Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 129

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 129

In this week’s OTPbooks.com column on differentiated instruction and learning styles, Guy Massi explains how working in groups is vastly different than training an individual client. In one section, “Learn to Recognize Behaviors,” he writes, “Frequent water breaks, bathroom trips, avoidance tactics or blank stares…these behaviors DO NOT always mean laziness or disrespect. Perpetual questioning does not always indicate that someone is a brown-noser or a wise guy. In fact, these may simply be coping mechanisms used by different learners to navigate the training terrain.” Click to read the rest of this great article.


My wife walked into the Delta Sky Club the other day and the nice lady said: “Where’s Dan?”

It could be an indicator that I have been traveling a lot when the airport lounge people notice when I am NOT there. I did have a nice weekend at home and enjoyed Utah’s ever-changing spring weather. Snow, rain, and sunburn are what to expect on a Saturday here against the Wasatch Mountains.

Having a weekend home seemed to get my batteries recharged. I was going over an upcoming talk while at the same time I was trying to unearth some old Evolutionary Fitness materials from Art De Vaney. His materials changed my thinking in 1998 about a number of things and most people who use the words Paleo, caveman, stone age or evolution in their business title probably owe a debt to Art.

He would open a site and close it almost yearly, so it is true internet archeology trying to find the old materials. His essay on evolutionary fitness on his college home page is still one of the best things I have ever read on overall fitness and health. Agree or disagree with him…he made you think!

I’m honestly not sure if he is alive or not. I did notice one thing as I was working on my movement matrix: my section on anti-rotation movements pretty much sums the best of the paleo model of fitness.

This is the push, pull, hinge, squat and loaded carry list. The bolded items are things you can do without fancy equipment on a beach.

Dan's anti rotation list (image)

So, when I work on a project, I also spend a lot of time going backward to make sure things “fit.” What I mean is this: just because I have a fun new idea or piece of equipment, it doesn’t mean it works.

Even if we train on something and good things happen, I always remind myself that “everything works, for about six weeks.” So, I always go back and dig and try to see if this new, shiny toy has ancestors that might be better and simpler.

It takes a bit more time, but I think it also keeps me grounded.

Let’s spin around the net this week.

This article on Dave Draper is refreshing honest and insightful. It’s not all peaches and cream, but I really have to respect Dave for telling it like it is/was. I wish…I honestly wish…that most of heroes would be this honest about their training.

“I’m not sure how today’s public views the sport. The title ‘Mr. Olympia’ and the subsequent pro titles were introduced post-1965 to accommodate and excite the growing mobs of participants and spectators.

“Mr. America and Mr. Universe, though real, original, and admired, became quaint. Bodybuilding grew like a weed. Lean bodies were ‘in,’ gyms were on every other street corner, muscle mags featured girly foldouts and hyped enough exotic supplements to kill a racehorse. Did I mention someone, not the bodybuilders, was making big bucks?

“As with most things that grow quickly, something was lost in the expansion. Throw excess, commerce, greed, and power into the mix, and you produce separation, occasional bitterness, and too much to digest.”

With some time off, I watched “The Last Starfighter,” a great movie I caught up at Portland State when I was studying Intensive Turkish. This article notes the writer used some ideas from T. H. White’s “The Sword in the Stone” for inspiration. No surprises there!

“’This gets tied up in all kinds of stuff [regarding] what the next step is, and I’m working on that right now… There are a lot of things going on that will see the light of day,’ he said, keeping things vague but promising more news to come. ‘It’s complicated, it’s great, it’s a privilege, and it’s going to be taken care of… It’s good to be working with a team that wants to see it go. I think that the story deserves to continue.’

“And so, after 30 years of quietly buzzing around the subconscious memories of ’80s kids and a generation of geeks, The Last Starfighter may yet take off again. But even if it doesn’t, well, its star is OK with that too.

“’Most of us have come across a movie that was maybe not so popular when it came out, and were like, ‘Hey, this is a great movie,’’ Guest reflected. ‘I think that’s what happened with Starfighter. Even if it didn’t translate into box-office power, it is to me a legitimized movie. It makes me feel good, because I was a big fan of cult movies, a big fan of things that weren’t necessarily overexposed but earned their own credibility through just people liking it. And I feel that way about The Last Starfighter.’”

Ryan Atkins sent this in and this really does a nice job highlighting a modern status issue.

“One way is to turn your leisure into labor by ‘working on yourself.’ The most obvious example is exercise, which has acquired a compulsive character among members of the urban professional class. The neighborhoods where they’re likely to live are littered with boutique fitness studios such as SoulCycle and luxury gyms such as Equinox. These are places where the labor of self-improvement and self-purification continue long after the labor required to pay one’s bills ends. And they exist alongside a complementary ecosystem of juice bars and organic food stores, where one obtains the proper fuel to power the production of the self.

“‘The stated reason for all this is “health.” But the amount of time that many better-off Americans spend exercising far exceeds what is required to be healthy. That’s because the intricate demands of today’s fitness and nutritional regimens aren’t ultimately about wellbeing. They’re designed to express class power. In the second Gilded Age, you can typically estimate a person’s tax bracket by their physique – class is literally inscribed on the body. Richer bodies aren’t just thinner but precisely muscled in all sorts of ways. They reflect an enormous and, strictly speaking, unnecessary expenditure of effort. They embody work in excess of need, signaling wealth through wastefulness and justifying one’s possession of it through the performance of personal virtue.'”

I love articles about growth and success. This is a simple one that repeats a lot of classical knowledge on the topic, but I thought it was solid.


8. Give Up Multi-tasking

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Successful people know this. That’s why they choose one thing and then beat it into submission. No matter what it is — a business idea, a conversation, or a workout.

Being fully present and committed to one task, is indispensable.

End quote

I’m still amazed that people think “220-age” for heart rate is a “thing.” I like Maffetone’s work on this, but it is nice to see the popular press pick up on this.

“Dr. Lauer pays no attention to the standard formula when he gives treadmill tests. More than 40 percent of patients, he said, can get their heart rates to more than 100 percent of their predicted maximum. ”That tells you that that wasn’t their maximum heart rate,’ Dr. Lauer said.

“The danger, he said, is that when doctors use that formula to decide when to end a treadmill test, they can inadvertently mislead themselves and their patients. Some patients may be stopping too soon and others may seem to have a heart problem because they never can get to what is supposed to be their maximum rate.”

This weekend, I will be spending long days coaching and teaching at a Russian Kettlebell Certification. I’m looking forward to this.

So, until next week, let’s keep lifting and learning.


In this video [text included] Sue Falsone ‘dissects’ the scapular stabilizers. You’ll learn why she believes the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder should be looked at from a mobility viewpoint rather than that of stability.
Sue Falsone scapular stabilizers image