Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 196

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 196

New this week on OTPbooks.com — Gray Cook: Chop and Lift Basics: From PNF patterns to sport-specific exercise, Gray Cook covers the chop and lift basics to get us working two arms against one core.


I had a delightful time in San Diego. We went to the Padres-Phillies game and spent some time with my nephew. He is a Navy JAG and I just don’t see him often enough.

One of the things about summer, at least the most recent ones, is that I don’t spend enough time in the pool anymore. When I was young, summer was the pool. I would go up to the pool at South City high almost every day and splash and sunburn until we heard the lifeguards scream at us to “get out of the pool.”

I’m sure there is something magical about the pool and health. I always feel better after swimming and splashing. So, in San Diego, I got in my pool time. And, as I have been thinking about since then, it’s the first time this summer.

When I go to Ireland, I swim every day at Black Rock, just a bit North of Galway. Some days, we just jump in and come right back out, but I love our time in the water there. I thought the water in Half Moon Bay was cold, but HMB is balmy compared to the Galway Bay.

I tend to link vacation and water, summer with swimming. The problem is that I don’t seem to make time for swimming anymore. I’ve had this funny thought lately about a lot of life-related matters: it’s not that I can’t DO this or that anymore, I choose to do a bunch of other things and NOT do something like swimming or reading a good book.

Before this summer ends, I am going to watch fewer netshows and reruns and focus on this marvelous thing we call “August.”

I found a few things on the internet this week that got me thinking. I’m a fan of problem-solving. This article from a high school football coach highlights the issues with small programs and small teams. So, they overcame them!


One concern we had going in to our first year with the system was the ability to install our entire package while having players spend time on both sides of the ball.  In other words, can our players remember their plays?  Using the Tony Franklin System wristband technology, our problems were erased.  Players have an individualized wristband insert, so that only their assignment is on the wristband.  This allowed us to not only install our entire package but we were able to interchange personnel and positions through the course of a game if injury would occur.  For instance, in one game our starting Strong Safety, was able to fill in on offense at X, H, and F positions, without ever having to learn what each player does on each route.

Another issue was conditioning.  With most of our squad playing both offense and defense, would we be able to effectively run a “No-Huddle” offense and still be strong in the Fourth Quarter?  Our practice tempo enabled us to practice for a full two hours without having to “waste” 15 minutes at the beginning of practice on stretching and 15 minutes at the end of practice running conditioning drills.  We used our “Settle and Noose” and “Pat and Go” drills to warm-up and still coach the fundamentals and individual techniques needed in our passing game.  Our up-tempo style of play is even sped-up during practice, so we “condition” while running our ROA Drills along with our Team Scripts.

The last four years turning the program around has been very rewarding for our staff.  Once we “sold-out” to the spread two seasons ago, we really started to have some fun, which is spelled “W-I-N” in the world of football coaching.  Is the “spread offense” the answer for you?  Is it the best offense to run?  I don’t know.  It was for us, because it is what got our staff the most excited.  We have other offenses in our state that are very successful “option” teams, while there is plenty teams lighting up scoreboards running the Wing-T.  I think we all agree that the offense that works best is the one that you and your staff can get excited about enough that you don’t get bored coaching the small things.

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Walter is one of the regulars at the Q and A forum. One thing I like about him is that he sees problems and solves them. I find this rare in this world. This article is a great example.


So, rather than relegate myself to training indoors, where I have hardly any room to train the way I want (and some things I can’t do indoors), I decided to change the micro-climate of my backyard.

I used salvaged materials. Metal from a scrapyard cost about $100 and the billboard vinyl about $35. The grommet machine was around $50. But it is something I can use for many other projects.

Always invest in tools and materials and the time it takes to learn how to use them properly.

I feel much the same way about training. Not only learn about different ways to train but actually try it out long enough to determine the effect on your own mind and body.

Otherwise, how do you really know that back-squats work for you or perhaps front squats are much better for you and your individual needs, past injuries, skeletal make-up and goals?

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These biographical weight loss stories are getting a lot of traction. Often, they are just silly, but I thought this one was really good.


My best advice would be that weight loss comes down to one key factor: eating less calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight. It doesn’t matter if the diet is low-carb, high carb, high-protein, etc. Calories in vs. calories out is the main factor when losing weight. Sure, you can use low carb, or eat clean, but it all comes down to the number of calories per day you are taking in. The most important thing is finding a diet that works for you, that allows you to eat the foods you would like to eat, and is something you can stick to long-term.

Also, remember, this journey is not a race but a marathon. If you stumble and make a mistake along the way, you have the ability to fix things, and get back on the path. It’s only by sticking to the journey that you will eventually reach the end. And trust me, it’s well worth it.

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This article really made me laugh…or cry. We have been discussing how our beautiful kitchen, living room and dining room are always mess. I read this and discovered that I am not alone! As always, any and all decisions have consequences downstream.


The “labor-saving” elements of open floor plans are in some ways labor-creating. A large, single, continuous space is harder to get and keep clean. Messes and smells are no longer isolated, but can be easily tracked throughout the entire first floor of a large home. Less house in general means less house to clean.

Not separating cooking, living, and dining is also an acoustical nightmare, especially in today’s style of interior design, which avoids carpet, curtains, and other soft goods that absorb sound. This is especially true of homes that do not have separate formal living and dining spaces but one single continuous space. Nothing is more maddening than trying to read or watch television in the tall-ceilinged living room with someone banging pots and pans or using the food processor 10 feet away in the open kitchen.

The best thing about the closed floor plan? It offers what it has always offered: aural, olfactory, and spatial privacy. Humans have always needed the sense of comfort and refuge that defined rooms provide.

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I’m off to Perform Better again this week. I might see some of you in Long Beach. Until next week, keep on lifting and learning.


What can heart rate really tell you about fitness? Mike Prevost recognizes heart rate reserve as an easy assessment for high intensity work and gives you the numbers you need to put it to work today.

The Sword in the Stone, Part 52


“Oh, shut up,” said the Wart. “I’m sleepy.”

Kay said, “Wake up, wake up, you beast. Where have you been?”

“I shan’t tell you.”

He was sure that Kay would not believe the story, but only call him a liar and get angrier than ever.

“If you don’t tell me I shall kill you.”

“You will not, then.”

“I will.”

The Wart turned over on his other side.

“Beast,” said Kay. He took a fold of the Wart’s arm between the nails of first finger and thumb, and pinched for all he was worth. Wart kicked like a salmon which has been suddenly hooked, and hit him wildly in the eye. In a trice they were out of bed, pale and indignant, looking rather like skinned rabbits—for in those days, nobody wore clothes in bed—and whirling their arms like windmills in the effort to do each other a mischief.

Kay was older and bigger than the Wart, so that he was bound to win in the end, but he was more nervous and imaginative. He could imagine the effect of each blow that was aimed at him, and this weakened his defence. Wart was only an infuriated hurricane.

“Leave me alone, can’t you?” And all the while he did not leave Kay alone, but with head down and swinging arms made it impossible for Kay to do as he was bid. They punched entirely at each other’s faces.

Kay had a longer reach and a heavier fist. He straightened his arm, more in self-defence than in anything else, and the Wart smacked his own eye upon the end of it. The sky became a noisy and shocking black, streaked outward with a blaze of meteors. The Wart began to sob and pant. He managed to get in a blow upon his opponent’s nose, and this began to bleed. Kay lowered his defence, turned his back on the Wart, and said in a cold, snuffling, reproachful voice, “Now it’s bleeding.” The battle was over.

Kay lay on the stone floor, bubbling blood out of his nose, and the Wart, with a black eye, fetched the enormous key out of the door to put under Kay’s back. Neither of them spoke.

Presently Kay turned over on his face and began to sob. He said, “Merlyn does everything for you, but he never does anything for me.”

End quote

Chapter eight and chapter nine both begin with our friend, Wart, getting on the wrong side of everyone. In chapter eight, the weather puts everyone into a foul mood and we are basically starting the next day here in chapter nine.

I do know that brothers fight. I have experienced this myself many times. This line, “Merlyn does everything for you, but he never does anything for me,” gives us an insight into the problem here: Kay is being left out, left behind.

Our adventure begins soon, but I never really appreciated this chapter very much until I slowed down to enjoy the setting. We are going to learn about Merlyn’s magic and its shortcomings. The section will be funny and there will be a good lesson about cursing. Merlyn’s conversation with Archimedes concerning a nap is laugh-out-loud funny for me…I swear I have had the same conversation.

So, and I am giving it away, not much happens here in chapter nine. But, this is an important transition piece from the magic of Merlyn to the magic of the Old People.

I wouldn’t recommend that someone pick up The Sword in the Stone and just read chapter nine. This chapter provides us another pause in the action and some additional background material. As readers, we are ready to understand more about White’s vision of Merlyn and his magic.

So, it might take us a bit to march through chapter nine, but it is worth it.

Until next time.


What can heart rate really tell you about fitness? Mike Prevost recognizes heart rate reserve as an easy assessment for high intensity work and gives you the numbers you need to put it to work today.

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