Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 311
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 311
I woke up to a snowstorm today. The leaves are still on the trees so as I type this, I’m hoping to not have a lot of damage. For those of you who don’t deal with snow, the leaves hold snow, the limbs start to bend, then the branches break and fall.
The falling branches tend to like to bring things down with them…like wires, gutters, and anything else that is expensive to fix.
To say “it’s been a year” is, well, an understatement. We started off with an earthquake that did a fair amount of damage, had a hurricane speed windstorm crash into us and, well, that’s about it, right?
That was considered “sarcasm.” It’s from the root “to tear flesh.”
It’s been a year.
I went from flying 260,000 miles in 2019, then just two flights this year before Covid hit. My office became a studio for podcasts and lectures and workshops. I miss working with people.
I should have known it would snow. I started coaching at the college level again this year and I have seen some amazing progress with my athletes. Our outdoor work has been amazing. Now, we need to go indoors. It’s a long indoor period.
By the way, my salary got doubled as a volunteer, so, HEY!, the money is good.
Here in Utah, whenever I make plans for anything, Utah’s weather chimes in. My wife was a nervous wreck when we got married as we had a wicked snowstorm the week of our wedding with an outdoor reception. Of course, the day of the wedding, people got sunburned.
So, I have learned to have a seasonal approach to my eating and training. There is nothing new here, but the basics are this:
Winter: Go heavy, Go hard, Go home.
Spring: Time to get moving again. Throw, run, hurdle, walk…whatever you can do.
Summer: Get outside and play!
Autumn: “Back to school.” This is when I follow the disciplined “Do This!” programs.
And so we go. The earth keeps going around the sun and as The Weavers reminded us so many years ago:
“This too shall pass.”
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 65 of the podcast.
This past week we added a brand new workout generator to the site. This one is focused on Fat Loss specifically and incorporates lots of the principles from Dan’s Easy Strength for Fat Loss program. Dan has been testing this program all summer and we’re both really happy with how the generator turned out.
If you need a program to keep you on track before the holiday season starts, check out the Fat Loss generator on the Workout Setup page.
Have a great week!
I have been doing a lot of podcasts but I don’t always get the links. This week I have two for you.
This week’s talk with Pat Flynn was fun and he has a great line: “Little hinges swing big doors.” That’s a quote to remember!
I enjoy my talks with Mimi. We focus on The Sword in the Stone, but this book also brings us around to fitness and training: 197. Dan John on education and The Sword in the Stone! ⋆ Sifu Mimi Chan
I found quite a bit on the old internet this week. Let’s look.
Oh, you are having a bad day? Read this article and put things into context.
“In September of 1941, my father and my older brother Vladimir were arrested by the soviet secret police (along with 65 other Germanic male villagers) and shot in a nearby field. All other German-speaking villagers, women and children, my mother, younger brother and myself included, were herded onto boxcars and exiled to Siberia to work in labor camps.” All German-speaking Russians were exiled for 25-years. At age 14, Rudolf was imprisoned in a gulag prison camp and worked 12 hours a day seven days a week. His job was shoveling coal in a Siberian coal mine.
After four years, Rudolf, his mother and brother escaped the prison camp. “We tried to escape, we walked 124 miles on foot. When trying to sneak onto a westward bound train, we were captured and sent back to the gulag.” Rudolf was punished. “Popov, the head mechanic in the coal mine, beat me mercilessly and continually after my recapture. He ruptured my tailbone, a chronic injury that bothered me the rest of my life.” One beating ended in “compensated heart failure,” Rudolf had a permanently weakened heart muscle.”
The article continues with some great training advice…Marty G is the best.
“Rudi’ trains four days a week. He always takes time to warm-up before lifting. He will sprint, leap, jump and do explosive acrobatics until he feels ‘ready.’ In this training session he began with power snatches using both squat snatch and split-snatch technique. He followed power snatches with snatch-grip high pulls. On this day he performed 10 sets of 2 reps in the press, snatch and clean and jerk.
He always includes five auxiliary exercises, i.e. squat, high pulls, power cleans, power snatches off a box, front squats. Rudi spends a lot of time working on his overhead press. He works his Olympic press and included wide grip behind the neck press and auxiliary press lockouts. Rudi also bench presses with wide and narrow grip, and spends time doing incline barbell presses.
Rudi likes weighted dips, eight-rep sets of weighted dips are favored for improving the press. On the days he does not train with the free weights he does road work – something the American lifters do not do. All the Russian lifting champions have found that road work (running) is essential to weightlifting.”
Shane McLean sent this one in:
Instead of saying “why did you play that pass?” or “why didn’t you shoot?” Nick challenges us to begin our questions with two magic words:
“I’m curious what you saw on that play as it looked at me like you had an open shot.”
“I’m curious why you didn’t take that player on, it looked like you were 1v1?”
“I’m curious when you took the shot if you saw any other options?”
By beginning our sentences with “I’m curious” the following happens
We invite our players to explain what they saw, and take ownership of their decisions.
It shows we are interested in them.
We create a conversation instead of a lecture.
We open the door to understand what our players are seeing from a very different perspective than we are, often a different angle, and certainly under pressure.
This author has had a secret love of isometrics for a long time.
McKean’s article and the Isochain training got me thinking about how many of bounce through the sticking points with speed, momentum or body position changes without ever exploring the weak point. John recommends bands to force yourself with the constant weights to challenge your strong points.
The Isochain gives you feedback on the weak points. John McKean is right: challenge your strong points. But…know where you need to fix up your weak points.
My old training partner, John Price, once told me the ONLY thing he remembered from his first conditioning coach:
“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”
Honestly, I can put a lot of load over my head, pick up some scary weights off the floor and basically throw shit far.
How can I improve? I live, as a coach, with this mantra:
Play with your strengths, but constantly work on your weaknesses.
Well, I liked this article. What I really liked was the weekly quiz.
Not all quarterbacks would assert their superiority through karaoke contests or authoritatively answering questions about the population density of the greater Houston area (Harrell learned all about that before a Texans game once). But what Love will find, the former backups say, is that those experiences are intensely valuable, if only because they put on display a critical part of what makes Rodgers the star that he is. Thinking counterintuitively is a skill that can be honed just like a seven-step drop, and so whether or not you personally believe that airplanes cause cancer or that there are residents of Mars who are longtime Packers fans, the simple act of pondering — even for a second — the possibility that those things might be true uses roughly the same muscle that Rodgers uses when he looks at a disintegrated offensive line and still sees a way to make a play.
Making our brains more elastic, more open to things that are not exactly the way we assume them to be, is the most basic path to creativity. And for Rodgers, creativity is his light.
“He loves seeing guys get outside their comfort zone,” Wallace says, “and pushing them to a point where it’s, ‘Oh, man, I don’t do this so well.’ Then he wants to see what happens.”
I have been advocating fiber since I read an article about it in Reader’s Digest when I was in high school. I am amazed that “more fiber,” to quote Robb Wolf, has not become a standard in the fitness industry.
After all, the diversity of the human microbiome has been falling long before industrialization. Even the rich gut communities of hunter-gatherers are a pale reflection of those of chimps and gorillas, whose diets are even richer in plants. The point is that animals tend to end up with the microbiomes they need; as our needs and habits change, so does our pool of partners.
Sonnenburg’s concern is that these changes play out over millennia, and hosts and microbes have time to acclimate to their new relationships. By contrast, our modern diets and lifestyles are changing our microbiomes very quickly, leaving us with communities that we haven’t adjusted to. “Our human genome is constantly trying to keep up with this moving target of a microbial community,” he says. “If there are times when changes are exceptionally rapid, it might be problematic for host health.”
This is a study but it is pretty readable. I’m not advocating any diet program but this is worth your time.
Epidemiologic support that dietary fiber intake prevents obesity is strong. Fiber intake is inversely associated with body weight and body fat. In addition, fiber intake is inversely associated with body mass index at all levels of fat intake after adjusting for confounding factors. Results from intervention studies are more mixed, although the addition of dietary fiber generally decreases food intake and, hence, body weight. Many mechanisms have been suggested for how dietary fiber aids in weight management, including promoting satiation, decreasing absorption of macronutrients, and altering secretion of gut hormones.
The average fiber intake of adults in the United States is less than half recommended levels and is lower still among those who follow currently popular low-carbohydrate diets, such as Atkins and South Beach. Increasing consumption of dietary fiber with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes across the life cycle is a critical step in stemming the epidemic of obesity found in developed countries. The addition of functional fiber to weight-loss diets should also be considered as a tool to improve success.
Well, there you go. That should keep you busy for a few days. 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 165
In the beginning the downstairs were reasonably civilized, with green baize doors behind which butlers and footmen-though with iron collars around their necks-were polishing silver and finishing off the decanters. Later on there were strong-rooms with ancient safes in them, that contained the various gold cups, epergnes and other trophies won at jousts and horse-races by the giant. Next there were the dismal cellars with cobwebs over the wine bins, and dreary-looking rats peeping thoughtfully at the bodiless footprints in the dust, and several corpses of human beings hanging up in the game cupboards until they should be ready to eat. It was like the place for adults only in the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tassaud’s.
At the very bottom of the castle they came upon the dungeons. Here the chalky walls dripped with greasy moisture, and there were pathetic messages and graffiti scratched upon the stone. “Pray for my poor Priscilla,” said one, and another said, “Oh, if I had only paid for my dog licence honestly, I should have never come to this pass.” There was a picture of a man hanging from a gallows, with arms and legs sticking out like those of a Guy Fawkes in all directions, and another of a demon with horns. A fifth carving said, “Midnight Sun for the two-thirty,” while the sixth said, “Oh yeah?” and a seventh exclaimed, “Alas, that I should have forgotten to feed my poor canary: now I am in the same dread doom.” A message which had been scratched out said, “Beastly old Galapas loves Madame Mim, the dirty hound,” and somebody else had written, “Repent and be saved, for the Kingdom of Hell is at hand.” There were kisses, dates, pious ejaculations, mottoes such as “Waste not, want not” and “Good-night, ladies,” also hearts with arrows in them, skulls and crossbones, pictures of pigs drawn with the eyes shut and pathetic messages such as, “Don’t forget to take the potatoes off at half-past twelve,” “The key is under the geranium,” “Revenge me on stinking Galapas, by whom I am foully slain,” or merely “Mazawatee Mead for Night Starvation.” It was a grimly place.
I only stop here to marvel at White’s work. We are following a giant into a dungeon and White pauses to describe, in great detail, prison graffiti. I am retyping this book word for word and every so often I discover why many great writers note that retyping and rewriting teaches a lot of the art and science of writing.
This pause in the action, as I ruminate on this again, gives us a sense of despair about the dungeon which might be better than continuing on the discussion of chains, bars and death. We just passed some hanging dead humans waiting to be eaten and I can’t imagine we will need to work much harder on finding something more frightening or disgusting.
So, we discuss the graffiti. The words on the walls give us the sense of gloom and doom. This adventure is going to move quite quickly compared to the Pike (Luce) story, Madam Mim or our adventure with Robin Wood. White’s pause highlights the danger, and the terribleness, that we find Wart and Merlyn descending into here.
Madame Tassaud’s, of course, dropped the apostrophe a long time ago. It’s waxworks of famous people still bring crowds. I have walked past the one in San Francisco and wondered always why tourists need to see these, but I digress. It is interesting to note that the most famously vandalized sculpture was the one resembling Adolf Hitler. In White’s original drawings in the British edition, Galapas has both a Swastika and a Hammer and Sickle on his clothes.
White was no fan of the Nazis or Stalin…nor their followers.
I had never seen the term “epergnes” before this book but I had picked one up in Cairo, Egypt years ago. As daylight was falling, I heard some tinkering…literally. As I rounded a corner, completely lost (as was normal in this city of circles), I stopped and watched a man make this lovely piece that was fairly tall, I think made of tin, with branches off of it that held bowls. This was a fancy food serving platform. I ended up buying a much less expensive bowl which was also far easier to transport.
Mazawatee (it might mean “Fun Garden”) was a brand of tea that was advertised throughout Britain for much of the period before White took to writing this book. The company got into chocolate and cocoa and that might be our “mead.” This was actually fun to look into as the tea industry in England parallels much of the history of the last four hundred years or so.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
NEVER MISS ANOTHER POST!
Subscribe below and we'll send great articles to your email box. Includes FREE access to our OTP Vault of material from experts in the field.