  For the Turkish get up and the farmer’s walk, it would be easiest to use dumbbells.  And since you are going to get REALLY strong, I recommend adjustable dumbbells that you can add weight to.  Since you don’t know how strong your are going to get, you might as well get the Olympic adjustable dumbbells such as the ones below (I have all of the equipment that I mention in this article, and you can buy it all at any sporting goods store or used much cheaper than you can from

You could do squats/deadlifts and overhead presses with dumbbells as well. 

But you might find that you need more weight for squats/deadlifts than you can put on the dumbbells.  In which case I’d recommend an Olympic bar such as the following one:

If you are going to squat with a bar on your shoulders, you will need a power rack or a squat stand like the following to get the bar on your shoulders:

If you don’t want to get a rack for bar squats, you could do deadlifts with a bar instead of squats.

Good luck and enjoy!

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