Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 114

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 114


Publisher’s Note:  Need a longer hit of our guy Dan? Here’s his meaty article on ramping up training, new on OTP this week.


I am through Passport Control and sitting in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Heathrow. I had a great weekend doing my “Art of Coaching” workshop at James St Pierre’s Unique Fitness. These guys are great hosts and I really enjoyed the group.

I added a bunch of new material and we had a few segues into other areas. Many of the participants had completed the various 10,000 swing challenges, yet few knew about my more recent attempts at clarity. This blog post has the PDFs and some ideas. I really enjoy it when we go deeper than usual on my talks.

Taylor Lewis gave a great presentation on how he works with arousal levels of his various clients, both baseball and Cystic Fibrosis patients. I enjoy seeing how he keeps going to workshops and adding more to his quiver.

I’m off to South San Francisco, my hometown, this weekend for my first Perform Better of the year. I was just there for a funeral and I always enjoy my visits.

Also, each Monday, I post a blog.  Often, these are short “one point” pieces on performance, longevity, fitness or health but I still try to tell a story. You can find these, or subscribe, at danjohn.net.

This week around the net, I found some interesting pieces. This article on squats is worth pinning up on the wall.


3. To improve movement quality

Last but not least, the squat does a ton of good things for us from a movement quality perspective.

When you feel the whole foot and stay upright, you get natural dorsiflexion through the ankle. This in turn helps inhibit the gastroc, which is often a stiff muscle.

A well done squat also coordinates the hips and knees, both with regards to flexion and extension. This is something that many athletes struggle with, so improved timing and coordination is never a bad thing.

And of course, a well executed squat keeps the ribcage and pelvis facing each other. This in turn drives improved respiration, a stronger “core,” and an ability to push.

Long story short – squatting is kind of important, and something every athlete should be working on.

But now that we know the role and value of squatting, what options do we have?

End quote

B J Fogg is my “go to” on the mental side of things. And, yes, “tiny” habits trump all the bluster and fluster of this area of performance…and fitness and…

“To help people figure out how to make new behaviors they actually want as routine as turning to Google to search the web, he developed the Fogg Method, which references several psychological theories and is comprised of three key steps. The first is about identifying your specific desired outcome: Do you want to feel less stressed at work? Lose 10% of your bodyweight?

“Next, identify the easy-win behaviors—he calls them “tiny habits”—that will put you on the path to that goal. (This requires introspection, because the going method for reducing stress may not be the behavior that will work for you, Fogg emphasized in an interview with NPR last year. Maybe you’d find short walks more meditative than meditating, for instance, or perhaps jogging with your retriever sounds more inviting than lacing up for a spin class.)

“Finally, find a trigger—something that you already do as a habit—and graft the new habit onto it. That might mean putting out an apple on the counter every time you start the coffeemaker in the morning, Fogg explained to NPR. “Notice I didn’t say eat the apple,” he added. Let’s not get crazy.”

Josh Hillis highlights a very interesting concept here.

“It’s a perspective that’s heavily influenced by looking into Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  Georgie found a randomized controlled trial with ACT where the people got really solid weight loss results, so I started looking in to ACT and the research associated with it.  Some of the basic tenants of ACT inspired this post.

“What’s great about everything I found is that it’s actually really accessible: Figure out your values, and go to work on actions that align with those.  It’s a great framework for working on food and weight loss.  It’s a great framework for any kind of habit coaching.

“Positive psychologists Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi, PhD, and Martin Seligman, PhD, have both talked about worrying and negativity being the brains default position, but that you can take actions that are positive, engaging, and bring meaning to your life.

“I hope, in reading this article, you get some flexibility in how you relate to negative thoughts about yourself and your body.

“Just know that you’re having thoughts, and that human beings have negative thoughts.

·      You don’t need to give thoughts and feelings any more weight, you don’t need to feed them.
·      You also don’t need to run away from thoughts or feelings.
·      You aren’t broken, you don’t need fixing, you’re just human, just like everyone else.  Like everyone else you have thoughts and feelings.

I thought this might be the best single blog post of all time. BBB is a great program.

“The second part of the Boring But Big Challenge is the 5 sets of 10 reps. Those who’ve done this know this is nothing to sneeze at (unless you’re allergic to hard work and soreness). This is a brutal way to put on size, provided you do it correctly. And by do it correctly I mean the following:

1.     The first month of the program, perform the sets with 50% of your training max.
2.     The second month of the program, perform the sets with 60% of your training max.
3.     The third month of the program, perform the sets with 70% of your training max.

“So after you perform your 5/3/1 squat workout, do 5 sets of 10 reps with the deadlift. You’ll flip the other days as well. Workout example below.

·      You may have to do a few warm-up sets leading up to your 5 x 10 weight. This is fine. Just do 1-2 sets of 5 reps and then get to it. These warm-up sets don’t count.
·      Feel free to superset the assistance work. This will shorten the workout time and keep you from sitting on your ass between sets.

This article connects intermittent fasting to 5/3/1 and is worth a look.


The following “rules” aren’t set in stone, and as long as you hit the macros and calories listed above for their respective days of the week, you’ll have success on this program. However, I’ve found that following these “rules” definitely makes the dieting phase more enjoyable, decreases hunger, and increases the quality of your training sessions.

1.     Fast for 12 hours a day. This is from the last meal of the day until you eat your next meal the following day. If you eat your last bite at 9 p.m., don’t eat again until 9 a.m.
2.     Start each day with coffee and a bit of coconut oil, even if it’s during your “fasting” period. This doesn’t break the fast in my opinion. And if it does in yours, that is fine,
still do it. I’m not here to argue, I’m here to get you leaner.
3.     Only eat protein and fat during the day. Eat the majority of your carbohydrates during the evening—6 p.m. and after. Keep carbohydrates under 20 grams during the day.
4.     Track your calories and macros daily using an online program, phone app, or just old school pen and paper. You can also just plan out what each day looks like (high, medium, low) and know ahead of time what you’ll be eating each and every day.
5.     I recommend drinking 10 to 15 grams of BCAAs before and during training, but this is optional.

End of quote

Finally, somebody asked where I got farmer walks.

From farmers.

I have a piece that gives a little history.

Another championship record was set by Clarence “Bud” Houser in the men’s discus competition. A well-known athlete in the weights events, Houser won gold in both shot put and discus at the 1924 Olympics while a student at the University of Southern California. The winner of the discus event at the 1925 A.A.U championships, Houser successfully defended his title in 1926 and set a new championship record of 153 feet 6.5 inches. Houser won gold again in discus at the 1928 Olympic games and was known for developing a technique of rapidly rotating around the circle before releasing the discus.

After retiring from competition, Houser became a practicing dentist in California.

Well, great. Then, I found these gems:

He built his strength by carrying rock
s in his hands to overcome his
 shyness as an orphan boy. 

During his summers at Oxnard Hi
gh School he would load 100-pound
 hay bales in Cocoran, Californi
a sometimes during weather that
 reached 110 degrees. 

Bud married Dawn Evelyn Smith, the 
daughter of a dentist. She was a
 USC coed and Bud said that her fa
ther was his mentor in becoming a
 dentist and cutting back in sports to keep up his studies. 

Bud Houser could have signed a major league baseball contract
 (Chicago Cubs) but met with the gr
eat Jim Thorpe who, because of 
his amateur status problems, told Bud to stick with becoming a

Until next time, keep lifting and learning.


Help me out—Share on Facebook!
Like Dan John's Wandering Weights: Issue #114 on Facebook