Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 247
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 247
Tiff and I snuck off to Disneyland with one of our Godchildren. We averaged 15,000 steps a day which got me thinking about walking and exercise in general. First, it didn’t seem like that much walking. The parks are designed to get you into a sensory overload and I don’t notice the walking, standing in line or price tags.
Second, when I walk with friends and family, and I’m sure this is a cliché factory, I don’t sense the miles passing by. I’ve been convinced for a long time, and you can read my adventures here with the Coyote Point KB club, that community is the key for many of us for continuing to work out and train.
Disneyland made changes to their stroller policy and it is a night and day change. It seems so much less crowded without boys in their teens being pushed by mommy. I should have mentioned to my daughters about dating people who were in strollers past the toddler age…don’t. The park also insists that these strollers are, well, “parked” appropriately when not in use.
I also bought some new art on this trip. We have some paintings from “Brave” and Tiff fought an interesting one from “Up.” In a sense, life goes from Brave to Up quite quickly. I’m in a room with Sherlock, Hemingway, Notre Dame football, Utah State, military, Harry Potter and wine art, so I like a rich tapestry of things where I work.
My friend, Brian Gwaltney has been working on a site, DanJohnWorkouts.com. He is slowly taking the most popular workouts from my writing and making them “user friendly” with the equipment you have available. Then, the site produces the workouts for you. I find it amazing and, over time, I hope to have a place that you can get workouts that work with you and your life. Check it out and let me know what you think.
My podcast with Pat this week went well. Enjoy: EP 310: Dan John on Overcoming Paralysis By Analysis – Chronicles of Strength.
I’m doing a workshop in Portland, Oregon, September 7th and 8th.
The video of the week: Go inside ‘La La Land’s’ big opening number. Opening sequence of La La Land rehearsal. I like this because it shows the importance of practice and in getting the details right early and often. I find it amazing.
This week in the Quadrants: Training in Quadrant Three
There is a great word in falconry: “Yarak.” Yarak is that intense vision that a raptor has when it is hungry and hunting. It is the pure focus on one thing…food!
Most of us are in Quadrant Three: we need reasonable amounts of strength, flexibility, mobility and every other “ity” you can think of here. And, really most of us only have to worry about one or two things when discussing health, fitness, longevity and performance (if you are in a sport or art). “Don’t smoke” and “Wear your seat belt” are the keys to keeping us around for a while statistically. For fat loss, prepare nutritious meals that are filling and lower in calories and get some form of movement in daily. Certainly, other things work but these are the keys.
In track and field, you can achieve world class status following Coach Maughan’s advice: do your event four days a week and lift three days a week. He added: “For eight years.” Most people miss that last part!
If you embarked on an eight-year journey to fat loss and accumulated 365 days a year (plus two extra days on the Leap Years) of some caloric deficit, “magic” would happen.
This is the key to QIII: the magic is the focus on one or two things done daily over a long period of time.
As we often joke, the problem with QIII is that the moment you begin this journey, your attention will be immediately taken by something new and shiny.
I know this from experience.
What was I talking about?
Success in QIII is oddly simple: find the one or two (at most three) keys to your goal and just keep coming back, day in and day out, and doing the basics, the fundamentals, the foundations.
It’s that simple: keep coming back to the basics. Ignore the squirrels!
Let’s look at the internet this week.
I just loved this article and the wonderful idea about serving food like this. I have encountered this on my travels (Munich and Poland), but it is a delightful way to honor guests.
In Hungary, where my husband András, our kids, and I travel to visit family each summer, a gathering—planned or impromptu—centers around a giant snacking board crowded with everything under the sun: sausages, Trappist cheeses, and loads of wax peppers, plus snappy cucumbers and spring onions sometimes plucked straight from the soil. It’s not a tidy, orderly cheese plate with fanned slices of fruit or tidy piles of berries. It is pure chaos, heft, and audacity—and endless in its generosity. Nearby on a plate, or sometimes still tucked in a bread bag, are stacks of buttered bread to pile it all on, plus eggs, mustard, sauerkraut, and dozens of kinds of pickles. The idea: guests can eat as little (or more likely as much) as they want in the way they want, with zero formality expected.
This might be the best “list” article ever written. I love how Eco argues that the list is the sign of civilization.
Almost 100 years ago, the President of the Bethlehem Steel company in the USA was Charles M Schwab. His company was struggling with inefficiency and Schwab didn’t know how to improve it, so he called in Ivy Lee, a well-known efficiency expert at the time.
Lee agreed to help the company, with his fee being whatever Schwab felt the results were worth after three months.
Lee’s advice to each member of the company’s management team was to write a to-do list at the end of each day, which consisted of the six most important tasks to be done the following day. Then they were told to organize the list based on the highest priority tasks.
The next day, the employes worked through the list from top to bottom, focusing on a single task at a time. At the end of the day, anything left on the list would get added to the top of tomorrow’s list when the employees once again planned for the following day.
As the story goes, the company was so much more efficient after three months that Schwab sent a check to Lee for $25,000.
In your own planning, you can take Lee’s advice for free and use the night before to plan your workday. Setting out the most important tasks you want to complete the following day will help you to avoid time-wasters and distractions by knowing what to work on immediately.
I read on a site an interesting thing. A famous name in the lifting world can’t make sense of my work. He was especially confused about my idea of Park Bench and Bus Bench training. He is a “balls to the wall” guy…and good for him. What I am trying to say here is simple: most of the time, get the work in; occasionally, hop on a focused plan. You can’t go 100% all the time, in fact, from my experience, everyone starts acting like a movie star pretending they are going 100% and never really get there.
Another way to look at a year-round approach to reasonable training is my “bus bench” and “park bench” workouts.
Bus bench workouts: You’re expecting results – on time! (Like you’re hoping the bus will be.)
Park bench workouts: Are an opportunity to explore and enjoy where you are in training.
It’s a simple concept. Like weights, benches have multiple uses. If you’re waiting to get to work sitting on a bus bench, you don’t just hope, you demand that the bus be on time. If it’s even a little late, it could ruin your day at work.
Park benches are built the exact same way, but when you sit in a park, you don’t expect or worry if Toby the squirrel comes by or not. You sit back and enjoy the process.
My good friend, Josh Hillis, believes that almost universally, people need four months of bus bench training a year, split into two-month periods (so, two two-month blocks of focused training a year).
The rest of the year should be park bench workouts where the training goals are simply to train. So, one could “X” out eight months a year and still follow a plan that could achieve just about any goal.
This is contrary to what most people think. There’s this idea that constant exhausting training is the only path to the goal. It’s not true – and it’s destroying many people’s journey to their goals.
So what’s a bus bench program? Well, as a graduate of the Velocity Diet – 28 days of basically no food, just six Metabolic Drive® Low Carb shakes a day – I would’ve punched Chris Shugart right in the mouth (in a kind, caring way) if I wouldn’t have sliced up my abs.
This is the epitome of the bus bench workouts: you expect, you demand, results.
This past January I did a program called Kettlebell Fever over four weeks, and one of the first week’s workouts included 245 squats and 315 swings. The author should be very happy I had excellent results.
Mass building programs and fat cutting programs are the poster children for bus bench workouts. Sadly, it’s also the problem, as most people shuffle from one new ebook or diet or fat loss secret to another in a blind stumble.
You have to attack fat loss as an all out war with every resource at your command. That’s hard to do for 365 days in a row. So, look at your calendar and the events you have coming up and decide when you’re going to bring all your weapons to bear on fat loss.
For mass building, there’s no question that high-rep squatting piles on muscle. I went back through my volumes of journals and I’ve never been able to do high rep squatting beyond six weeks before the wheels literally came off. Oh, I got big and lost a bunch of fat, but my joints just said “enough!” Once or twice a year, make mass building your goal and give it everything you have.
I make my living on park bench workouts. I spend a lot of time talking people off the ledge who think that every workout, every day, every year, should be defending Sparta against the Persians. I’m a strong believer that, for the bulk of your time, you need to just be sure to take care of the basics.
The basics? Well, first are you doing the basic human movements?
As I reviewed this week’s articles, it’s not a lot of links. It’s not a lot of links but the information is really good. Enjoy.
And…until next week, keep on lifting and learning.
For your quick access link, here’s Dan’s full OTP page, including all of his articles, books, lectures and videos, all in one place.
The Sword in the Stone, Part 101
It turned out that T. natrix was an affectionate and tender-hearted creature, for it now shed a small, clear tear-through it’s nose-and exclaimed indignantly, “What a shame? Fancy the poor little reptile crawling into its lonely hole for all those months with not a mother to remember, and not a single Dream to keep it company. I suppose they haven’t even taught you History?”
“I know some history,” said the Wart doubtfully. “About Alexander the Great, and that.”
“Some trashy modern stuff, no doubt,” said the snake. “How in earth you get through the winter I don’t know. Did anybody tell you about Atlantosaurus immanis and Ceratorsaurus nasicornis?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Well, I don’t know what to say.”
“Couldn’t you tell me about them yourself?”
“It certainly seems the kindest thing to do,” replied the snake, “and, by Aesculapius, I will do it, too, if it takes me all the afternoon. Why, I should hardly be able to sleep the whole winter, thinking of you shivering in that hole with nothing to muse about.”
“It would be very kind of you if you would.”
“And I will,” said the gentle reptile. “I will teach you the sort of thing that all snakes revolve in their small, slow, winter brains, what time the snow shuffles down outside, or for that matter in the summer too, as they snooze besides warm stones. Would you rather have History or Legends?”
“I think History,” said the Wart.
“History or Legends.” I like that line. I have a Master’s degree in history and spent much of my life teaching the subject, so I always liked Wart’s choice here. One of the things I always spiced more courses in history with was the legends of each nation. There is always “truth” in legends and stories…and even fairy tales.
Of course, finding the “history” of King Arthur is always an issue. Last year, I took a King Arthur course and I found, once again, that discovering the “truth” about Arthur is always an issue.
And, it doesn’t matter. I think that the Harry Potters and Warts often teach more truths than the history books…if those can be trusted. Thomas Cahill begins his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, by sharing a story about the King of the Lions. It’s a nice little story that basically gives us the point that the winners write the histories and that is so often true.
Legends and Epics often open the door a bit more into the human heart and brain (and soul). Natrix here is more compassionate that many homo sapiens I know.
The dinosaurs mentioned are going to be part of our story here. “Immanis” will be recognized by most in the word, immense. Think “huge.” This Atlanosaurus is now a contested dinosaur; did it exist or not is still up to debate (as I understand it). It is given the mantle of “dubious name.”
Ceratosaurus were a family of horned dinosaurs. Again, as I understand it, they are now considered plant eaters or perhaps fish eaters, but they will have a different role in our story. The science and study of dinosaurs has completely flipped in my lifeftime, so T. H. White earns a break here for any errors or omissions in dino-studies.
It’s time to snooze. Until next time.
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