Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 135

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 135

There will always be a need for mastery of a lot of areas, but, in the end, it comes down to: Did you do the job? Dan lets us in on his Shark Habits that clear life’s clutter. Even if you’ve read his Shark Habits commentary, you can probably use a refresher.


I’m sitting in a hotel room in NYC trying to sleep. I leave for London tomorrow and I am trying to catch up on my water. I did a three-day RKC here and it was fabulous, but the heat just parched me.

It’s a juggling act: too much water and I will wake up several times to hit the bathroom…too little and I will dry up in flight.


I love teaching the RKC. The swing is the foundation of the Kettlebell world. The two other HKC movements (Goblet Squat and Turkish Get Up) knit most people back together (literally, the definition of fitness) but the swing does more than most of crap you see in most gyms.

Then, we build the clean and press upon that foundation and top everything off with the snatch. It’s logical, progressive and fun to teach.

But…off I go again. Let’s look around the web a bit this week before I take off.

My friend, Anne Reuss, does such a great with so many aspects of training. This blog is a great teaching moment.


1. Eye contact. Lock eyes with someone you’re talking to a little longer than normal and let me know how it feels.

2. Use the A.R.E Technique. Anchor, reveal, encourage.

Anchor: General observation about something you are part of with the other person.
Reveal: Share something about yourself, inviting the other to reveal something (or vice versa – be sure to reveal if the other does it first).
Encourage: Fuel the conversation by asking open-ended questions.

3. Remove your emotions from the situation briefly. View it at a birdeye’s view. What could this person/people be feeling? How are the dynamics? What can everyone do to improve it?

4. Don’t worry about being judged or looking silly. We usually judge when people DON’T do anything!

End quote

Laree Draper, another member of my “Instant Saint” society along with my wife, Tiffini, sent me this great article. Folks….learn to fall!

“Survival from heights prompted the first medical writing about falls. Hippocrates, in his treatise on head injuries, observes, sensibly, that ‘he who falls from a very high place upon a very hard and blunt object is in most danger of sustaining a fracture… whereas he that falls upon more level ground, and upon a softer object, is likely to suffer less injury.’ The first modern medical paper on a fall was Philip Turner’s ‘A fall from a cliff 320 feet high without fatal injuries’, published in the Guy’s Hospital Gazette in 1919. It examined the case of a Canadian Army private who stumbled over a chalk cliff on the coast of France in 1916 and lived.

“In 1917, an American air cadet named Hugh DeHaven was flying in a Curtiss JN-4 ‘Jenny’ when it collided with another biplane 700 feet above an airfield in Texas. Among the four men aboard the two planes, DeHaven alone survived the plunge. He spent the rest of his career trying to figure out why, culminating in his pioneering 1942 paper, ‘Mechanical analysis of survival in falls from heights of fifty to one hundred and fifty feet’.

“In it, he examined eight cases of people surviving long falls – ignoring his own, but including the lucky Canadian private from 1916 – and found that those who landed on newly tilled gardens could walk away surprisingly intact, noting: “It is, of course, obvious that speed or height of fall, is not in itself injurious.” That might sound like the first half of the skydiving joke, but his research led him to design and patent the combined seatbelt and shoulder harness worn in every car today.

“Up to the 1960s and 1970s, scientific papers on falls focused on forensics – their subjects tended to be dead, the medical questions centring on what had happened to them. This was important, for instance, when assessing trauma to children – could this child have fallen and suffered these injuries, as the caregiver claimed, or is it abuse? Falls as a separate, chronic, survivable medical problem began to get attention only in the past quarter-century. The journal Movement Disorders was begun in 1986, but the bulk of papers examining the interplay of balance, gait and falls at ground level appear after 2000.”

You simply need to watch and listen to this…trust me.

I thought this article was full of insights. Enjoy.


Principle One: Change Your Foundation

Changing your lower body position is a simple way to add specialized variety to your pressing. With the regular press we usually stand in a bilateral stance with our feet square and roughly shoulder width apart. But, when we change position?

In real life and especially in sports, we’re very rarely in a perfect bilateral stance. More often, we’re in lunge like or single leg stances. Some of these variations can also have crossover for better sports performance.

Feet Together

By narrowing your base, your body really has to zip everything up. Pressing with your feet together ensures that you think about drawing everything into your center, while stopping any tension “leaks” of throughout the body.

Inline Lunge

Similar to pressing with the feet together, but place one leg behind the other (kettlebell on same side as the rear leg). This stance introduces a lateral balance demand and forces the body to zip everything up. You can self-limit the balance demand of this technique—make it harder or easier—by changing the distance or width between the two feet.

Contralateral and Ipsilateral Stances

Even though these stances are very rarely seen or used, I love using them to strengthen the body contra-laterally (think of an X across the body from shoulder to hip) or ipsilaterally (shoulder to hip on the same side). If you are interested in fascia and slings (see Thomas Myers) then this will be right up your alley. These press variations are done on one leg and can be really challenging. For the contralateral version, the kettlebell in the opposite hand of the foot you are standing on, and for the ipsilateral version, press and stand on the same side.

Tall Kneeling and Half Kneeling

Without going down the rabbit hole of corrective exercise, both the tall and half kneeling positions give us great pressing options. By taking the knees and ankles out of the movement, we can focus on letting the hips and the core do their work. The goal of the tall and half kneeling positions is to help us create more stability and control while pressing. They can prompt us to tie the upper and lower body together as in the two previous options. The half kneeling option is also self-limiting. Narrowing your base of support (as in the inline lunge press) in the kneeling lunge position creates more instability—and an environment where you will need to stabilize more to keep your balance—just like the standing inline lunge. If you decide to work from a half or tall kneeling position, you really need to make sure your set up in these positions is spot on—a poor setup will not allow you to gain the benefits of these movements.

V-Seated Press

One of my all time favorite all pressing positions is sitting down in semi side split/pancake position with my legs in a V. This is an amazing variation that really helps to tie in the core with the shoulders, lats, and triceps. Watch your lumbo-pelvic positioning in the V-seated position, so your back and lower back stay in a neutral position.

End quote

This coming week I will be teaching at St. Mary’s and catching up on some research. I’m hoping to have a lot more to share with you soon…but, until then:

Keep on learning and lifting.


Dan’s the best at making important things simple. In this article, he gives us his key points for goal setting. Simple, really. Also important.