Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 229

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 229

New from OTPbooks.com: Of course the Wandering Weights readers should get first look at Dan’s new book!

Salt Lake City hosted the National Masters Olympic lifting competition this past weekend and I spent some time with friends. I’m not yet cleared to Olympic lift; so I had to explain that a few times to people, but I think I would have done well in the competition.
Chip Conrad visited. We did a DVD together a few years ago and several workshops together since then. Although we come at the problem of strength training from different backgrounds, we seem to align on everything. He went snowshoeing and visited the Great Salt Lake which, on the tourist scale, is not bad for SLC.
Chip, like Tim Anderson, likes to go back to the basics of learning to stand, learning to crawl and learning to sit as the foundation of understanding strength training. He also adds that the flow between those movements is the key to understanding movement. I can’t disagree.
Olympic lifting is tough to watch now. We literally never know if a lift is good or bad anymore with the way the judges rule on “press outs.” The sessions I watched were difficult to cheer as you simply didn’t know where the officials were heading every rep. It’s not an advantage for the lifter, so I just don’t get the rule. Nothing sadder than seeing someone fist pumping after a personal record than seeing two reds and a white: no lift.
Lots of masters lifters have shoulder issues and many of the press outs were not elbow movement, but shoulder sponging. But, what do I know?
I finally had a chance to do some yard work. I put in an “eternal flame” in our front rock garden, though some insist on calling it “The Goblet of Fire.” It was a fun and easy project and now I have a semi-permanent party light in the front of my home.
And, I got some sun. For Utahns, the sun is that bright thing in the sky.
Let’s look around the web this week.
Listen, I loved this article, but I thought there was a bit of overkill here. If you do the math, you are doing self-improvement work, which I applaud, a lot of your day. I really should take that back as just not watching The Office reruns daily would free up several hours of my life.


1. Do a full-body workout with weights 3 times a week
Strength training has several benefits. It protects bone health, muscle mass, keeps you lean, increases energy levels, and prevents injuries.
I’ve been lifting weights since I was 16. It’s the only habit on this list that I’ve been doing for that long. Like many people who lift weights, I started with split routines.
That means you work out different muscle during every session. With most routines, you’re training a specific muscle only one time per week. It turns out that muscles need more stress to become stronger.
Ideally, you want to train all your muscles, 3 times a week. That’s why I’ve been doing full body workouts. It’s simple, practical, and it works.

2. Set 3-4 daily priorities
This is one of the best productivity strategies there is. We all know that focus is what brings us results.
No focus? No results. So how do you focus? By limiting your options and tasks. Elimination is the key.
Be very clear about what you want to achieve every single day, week, and year.
Every day, work on 3-4 essential (and small) tasks that will bring you closer to your weekly and yearly goals.

3. Read 60 minutes a day
I get it, you’re too busy to read. Or maybe you just don’t like to read.
Well, you’re not getting off that easily.
Reading is essential for your cognition. But you already knew that. How about this? Reading will also turn you into a better thinker and writer.
“But I still don’t like to read.” Well, there are many things in life we don’t like, but we still do them. Instead of telling yourself you don’t like to read, learn to enjoy it by doing it every day.
And like magic, one day, you’ll love to read.

End quote
I offer this article without comment, but take from it what you think.


When people come to me and ask me about the risks of steroids use, I know about them first hand, second hand, third hand, whatever. And the longer you stay on, the bigger the risk. And of course, the higher the doses you use, the higher the risk – just like any drug, let alone a stack of drugs.
Imagine if you took a whole bottle of extra strength Tylenol to ward off aches and pains and headaches, and you did it every single day. Could you rationalize this strategy? Sadly, this is what a lot of steroid users do.
The mental gymnastics these long-term steroid-using guys do when they experience health issues is beyond my comprehension. They’ll bend and twist and stretch facts and figures to any length just to be able to say things like, “Yeah, I had a cardiac issue, but the research says it wasn’t the steroids. It couldn’t be!”
It’s gotten to the point that, to me, using physique competition and health in the same sentence – or worse, using physique competition and “fitness” in the same sentence – is a contradiction in terms.
Worse yet, this industry’s members are complicit in pretending there are no major consequences at all to dumping massive physiological doses of drugs into their bodies. It’s not rational. In fact, to my mind, it’s downright creepy.
As usual, some of you will get it, some of you will not.

End quote
This article taught me a lot about the great era of LPs. I didn’t know how complex, how brilliant, the process of making an album demanded.


What makes a perfect record perfect?
Start with quality ingredients; there can’t be a weak moment, all the songs must have a gravity of their own, and they need to work together as a unit. Flow is incredibly important, how tracks progress, pacing, contrast between songs, continuities and breaks, the program’s sequence, the crucial flip between sides—which needs to feel urgent, not optional—the way that in the end the whole exceeds the sum of its parts. If it is indeed a perfect record, when the second side is over the listener should feel compelled without hesitation to go back to the beginning and start over.
The first half of the 1970s brought the apex of the album as a medium. A decade prior, labels had still seen albums as receptacles for already popular songs: take a couple of those, add filler, put them together, throw them in the oven, and bake. Or half bake, anyway. With watershed LPs like the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, the Beatles’ Rubber Soul and Revolver , the Kinks’ Face to Face, and the Mothers of Invention’s Freak Out!, albums were being treated seriously by the mid-’60s, and by the time Joni Mitchell recorded Blue, the long-playing record album was fully asserted as the true musician’s palette, rather than a clearinghouse for unrelated tracks. Once a collection of family snapshots, an album could now be a major motion picture; once a set of little windows, now it could be a wide-open door. By 1971, a record album was a drawbridge, opened and extended into a span from our fortresses of solitude to the other side of the moat, whatever mental waterway might encircle us.

End quote
I’m to the point with these kinds of articles that I want to say “we all know that.” But, this part of the article really made an impact on me.


I don’t want to over-idealise children. Not all children learn these lessons easily; bullies exist. But social play is by far the most effective venue for learning such lessons, and I suspect that children’s strong drive for such play came about, in evolution, primarily for that purpose. Anthropologists report an almost complete lack of bullying or domineering behaviour in hunter-gatherer bands. In fact, another label regularly used for such band societies is egalitarian societies. The bands have no chiefs, no hierarchical structure of authority; they share everything and co-operate intensively in order to survive; and they make decisions that affect the whole band through long discussions aimed at consensus. A major reason why they are able to do all that, I think, lies in the extraordinary amount of social play that they enjoy in childhood. The skills and values practised in such play are precisely those that are essential to life in a hunter-gatherer band. Today you might survive without those skills and values, but, I think, not happily.
So, play teaches social skills without which life would be miserable. But it also teaches how to manage intense, negative emotions such as fear and anger. Researchers who study animal play argue that one of play’s major purposes is to help the young learn how to cope emotionally (as well as physically) with emergencies. Juvenile mammals of many species deliberately and repeatedly put themselves into moderately dangerous, moderately frightening situations in their play. Depending on the species, they might leap awkwardly into the air making it difficult to land, run along the edges of cliffs, swing from tree branch to tree branch high enough that a fall would hurt, or play-fight in such a way that they take turns getting into vulnerable positions from which they must then escape.
Human children, when free, do the same thing, which makes their mothers nervous. They are dosing themselves with fear, aimed at reaching the highest level they can tolerate, and learning to cope with it. Such play must always be self-directed, never forced or even encouraged by an authority figure. It’s cruel to force children to experience fears they aren’t ready for, as gym teachers do when they require all children in a class to climb ropes to the rafters or swing from one stand to another. In those cases the results can be panic, embarrassment, and shame, which reduce rather than increase future tolerance for fear.

End quote
My schedule was almost blank this year, but now it is rapidly filling up. It’s funny how this happens. In a week or two, I will be discussing my new book here in WW.
Until then, keep on lifting and learning.

Properly racking the bar on your back for an effective squat is not always as simple as it seems. Here’s Boris Bachmann: Getting Under the Bar — Squat Stretches and Drills

The Sword in the Stone, Part 85
So, I pulled out my American version from 1939, the Putman text, and discovered a bunch of songs that are found, I imagine, in just this version. We have twenty Moorish maidens singing about chocolate, twenty old maids singing about toast and scones, twenty men singing about caviar and cigars, and twenty “charming negro minstrels” singing about ice cream cones (to the tune of “Way Down Upon the Swanee River”). I am beginning to think that no amount of redaction, rewriting and reediting could save this section.
Originally, my goal was to make all three versions of this available here, but the more I read the three versions (1938 British Original, 1939 American revision, and 1958 cut and paste of The Sword in the Stone with some chapters from The Book of Merlyn) the more I think that this particular part of the book just never seemed settled between White and the publishers.
For whatever reasons, they just kept changing versions. They dropped the songs, added the poetry, changed it from an ambush on cannibals to a melting house of food. Let’s continue.

Chapter XII
But Morgan le Fay, although in her fairy shape she could not stand iron, still had the griffin. She had cast it loose from its golden chain, by a spell, the moment her castle disappeared.
The outlaws were pleased with their success, and less careful than they should have been. They decided to take a detour round the place where they had seen the monster tied up, and marched away through the darksome trees without a thought of danger.
There was a noise like a railway train letting off its whistle, and, answering to it—riding on it like the voice of the Arabian Bird—Robin Wood’s horn of silver began to blow.
“Tone, ton, tavon, tontavon, tantontavon, tontantontavon,” went the horn. “Moot, troot, trourourout, troutourourout. Troot, troot. Tran, tran, tran, tran.”
Robin was blowing his hunting music and the ambushed archers swung round as the griffin charged. They set forward their left feet in the same movement and let fly such a shower of arrows as it had been snow.
The Wart saw the creature stagger in its tracks, a clothyard shaft sprouting from between the shoulder blades. He saw his own arrow fly wide, and eagerly bent to snatch another from his belt. He saw the rank of his companion archers sway as if by a preconcerted signal, when each man stooped for a second shaft. He heard the bowstrings twang again, the purr of the feathers in the air.

End quote
It’s odd to think that Robin tried to avoid the griffin here, but the griffin decided to make this a story. I studied longbowmen in the early 1980s. I had this idea of doing some advanced work on the importance of the longbow, but I really couldn’t get a lot of materials. The Welsh longbowmen were more devastating than the armored knight, but the class society of the period seems to have kept the knights in the historical spotlight. The Battles of Crecy and Agincourt both show the value of the longbow in battle.
The great speech in Henry V (William Shakespeare) is before Agincourt:
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

 End quote
You may also remember how White began this whole book with an explanation of the afternoon classes that Kay and Wart participated in:
In the afternoons the programme was: Mondays and Fridays, tilting and horsemanship; Tuesdays, hawking; Wednesdays, fencing; Thursdays, archery; Saturdays, the theory of chivalry, with the proper measures to be blown on all occasions, terminology of the chase and hunting etiquette.
I mentioned that these afternoon courses would also set up many of the stories of our book. Not long from now, we will see the importance of “hunting etiquette.
We have griffins to fight! Until next time.


While you’re waiting for Dan’s [fabulous] new book, click here and scroll for interesting stuff to read.


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