Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 162

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 162

Qigong is one of the most layered, ancient and powerful practices used to bring about massive health benefits and recovery efforts. Chris Holder tells us how it’s still relevant in your training or coaching today…. [CONTINUE READING]


Christmas season has begun for me. The holidays are full of cheer…and food and drink. I have also enjoyed a few College Bowl Games and I have accurately predicted a few: sometimes teams just don’t feel like playing.

It’s interesting to watch it happen. These young men don’t realize that they will dream, relive and remember these moments for the rest of their lives…yet “in the moment,” they might not care.

Oregon had a player NOT play to save himself for the NFL and he was on the sidelines cheering his teammates on. I don’t care what he does or doesn’t do, but why did the staff have him around? I think the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” surrounding him had to be a distraction. I have sat down with a lot of graduating seniors and they tell me that they wish they could redo the past year…exactly as I told them a year before this discussion.

I know it sounds like a bad yoga instructor phrase, but the best “present” is living in the present.  I’m striving to make the next few weeks special by not missing the “little things” that make Christmas and New Year’s so special.

Around the internet this week, I found myself bumping into a lot of stuff I had seen before…it seems like this is the time of the year to “re-wrap” things.

Tom Furman nailed it with this post. “ARROGANCE!” I live in Utah, where late is just a way of life for many people…and we will often be cleaning up after a large meal or party when some people arrive. Oh…I start on time.


Punctuality.[as a form of non verbal communication] This is a sore point for me. My parent, grandparents, sibling and extended family were on time. They managed to dig coal, work in mills and win World Wars. I was taught that it is a judge of character and respect. Dr. Phil once told an audience member who asked, why they were always late. He said, “ARROGANCE”. [Now insert your Strawman and Ad Hominem for Dr. Phil] The reason being is that person assumes they are the center of attention and when they arrive it’s OK to start. Even when they make a mistake and arrive early, they will circle the block, get coffee, go to the ATM, etc so as not to be there on time. Since this time I’ve heard another supportive reason for chronically late people. They overestimate their skill sets. They plan a meeting every hour for eight hours. Then they fail and don’t reflect on the overwhelming evidence of their mouth writing checks their ass can’t cash.

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Pat Flynn has been on a roll as of late. This simple point here is well worth remembering.


Generalism (as it applies to fitness) is about maximizing preparedness for a wide variety of physical tasks. It’s a both/and approach to exercise, never either/or.

(Strength AND mobility. Power AND endurance. Performance AND aesthetics. And so on, and so forth.)

In this sense, a generalist approach to exercise programming should split training days between “fitness skills” rather than body parts or movement patterns.

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As coaches, we have to ask “why.” But, this article does a nice job of discussing reductionist thinking.


“Ordering” the sciences is uncontroversial, but it’s questionable whether the “ground-floor sciences”—particle physics, in particular—are really deeper or more all-embracing than the others. In one sense, they clearly are. As the physicist Steven Weinberg explains in Dreams of a Final Theory (1992), all the explanatory arrows point downward. If, like a stubborn toddler, you keep asking “Why, why, why?” you end up at the particle level. Scientists are nearly all reductionists in Weinberg’s sense. They feel confident that everything, however complex, is a solution to Schrödinger’s equation—the basic equation that governs how a system behaves, according to quantum theory.

But a reductionist explanation isn’t always the best or most useful one. “More is different,” as the physicist Philip Anderson said. Everything, no matter how intricate—tropical forests, hurricanes, human societies—is made of atoms, and obeys the laws of quantum physics. But even if those equations could be solved for immense aggregates of atoms, they wouldn’t offer the enlightenment that scientists seek.

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I liked this article. Now, I don’t really study master athletes as they tend to be an experiment of one…which is fine, of course…but this article made a lot of sense.


Patton does not run a lot of miles. But he is adamant about supplementing his running with a full complement of strength work and cross training. Each of the past few years he has tacked a bit more onto the schedule.

“This year I’ve added a morning session of a lot of squats, push-ups and burpees, and a lot of stretching,” he said. “I spend 30 to 40 minutes every morning doing those. And I’m on a three-day rotation with my afternoon workouts—one day of running, one day of weight training, and one day of cross training.”

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It’s a rare day I don’t find something brilliant on this site, but this article, and maybe just this single idea, can change lives.


What is the Rule of 3?

While it’s a concept that’s been discussed in various blogs and books, author Chris Bailey defines it thusly: “At the beginning of each day, before you start working, decide what three things you want to accomplish by the end of the day. Do the same at the start of every week.”

It’s a simple, yet game-changing concept. While it’s actually fairly easy to execute, below I’ll take you through the reason it’s so important to do, as well as some quick tips for utilizing the Rule of 3 to its maximum potential.

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I have tried the caffeine nap and it works. At discus camp, due to multiple workouts, dorm life, humidity and just lots of work, I discovered this “secret” to work.


Adenosine is a byproduct of brain activity, and when it accumulates at high enough levels, it plugs into these receptors and makes you feel tired. But with the caffeine blocking the receptors, it’s unable to do so. As Stephen R. Braun writes in Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine, it’s like “putting a block of wood under one of the brain’s primary brake pedals.”

“it takes about 20 minutes for caffeine to hit your brain”

Now, caffeine doesn’t block every single adenosine receptor — it competes with adenosine for these spots, filling some, but not others.

But here’s the trick of the coffee nap: sleeping naturally clears adenosine from the brain. If you nap for longer than 15 or 20 minutes, your brain is more likely to enter deeper stages of sleep that take some time to recover from. But shorter naps generally don’t lead to this so-called “sleep inertia” — and it takes around 20 minutes for the caffeine to get through your gastrointestinal tract and bloodstream anyway.

So if you nap for those 20 minutes, you’ll reduce your levels of adenosine just in time for the caffeine to kick in. The caffeine will have less adenosine to compete with, and will thereby be even more effective in making you alert.

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So, take a nap, but be on time.

Until next week, let’s keep lifting and learning.


Lorimer Moseley shares an interesting anecdote about phantom pain that helps bring understanding to the complexity of pain.

The Sword in the Stone



They swam along, Merlyn occasionally advising him to put his back into it when he forgot, and the strange under-water world began to dawn about them, deliciously cool after the heat of the upper air. The great forests of weed were delicately traced, and in them there hung motionless many schools of sticklebacks learning to do their physical exercises in strict unison. On the word One they all lay still; at Two they faced about; at Three they all shot together into a cone, whose apex was a bit of something to eat. Water snails slowly ambled about on the stems of the lilies or under their leaves, while fresh-water mussels lay on the bottom doing nothing in particular. Their flesh was salmon pink, like a very good strawberry cream ice. The small congregations of perch—it was a strange thing, but all the bigger fish seemed to have hidden themselves—had delicate circulations, so that they blushed or grew pale as easily as a lady in a Victorian novel. Only their blush was a deep olive colour, and it was the blush of rage. Whenever Merlyn and his companion swam past them, they raised their spiky dorsal fins in menace, and only lowered them when they saw that Merlyn was a tench. The black bars on their sides made them look as if they had been grilled, and these also could become darker or lighter. Once the two travellers passed under a swan. The white creature floated above like a Zeppelin, all indistinct except what was under the water. The latter part was quite clear and showed that the swan was floating slightly on one side with one leg cocked over its back.

“Look,” said the Wart, “it is the poor swan with the deformed leg. It can only paddle with one leg, and the other side of it is hunched.”

“Nonsense,” said the swan snappily, putting its head into the water and giving them a frown with its black nares. “Swans like to rest in this position, and you can keep your fishy sympathy to yourself, so there.” It continued to glare at them from up above, like a white snake suddenly let down through the ceiling, until they were out of sight.

“You swim along,” said the tench, “as if there was nothing to be afraid of in the world. Don’t you see that this place is exactly like the forest which you had to come through to find me?”

“Is it?”

“Look over there.”

The Wart looked, and at first saw nothing. Then he saw a small translucent shape hanging motionless near the surface. It was just outside the shadow of a water-lily and was evidently enjoying the sun. It was a baby pike, absolutely rigid and probably asleep, and it looked like a pipe stem or a sea-horse stretched out flat. It would be a brigand when it grew up.

“I am taking you to see one of those,” said the tench, “the Emperor of these purlieus. As a doctor I have immunity, and I dare say he will respect you as my companion as well—but you had better keep your tail bent in case he is feeling tyrannical.”

“Is he the King of the Moat?”

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Even as a child, this quote rang true with me:

“”You swim along,” said the tench, “as if there was nothing to be afraid of in the world. Don’t you see that this place is exactly like the forest which you had to come through to find me?””

As I write this, I am just back from Korea. It’s an amazing place with great people and great food. But, I had an issue:

Every single person now is walking with their head down staring at their phone.

Now, this is true everywhere, but as a guest in another country, I didn’t want to slam into people. So, I hopped and popped out of the way in streets, halls and malls.

In American airports, pods of girls walk mindlessly through the narrow halls, side by side, staring down at texts, pics and whatever. We all move out of their way…well, most of the time…and they remain serenely clueless about the dangers of this world.

This level of “Cluelessness” is dangerous: the world still has maniacs and murderers and lack of awareness can literally lead you to your doom.

I’m not being an old codger yelling at clouds here: I am genuinely concerned. Yes, there are advantages to these devices: we see almost in real time police brutality, natural disasters and terrorist activities. At some level, this instant knowledge has value.

But, as I might be completely aware of what is going on half a world away, this same device muffles me from the realities of “here and now.”

Yoda warned Luke Skywalker about this:

“Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless.”

“Never his mind on where he was.” That’s it exactly. My friends over at The Art of Manliness noted the same issue and shared an insight from the Jason Bourne series:


Many of the resources out there on situational awareness say it can be cultivated by generally keeping tabs on your surroundings — “checking your six” and “keeping your back to the wall.”

This definition isn’t wrong. That’s exactly what situational awareness is: knowing what’s going on by scanning your environment. But I always found this explanation lacking. What exactly am I looking for? How do I know if I’m paying attention to the right things? Are there behaviors or warning signs of an imminent threat that I should know about?

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I’ve walked alone in Cairo and Jerusalem in the wee hours of the morning and wasn’t afraid of anything. Yet, my “Spider Senses” will get ramped up in certain parts of Salt Lake City and San Francisco. As I was told in my criminology classes in junior college: ALWAYS trust your instincts.

But, if your instincts are muffled by kittens scratching puppies, inappropriate pictures or Facebook, you may be leaving yourself open to getting hit by a bus, attacked or falling into a well.

Merlyn’s warning to Wart is still true. He is about to meet the most dangerous creature in the moat and is woefully unready for it.

Next time, we meet “might.”


Sure, there’s a science of coaching . . . But for Dan, the art of coaching is what gets results:
The art of making people think what they need to do is what they want to do.

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