Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 137

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 137

One side of minimalism could be considered deprivation. I think most of us would think of Dan as a training minimalist, right? In this talk, Dan describes minimalism in training, diet and life.

I’m sitting in my chair in my office with my view with my dog. It’s been a long few weeks:


St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, London

Denison University Discus Camp Reunion

I just threw my laundry in and I am amazed a few things just didn’t hop in by themselves. But, what a great time!

The RKC was great, as always; I love my students (they Olympic lift, run, throw med balls, study, present, and listen…almost every day); I love my friends and family.

I had family at the RKC (Geoff Hemingway) and family in Ohio and friends throughout every trip.

So, yes, I am tired. But, I am also invigorated. I will be home most of July and I will be undertaking a major decluttering of my house and “stuff.” It’s an annual event and I love it.

Now, if my tomatoes would finally turn red, all would be perfect.

This week, on the web, I found a few things I thought were singular.

This material on the “Angry Chef” was some of the most eye-opening and logical material I have seen on diet and nutrition in a while. And…a fun read.


For Warner, part of the explanation is an adaptation of psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s theory that people are brilliant at creating a narrative from minimal evidence. Kahneman calls the brain “a machine for jumping to conclusions”.

“We really struggle with uncertainty,” explains Warner. “We really want to be able to say: ‘Is coffee good or bad for us?’ Well, it’s not good or bad for you, it just is. And we have to accept that; that’s what science says. So your brain goes, ‘I don’t like that level of uncertainty.’ Certainty is really appealing for a lot of people and that’s what a lot of these people are selling – certainly at the darker end.”

Warner accepts he faces a tough challenge convincing people with his “boring” message. We live in the so-called “post-truth world”: a time of Brexit, Trump and “alternative facts”. Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman has even written that “Deliciously Ella is the precursor to Donald Trump”. In the book, Warner admits that he sometimes feel like “a drunk in a pub car park, raging and swinging at the world”.

End quote

…after scrolling down, I found this:


The Angry Chef on … five food myths


When people say, “I’m detoxing,” what they’re saying is, “I’m not eating for two days.” It’s just an extreme weight-loss diet, but you make up toxins that aren’t there and say, “I’m doing this to get rid of these toxins” – which your body will do naturally anyway. It creates fear around food.

Eat like a caveman

The paleo diet is just a low-carb diet given a pseudoscientific justification. We’ve been eating carbohydrates for a very long time, but they’ll just go, “Well, a caveman ate meat.” They have this idea from The Flintstones, but anyone who works in anthropology will say, “No, they’re obviously wrong.”

Home-cooked food is always best

It’s linked to wanting women to get back into the kitchen: “Natural home-cooked meals are the only way to be healthy … Things were better before women went to work.” Underlying the demonisation of convenience food, there is a lot of misogyny. “Things were better in our grandmother’s day” – were they?

Sugar is ‘toxic’

Sugar has an enormous amount of energy and is one of the most important building blocks for life. But they say, “It has no nutritional value.” That makes absolutely no sense.

Don’t eat processed food

People will have a ready-meal from Waitrose and say, “I’m busy.” Then they’ll say poor people should just stop buying fishfingers: “But I can go to M&S and buy my haddock goujons, that’s not bad for me, is it?”

End quote

This article, a compilation of research, is brilliant. One caveat, and we discussed this on Facebook,: the problem with hypertrophy materials is that very few athletes need it. But, it is usually the tail that wags the dog in the weightroom. YES, as you age you need to really focus on it, but for sports…probably never in many games and sports.


·      Low volume approaches do build muscle. Performing less than 5 weekly sets per muscle produced an average gain of 5.4%. So if you have a busy schedule and can’t spend hours at the gym, you can rest assured lower volume training will suffice for muscle growth.

·      However, higher volume approaches (minimum of 10 weekly sets per muscle) seem to be better if you’re wanting to maximise muscle growth. The higher volume studies (10+ sets) showed double the gains as performing less than 5 weekly sets per muscle (9.8% vs 5.4%).

·      It’s not black or white: You should have periods of high volume training and periods of low volume training. Example: 4-6 weeks of building up volume and then 2-3 weeks of reduced volume.

·      “Volume Threshold”: Everyone has an individual volume threshold – you should do enough so you’re progressing but not so much you risk injury or burning out. Build up your volume ‘capacity’ over time.

·      The more advanced you become the more volume you’re going to need to continue eliciting growth.

End quote

This point from this article was so “perfect,” I would offer this up for almost any decision you make it life. Try a summer school or summer camp at a college you want to go to. Spend time in a “field” before you take ten years being qualified to do it. Or, like I did, go to an Olympic lifting meet and see what it is all about before learning it. If you are lucky you will meet Dick Notmeyer.

Assuming you have some vacation time saved up, consider using it to do a sort of retirement dress rehearsal. Take a couple of weeks off work and spend that time doing the kinds of activities you plan to do once you retire. If you have a fabulous time, then you know you’re on the right track. On the other hand, if you’re bored out of your mind by the end of the week, you should seriously reconsider how you intend to spend the rest of your life. Maybe you should delay retirement a bit — or perhaps moving to Europe would be a good idea after all?

This is just a short piece from Brian Oldfield’s site. We toasted him several times this weekend. I always found this plan interesting. He didn’t keep a lot of things, but this is still fun to study.

This article is well written and makes a lot of good points about the sport of Olympic lifting. O lifting had a chance to clean up, but it can’t.


Many of you are getting angry as you read this because of the very clear fact that we’re not the only Olympic sport with a drug problem. Why is the IOC talking about kicking us out, but not sports like track and field or cycling? Both of these sports have a ton of athletes getting popped, just like us. So why are we getting hammered? There are a lot of answers to these questions, but the biggest one…as always…is money. I’m not going to do a detailed explanation of global sport politics in this article, but you can have faith in the understanding that much of these decisions are financially based.

Some of you are saying, “Screw the Olympics! Let them kick us out! We don’t need them!”

Trust me…we want to stay in the Olympics. Yes, the sport would survive if we got dropped. But it would be a blow that would cause the kind of damage we’d never fully recover from. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how fantastically special the Olympics are, and how much it does for our sport to be included.

End quote

As I was finishing up today, I got a ping that told me this article went live. I have a small piece in this compilation.

In the next few days, I will catch up on sleep and time zones and until then, let’s keep on lifting and learning.