Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 127

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 127

Dan’s new book, Now What? is now fully in stock in all versions—paperback, ebook and audio book—where if you purchase the print book through OTPbooks.com, you get the ebook for free!

I’m sitting in a hotel in New Orleans while I am typing this and trying to undo a few days of spicy food, great music, a few libations and a lot of laughs. It was odd getting ready for this trip as my mind started getting hyped up for a work trip. I travel so much that when my dog sees my travel bag, he (Sirius Black) instantly becomes needy…and starts blocking me every step of the way.

Oddly, as I packed, I started doing the “Work Trip” checklists. Now, there is nothing wrong with this, except I had to catch myself and say: “You are going on a fun trip to meet up with family and celebrate a birthday.”

So, there is a downside, in a way, to my world of Shark Habits and Principles. But, most of the time, “touching things once” and sticking to the checklist makes life pretty easy. I can spend more time walking the dog, playing catch and reading good books because I rarely have to scramble to deal with something I should have dealt with a few months ago.

As I was typing this, I thought: “Do I have anything for my readers on Shark Habits?” Yep, here:


“When I shop, I load up on what we need for the menu for the week. There is never the question, “What should I eat?” The answer is already in the pot!

I do this with weekly chores, monthly chores and yearly chores, too.

I take this seriously. I found a black polo shirt that travels well, doesn’t wrinkle and looks good.

I bought 16 of those shirts.

Why 16? That’s all the site had in my size. They are all the exact same look and design.

End Quote

Guess what I am wearing?

This week, I had fun swimming in the waters of the world wide web. I thought this simple article worked well with last week’s lists:


Air Popcorn Makers became a huge thing in the late 70s.

As a kid we’d stay up on Friday night to watch The Love Boat followed by Fantasy Island.

Pretty much everyone watched the exact same TV shows back then.

…and we all went nutty with the Air Popper.

Air popcorn is old-school, but a seriously effective diet food.

A 1/4 cup of unpopped popcorn is only about 200 calories and fills up a large bowl when popped.

End Quote

I love Tom Furman’s work. I’m not sure why more people don’t reference him in their annual lists or weekly “read this” columns, but he has a great perspective on training through life. This article on the goblet squat is the best explanation for the KEY to the lift: pushing the knees out.

“The devil is in the details and in this case, the Goblet. If you do an image search on Bing or Google nearly 90+ percent of the photos that come up are WRONG. They simply use a dumbbell or kettlebell as a counterbalance. It’s like it’s a substitution for a back squat or front squat. The idea of the goblet squat is to ALLOW movement to occur that builds perfect squatting form. The knees are pushed by the elbows for both stretching/mobilizing and to get used to the torso fitting between the thighs. At the bottom of the squat, along with “prying” and stretching the adductors, the hips can circle or do figure eights to “create space” in the gluteal area.”

This is an interesting read. Can we “make” elite performers is one question; but the other question is “what is downside of being elite?”

“It’s tempting to see Ashley’s work and imagine a Gattaca-like future in which the revelations of the genome help not just the diseased, but those of us who are average — a time when this information could take all of us from normal to elite. That has worrying implications: not only the fears that accompany any genetic interference, but a further fear, of health ramifications. As the RUNX3 variant suggests, playing with these genes is a hazard the healthy probably won’t want to risk, since tweaking the genome could take us from benefit to harm in an instant. Even maximizing our abilities could give us more than we bargained for. You would think that the fittest people on Earth would also be the healthiest; you would be wrong. If you compare Olympic athletes with the average human, you would indeed find that they live longer and are healthier. But when compared with people who are generally fit, who exercise at levels that are more recreational and don’t push their bodies to extremes, research has found that Olympians die at a younger age. Being elite is an honor, but it may be a complicated one.”

I had a 45-minute conversation with Bill Hinbern this week. We all owe a debt to him for saving the great works of strength and power, encouraging some of the greats to write and giving a store house of information at his site, superstrengthtraining.com. 

We got to talking about Hack and his influence on the iron game. Hack, by the way, did NOT invent the Hack Squat. Bill told me that it was called the Hacke Squat originally. “Hacke” means “heel” in German and George himself went out of this way to clear up the confusion.

Imagine: an author trying NOT to take credit for the invention of a lift.

For a quick review of how Hackenschmidt trained, Zach Even-Esh does good job here.

“I had them come in only 2 x week and train only 20 – 30 minutes at a clip. I wouldn’t recommend such short workouts unless you are in a burn out mode. I am not a fan of quitting and leaving the workouts altogether as many Coaches always tell you to take time off. Before you know it your workouts revolve around the “time off”.

“Here and again, you need a short break, lighter workouts, etc but younger athletes need to learn the mental aspect of the training game. They must learn joy in the basics and must also learn commitment, NOT quitting and giving up. I am careful to emphasize too much down time for this along with other reasons.

“Most workouts for these 2 wrestlers, I chose 3 – 5 basic exercises, not including any abdominal or grip work which we would bang out at the end of each workout, and then they go to town on these lifts, sub max effort all the way. Basic exercises WIN, no 2 ways about it. Stop looking for the fancy BS, it doesn’t deliver. I had to hammer that home to home, as they were used to training in a fancy commercial gym.”

Craig Marker always does a nice job summing up training methods. This article is something some of our older readers should consider. I get emails about fixing loads overhead as we age and maybe we should just do waiter walks for a while.

“A waiter’s walk is performed by simply holding a weight overhead and walking. I recommend using a kettlebell, or two. A barbell with a snatch grip or jerk grip works great, too. Each variation offers different benefits. With one kettlebell, the obliques and spinal erectors get extra work stabilizing the body. The double kettlebell or barbell variations train the ability to lock out under load and require great mobility.

“It is important to take care of the wrist in this movement. Take a look at the wrists in the picture below. If you push heavy weights overhead, your wrist should be as straight as possible. Allowing it to bend back can lead to wrist injuries. I see many people with wrist issues as they begin CrossFit. My best guess for why this happens is that they allow the wrist to bend back in catching the jerk and snatch. Wrist wraps are not the solution. Building a powerful connection between your hands and shoulder is.”

I liked this article. I don’t usually have an issue with writer’s block, but this was a fun method of dealing with any line of work and the stresses associated with it.

“Speaking of the unconscious, Anne Lamott recommends to her students that they commit to writing three hundred words on how much they hate writing, then ‘on bad days and weeks, let things go at that… Your unconscious can’t work when you are breathing down its neck. You’ll sit there going, Are you done in there yet, are you done in there yet?’ Not helpful. In the videos above, see how popular best-selling novelist Dan Brown deals with a laggardly unconscious. Love, hate, or be indifferent to his work, but you must admit, his is a very novel method: Every hour, Brown gets up and does some pushups and sit-ups to ‘get the blood moving,’ since it’s very hard to write the kind of ‘fast-paced plots’ he does ‘if your blood pressure’s dropped too far.’ Brown also gives his brain a daily supply of fresh blood by hanging upside down each day, either in gravity boots or, as The Telegraph video directly above details, an ‘inversion table.'”

These four points alone could do wonders for you and your career.


Here are four qualities that have helped his Patriots over the years:

1. Do your job.

2. Be attentive.

3. Pay attention to details.

4. Put the team first.

End quote

Not a bad mix of articles this week. My hotel is right next to the statue of Ignatius J. Riley, the belching hero of “A Confederacy of Dunces.” I’m not sure I could find a better way to imagine myself as I leave this great city. Until next week, keep on lifting and learning.


New from Chris Holder this week: Are We Lifting the Athleticism Out of Our Athletes?
“I look back fondly on those times, when things were simpler. Unlock some hip flexors, wake the rear end up and posterior chain them to death. I can remember seeing the kids show up who had no butt cheeks whatsoever and after a few months of hammering them, their lives (and hindquarters) got significantly better.” ~ Chris Holder