Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 128

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 128

Gray Cook is big on the toe touch. In this article, he explains why it’s important, and what he does to help a person with a poor toe touch. Per Gray: Simple tests can be used to reveal a lot about a person’s underlying issues. The toe touch is one of those tests.”


I spent the weekend at the Southwest Michigan Strength and Conditioning workshop. Bob Taylor puts on a great event at Niles High School and I always enjoy the side discussions throughout the day.

High school strength and conditioning is finally becoming a “thing.” Barbells are, literally, no longer kept locked in closets, the coach doesn’t just read the paper the whole time and the counselors (some) are figuring out that this is NOT the place to put exchange students because, and I quote, “they don’t need to know English in here.”

Many of my international readers might not understand that American sports are huge in the school system. True, “club sports” are rising, but these “pay to play” teams are often more about profit than practice.

My bias might show here a bit.

We discussed an interesting goal for high schools: two athletic trainers and two strength coaches for every school. This would be in addition to physical education instructors. I agree. Strength and conditioning programs, done well, can do more than just help develop athletic programs; they can also provide life lessons for every student in fitness and nutrition. Some of my favorite weightroom students were non-athletes. It shouldn’t be a surprise that these students usually went on to success in higher education and in life.

Honestly, graduating for education without a deep understanding of fitness, nutrition, basic banking skills, Shakespeare, world history, and the fundamentals of home, car and bicycle repair is an anathema to me. Yet, somehow, this whole list seems devoid in some people’s education.

Well, enough of my ranting, let’s look around the web.

I’m not sure we will ever answer the question “what is the true human diet?” This blog is a nice discussion of the issue.

“What was the ancestral human diet? The question itself makes no sense. Consider some of the recent hunter-gatherers who have inspired Paleolithic diet enthusiasts. The Tikiġaġmiut of the north Alaskan coast lived almost entirely on the protein and fat of marine mammals and fish, while the Gwi San in Botswana’s Central Kalahari took something like 70 percent of their calories from carbohydrate-rich, sugary melons and starchy roots. Traditional human foragers managed to earn a living from the larger community of life that surrounded them in a remarkable variety of habitats, from near-polar latitudes to the tropics. Few other mammalian species can make that claim, and there is little doubt that dietary versatility has been key to the success we’ve had.”

Fasting makes you lose weight! Night is dark! I joke, but this article gives some weight (ha!) to the fasting as fat loss argument.

“I’ve found patients who employ IF improve gut health—since fasting gives your digestive system a much-needed break. IF can even help you age more gracefully via a gene called sirtuin (SIRT1) that protects your mitochondria, those little energy plants within your cells. ‘Intermittent fasting turns on SIRT1 and turns off the mTOR gene,’ writes Sara Gottfried, M.D., in Younger. ‘When hyperactive, mTOR is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and early mortality.’

“Those benefits are great, but Genie gravitated to IF because every other weight-loss plan failed her. Studies support her decision. One 2015 systematic review of IF for weight management targeted six studies and reported an impressive average weight loss of nearly 3 percent after the first month, 9 percent after six months, and further average weight loss of about 8 percent after a month of weight maintenance. Participants also had improved blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.”

I just found this blog. I love it. I agree with this point 100%. Now, yes, there are times when you might need something “one off,” but usually quality items last much longer than cheap.

“And here’s the other thing about buying the expensive version. You save time. Because buying the cheap version means you’re shopping more. Like with the towels you have to replace every year you’re shopping an additional 9X.

“If we assume you value your time at $25/hour, and you spend 30 minutes a year replacing a cheap version of something, that’s $112.50 in your time (9 x 0.5 hours x $25/hour). And that’s time you can be using some other way like improving yourself.”

Mike Warren Brown and I discuss books “a lot.” “Way too much” would be more accurate. This little article is a great summary of the question “what makes a classic.”

“A classic is a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading.”

Patrick Riedl, one of my buddies from Germany who travels to learn about training more than anyone I know, sent this wonderful article in about champions. I loved the whole thing, but this leaped off the page to me.

“Follow your interests. Starting in their youth, super champions showed great interest in their respective sports. They enjoyed not only competing in matches, but also practicing and training. Super champions did not specialize in a single sport during their early childhood. Rather, they were given latitude to explore diverse activities. (A paper published in the journal Pediatrics earlier this month supports this notion, stating that later specialization is best for health and performance. Other studies show early specialization doesn’t work in athletes; nearly 90 percent of 2016 NFL draft picks played multiple sports in high school.)”

I have a quiet week ahead of me. The week after, I teach a three-day RKC, so I will be prepping up for that academic and athletic challenge. I will also attempt to keep finding intelligent and insightful readings to prod us all ahead a wee bit more. So, until next week, keep lifting and learning.


In the bench press, what happens when “energy is leaked”? Can that even happen? Should it be fixed? Here Greg Dea and Rod Harris break down bench press problems and solutions.