Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 254

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 254

Well, I got behind a bit this week with midterms at the college and a trip to St. Louis. I loved teaching the HKC and the “Dan John” event on Sunday, but I noticed that all my email accounts were pretty full this fine morning.
Many of my students seem to wait until the midterm to discover they have a lot of missing work and not a lot of time to address this fact. I see this in fitness, health and performance too.
I used to use Lou Holtz’s term “DIN.”
“Do It Now!!!”
I later decided, after talking with Robb Wolf and Pat Flynn, to break these concepts into something more appropriate:
Shark Habits
Pirate Maps
In 40 Years with a Whistle, I go over this in detail in the last section of the book. For me, I break up my DIN into literally “just do it now and clear the plate” and “ongoing DINs” like proper sleep hygiene and veggie intake. Here is my current Pirate Map, the “ongoing DIN:”
Pirate Map for Dan John

  1. Sleep ritual: Make coffee for the morning. Supplements. Make tomorrow’s To-Do List (From Robb Wolf)
  2. Wake up and be grateful. (Pat Flynn)
  3. One Minute Meditation (App on iPhone)
  4. Daily work on Original Strength (Tim Anderson); A-B-A, B-A-B training at the gym. Other work as appropriate (Ben Fogel)
  5. Eat eight different veggies a day. (Josh Hillis)

Voyage Home to Live Laugh Love

  1. Each afternoon, one article from OpenCulture.com
  2. Ice bath, sauna, Migun bed or ride the bike
  3. Read for 15 minutes, NOT on lifting!
  4.  Write or Draw Creatively (Quadrants!)

Those last four are something I am working on. I want to put some time aside daily to improve some other aspects of my life that I seem to have been “missing.” The first five are printed and taped to my computer and I never seem to miss them.
As a student, your long-term goal should be a degree, sure. However, you should also be blessed with an education balanced with knowledge, experience and practical application. You can’t “cram” knowledge overnight. Well, I don’t think it’s possible, but some of my students seem to try to do this!
I have some events coming up. I am very excited about two events in Belfast, but I only have the information for one now.
I will also be teaming up with Ole and the gang at Strong4Life in Denmark in October.
Pat Flynn and I had a podcast last week, but there was some kind of issue. I will post TWO podcasts for you next week. Sorry about that.
This week on DanJohnWorkouts.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 3 of the podcast.
We need more questions, so keep them coming. Send your questions to podcast@danjohnworkouts.com.
We’ve also been uploading a lot more videos to the YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to it so you catch them all.
New essays posted this week:
Preparing for the RKC
We’ve also added a new Bus Bench program for the RKC that follows the essay. We had some requests for KB programs, so here’s the first.
As always, we’re listening and constantly trying to make the site better for you.
Thank you to everyone who has been using the site, sent in feedback, and shared it with others. Dan and I really appreciate it.
– Brian
I’m still working on more “Easy Strength” materials. I have been working on “Realistic Reps” for a while and I rediscovered this piece I wrote a while ago. I will tweak it for ES, but here you go:

If you use the word “sets,” “reps, or even practice “Progressive Resistance,” you need to thank a brave WWII doctor name Thomas DeLorme. In 1979, I was told that no one has ever proved to find a better training protocol than DeLorme’s famous three sets of ten (or eight).
Terry and Jan Todd, along with Jason Shurley, have written extensively on DeLormes’s influence. They summed his work as:
“In the latter years of the Second World War, the number of American servicemen who had sustained orthopedic injuries was overwhelming the nation’s military hospitals. The backlog of patients was partly because of the sheer number of soldiers involved in the war effort, but it was exacerbated by rehabilitation protocols that required lengthy recovery times. In 1945, an army physician, Dr. Thomas L. DeLorme experimented with a new rehabilitation technique. DeLorme had used strength training to recover from a childhood illness and reasoned that such heavy training would prove beneficial for the injured servicemen. DeLorme’s new protocol consisted of multiple sets of resistance exercises in which patients lifted their 10-repetition maximum. DeLorme refined the system by 1948 to include 3 progressively heavier sets of 10 repetitions, and he referred to the program as “Progressive Resistance Exercise.” The high-intensity program was markedly more successful than older protocols and was quickly adopted as the standard in both military and civilian physical therapy programs. In 1951, DeLorme published the text Progressive Resistance Exercise: Technic and Medical Application, which was widely read by other physicians and medical professionals. The book, and DeLorme’s academic publications on progressive resistance exercise, helped legitimize strength training and played a key role in laying the foundation for the science of resistance exercise.”
Oddly, today, many of us forget DeLorme…or have never heard of him and his pioneering work. Of course, most of us don’t know a lot about the history of lifting.
Most of us know the story of Milo.
Milo was a wrestler and multi-time Olympic champion in the original Games. His father-in-law was Pythagoras, who made life easier with his idea that “The sum of the areas of the two squares on the legs (a and b) equals the area of the square on the hypotenuse (c).” Milo also consumed, we are told, a daily amount of twenty pounds of meat, twenty pounds of bread and eighteen pints of wine. But, that is not why we remember Milo. It was his idea to pick up a bull.
The story goes that each day he would walk out to the pasture and pick up a certain calf and then carry it around for a while. The next day, he would repeat this until the bull was full grown.
Oddly, when I tell people what they are missing in most training programs, Loaded Carries, I think I am trying to remind people that Milo CARRIED the bull.
At some level, we all know Milo was right. In 1945, DeLorme wrote a paper, “Restoration of muscle power by heavy-resistance exercises,” published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.
In 300 cases, he found “splendid response in muscle hypertrophy and power, together with symptomatic relief,” by following this method of 7-10 sets of 10 reps per set for a total of 70-100 repetitions each workout. The weight would start off light for the first set and then get progressively heavier until a 10RM load was achieved. Over time, things changed in terms of volume. By 1948 and 1951, the authors noted:
“Further experience has shown this figure to be too high and that in most cases a total of 20 to 30 repetitions is far more satisfactory. Fewer repetitions permit exercise with heavier muscle loads, thereby yielding greater and more rapid muscle hypertrophy.”
A series of articles and books followed where they recommend 3 sets of 10 reps using a progressively heavier weight in the following manner:
Set #1 – 50% of 10 repetition maximum
Set #2 – 75% of 10 repetition maximum (Later, many started just doing 5 reps here)
Set #3 – 100% of 10 repetition maximum
In this scheme, only the last set is performed to the limit. The first two sets can be considered warm-ups. In their 1951 book, Progressive Resistance Exercise, DeLorme & Watkins state: “By advocating three sets of exercise of 10 repetitions per set, the likelihood that other combinations might be just as effective is not overlooked… Incredible as it may seem, many athletes have developed great power and yet have never employed more than five repetitions in a single exercise.”
Today, there are still those who don’t believe that we can build power (and bulk) through low reps (reps of 1,2,3,4, or 5), but simply viewing elite strongmen, powerlifters and Olympic lifters certainly should convince many of this fact.
I have come back to this method time and again with my personal and professional work. Although I don’t have access to machines often, something like this might be considering:
Overhead Press (Military Press; one arm variations are always fine)
Vertical Pull (whatever is appropriate for you shoulder health and abilities
Horizonal Press (Bench is certainly fine, but “know yourself”)
Horizontal Pull (any member of the row family, done strictly without “bouncing”)
Squat (any variation with barbell or kettlebells. These are difficult)
Deadlift variation (as appropriate for higher reps. I prefer Rack DLs, many like the Trap Bar DL)
I would suggest ab wheel rollouts, one set of ten or two sets of five, for abdominal work. That’s it.
It usually takes a week or two to get the loads dialed in. I often recommend doing beginning sets two and three one minute after the preceding set. The accumulated fatigue of the light and medium set puts some restraints on the last set.
At some level, I have always thought there was value in this idea of pre-fatigue in hypertrophy work.
The last set, after a short build-up period to dial in the reps, should be done for as many quality reps as possible. Those reps can give insights about the next workout.
Bryan Mann from the University of Missouri did an interesting study on using the DeLorme and Watkins protocol. His insight on a standardized progression was very helpful, as well as was the fact that he proved that the old school methods still work. You can use the following general template to adjust the load for future training sessions.
Based on the number of reps completed for set number three, reduce, maintain or increase as follows—
4–5 reps: Reduce the weight by 5 to 10 pounds next time
6–8 reps: Maintain weight or reduce by 5 pounds next time
8–12 reps: Maintain weight next time
12–15 reps: Increase the weight by 5 to 10 pounds next time
15+ reps: Increase the weight by 10 to 15 pounds next time
If your client only gets to 0–3 reps on the heavy set, you either overshot the weight estimate, or there’s something else going on. When the numbers for each of the third sets put the client in different categories (for example, 7, 9, 12, and 15), you may need to make an educated estimate for the next session.
If you decide to continue doing this for up to six weeks, you may discover that you cannot continue to progress with load. You might find the need for a light day (with loads you can easily finish), a medium day (with loads that feel good throughout and you get the ten reps comfortably, but with some focus) and the heavy day where you continue to strive for more load. In my experience, doing M-L-H, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (or whatever works out for you) seems the best plan.
To continue progressing, you would probably want to move to the Reg Park workouts of five sets of five, utilizing the M-L-F as you continue, but that is for another discussion and another day.
Don’t overlook the classic, Old School methods. They work.
End “Easy Strength”
I didn’t really have a lot of time this week to search the internet, but I like what I found.
There are some points in this first article I either don’t do or mildly disagree, but overall this is fantastic. I used to do that 30-gram protein thing and it just made me ravenous. YMMV. I have found that using Brain.FM, drinking coffee, getting up early and just doing the work is the best thing I have ever done.
Caveat: I do most of my work from home, so, yes, I am wearing my Under Armor Performance Sleepwear while I type. I roll out of bed and work. Then, I clean up, work out and eat a veggie heavy breakfast. This article might be more “real” for many of our readers.


Lately, I’ve been waking up at 5AM, driving to my school and walking to the library I work in. While walking from my car to the library, I drink a 250 calorie plant-based protein shake (approximately 30 grams of protein).
Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast. Similarly, Tim Ferriss, in his book, The 4-Hour Body, also recommends 30 grams of protein 30 minutes after awaking.
Protein-rich foods keep you full longer than other foods because they take longer to leave the stomach. Also, protein keeps blood-sugar levels steady, which prevent spikes in hunger.
I get to the library and all set-up by around 5:30AM. I spend a few minutes in prayer and meditation, followed by a 5–10 minute session in my journal.
The purpose of this journal session is get clarity and focus for my day. I write down my big picture goals and my objectives for that particular day. I then write down anything that comes to my mind. Often, it relates to people I need to contact, or ideas related to a project I’m working on. I purposefully keep this journal session short and focused.
By 5:45, I’m set to work on whatever project I’m working on, whether that’s writing a book or an article, working on a research paper for my doctoral research, creating an online course, etc.
Starting work this early may seem crazy to you, but I’ve been shocked by how easy it is to work for 2–5 hours straight without distractions. My mind is laser at this time of day. And I don’t rely on any stimulants at all.
Between 9–11AM, my mind is ready for a break, so that’s when I do my workout. Research confirms that you work out better with food in your system. Consequently, my workouts are now a lot more productive and powerful than they were when I was exercising immediately following sleep.
After the workout, which is a great mental break, you should be fine to work a few more hours, if needed.
If your 3–5 hours before your workout were focused, you could probably be done for the day.

End quote
I’m not surprised that a 75-year study can be summarized in a sentence. A two-week study with stoned college freshman might take a book to sum. The deeper and wider often brings us to the simple.


“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

End quote
There is a new wave of “anti-science” sweeping through the world. Our gang of intrepid crime fighters were trying to teach us that realism and rationalism has its proper place.


It’s important, then, that Scooby Doo episodes do not end on a moralistic theme, but a realistic one. Indeed, every episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? actively pursues and valorizes realism, ending on a note of comfort and explanation—strange, considering its protagonists are four detective-teenagers and an anthromorphic pet. But then again, the protagonists of Scooby Doo being so young and cool (the teenagers) as well as classically cartoonish (the talking dog) allows Scooby Doo to speak on multiple levels to its young audiences. It’s the lack of realism in Scooby Doo that makes its general insistence on being realistic all the more inviting. But in another, timelier sense, Scooby Doo offered a hyper-realistic sensibility. The show is, in its roundabout, farcical way, an indictment of adult-world capitalism, not too far out of line with the general principles of the counterculture movement that was concurrently beating through the country.
Reading Scooby Doo as being thoroughly invested in rationality and realism alongside its anti-capitalist sentiments offers a perspective on what work the show was doing in 1969, at the end of an increasingly turbulent decade, one month after Woodstock. For one thing, the complicated and messy political, civil, and social dynamics of the decade were not as easily unraveled as, let’s say, the Mummy disguise from season 1, episode 12—the 60s notably presented problems that could not be solved easily or decisively, with villains that could not be so plainly identified. But the lessons of Scooby Doo do not contradict that real capitalistic problems are harder to solve than its own cut-and-dry mysteries, so much as recommend a mindset to deal with impossible problems of any kind.

End quote
I have a few more articles, but these are enough. The egg issue (“good or bad?”) has resurfaced again (eat them) and I found some piece on sleep OR exercise (why can’t we do both?) that I will save for next week.
Until then, 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 107
“He killed her, of course,” concluded the serpent with sudden brevity, turning its own head away. “She was a reptile of my race.”

 “I am sorry,” said the Wart. “I don’t know what to say.”
“There is nothing, dear,” said the patient serpent, “that you can say. Perhaps I had better tell you a Legend or Dream, to change the subject.”
The Wart said, “I don’t think I want to hear it, if it is sad.”
“There is nothing sad,” said the other, “except History. All these things are only something to muse upon while you are hibernating.”
“Is it a good thing to muse?”
“Well, it passes the time. Even H. sapiens has museums, you know: and as far as that goes, he has put the chalky bones of Atlantosaurus in many of them, along with the scales of georgius sanctus.”
“If you knew a fairly cheerful Legend,” said the Wart, “I think I could bear to hear that.”
“Ridiculous newt,” said T. natrix affectionately-for Newt seemed to be one of his pet words. “I suppose I shall have to tell you a Legend of my dangerous cousins, for whom I suffer.”
“Is it cheerful?”
“Well, it just goes on to the end, you know, and then it stops-as Legends do.”

End quote
“Well, it just goes on to the end, you know, and then it stops-as Legends do.”
I have always loved this section. Of course, if you know your literature, especially children’s classics, you know a line something like this:
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Go. Until you come to the end. That’s not only good storytelling; it’s a nice way to look at life.
“Then stop.”

It’s a rare week—and last night I got notice of another friend’s death—that I don’t see, read or get a call that one of my friends or competitors (often friends) died. Almost always with former athletes, the news is too soon. Some of us make choices that are tough on longevity but good for short-term performance.
And, one day, we all stop. I keep pushing ahead on my story, but I also know the end is probably nearer than far.
I have used the quote, “There is nothing sad,” said the other, “except History,” as part of my teaching tools since the day I first read this sentence. It is profound…and something we should dream on.
Until next time.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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