Dan John: Assessments for “Everybody Else”

I’m impressed with the feedback I’ve received from people, not only those reading about 30/30 for 30, but also those applying this training program.

No, 30/30 is not going to be everything an Olympic or professional athlete needs to prepare for competition. No.

But, it has value and should be in the toolbox. The great value of 30/30 is with the rest of the population—the 99.9999% of the world that uses the tools of the weightroom and health studio and gym to feel better and look better.

In our system, we call these people “Everybody Else.” I have great respect for those people who discipline themselves to attend boot camps, workouts, sessions and classes.

We must welcome those who want to join our ranks.

The problem, of course, is figuring out what to do with these new clients.

In Can You Go?, I offer some simple (1-2-3-4) assessments for determining if a client (or yourself) NEEDs the following:

Mobility Work
Body Composition Work
Strength Work
A combination of the three

For most men, we find that, yes, they need body comp work (fat loss and lean muscle gain), but they also need mobility work. If we can get the mobility issues addressed, often we find other things improving quickly, too. Smashing high-rep work through frozen joints is a recipe for disaster, so we need to point most men into combining corrective work and inefficient exercise (cardio or aerobic work).

For women, strength work is often the “answer to all questions.” And, as any trainer or coach will tell you, many women push back hard on lifting weights . . . “I don’t want to get bulky.”

Americans have figured out bulk in the past 50 years. It’s carbs and sugar that cause bulk, not cleans and snatches.

I raise these two issues first: Many men want to bench press and curl and many women want to do abs and “get sweaty.” I said “many,” but we all know that “all” is closer to the truth.

As we begin working with the typical population, we have to separate two things:

What the client wants.
What the client needs.

I want a pony.
I need to go for long walks, fast a bit, eat more veggies, drink more water, sleep more and work on my mobility. (“Hi, I’m Dan and I’m a body comp client.)

With our Active Athletes, this issue just isn’t that important: I ask where they are in their career and where they want to go.

How far?
How fast?
How much?
How high?

We call this style of goal setting A–B. A is where we are today; B is the goal. That little dash in between is the path. It’s simple. It works.

I then repeatedly ask: “Can You Go?” I’m asking if you can step up, step in, or jog out and compete. If you answer “no,” we go home.

If you answer “yes,” GO!!!


With the “Everybody Else” client, we face an issue with their goal setting.

I have shaped my life using goal setting. My journals are filled with goals. I put them on mirrors, in my cars and on my gym walls. I have achieved most of my lifetime goals. And, yes, sometimes I have come short.

Most people can’t set goals. Let me frame the two biggest problems:

First, in college, I studied Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian philosopher known for language-games. My friend, Crazy Jerry, was particularly gifted in this understanding of philosophy. We would often dive deep into the waters of philosophy (. . . Suddenly, it makes sense why neither of us dated.)

When we went too far, Jerry would stop the conversation with an interesting insight:

“You have a Toyota in your nose.”

I didn’t actually have a Japanese car in my nostrils. He was making a key point that really helped me as a coach and trainer: We humans have this ability to push air up from our lungs, play with our vocal chords and lips and form sounds that become words. Sadly, this is the extent of goal setting for most people.

So, Mrs. Henderson, what are your goals for this year?

“Um, lose weight? Um, get in shape? Um, eat better? Um . . . “ As we read in Hamlet: “Words, words, words.”

When most people set goals, they have little ownership for what comes out of their mouths. This is why I use the 1-2-3-4 Assessment from Can You Go?

  1. Stand on one foot for ten seconds
  2. Two measurements:
    weigh UNDER 300 pounds and waistline-to-height ratio
  3. Three questions:
    How many pillows to you need to sleep?
    Do you eat colorful veggies?
    Do you exercise half an hour a day?
  4. Four tests:
    Plank
    Standing long jump
    Farmer walk,
    Get back up test

Using this assessment, I discover very quickly if this client NEEDS body comp, strength, mobility or a combination of those three. This information allows us to program the next few workouts. Don’t take programming too far; adjustments always have to be made.

Ideally, I can wave my magic wand and we will continue to see this client until death do us part.

And now, my second point concerning goal setting with the “Everybody Else” client: no foundation in habits.

In reality, we need to teach habits. I have had ONE client follow a plan that got him to lose 100 pounds and run a half marathon in one year.

My BEST advice for the January New Year’s resolution group who want to getintoshapefitintoclotheslosefateatbetter (be sure to run those words together as you say them) is pretty simple . . . at first.

This is my Twelve-Month Program:

January: Two glasses of water a day.

Yep, that’s it. For the month of January, the client needs to drink, consciously, two glasses of water. I was an accountabilibuddy for friend and I called him every night at nine. The joke was this: “Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, HELLO?”

While the phone was ringing, he drank those two glasses. Every time you drink the water, give yourself a high five, celebrate and win.

I know. No, I do: It’s too easy. But here is the thing: Most people need to drink more water. Obviously. And they also have to get into the habit of health.

What we are trying to do is something few people enjoy in fat loss and exercise: success.

We want to build on success.

February: Find the parking space farthest from the office . . . and park there.

What is the coach’s job? It is to tell every single person in the business or facility this: “If you see my client (X) park ANYwhere but this space . . . let me know. Then, I will fire X as a client.

Again, not that big a deal.

For most people, it is establishing a conscious decision-making matrix. We all have those automatic parts of our life. I don’t eat orange food, but if it is in a box, then placed in a bowl, then put in front of me while watching football, I will consume a bowl of orange food.

Automatically. No thinking.

The habit of health and fitness and longevity and performance begins by reprogramming the mind through positive habits.

March: Walking shoes next to the front door.

During week one, simply put on and take off the shoes daily.
During week two, walk outside to a designated spot within vision of the front door, touch it and return home.
During week three, add one minute a day to the walk.
During week four, enjoy a daily walk.

I am not going to give you all 12 months as you can easily figure out where we’re going. Ultimately, we want this as our daily habit, which I called “Pirate Maps” in Now What?

  1. Respect the sleep ritual. Two hours before bed, take medicines and supplements. Make coffee for the morning. Craft tomorrow’s “To Do” list. If items can be done now, do them. Turn off the TV and the computer. Hot tub or bath, if possible. Read. Go to sleep in an absolutely pitch-black room with either white noise or silence.
  2. Wake up and be grateful for something (thank you to Pat Flynn for reminding me of this).
  3. Two or three days a week, go to the gym and “Push, Pull, Hinge, Squat and Loaded Carry” with appropriate reps, sets and load. Try the 30/30 for 30 here.
  4. One day a week, do something fun and fast. Play. Laugh. Join a league or just get together with friends.
  5. As often as possible, walk. Or ruck.
  6. Eat protein and veggies at every meal and drink water. Strive to not drink calories, unless it is good whisky. Don’t be afraid to skip meals.
  7. Read good books. Life, laugh, love.

Can YOU jump right into this seven-part plan? Well, sure.

Say “Yes” to this program by pushing air up from your lungs and moving your lips!

The Devil is in the “doing it.”

I argue, as you can see, that when we are working with new clients, we need to think more like Thanksgiving. You don’t pop a frozen turkey out of the freezer on Thanksgiving Day and say: “All right then . . . what do we need to do?” It takes planning and prep.

And, YOU KNOW THIS! I travel a lot and I never pack the day I leave. I never wait for the last minute when cooking a feast. I always buy tires before the old ones go bald.

Our fitness, health, longevity and performance goals need this same logical approach. I like the chance of having 12 months to undo the damage of 12 years of bad choice. Building the habits first is obviously the right approach. Seeing the big picture—the Pirate Map—of our daily journey is also valuable.

Let me summarize all of this for you: Some paper, a calendar, an assessment and a simple plan is the best thing you can have for most people’s body transformation work. A little thinking goes a long way.

And . . . No, this isn’t how we sell fitness on television in infomercials. This isn’t what the magazine in the beauty parlor is telling you to do. This isn’t what you will hear at cocktails parties when people talk about fat loss and training.

But, it works.


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This is a discounted set of ALL of Dan's downloadable audio talks: Goal Setting, The Quadrants of Diet and Exercise, Elimination in Life, Challenges, Boomer Fitness, What Makes an Athlete Elite?, Blending Intervention and Can You Go & Fundamental Human Movements.

 

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Now What? New Book by Dan John

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Dan John has been competing and lecturing about the art and science of strength coaching for 30 years and considers Now What? to be his best work. This book is the companion to his Now What? video, and the related books Intervention and Can You Go.

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Dan John Can You Go? Assessments & Program Design Book

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In his book Can You Go, Dan John outlines the simple assessment tools he uses with athletes and ordinary people. His quick, straightforward assessment method will help you identify what your clients are lacking and what they should focus on in their training.

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