Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 295

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 295

I am very happy with my new book, Attempts: Essays in Health, Fitness, Longevity and Easy Strength (releasing late July). Laree, of course, found a way to make the experience better by sending me a long list (abridged below) of some of those one-liners I have become famous for…whether that is good or bad is up to the listener.
Stevo always loved the line when I was working with one kid: “I like you…and that’s the problem.” It’s a context thing, but funny when you say it to someone. Here are a few from the new book:
“Fit for what?” must be part of your language.
Eat like an adult.
Keep coming back.
Invest wisely in asymmetrical risks.
Embrace the obvious.
The greatest secret I know in every field of life is always obvious.
Respect the process and the results will take care of themselves.
To get stronger, lift weights.
“Little and often over the long haul.”
Look backward first.
It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.
Make a difference.
Most people don’t really think through the wonders and pleasures of achieving a goal.
Reality is tough enough.
It’s not what you’re gonna do, it’s what you’re doing.
“You are literally the sum of all of your life choices.”
Don’t act like you don’t know this.
Pieces of paper are cheaper than surgeries.
I’m also happy to announce that all of my tomato plants have now produced tomatoes. It’s going to be a healthy summer. I’m working on some new ideas and I will keep you all in the loop.
I have been doing a lot of podcasts, but I only have Pat Flynn’s to share with you right now…sorry. I mean…it’s gooooood, but I hope to have more for you next week.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
We made it to Episode 50 of the podcast! That blows my mind almost as much as knowing the podcast has been downloaded over 150,000 times. Thank you for all the support. Dan and I appreciate all the thoughtful questions and will keep the answers coming.
Here’s the link to this milestone episode.
Rather than posting a new workshop this week, Dan started a new video series for us. This one is going to be focused on little gems that he’s found throughout his history of training. These first two clips are about his little red book of wisdom from the early 1970s.
My Little Red Book
Triads for Success
Lastly, we just posted Easy Strength for Fat Loss in the Downloads section of the site. Dan put a lot into this one and it shows. It’s an excellent program and worth reading through if you’re a member of the site.
Have a great week!
The internet, at least the places I go, was on fire this week. I really found a lot of stuff that just got me thinking. This article looks obvious at first, that’s what I thought, but then I returned back to this single point.
Habit #4: Do Your Hard Work in the Morning
Aim to get your most important work done in the first four hours of the workday, starting as soon as possible.
The benefits to your energy here are mostly psychological. My energy levels depend a lot on my mood. If I’ve gotten some important work done, my mood is usually good and I feel productive. If I’ve wasted time on emails, meetings, calls or failed to produce something valuable, I’m often frustrated and exhausted entering the second half of the day.
The other reason for this approach is that deep work isn’t always sustainable for the full workday. Better to concentrate it into a specific period than randomly insert it across chunks of time.
Try this: Make the first four hours of your morning a quiet, deep work zone.

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Ah Jaws!  Rita Harrington, Spruce Drive Inn and 45 years ago? I liked this article a lot, but this section made me shudder a bit. If you continue reading, the author here knits the story of this movie so well I started to wonder how I missed so many things.


Not unrelatedly, another reason I like watching Jaws amid all the fireworks is because it localizes so many of the depressing actualities about America—the movie features a mayor who cares more about the local economy than the lives of his citizens, a medical examiner who covers up inconvenient means of death for gain, a scientist no one listens to, and in a new and relevant reflection, beaches being open when they shouldn’t be.

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Popular Science has a nice article on fat.

Fat is also a (temporarily) safe space to store pollutants and other organic chemicals that might otherwise pose a threat. Organochlorine pesticides build up in fat, as do the polychlorinated biphenyls in coolant fluids and other chemicals from the “dirty dozen” of environmental contaminants. These banned chemicals can get into your food supply in small quantities and are stored in your fat, possibly because your body wants to sequester them away from your organs. Bodies don’t seem to store enough of these to become toxic, but the constant build-up leaves you vulnerable to exposure. And they do start to re-emerge when you lose weight.
Since you’re not eliminating all of your body fat at once, this doesn’t seem to pose a problem for most people. You’re dumping toxins into your bloodstream, but you’re also eliminating them through your pee. There’s some evidence that certain pollutants—so-called “persistent organic pollutants”—can stick around in your body fat for years, but so far it seems that natural toxin-elimination methods (also known as peeing) work well enough to get rid of them.
Safe or not, it’s best not to give your body a spot to stash all the hormones and vitamins it can hoard. Our bodies aren’t designed to hold onto excess body fat and stay healthy—that’s why obesity is a risk factor for so many diseases. Getting rid of fat storage is just another reason to try and cut down on your own adiposity this year. Letting someone shame you into thinking you don’t look the way you should is not a wise reason to lose weight, but doing it to be healthier usually is.
Just think: every time you lose a pound of fat, you’ve also literally detoxed yourself without ever having to do one of those terrible juice cleanses (which, by the way, do not work). You’ve used the power of your own body’s filtration systems to get rid of them—and it will thank you for it.

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Someone left our mailing list because I mention low carb a lot. This has nothing to do with food, but, hey, it isn’t low carb!!! This is actually a moment of genius for you. I just finished writing a piece on Easy Strength for Fat Loss (see last week’s WW for the basics) and I found myself wormholing deeper and deeper into more and more complex “betters.” MAYA turns out to best most of the time.

Loewy had an uncanny sense of how to make things fashionable. He believed that consumers are torn between two opposing forces: neophilia, a curiosity about new things; and neophobia, a fear of anything too new. As a result, they gravitate to products that are bold, but instantly comprehensible. Loewy called his grand theory “Most Advanced Yet Acceptable”—maya. He said to sell something surprising, make it familiar; and to sell something familiar, make it surprising.
Why do people like what they like? It is one of the oldest questions of philosophy and aesthetics. Ancient thinkers inclined to mysticism proposed that a “golden ratio”—about 1.62 to 1, as in, for instance, the dimensions of a rectangle—could explain the visual perfection of objects like sunflowers and Greek temples. Other thinkers were deeply skeptical: David Hume, the 18th-century philosopher, considered the search for formulas to be absurd, because the perception of beauty was purely subjective, residing in individuals, not in the fabric of the universe. “To seek the real beauty, or real deformity,” he said, “is as fruitless an enquiry, as to pretend to ascertain the real sweet or real bitter.”

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This will change nothing, of course, but I offer it to you.


The paper used data on over 100,000 men and women over roughly 30 years to show that men who drank at least two sodas a day had a 29 percent higher risk of death compared to people who drank less than one soda a month. Women who drank at least two sodas a day had a 63 percent higher risk of death. For women who drank two or more sodas a day, there was also a 34 percent higher risk of dying from breast cancer. Overall, men and women who drank two or more sodas a day were 31 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 18 percent more likely to die of cancer.

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There is a nice shout out to our Dave Draper forum here. You’re welcome!

Thus, DeLorme and Watkins began to advocate less reps but with an emphasis on heavier weights. Now importantly they did this using scientific studies. Studies that were more replicable than the advice of the big guy at the gym. Alongside several other authors, the two co-wrote and edited, ‘Progressive Resistance Exercise’. A medical tract published in 1951 that was one of the first large scale training books of the era. A starting point for exercise science in many ways.
Somewhat frustratingly I actually owned a copy of this book but it was lost alongside several other works in a recent move. Such is life eh? Thanks to the excellent Dave Draper forums, we can still get some snippets from the book without me having to buy another copy!
    On rep speed:
    “The development and decadence of tension should be smooth and even with no rest pause at the height of the movement or its termination at the initial starting position. The load should be neither swung forward with a ballistic movement nor dropped under the influence of gravity.”
    On the number of reps:
    “The number of contractions per bout is arbitrarily set at ten. If fewer repetitive lifts were required, the resistance could be increased. Whether ten is the optimum number for rapid increase in strength has never been established in terms of criteria other than the empirical practice of weight-lifters. It is probable that the number closely approaches the optimum.”
    On the duration of rest between sets:
    “The length of the rest pause between bouts is important only in so far as it affects the total work which can be done in any single treatment period. Short rest pauses probably reduce the number of bouts which can be carried out and still lift the prescribed load ten times. What ever evidence exists tends to indicate that protracted exercise is not the prime requisite for the augmentation of strength. The power developed is important; that is, the amount of work done in unit time. Short-lived but intense exertion is the objective which should be kept constantly in mind.”
    On warm-up/ramping up sets:
    “The elevated temperature within the muscle is now thought to affect the viscous and elastic properties of the contractile tissue in a manner designed to augment the work done at the same production of energy by accelerating the chemical processes involved..
    “By initial use of small muscle loads and increasing them after each set of 10 repetitions, the muscle is warmed up preparatory to exerting its maximum power for 10 repetitions….
    “By doing 10 repetitions only with the 10-RM strength increases would be approximately the same as when three sets are performed. In fact, if it were not important to set the physiological stage preparatory to a maximum exertion, only one set of 10 repetitions would suffice.
    This has been demonstrated time and again in the clinic in the treatment of injuries in young athletes. . . . Incredible as it may seem, many athletes have developed great power and yet have never employed more than five repetitions in a single exercise. The amount of weight lifted seems to be the important factor in stimulating hypertrophy. Some investigators feel that it is the amount of work performed per unit of time that is responsible for strength. Observations to date, though not conclusive, indicate that it is the tension the muscle is driven to develop that, to a great degree, if not entirely, is responsible for stimulating hypertrophy and consequently strength.”
    “The warm-up should not interfere with the performance of 10 repetitions with the 10-RM. In other words, if by doing 10 repetitions with the first weight (50 per cent of the 10-RM) and 10 with the second weight (75 per cent of the 10-RM) the patient is too tired to perform the 10 repetitions with the 10-RM, then only five repetitions should be performed in the first two sets, thus leaving the patient fresher for the 10 repetitions with the 10-RM. Another possibility is to omit the middle 10-repetition set (75 per cent of 10-RM), starting then with 10 repetitions with the 50 per cent of the 10-RM and going directly to 10 repetitions with the 10-RM.”
    “Frequently patients are unable to perform 10 repetitions with the 10-RM if this resistance is applied without preliminary exercise with lighter weights.”
    On the training effect on muscle:
    “Increase in strength is accompanied by a measurement increase in size attributable to hypertrophy of previously existent muscle fibers rather than hyperplasia. The amount of connective tissue also increases and the sarcolemma thickens. There is an increase in the number of capillaries and the content of muscle hemoglobin, phospho-creatine, and glycogen. The net effect of all these changes is a gain in endurance which is sometimes striking.”
    On optimum total reps:
    “In the initial publications concerning progressive resistance exercise, 70 to 100 repetitions were advocated, the repetitions being performed in 7 to 10 sets with 10 repetitions per set. Further experience has shown that this figure is 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.”

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That should make you smarter!
I have a quiet week; I will be striving to apply some new insights into my training…like more walking and maybe I will attempt the Potato Hack. I will let you know.
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 148

Even Archimedes did not understand her.
She knew this.
“Hail, mother,” said Archimedes. “I have brought you a young human, who is to learn things, by decree.”
When the Wart came to think about it afterwards, he realized that he had not only never seen the goddess but that he had also never heard her speak. The owl spoke, and he spoke; but the words of Athene did not come out of a mouth.
“This part,” said Archimedes with a sort of purr, “is at the rate of thirty years in a minute. It is one of our owl’s dreams, you know, such as we gain our wisdom from the sighing on the night.”
Athene did not speak, but she held the Wart in the hollow of her kind hand, and he knew that he was to look in front of him.
He saw the world with his own eyes now, no longer using the strange spectrum which he had experienced since he came out with Archimedes, and no doubt this was done in order to make things easier for him. They needed to be made easier, for it was now his business to watch a world in which a year passed in two seconds. It was a world of trees.”

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Trees and Stones. When I finally got the “right” version, basically the 1938/1939 original version, of The Sword in the Stone, I fell in love with these two dreams. I still don’t understand the decision to drop these from the 1958 version as they represent White’s worldview perfectly. When I first came across these stories, I wondered why the Disney version skipped these…they have a Fantasia spirit about them and would make great animation.
Both the tree dream and the stone dream give us a different version of time. White loves playing with time. Merlyn lives backward in time. With these dreams or visions, we will have the time used by trees and stones.
Their time takes more time.

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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