Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 259
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 259
I’m sitting in the top floor of our complex staring out at low tide in Galway Bay. I finally made it here after stops in Denmark and Belfast. I met up with two fellow readers of WW last night, Paul and Aonghus, and we had a delightful time.
The area we stay in is just outside the city. We are close to the swimming area called Black Rock, but still a simple walk to the bustling city of Galway. Generally, I get my 10,000 steps (or whatever) in every day, as well as an ice bath in the bay.
This is also the time when I don’t lift. I do the Glute Loop and some other stuff, but no lifting. It oddly doesn’t make things better; I think it makes things worse! My joints seem to crave the load and the pulling. But every year after I ease up for the three to four weeks, I catch right back up and seem to heal over some of the minor stuff.
Galway is an amazing place. It blends history and modern culture seamlessly. Toss in great rugby and wonderful people and you will soon understand why I love it here.
I’m taking a few weeks off of working five jobs at once. I will be reading and writing a lot while I am here and hoping to get ahead on some things.
As of the time I write this, I don’t yet have my podcast with Pat Flynn information yet. Sorry! Podcasting from other countries doesn’t always go as well as it should.
This week on www.danjohnworkouts.com:
The podcast is gaining steam! We’re quickly closing in on 10,000 downloads. Thank you all for listening and sending us your questions and feedback. You can listen to Episode 8 at www.danjohnworkouts.com/podcast.
There have been two new essays since my last update:
Pirate Maps for On-Going Change
The Essence of Easy Strength
There are two pieces of big news on the site this week. First, with the help of our friends at www.reportlab.com, we’ve added a “Print Workouts” button to the workouts page. A lot of work went into these printouts and we hope you like them.
The piece of news this week is the new homepage and navigation. I’ve reorganized things a little bit. You’ll see a Resources tab when you’re signed in now and that’s where the essays, podcast, and downloads live. Everything you’re used to seeing is still there but in a little cleaner format.
Thank you for all the ongoing support and feedback!
A question came up concerning “cueing” versus “coaching.” Here is my answer.
Watching a young coach or trainer struggle teaching something basic is often illuminating for me. I have total empathy; I’ve been there. I know that my enthusiastic efforts teaching the Olympic lifts for the first time in 1979 were filled with information, ideas and insight.
And, I probably told my poor first athletes the entire history of the sport, the importance of each and every stop along the path of the bar, and deep discussions about the various schools of approaching high-level success. I used to teach like a fire hose: plenty of pressure and information at a rate that no one could even take a sip.
To help young coaches, I use two simple terms: Cueing and Coaching. Cueing is the quick code word or reminder; it’s the big pictures stuff. Coaching, as always, is named after a vehicle that takes one from here to there. Coaching can be everything from a story, to an example to an inspiring talk. Both are important.
With my Movement Matrix, I break down all the movements I teach:
Then, I fill in the chart across:
Isometrics (Planks) Strength and Hypertrophy Moves Anti-Rotation Moves Ballistics
On the far right, I have the Squat Snatch and Squat Clean and Jerk. It took me a while to figure out that not everyone can O lift on day one.
With the Movement Matrix, I have basically 37 exercises that teach. Obviously, this doesn’t include every correction, regression and progression, but it is close. Once I have did this chart, I spent the next few years coming up with cues. It took a while.
Cues are short points that coaches yell to emphasize the most coachable movement points during an exercise. It’s often not much. Most of the time, I only allow “Go-go-go!” If you have time, like in a plank or isometric, I think you can say more:
PUPP (Push Up Position Plank)
Hands: “Grip and Rip”
Armpits: “Crush the grapes and make grape juice/wine”
Knees: “Squeeze the Knees”
“Thumbs in Pits”
“Butt and Belly”
“Knees” (Use the Glute Loop)
“Pull down” (Ab hold…Pull band to zipper)
“Push the knees out with the elbows”
“Slide between the legs’
“Walk the Line” (Sing it like Johnny Cash)
With the family of planks, two things emerge: first, if you have time, like up to two minutes, you can engage the client/athlete’s human brain more. In the O lifts, I would suggest stapling your lips closed during the movement. When I throw the discus, when my right foot comes up off the ground, I deliver the discus in 1.6 seconds. There is no time there to use the brain to do anything but foul things up.
In other words, shut up during ballistic movements.
Second, note that two of the cues are present throughout training programs.
These represent two of the three great lessons of Loaded Carry work especially the Bear Hug family. “Squeeze” builds that “anaconda strength,” the inner tube. I read an article years ago from an Olympic hammer champion and tried to explain that true athletic strength was building up internal pressure. He described it like a bicycle inner tube that you need to learn to pump up for performance.
Next, “Stand Tall” reminds us of the “arrow strength” we strive to build. In many sports, there comes a moment where the athlete blocks the movement to transfer all the speed into the implement or ball. It’s that ability to turn your body into a brick wall…or arrow…that makes for superior performance.
Anaconda and arrow strength come from my understanding of Stu McGill’s important work in explaining Hammer and Stone. Hammer is the power generated by slamming the feet into the ground, for example, and being propelled upward. Stone is the body staying rigid so that all the energy goes up not lost in the various soggy tremors of the body and belly.
As a strength coach, I can keep you “stoned” by the Loaded Carry family, planks and deadlifts.
When it comes to the rest of the movements, I believe you need to have cue words to get people to focus on the big keys:
Anaconda Work (Bear hugs)
Litvi-Family (after the “drop”)
Snatch and Clean from the Hang
Push Press: Dip-Snap
Push Jerk: Dip-Slap
Cues need to be simple. Cues need to be used by every coach in the same way. Cues should be very narrow and very repeatable.
After the movement is finished and the weight has been returned safe and sound, allow the athlete a moment to regain clarity and THEN coach. Explain the bow and arrow, the ground force thing, the angles, grooves and trajectories.
Coaching, for me, is often simply applying the best regression, correction or progression for the client/athlete. Although we stay with the basic movements, we are constantly searching for the appropriate next challenge. We want beautiful movement, we want mastery.
For mastery: cue constantly and coach appropriately.
End cueing and coaching
Another quiet week on the internet. Ben Fogel, my personal trainer, has two articles worth your time. Broccoli and deadlifts for the win.
This is no miracle, it is just the power of strength training and adding total body, multi-joint movements into your routine, just like deadlifts. I would even argue that eating broccoli daily (or really any green, fibrous vegetable) along with deadlifting once a week and strength training three times a week could actually change your life in a way that could help you live even longer!
Here is my plea to everyone out there – let us work on making the world of nutrition and strength training less confusing and such a polarizing topic. Let’s continue to make it simple (not easy) and start a routine to stay consistent for many, many years to come!
Ben argues, like many, that what we learn “here” applies to “there” in this article.
Want the solution? Use a smaller plate. Using a smaller plate is the best way to subscribe to “forced portion control.” Actually, only have smaller plates in the house. Then, this really weird thing will start to happen – you will actually start to eat LESS! This will help us force portion control in the right direction and give us the ability to eat less without even thinking about it, as it is an almost automatic habit you don’t need to put much more thought on once you replace your plates with smaller ones.
In finance, you can do the same thing by controlling the “serving” of cash you have available to use. By separating the money into “smaller plates” or separate savings or investment accounts, and “carving” out that money before it even hits your primary cash or checking account, you have in essence “paid yourself first”.
Then you will end up with less in your “serving” dish of cash, and that is ok as you will learn how to deal with this very quickly, just like you did with the small plates. This is also known as “Parkinson’s Law.” The concept of Parkinson’s law leverages this behavior of being able to “make due with what you got.” If there is less in your account, you will be forced to spend less and not make those silly purchases!
This is a lot like a tube of toothpaste. We all have been there before – where we either have a full tube of toothpaste or an almost empty tube of toothpaste. We will use that toothpaste differently depending on what end of the spectrum we are at! I love a full tube of toothpaste because I can just lather up that toothbrush with a huge amount and care less (a lot like over-spending when you get a raise/bonus/etc). I also love working with a smaller tube of toothpaste – it forces me to use muscles that I never knew I had to squeeze out that very last little bit of toothpaste! Think of your primary account just like this tube of toothpaste – if you are almost out and can’t pay your bills then you can’t afford those things you have been buying!
I found this article fascinating…on many levels. I’m not exactly sure yet what I think of it.
In many ways, I don’t even stand out among the people I know. I have two close friends who struggle with irritable bowel syndrome. In the last two years, one went to a kinesiologist (they are the ones who make you hold a food item; if you feel weak, you are allergic to it), while the other had parasitic hookworms injected into her arm. Another close friend is low-carbing to combat her polycystic ovary syndrome, and another is on keto for his arthritis. We have all become persuaded we can self-medicate through food, and maybe this is even true. My friends are all neurotic, but they glow with health.
Whenever I sit down for dinner with my editor, we compare regimes. “Land animals,” he said last time, explaining what was taboo for him at that moment. “And dairy.” Another friend moves between low-GI, low-carb and fasting. We have both been doing 16:8, where you fast for 16 hours of every 24, for ages. We send each other pictures of sticks we have peed on to see if we are in ketosis, the point at which the body starts breaking fat down. Another friend is on the warrior diet, which involves eating one big meal a day. We all have proper jobs in health, publishing or the arts.
When I tell people I am recovering from an eating disorder called orthorexia, they usually mishear it as “authorexia”, and perhaps, for me, that’s what it is: an eating disorder based around storytelling. An eating disorder for authors, or at least encouraged by them. One macrobiotic writer suggests listening to Shakespeare if you have heart trouble, because the iambic pentameter will stabilise you. When it comes to the diet books, the different regimes, it is always the stories that do it: the familiar, comforting narrative arc of the lost soul who discovers the secret that leads to health, purity and beauty. The brave, bold young American who finds the truth that eluded his parents. The fat-adapted ultramarathon runners who do it all on a spoonful of coconut oil.
After my 1999 solar eclipse weight crisis, I bought two books about food combining in a Dartmouth bookshop. Before that, I’d rarely seen a diet book. When I was growing up, our house was full of books, but not that kind. After all, wasn’t dieting one of those twee things oppressed women did in the 50s because the patriarchy said they should?
The food-combining books didn’t just tell me not to eat protein and carbs together, advice I have tried to follow ever since (I still feel guilty when I fail). They told me what would happen if I did: along with indigestion and arthritis, I might get candida, anxiety, depression, IBS and chronic fatigue. One chapter was titled How Toxic Are You? The symptoms included being bored, tired, having aches and pains, few ideas and poor concentration. This was me! (And, of course, every writer I knew.) How lucky I’d found these books before I died of literally everything. But there were the success stories, too, and these became what I craved. Stories of people being brought back from the brink, people who had almost died and then been cured by avocado cream.
Things will be calm for me this week. I will be reading a lot and ideally picking up some new ideas. Until then, let’s all 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 112
This is what the letter said, if we translate it from Latin:
The King to Sir Ector, etc.
We send you William Twyti, our huntsman, and his fellows to hunt in the Forest Sauvage with our boar-hounds (canibus nostris porkericis) in order that they may capture two or three boars. You are to cause the flesh they capture to be salted and kept in good condition, but the skins you are to cause to be bleached which they give you, as the said William shall tell you. And we command you to provide necessaries for them as long as they shall be with you by our command, and the cost, etc., shall be accounted, etc.
Witnessed at the Tower of London, 20 November, in the twelfth year of our reign.
Now the forest belonged to the King, and he had every right to send his hounds to hunt in it. Also he maintained a number of hungry mouths—what with his court and his army—so that it was natural that he should want as many dead boars, bucks, roes, etc., to be salted down as possible.
He was in the right. This did not take away the fact that Sir Ector regarded the forest as his forest, and resented the intrusion of the royal hounds—as if his own would not do just as well! The King had only to send for a couple of boars and he would have been delighted to supply them himself. He feared that his coverts would be disturbed by a lot of wild royal retainers—never know what these city chaps will be up to next—and that the King’s huntsman, this fellow Twyti, would sneer at his humble hunting establishment, unsettle the hunt servants and perhaps even try to interfere with his own kennel management. In fact, Sir Ector was shy. Then there was another thing. Where the devil were the royal hounds to be kept? Was he, Sir Ector, to turn his own hounds into the street, so as to put the King’s hounds in his kennels? “Splendour of God!” repeated the unhappy master. It was as bad as paying tithes.
Sir Ector put the accursed letter in his pocket and stumped off the ploughing. The villeins, seeing him go, remarked cheerfully, “Our wold measter be on the gad again seemingly.”
So, we are on the edge of a new adventure. There is nothing magical about our upcoming story, but there is a lot of danger. Not every character survives this story (Wart lives…in case I made you nervous).
Twyti is going to be an interesting character for us. His skill set if voluminous, but he loves are quite simple.
I learned a great lesson years ago. I’ve relayed it before, but my father had come down to see me compete at the Mount Sac Relays. As I was warming up, this huge person handed me my discus. It was the famous basketball player, Wilt Chamberlain.
My dad yelled over, “Good luck, Bum” and Wilt invited my father, perhaps five foot six on a good day, to hang out. Watching my dad stand next to Wilt is still a great memory.
They stood and talked for hours. After, I asked Dad about if he talked about basketball. Dad gave me a life lesson: “The last thing a guy like Wilt (they were on a first name basis by then) wants to talk about is basketball.”
We learn this same lesson soon with Master Twyti. The huntsman doesn’t care about your boar or deer story, but there is something that warms Twyti’s heart.
Until next time.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
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