Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 182

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 182

On OTPbooks.com this week: Sue Falsone’s two-part article on how she sets up her return-to-play process for injured athletes. [CONTINUE READING]


I had to hire a handyman…again. I ordered this very nice piece of outdoor furniture and when I opened the box and saw the 70 screws and the toolkit needed to put this all together,… well, I paused.

It’s a good life lesson. While my handyman is putting this together (in under one hour), I can read, type, work, train, sauna, nap or enjoy life. If I decide to put this together, it will take days and it won’t last very long.

I’m not an idiot; I just realize that I know what I know. It’s a lesson I learned teaching high school economics: when you figure out what you make an hour and you can hire someone for “less” to do this job or errand, hire out.

When it comes to coaching the discus, you want me to be part of your team. When it comes to doing a kitchen remodel, make sure I am out of the country.

When I work with people, I often find that their problems are caused by clutter. I have a book on my shelf that claims that decluttering leads to fat loss and the more I work with people, the more “truth” I see in that book.

Now, I also understand that not everyone can just hand out a check or pop out the credit card. But, the principle is important here: sometimes, focusing on the skills you are good at and “farming out” the things you are not good at might save you a lot of craziness.

I’m not against the value of honest, hard work. But, I think that smart work is fair better.

Speaking of quality, when you hear this interview, you will note the focus on quality over mindless quantity.

Around the internet this week, I found a number of longer articles that are nice overviews of health, fitness and diet. This article highlights the importance of thinking in food choices.


For example, removing visual temptations might be more effective than relying on conscious willpower.

So don’t have unhealthy snacks out on the kitchen counter – put a fruit bowl or healthy snacks in reach instead.

Don’t sit down with a whole packet of biscuits in front of the television, put the number you plan to eat on a plate and take that through instead.

Dr Harper also encourages substitution behaviours – swapping to lower calorie alternatives of favourite foods rather than trying to banish them all together.

Opt for diet versions of soft drinks, for example. And reducing portion sizes can also be more effective than trying to cut out that ritual afternoon tea with a chocolate biscuit (or is that just us?).

“People don’t tend to notice a difference when their portion sizes are reduced by 5-10%,” Dr Harper says.

There is a tendency to eat without thinking about it, so following the serving suggestions on food packets and using a smaller plate when dishing up dinner can prevent someone absent-mindedly chomping through excess calories.

End quote

This article was very simple. Again, it focuses on small changes. I think most of us would agree that small changes done consistently is better than hitting yourself with a sledgehammer.


The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my quest for lifestyle change, is that sweeping changes are not the solution. Instead, it’s about making small adjustments to your routine and sticking with them until they become habits.

I challenge you — as I challenge myself every day — to find small ways to make positive changes to your lifestyle. Can you add five minutes to your cardio routine? Can you modify a strength-training exercise to incorporate the need for balance or core strength? Can you eat a new vegetable or re-try one you’ve shunned in the past? Can you add some protein to your afternoon snack?

Small changes add up over time, but that’s true whether the changes are moving you in a positive or negative direction. It’s up to you to make sure you’re on path to better health.

End quote
I really enjoyed this article by Lou Schuler. I am a big fan of Art De Vany and there are a few quotes here worth memorizing.


Maybe that’s why the paleo movement has gone off in some strange directions, chasing fads like super-high-fat diets fueled by coconut oil (which De Vany has called “an evolutionary non-sequitur”). Or maybe it was inevitable that the movement’s early adapters would grow bored with Paleo 1.0 and search for new ways to make themselves uncomfortable. And market forces being what they are, it was just a matter of time before entrepreneurs would look at paleo’s popularity and see a market hungry (literally hungry) for everything from supplements to desserts to bacon-based baby food, for some reason.

There’s also an astounding amount of technology in the conversation. Greenfield, for example, showed pictures of himself wired up with electrodes (and in one case, a nasal probe) as he described experiments in esoteric brain-enhancing tech like transcranial direct stimulation and photobiomodulation, which he calls “Viagra for your entire body.”

It was entertaining as hell, but I found myself returning to the same question I’d asked about all the paleo-branded flours and bars on sale at the event: If the idea is to emulate our pre-agricultural ancestors, what’s with all the electrodes?

De Vany, for one, isn’t having any of it. “I don’t measure anything,” he told me. “I go by how I look and how I feel. I’m the unquantified self.”

End quote

I enjoyed not only writing this article, but I liked how we applied so many things into such a simple template.


“For the next 40 workouts, pick five lifts. Do them every workout. Never miss a rep, in fact, never even get close to struggling. Go as light as you need to go and don’t go over 10 reps in a workout for any of the movements. It’s going to seem easy. When the weights feel light, add more weight.”

This, of course, began the template for the most successful competitive run of my athletic career. Training in the weightroom for as little as 15 minutes a day allowed me to break records in the discus, Highland Games, Olympic lifting and Weight Pentathlon.

Of course, few followed this simple formula and I have written a book, several blogs and answered hundreds of questions about it. I addressed all of this in this blog.

I have given people my journals to help them understand the 40 days. It’s not complicated. I have my workouts in the book and on various forums, but it really just comes down to picking the lifts and going to work.

As we have studied and pursued it deeper, we discovered that the Three Verticals “always” work:

Overhead Press
Pull Up

The “stroke” for each movement is about the same and each is simple enough to do daily. In addition, the Ab Wheel is the perfect complement to these movements.

With the 30/30 protocol, we can do Easy Strength (ES) as part of the training.

End quote

This week’s readings are a pretty good foundation for most of the stuff I try to preach in my workshops. Reviewing these, I came away with a sense of reasonableness with each of these pieces. And, reasonableness tends to keep us improving…and going…for a long time.

So, until next week, keep on lifting and learning.


New release on OTPbooks.com: Sue Falsone’s Bridging the Gap from Rehab to Performance [CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATION]


The Sword in the Stone

TSITS 39, Chapter 8, Part Two


“I can’t think of anything to do.”

“You think that education is something which ought to be done when all else fails?” inquired Merlyn nastily, for he was in a bad mood too.

“Well,” said the Wart, “some sorts of education.”

“Mine?” asked the magician with flashing eyes.

“Oh, Merlyn,” exclaimed the Wart without answering, “please give me something to do, because I feel so miserable. Nobody wants me for anything today, and I just don’t know how to be sensible. It rains so.”

“You should learn to knit.”

“Could I go out and be something, a fish or anything like that?”

“You have been a fish,” said Merlyn. “Nobody with any go needs to do their education twice.”

“Well, could I be a bird?”

“If you knew anything at all,” said Merlyn, “which you do not, you would know that a bird does not like to fly in the rain because it wets its feathers and makes them stick together. They get bedraggled.”

“I could be a hawk in Hob’s mews,” said the Wart stoutly. “Then I should be indoors and not get wet.”

“That is pretty ambitious,” said the old man, “to want to be a hawk.”

“You know you will turn me into a hawk when you want to,” shouted the Wart, “but you like to plague me because it is wet. I won’t have it.”


“Please,” said the Wart, “dear Merlyn, turn me into a hawk. If you don’t do that I shall do something. I don’t know what.”

Merlyn put down his knitting and looked at his pupil over the top of his spectacles. “My boy,” he said, “you shall be everything in the world, animal, vegetable, mineral, protista or virus, for all I care—before I have done with you—but you will have to trust to my superior backsight. The time is not yet ripe for you to be a hawk—for one thing Hob is still in the mews feeding them—so you may as well sit down for the moment and learn to be a human being.”

“Very well,” said the Wart, “if that’s a go.” And he sat down.

After several minutes he said, “Is one allowed to speak as a human being, or does the thing about being seen and not heard have to apply?”

“Everybody can speak.”

“That’s good, because I wanted to mention that you have been knitting your beard into the night-cap for three rows now.”

“Well, I’ll be….”

“I should think the best thing would be to cut off the end of your beard. Shall I fetch some scissors?”

“Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“I wanted to see what would happen.”

“You run a grave risk, my boy,” said the magician, “of being turned into a piece of bread, and toasted.”

End quote

I was reading a small piece on how both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien did not care for the Disney movies. Snow White, of course, features members of the Dwarf family (I don’t want to get into the “Dwarves/Dwarfs” controversy, so I will write in a way that Ernest Hemingway would despise) and these fine people are key elements of the Hobbit stories. And, of course, seven of them appear in Snow White.

None appear in The Sword in the Stone.

My knock on the Disney animation of The Sword in the Stone, besides the completely worthless scene with the squirrels, is the attempt to turn Merlyn into some kind of absent-minded professor. White’s Merlyn has his moments, of course, and I like the wit in this scene. But, you don’t cross Merlyn unless you wish to be turned into a piece of bread.

And toasted.

I find this little conversation one of the gems of our book. Wart’s line “Is one allowed to speak as a human being” is a perfect launch to him telling Merlyn that he has knitted his beard into his night cap.

“Knitted,” by the way, is an important word for those of us in athletics and fitness. It is the actual root word of “Fit.” To be fit is, traditionally, to be knitted. I tell people this at workshops all the time and many ignore the point.

One of things Merlyn is striving to do for Wart is to get him fit/knitted for the crown. He is exposed the creatures that believe that Might is Right (the pike), others that are in rigid military ranks (our story now with the hawks) and others that teach him history (snake and badger).

Our author, T. H. White, tried to learn classic falconry and he wrote a book about it, The Goshawk. It is clear that White had an undying love for dogs and a bit of an obsession with hawks. There is something magical about this chapter and I continue to return to this part of the book over and over again.

It is pretty ambitious to want to be a hawk, we learn from Merlyn. We are about to meet a collection of falcons and hawks and each of them has a personality. I think, in some ways, this is our best chapter. But, that might be something we might want to review down the line.

Just remember:

Never Let Go.


New on OTPbooks.com: Dan’s 30/30 for 30 Programming Q&A [CLICK TO READ]

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