Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 134

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 134

There are two parts to great coaching. The first is possessing the right knowledge—what techniques to use, what exercises to use, what drills to use and what methods to use. The other part, which is often overlooked, is the ability to communicate and help people apply the information in real situations. You may know the right exercise to use, but unless you can get people to perform the exercise correctly, they won’t be able to get the results you expect. This is why the art and science of coaching is so important. Nick Winkelman has made teaching this his focus for the past few years and wrote this article for us.


Jamaica. I am sending this in to Laree a little early this week because I am going to be a wedding…in Jamaica. In a two-week period, I will have been to a wedding in England and a wedding in Jamaica.

This will prepare me, of course, for a three-day RKC in New York, almost two weeks in London teaching at St. Mary’s and a few days of reminiscing in Ohio with my discus camp family.

My wife, Tiffini, and I have this odd belief, probably grounded in Revelation 3:15-16: We try not to be lukewarm. Our “yes” is yes. This, of course, makes us oddities in many circles. I can’t believe how often I say: “I thought I said “yes?” There is no need to keep selling it to me!

This much travel, I might sneak up to one-quarter of a million miles in the air this year—comes at a price. With my friends Mike Warren Brown, Lacie and Devan, I think we have discovered that the black mini-band Monster Walk might be the answer to my hip issues after travel. Other issues, like dehydration and a tight t-spine, are still up in the air, but I fix things as I can.

“Up in the air.”

Ha. Unexpected bad pun!

It’s funny how my reading list for travel seems to keep coming back to my favorite books:

  • T. H. White’s “The Sword in the Stone” (1938 version)
  • J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”
  • Frank Herbert’s “Dune”
  • Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park books
  • Sir Author Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books. (Doyle as literary agent, the good Doctor Watson as principle author)

These books are my mind candy and I enjoy every page.

Let’s zip around the net this week.

Shane Mclean wrote this article. I am always a big fan of simple insights when we talk about the obesity epidemic.

“A study by Levine (2005) recruited 20 healthy volunteers, 10 lean people (5 men 5 women) and 10 people classified as Grade I obese (5 men and 5 women). Levine was looking for physical activity differences between these two groups.

“Levine found that grade I obese sat for 164 minutes a day longer than their lean counterparts and lean people were standing and active for 153 minute more than their obese counterparts. This lead to the lean people burning 352 calories a day which is the equivalent to 36.5 grams of fat per year.

“This partly is due to N.E.A.T or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, a process that burns the majority of our calories.”

I am not a fan of “hacking” as it tends to run counter to my entire education and outlook on life, but this article is so simple and to the point, I applaud it.

“Expose Yourself to Sunlight

“Sunlight is part of our natural nutrition, so expose your skin to those warm rays of sun.

“It’s time to rewild.

“Open your eyes and see that you are that little puppy. To become the wolf, go back to nature.

“Start by just spending a little more time outside.

“Recap 1: Eat living, wild foods. 2: Drink unprocessed spring water. 3: Breathe air from nature. 4: Expose yourself to sunlight. 5. Go outside.”

I love list articles…sometimes. This particular article probably will offend some people, but, in general, I found it hard to argue with.

“They Focus Medicine on Prevention

“Where Western medicine quickly treats with antacids, antibiotics, NSAIDs, and statins, traditional Chinese and functional medicine attempts to get to the root of the problem using nutrition, healthy habits, and prevention practices.

“Traditional Chinese medicine doctor Sun Simiao believed the skills of a great physician were wasted if one did not consider the foods his or her clients were eating and the lifestyle they were practicing. Asians recognize that health and wellness extend far beyond eat-sleep-lift-repeat. And it’s why they practice meditation, martial arts, and other calming daily rituals that clear the mind and strike a balance between yin and yang. Maybe you should too.”

This is a review of a talk I gave three years ago, but I really liked the insights. I often learn more from people’s notes and questions about my talks than practically anything else.


“Squatting is a fundamental human movement.”

“Babies squat perfectly, so why can’t you?”

Blah, blah, blah.It’s one thing to tell a client that squatting is simple, but that just belittles them. We may hear ourselves saying, “C’mon! Squatting is simple. Just do it already!” But the client actually hears, “Squatting is like, SO easy. Why can’t you do it? You must suck.” So if a simple bodyweight squat is difficult for a client, it’s our job as the trainer to make it easier. Empower them and ensure that they cannot fail. Dan John gave some unbelievably simple tips to regress the squat and show anyone that they can squat.

The Hands-Slide Squat
Slide the hands along the insides of the thighs as you descend
This increases the comfort factor and decreases the “oh shit, I’m gonna fall over” factor simply by giving the squatter the feedback of contact with themselves
This eventually gives way to the…
Potato Sack Squat
Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell with your hands cupped underneath
This teaches you to squat “between” your knees instead of over them
Also reinforces a slow and controlled descend because if you divebomb, you crush your fingers

End Quote

I have always given my work away for free. Yes, we charge for books and workshops, but I can see a difference there. Years ago, someone asked me how I would make money on this. I told them “I give away everything for free…but make my money on the volume!” This article gives some flesh and blood to this kind of thinking.

“Every idea has to begin somewhere. And, back in 2000, Seth Godin started experimenting with a fairly radical publishing model. Inspired by Malcolm Gladwell, Godin wrote Unleashing the Ideavirus, which essentially argued that free ideas spread quicker than ideas that cost money. And it’s the ideas that spread the quickest that win. So what was the logical next step? Making the book available for free and seeing what happened.”

From Precision Nutrition, three great infographics on staying in shape, sleep and eating:

How to Stay in Shape When You’re Busy

The Power of Sleep

Create the Perfect Meal

Most of my international readers will scratch their heads with this article, but citizens of the USA pay dearly for medical care.

“Identify every unfamiliar person who appears at your bedside. If you’re feeling well enough, ask what he or she is doing, and who sent him or her. If you’re too ill, ask a companion to serve as gatekeeper and guard. Write it all down. Beware the nice doctor who stands at the foot of your bed each day and asks if everything’s going OK. That pleasantry may constitute a $700 consultation. There’s an epidemic of drive-by doctoring on helpless inpatients. These medical personnel turn up whether you need or want them, with the intent of charging for their services. Remember that you can say no. Everything done to you or for you in the hospital will be billed at exorbitant rates.”

This is just a great article on thinking. Yes, it talks about Shakespeare, but it is also a deep dive into how our brains work.

“Our brains are structured such that if you hear an animal word (cat), it becomes easier to process another animal word (dog) when it’s presented about half a second later. In the jargon, this is called priming: cat primes dog, and it happens quickly. Expectations describe a slower, more arbitrary type of connection. There is no fundamental relationship between animal words and office words. But if I put you in a psychology lab and present you with a series of animal words followed by office words (like desk), then you will learn an expectational relationship between them. Expectations take longer to kick in, about one to two seconds. So following cat with desk after only half a second won’t help you process desk, but giving cat another second to sink in before presenting desk will link cat and desk as strongly as cat and dog.

“Association and expectation are different processes occurring on different timescales, and they can interact in complex ways. Most strikingly, expectations can overpower associations. If you have come to expect an office word after an animal word, then cat will still prime dog after a half-second interval. But after a two-second interval, cat suppresses dog, making it harder to process. Authors who are sensitive to these effects, and careful about the linkages that they create, may be able to use the interactions of priming and expectation to create intricate experiences of time, language, and meaning.

“Certain types of sentences are especially good at demonstrating the unfolding of meaning over time. Garden-path sentences (‘The child rushed through the doorway fell’) got their name because they lead their audiences into a syntactical dead end—down the garden path, so to speak. Although they’ve been remarked on for decades, they’ve been taken up more recently by dynamicists because they’re especially useful for exploring questions of moment-to-moment language experience. Michael Spivey, professor of cognitive and information sciences at the University of California, Merced, and author of The Continuity of Mind, uses garden-path sentences to describe the unfolding of sentence understanding as a contest between every possible interpretation of that sentence, one in which revealing each subsequent word disqualifies more contenders until just one remains standing. What may first appear to be a statement about a running child ends up making more sense if it’s about a child who, hurried across a threshold by his caretaker, loses his balance. Spivey’s research shows that, until we arrive at a conclusion, we are capable of holding both meanings in mind simultaneously.”

See if you can read this article all the way through.

“Practice attentive listening. Focus isn’t just useful for intellectual endeavors. It’s also an essential interpersonal skill. The ability to be fully present with a loved one or friend builds your rapport, intimacy, and trust and with them. At the same time, making an effort to focus all your energy on someone else strengthens your concentration muscles overall. It’s win-win. So next time you’re talking with your main squeeze, put away your phone and listen as attentively as possible.”

This article, referenced in the above article, reminds us of one of the lost skills of many of our younger generations.

Next week, I will be sending this out as I fly back to England. Until then, let’s keep lifting and learning.


Think about your favorite sport. Assuming that running is a component of that sport, how often are the athletes in a situation that allows them to run, unobstructed, straight ahead for more than 20 yards? No other people to encounter. No pivotal piece of equipment that forces them to adjust their line. Not too often, right? Here’s Chris Holder with more: Turning speed.