Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 104

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 104

New on OTP this week: Here’s Dan on four ways to fire up work capacity

I’m getting ready to hop on a plane home. I went over 200,000 miles for the year and it is started to catch up. The RKC II event was very good and I am very happy to see the growth of the group and community. I like teaching the various movements, sure, but what I like the most is linking the exercises into a “whole.” I am a believer in Holistic training, of course, but just teaching “you can do this and that and this and this” really doesn’t make much sense.

You need a system. Like I tell people, if you have a masterful KB swing, you could probably get the bulk of your training from just swings. Nothing but swings. Of course, you would lose your mind in about a week.

We need variety, but not variety for variety’s sake. We need a system. So, the bigger your toolkit, the more intelligent variety you can bring to the training table.

Progress, of course, comes from almost NO variety. You have to put down the hammer on the basics and then repetition, repetition, repetition. Good training…good coaching…understands this dynamic opposition.

Oh, by the way: I’m in Chicago. I get here and the Cubs win the World Series. Ireland defeats the All Blacks for the first time in history at Soldier Field just down the way from me. I am starting to think I am the Curse Breaker.

Chris Holder linked together something that has confounded me forever. I know people have tried pickle juice, crap orange-colored drinks and sweat tablets, but it is all nonsense. Game day cramping is an issue of…arousal?

“The arousal of game day puts a massive load on the central nervous system (CNS). If you think of a volume knob on a stereo, a normal day is about a three. Depending on your level of excitability, the gravity of competition can take the knob to a 10 in a hurry (or even to 11, for those of us who are so inclined). When the nervous system is not accustomed to working at that volume, the fatigue hits much harder, and much faster. If we think about training or competition from an adaptation perspective, most of these athletes are unaccustomed to working at this level of effort. This alone is the reason we see cramping so frequently at the onset of a season. After game four or five, the nervous system becomes conditioned to the weekly spikes, and adjusts accordingly.”

On the list of guys I might envy, this guy is toward the top. But, this is a pretty good list of things to consider.

“We are each our own greatest inhibitor. People don’t want to do new things if they think they’re going to be bad at them or people are going to laugh at them. You have to be willing to subject yourself to failure, to be bad, to fall on your head and do it again, and try stuff that you’ve never done in order to be the best you can be.

“Schedule training in the morning so that normal daily chaos—long meetings, family demands, traffic—won’t end your workout before it begins. Plus, you’ll jump-start your metabolism, meaning you’ll burn more calories (even while sitting behind a desk), feel better all day, and work more efficiently.

“In the end, if you’re still just there, doing it, you win.”

I enjoy articles that bring us back to the basics. I think we should review the fundamentals all the time and this article does a nice job with it.


Why Strength Training?

By the way, if you’re unsure whether strength training (i.e. lifting heavy objects) has a place in your schedule, here are some reasons why it pays to lift heavy:

Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Manage your weight. Strength training can help you manage or lose weight, and it can increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.

Enhance your quality of life. Strength training may enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Building muscle also can contribute to better balance and may reduce your risk of falls. This can help you maintain independence as you age.

Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease,depression and diabetes.

Sharpen your thinking skills. Some research suggests that regular strength training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults.

End quote

I thought this next article offers a lot of simple concepts that most of us wish we would have followed earlier than later.

“Any parting words for anyone looking to open their own facility or grow their own practice?

  1. Grow organically. Don’t expand the restaurant faster than the kitchen, or vice-versa.
  2. Pay cash for everything. Debt sucks.
  3.  Be passionate about the quality of your product. There is a gym on every corner. If you’re just the same as everyone, you become the wallpaper.
  4. Make sure your other half is on board. My beautiful wife is my biggest ambassador and strongly believes in what I’m doing; not only as a fitness professional, but also an entrepreneur. Having this support at home is critical to success.

But it is this next article that I want to bring your attention to this week. Longevity is a big deal, both the quality and quantity of life. I’m at an age where we see long lists of names at the high school reunion of those classmates who have died too soon. Dick Notmeyer told me that 50% of longevity is genetic, 40% of it is lifestyle and 10% of it is “luck.” I’m doing what I can to fill that 40% area in well.

“The review, titled, “Does Physical Activity Increase Life Expectancy? A Review of the Literature,” looked at whether being generally active improved life expectancy, as well as if there was any evidence that being an athlete made any additional difference.

“As you would probably expect, the review found that people that were active could expect to live about 0.4 to 4.2 years longer than those that weren’t. No big surprise there.

“What most people might find surprising, however, is that when the review looked at life expectancy across different populations of athletes, mostly elite athletes, the only group that consistently lived longer than the average person was aerobic endurance athletes. Endurance athletes, in fact, could expect to live between 4.3 and 8 years longer than the average person.

“Even more interesting is that some of the studies in the review found that team sport athletes actually had lower life expectancy, by as much as up to 5 years, compared to the average person that was just moderately physically active.

“Aside from this review, of course, there’s a mountain of other research that supports higher aerobic fitness is associated with much lower rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and increased cognitive function and more. Traditionally, this relationship was thought to be due purely to changes in the cardiovascular system itself.  However, it’s becoming clearer that a big reason higher aerobic fitness leads to lower risk of the most common diseases is because it protects against chronic inflammation.

“One study, for example, Markers of inflammation are inversely associated with V̇o2 max in asymptomatic men” demonstrated an incredibly clear and linear relationship between aerobic fitness (V02 max) and markers of inflammation like C-Reactive Protein and fibrinogen.”

I’m off to DC this weekend for a Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification and Sunday Workshop. I enjoy teaching the goblet squat, swing, and Turkish getup. Sunday will review my work on movement, coaching and appropriate planning and programming.

Until next week, keep lifting and learning.


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