Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 248
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 248
I went to the store to buy some stuff for soup. I stopped at the front as they had Halloween stuff for sale.
It’s August, right?
I guess this is the way things work now. Yoda said something to Luke Skywalker about always being somewhere else and it’s tough to fight against that when you see Halloween stuff up. I asked the checkout lady and she said they were taking “Back to School” stuff down.
School hasn’t started yet!
There is a lesson here. I’m not sure what it is!
I am prepping up for an RKC this weekend in Torrence. I do have an HKC next month in St. Louis plus a “Dan John” workshop the next day.
Don’t forget this Portland event coming up, too.
Brian Gwaltney has been working overtime on the new “workouts” site. Lots of WW members signed up for the free two-week trial. PDFs and articles are starting to pop up all over the site, too.
I had a nice chat with Pat Flynn. We continue to talk every Wednesday and this week we talked about hypertrophy and the KB Clean and Press.
Continuing on our series outlining “Easy Strength,” here you go: Quadrant Four
Years ago, an administrator asked me about improving speed for our sports teams. I shared some information written by Barry Ross, a brilliant sprint coach that seems to go against the norms of training. His sprinters deadlift then rest for five minutes. They only sprint with speed traps and when the quality drops, they stop. His sprinters do no slow work at all; they get “in shape” by doing a fifteen-minute walk three times a week for a month with only one rule: you always have to go a bit farther on each new attempt.
I wasn’t ready for the administrator’s reaction:
“This is it. We need to do this.”
He was extremely excited. He wanted us to drop all of our other strength and conditioning and just follow Ross’s program.
I didn’t know how to break it to him, so I told him softly:
“That is the stupidest thing we could do.”
Sprinting, especially the 100 meters, is all about one thing, one quality: how fast can you go? Sure, you have to react the starter’s pistol, but there is no need for agility nor do you worry about collisions.
As much as I love the various programs of Olympic lifters, powerlifters and sprinters, these athletes usually only worry about one quality. Yes, certainly there is a need for flexibility in the O lifts, but in today’s “rare air” of elite lifting, genetics takes care of most of the other qualities. You have to be born to lift and born in a place that supports lifting: genetics and geography.
If your national sport is sprinting, you might find a lot of sprinters. If O lifting dominates the sports coverage, you might find a lot of O lifters.
Moreover, if you clean and jerk 600 pounds with poor flexibility and bad technique, you still get to be the first person ever to do it.
QIV training is exciting to read about and amazing to watch. Few people seem to coach these sports well. Without question, some of the lessons we learn from QIV are worth learning.
But they don’t apply across the board to sports that demand dozens of qualities. There is more to basketball than blazing fast. There is more to soccer than snatches.
QIV is a one quality world at the highest levels humans can achieve. It’s not for everyone.
I may have given you too much from the internet this week, but I would rather do too much than too little. So, here we go:
Brad Stulberg, a writer for Outside, is quickly becoming one of my favorites. These next two articles are money.
The Equation That Will Make you Better at Everything
Stress + Rest = Growth. It’s as simple and as hard as that.
Since Peak Performance was published a little over a year ago, no theme from the book has garnered as much attention as that equation. And for good reason. The American College of Sports Medicine, the country’s premier body on the application of fitness science, has officially endorsed training in this manner to increase size and strength. Meanwhile, a 2015 study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology found that best endurance athletes in the world all have one thing in common: they oscillate between periods of stress and rest.
And yet the more feedback I get from readers, the more I see how that equation can be beneficially applied not just to fitness but to all areas of life. Below are a few of the most common examples, along with some practical advice on how to make what I’ve come to call the “Growth Equation” work for you.
Here is his latest:
Decades of research shows that just 30 minutes of moderate to intense daily physical activity lowers your risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, mental illness, and many types of cancer. While this can certainly mean training for a marathon or setting CrossFit records, it doesn’t have to. Hiking, gardening, and even fast-paced walking can potentially provide all the same benefits. Basically, anything that makes your breathing labored for a sustained period does the trick.
Another simple way to think about physical activity comes from physician and physiologist Michael Joyner. “Move your body every day,” he says. “Sometimes very hard.” Based on a new study published in the online journal Scientific Reports, I’d add: try to do at least some of it outside. Researchers have found that people who spend at least two hours outdoors in green spaces every week have better mental and physical health than those who don’t.
The other aspect of physical health is nutrition. Here again, the best advice is the simplest: ignore diets and supplements and, instead, just aim to cut out junk like processed and fried foods. A study that was just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reviewed data from hundreds of clinical trials involving nearly a million people and found that 16 of the most popular supplements and eight of the most popular diets have virtually no benefit—and some cause harm.
This section of the article is what really caught my attention. As some of you may know, I did prison ministry (administration) for a while and learned a lot about the reality of this corner of life. This is simply brilliant…sadly, this man faced 18 years of death row wrongfully.
The Books that Got Me Through 18 Years of Wrongful Incarceration
Early November, 1994: Settling in to death row.
I kept to myself for the first week. But even on death row, the burden’s a little lighter when it’s shared. I knew that I needed friends if I wanted to survive.
“Look out Three Row, 10 Cell,” a voice called out.
“What’s up?” I said, both surprised and a little worried. The voice was coming from a cell below mine on the second tier. Someone had recently busted out the TV in front of my cell, and I could see, in the broken glass of the screen, a shadowy reflection of his cell. He introduced himself as Andre.
That was unusual; most of the other guys I’d later meet went by nicknames or initials. I met plenty of AJs, DWs, Chili Bricks, and Chi-Towns. I had grown suspicious of friendly prisoners in the lead-up to my trial. But death row was different. The state didn’t have anything to gain. I wanted to trust Andre.
“Say, Graves, why don’t you come out to the rec with us tomorrow?” I had been turning down rec time in favor of plugging in my headphones. Andre seemed to be looking out for me. He knew that an hour outside the cage could push back against the creeping insanity that charged toward so many like a beach-seeking tidal wave. I told him I’d come. He kept talking.
“The trusty gonna bring you a bag down there later on,” he said. What the hell will they put in this bag? I thought to myself. But death row inmates were a hospitable sort, I’d come to find. They had exclusive knowledge of the terror I’d be facing in those first few weeks. The inmates would often send bags to newcomers, a collective housewarming gift. It was a tradition the inmates there took seriously. I wouldn’t have any money in my commissary account for a while, so I couldn’t buy pens, paper, soap, stamps, and those damn shower shoes. When the trusty stopped by my cell an hour later, I was sure I’d find those items in the brown bag he held. I was wrong. The trusty had brought a book gifted my way from whichever inmate lived in Two Row, 10 Cell. I didn’t have to wait long to meet my generous benefactor.
“My name’s Rudd!” he yelled up from the cell directly below. “They call me Young Lion. Check out that book and holler at me if you need anything.”
I pulled the book from the bag and gave it a once-over. The pages were crinkled. The first page was stained. I glanced at the cover, which was in good shape considering the book had lived its own life in a cage. A beautiful black woman with a proud afro stared past me from the blood-red backdrop of the book’s cover art. It was the autobiography of Angela Davis. During my early days on death row, it took me some time before I was able to really engross myself in the book, but I soon came to understand why Young Lion had sent it my way. “We know the road to freedom is stalked by death,” she wrote. I wasn’t quite sure if I found those words comforting or haunting, but I surely identified with them.
I spent a lot of time reading books during my incarceration. In general, books that gave me fresh insight into life are the ones I admired most, but I read a lot of law books too.
I just finished rewatching the BBC Brother Cadfael series and I found this article to really sum why I loved the books. “Get cozy” with this.
THE B-LIST: Get cozy with Brother Cadfael, a rare Benedictine
1. THE VIEW OF RELIGION/MORALITY. Thanks to its unorthodox hero, the “Chronicles” is equal parts secular and sacred. Peters doesn’t sugarcoat the problems of the Catholic Church: Some monks are intolerant and puritanical to the point of cruelty; several stories center around priests who abuse their positions, or address how the church has often turned its back on the needy or exploited the desperate. But she also shows how religion and faith can guide, protect and help others. Cadfael cheerfully acknowledges that he’s broken plenty of the church’s rules (in book six he meets the half-Saracen son he didn’t know he left behind in the Holy Land) but knows he’s still a good person regardless. Because of his wordly experience, he’s a more forgiving man than some of his fellow Brothers, and he never blindly adheres to the law if it will harm the innocent. He’s a hero who truly practices what Jesus Christ preached and has no patience for hypocrisy in the church. His moral compass and earthy kindness make him a character anyone can love and relate to, regardless of your religious background — case in point, the fact that this Buddhist has read every one of his stories at least 10 times, and will probably read them 10 times more.
A new author gives us some more insights on medieval mysteries here.
History, per Thomas Carlyle, is the essence of innumerable biographies. It’s the way we should learn it if we are to understand the lessons it has to teach and recognize the warnings of dark times coming. Past eras are filled with our ancestors, our families. They suffered from enslavement, genocide, starvation, disease, and cruel deaths. They also fell in love, played with their children, and sighed with pleasure over a beautiful summer morning. Human nature has remained the same, despite differences in fashion, languages, and the common symbols on which to base logic. Writing medieval mysteries has not only let me tell what happened in England in the late thirteenth century, but, as E. L. Doctorow said, what it felt like. I have tried to intrigue readers with an era far more complex than we may have been taught, show how people have always rationalized things that run against conventional wisdom, and point out that, even in benighted times, there are always those who act with compassion, courage, and reason.
Kettlebells aren’t new. The Soviet track and field manuals had KB exercises for every event. I saw the Soviet hammer throws at CSM tossing these odd things around the football field (I’m sure the lawn guys were happy with this) and I tried to do many of them with medicine balls throughout my career. This article, from 1998, was a turning point in my coaching.
In terms of the training that I observed, the general impression I got was that there were two schools of thought being used by the two coaches. Klaus Bartonietz, who works with Boris Henry (90.44m) and Andreas Linden (86+m) had his athletes throw a great deal during the times I saw them train, as many as 50 throws in a session off a run-up at estimated intensities of 70 to 80%. When I saw them in mid-April, Boris was just ending a cycle of throwing that had him doing this type of session every other day for two weeks and included heavy (up to 1200 grams) and light javelins (600 grams) as well as the regular implements. While he commented on how much he had thrown and felt tired and flat, on his last throw of the last workout he threw a 600g javelin that hit a fence that was over 102 meters away! This gives an indication of the type of concentration an athlete of this level has: to be able to ignore fatigue and allow the body to go on “auto-pilot” and be correct in technique so you can throw an 600g javelin cleanly and with speed to fly over 100 meters. This was still early in the year for this intensity of throwing training, and there was still quite a volume of weight training and special power development exercises being done in these two-a-day training sessions. A great deal of attention was also given to nutrition and diet, good food with low fat levels, and massage therapy to help recovery from the high levels of training. The other group of athletes that I saw train under Bernd Bierwisch and includes Raymond Hecht (92.60m) and Peter Blank (88+m). They were spending their sessions doing a great deal of power development work, both general and specific. While I only saw three training sessions with them, they did no javelin throwing, but did a great amount of jumping, weight lifting and crossover work, both pulling and being pulled with bungee cords (Fig. 1).
But I’ll never forget the nearly three-hour session of measured throws with a 16-lb. kettlebell (a shot with a handle welded on) featuring a dozen different throws. Some were the traditional throws: backward over head or forward from a squat, while others I have never seen before, like reverse discus style with each hand, and even slinging it with your foot hooked in the handle! Words can’t do some of these throws justice (Figs. 2, 3 & 4). Record were kept on the best of three efforts, so this was obviously a regular part of their training. This shows me that power development is a big part of their training, but I can’t give an honest insight as to how much throwing they did at this time of year as both Peter and Raymond were recently recovered from injuries or surgery.
Finally, a fun article about one of my main meals when I go to the “Islands.”
There are also competing theories about who created the pairing of, as Churchill called them, “good companions.” Most trace it back to the early 1860s, when Joseph Malins, a Jewish immigrant, opened up a fish and chips shop in London. Others point to John Lee, a man living outside of Manchester, who ran a “chipped potato” restaurant that sold the beloved pairing.
Whether the winning combo was first slapped together by John or Joseph or someone else entirely, it soon became everybody’s dish. British natives and immigrants alike began slathering their cod in batter and frying up husky chips. Industrialization in the 19th and early 20th centuries launched the fish dish to even greater heights, as it became a favorite for factory and mill workers in London and beyond. And while its religious connotations are hidden today, many admirers remain devoted to the beloved international, national dish.
Well, that should be enough. Sign up for some of the events, log in to the workout site and keep reading cozy murder mysteries. And…until next time, keep 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 102
“History,” murmured the snake, drawing a film over its eyes, because it could not close them. “History,” it repeated softly. “Ah.”
“I wonder,” said the snake after a minute. Then it gave a gentle sigh and gave it up.
“You must forget about us,” it said absently. “There is no History in me or you. We are individuals too small for our great sea to care for. That is why I don’t have any special name, but only T. natrix like all my forefathers before me. There is a little history in T. natrix, but none in me.”
It stopped, baffled by its own feelings, and then began again in its slow voice.
“There is one thing which all we snake remember, child. Except for two people, we are the oldest in the world. Look at that ridiculous H. sapiens barbatus which gave me such a fright just now. It was born when? Ten or twenty thousand years ago. What do the tens and twenties matters? The earth cooled. The sea covered it…”
We are falling asleep here. Soon, Wart will be deeply asleep and he will have a hard time waking up.
“Baffled by its own feelings.”
It’s important to read this carefully. T. natrix is teaching Wart a life lesson about humanity’s exaggerated vision of self. “The bearded human,” Merlyn, is part of this young pack.
White straddles the fence on Genesis One’s vision of creation and evolution. We will find both here as we continue along. As a scripture scholar, I have never had an issue with evolution and the way was paved by Saint Augustine.
T. natrix is going to give us a quick vision of the history of the world while also reminding Wart of the brief role of humans.
I love this line: “There is a little history in T. natrix, but none in me.” It such a humble statement. As we move into the snake’s dreams, remember that this chapter, as well as the upcoming chapter on the owl, are often considered some of White’s best writing.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
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