Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 197

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 197

New this week on OTPbooks.com — Thom Plummer: Please, Stop Obsessing—Career. Money. Relationships . . . Stop obsessing about what you are going to do with your life. Live it. Now.


This past weekend, I had a great time at the Perform Better Summit in Long Beach. The PB circuit finished for the year and I will miss it. I sat in on nine sessions…front row. I love the lectures and hands-on sessions.

Greg Rose and Sue Falsone both had excellent sessions on, basically, pain and performance. It’s a topic I don’t know enough about and it helps to have a basic understanding of my role in the continuum from injured to elite performance. I had a chance to spend quality time at Lee Burton and Gray Cook’s new cert…as well as Thomas Plummer’s workshop, too. Bret Contreras’s hands-on and talk on the hip thrust has me excited to train again. I also sat in Robert Yang’s ketogenic talk and I am literally blanking as I type about the other sessions.

I need to review my notes. One thing I like to do after a workshop weekend is to wait a few days, then go over the notes and make a “To Do” list from all the speakers or presentations. I have already bought one book recommended by Greg Rose and I have some new equipment on the way thanks to Bret. But, I also need to go back and pull out those ‘gems’ that I will forget in a few days or weeks if I don’t attend to it.

It’s nice to see loaded carries, sled work and carries “mainstream” again. There is nothing new to this: Coach Ralph Maughan explained sled work to a track and field convention in 1962 as a supplement to hurdling and throwing. His great discus thrower, Glenn Passey, attributed his throwing to farmer walks (the real kind) and hay tossing to allow him to win the Nationals.

I’m not sure why they disappeared, except that when bodybuilding became the steno symbol (simply, the mental “shorthand” that we use to sum a concept) for weightlifting, things that didn’t provide a pump or “burn” seemed to fall by the roadside. And, as I have noticed and noted before, we really can’t make a ton of money telling people to “Pick this up and walk it over there and back.”

Well, at least I can’t figure out how to make money off of it!

I’m off to Norway and Ireland this next weekend. I have some workshops and a wedding and I am visiting an old friend in Thurles, the home of Gaelic sports. Congrats, by the way, to Limerick for winning the All Ireland Hurling…but The Tribesmen, Galway, gave it their best.

The interwebz have been quiet recently, but I found this article to tie in well with what many of our Perform Better speakers highlight about training.


Good posture is important for balance because by standing up straight, you center your weight over your feet, giving you a stable base of support whether your still or moving.  However, your body can compensate if your posture is less than ideal (mine did for years) but this can lead to wasted energy, injuries and compromised breathing.

Nobody has time for that.

Furthermore, if you’re still not convinced about the role of posture and balance when it comes to health, have you ever seen an older adult hunched forward while shuffling his or her feet because of the fear of falling?

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I really found this fascinating. Grip strength as an indicator of diabetes?


“This study gives multiple snapshots over time that provide more insight about grip strength and future risks for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Gordon said. “Low grip strength could be used to predict cardiometabolic risk and to identify adolescents who would benefit from lifestyle changes to improve muscular fitness.”

While it’s common to encourage healthy eating and aerobic exercise for children, these findings suggest that it’s also important to promote muscle strength, he added.

“Given that grip strength is a simple indicator for all-cause death, cardiovascular death and cardiovascular disease in adults, future research is certainly warranted to better understand how weakness during childhood tracks into and throughout adulthood,” Gordon said.

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This little ancient piece of my work I think still has merit.


I will include my standard list of “Peaking Secrets” that I use with my people:

First, realize that you are powerless NOT to do something stupid. So, accept that. Embrace it. Now, promise yourself the following: The Goal is to Keep the Goal the Goal. Anything you add to your plan that is NOT part of the goal is going to be the problem. Don’t do it.
Pieces of paper are cheaper than surgeries. Write out your goals, a specific date to achieve them, and a general plan from what has worked in the past and what has worked for others. This is 99% of success in planning.
Grab a calendar and make a few big red letter “X’s” on dates where you know things are coming up. Now, don’t be surprised when things come up. Next, take a yellow highlighter and highlight the days with “issues.” It could be something as simple as school finals or appointments for the dog.

Steal other people’s paths. There is tons of information available for anything you are attempting. Success leaves tracks: follow them.

Assemble the tools, supplies and information needed for correctives. If you are going to use a foam roller in this program, get a foam roller. Allow about ten percent of your training time to restorative work, correctives and any kind of voodoo that you think helps.

If you are involved in a sport, 80% of your training time should be doing the activity. For most, ten percent of your time should be on developing strength, another ten on correctives, but the bulk should be on the specific activity.

For most situations, the day before competition should be an 80% day (hard to define, but most people have a feel for that), but TWO days before should be 60%, perhaps just a warm up. The “Two Day Lag Rule” has survived the test of time. If the event is really important completely rest three days before and perhaps four days before, if possible. Don’t try to stuff weeks, months or years of work in the last week.

The airline industry was made safer because of checklists. Use this simple formula for success: make checklists and follow them. If you need them for your warmup or mobility work or whatever, make them. I am reminded of the football team that showed up to a game without footballs. I remember because I was the head coach. Use your lists to free up space in your brain to focus on the work at hand.

Evaluate any program or system every two weeks. Make small course corrections when you are still basically on target.

Be sure (!!!) to plan something for the successful completion of the program, season or system. Look “after” the finish line, so to speak. Answer “Now what?” long before you come to that point.

I find this list of ten to be as helpful in storing nervous energy as any fancy, computerized printout.

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I liked this article a lot. I’m not surprised that number one on the list for successful people is gratitude. This whole article is the basic, simple things you may have been told (or read) many times, but it always the simple things.


1. They practice gratitude

Instead of focusing on their burdens or what they don’t have, mentally strong people take stock of all the great things they do have. There are several ways to practice gratitude, but the simplest way to start is just by thinking of three things you’re grateful for each day. You can also start a gratitude journal to jot down all the good things you experienced throughout the day or adopt gratitude rituals, such as saying grace before a meal.

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There is a lot to think about with this week’s selections. Nothing fancy here, but this is a pretty good mix of simple wisdom. Until next week, let’s keep lifting and learning.


New this week on OTPbooks.com — Thom Plummer: Please, Stop Obsessing:Career. Money. Relationships . . . Stop obsessing about what you are going to do with your life. Live it. Now.

The Sword in the Stone, Part 53


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.”

At this the Wart felt he had been a beast. He dressed himself in silence and hurried off to find the magician.

On the way he was caught by his nurse.

“Ah, you little helot,” exclaimed she, shaking him by the arm, “you’ve been a-battling again with that there Master Kay. Look at your poor eye, I do declare. It’s enough to baffle the college of sturgeons.”

“It is all right,” said the Wart.

“No, that it isn’t, my poppet,” cried his nurse, getting crosser and showing signs of slapping him. “Come now, how did you do it, before I have you whipped?”

“I knocked it on the bedpost,” said the Wart sullenly.

The old nurse immediately folded him to her broad bosom, patted him on the back, and said, “There, there, my dowsabel. It’s the same story Sir Ector told me when I caught him with a blue eye, gone forty years. Nothing like a good family for sticking to a good lie. There, my innocent, you come along of me to the kitchen and we’ll slap a nice bit of steak across him in no time. But you hadn’t ought to fight with people bigger than yourself.”

“It is all right,” said the Wart again, disgusted by the fuss, but fate was bent on punishing him, and the old lady was inexorable. It took him half an hour to escape, and then only at the price of carrying with him a juicy piece of raw beef which he was supposed to hold over his eye.

“Nothing like a mealy rump for drawing out the humours,” his nurse had said, and the cook had answered:

“Us han’t seen a sweeter bit of raw since Easter, no, nor a bloodier.”

“I will keep the foul thing for Balan,” thought the Wart, resuming his search for his tutor.

End quote

I find this little selection delightful. The nurse actually reminds me of my mom: she always seemed on the edge of wanting to hit me or hug me. The nurse’s response to the story of the bedpost just makes this chapter “nice:” people in White’s book are multi-layered humans with real emotions.

The nurse uses language like one of my relatives (name withheld). Whatever word comes along is just fine. I’m sure she means “hellion” versus “helot,” as Wart isn’t a Spartan slave. “Poppet” is a word of endearment…as well as mythical creatures that live in closets and under beds. I’m sure the “College of Sturgeons” is a fine place for caviar.

Putting raw meat on black eyes was still being done in my youth. Western medicine used the four “humours” as the foundation of studying imbalances well into the past century. Blood, yellow bile, Black bile and phlegm all needed to be in balance. It’s funny to go to health food stores and walk through the books that discuss ancient Indian and Chinese medicines and their emphasis on balancing food, spices and all the rest, but we tend to forget the Western medicine tradition here.

By the way, for men, donating blood is an excellent way to keep the cardiovascular system from getting too “iron rich.” I donate blood to not only help the community, but to keep my hematocrit levels at the appropriate levels. So, yes, bloodletting has some value; just don’t drain the patient!

It is marvelous to see that Wart still wants to thank Balan for helping him during the ordeal with the hawks. As I said, this is a simple chapter and next week Merlyn will find some kindness in his heart for both Wart and Kay.

Until then.


New this week on OTPbooks.com — Thom Plummer: Please, Stop Obsessing:Career. Money. Relationships . . . Stop obsessing about what you are going to do with your life. Live it. Now.


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