Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 315

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 315

Pavel and I are rewriting the book, Easy Strength. Laree Draper will publish this work and I am looking at the older materials, rethinking the past eleven or so years of work and rework and seeing the gaps in the teaching.
Laree, as I have stated often, is the finest person in this business of fitness. She does amazing work and she has changed my life…and my family’s life.
So, thank you, Laree.
I’m not sure why it takes so much explanation to understand Easy Strength, as the original idea was so clear in my head. I said this out loud the other day and got instantly corrected. Not everyone, it seems, spends all of their time daydreaming, reading, practicing and obsessing over lifting weights.
And, yes, that’s a pity.
This is what Pavel told me to do:
“For the next 40 workouts, pick five lifts. Do them every workout. Never miss a rep, in fact, never even get close to struggling. Go as light as you need to go, and don’t go over 10 reps for any of the movements in a workout. It’s going to seem easy. When the weights feel light, simply add more weight.”
My “clarity” might be caused by the sheer volume of stuff and nonsense that has been filtered through my brain pan since I first bent over and picked up that Ted Williams Sears Barbell in 1965. I bought my first Strength and Health magazine not long after that and, overall, got some good advice.
I’m glad, honestly, I didn’t have access to the magazines emphasizing bodybuilding. Our corner drugstore had a lot of comics and general magazines like Life and Look, but only offered Strength and Health and Sports Illustrated for the sporting life.
Sure, some of the ads pushing the protein and all the rest were over the top. My mom wouldn’t have let me buy this stuff anyway because, well, insert immigration, Great Depression, World War II and basic life. My mom wasn’t a fan of spending money on anything as when she was young, as she mentioned…a lot, one would be happy to have a nickel when she was my age.
Oddly, if one did read the magazines from my youth, and for the record, I still have the whole collection, the information would be more like Easy Strength. Harry Paschall, who died the week after I was born, used to write about programs with the bare minimum. His character, Bosco, continues to pop up in weightlifting articles all these years later.
Bosco, with his saucy mustache, would combine the Olympic lifts, powerlifts and some traditional movements to build his otherworldly physique. Program Two consisted of:
1. High Pull and Press (also known as the “Continuous Clean and Press): a warmup movement
2. Curl
3. Rowing
4. Bench Press
5. Squat
6. Deadlift
When I look at that, I realize that few things change in our rotations around the sun.
I’m excited to be part of this project. I’m honored to be part of this book.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 69 of the podcast.
The never-ending effort to make the site better is ongoing. We didn’t have any major updates this week, but there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Some “postal” weight lifting meets, a new look and feel, and lots of new content is on the way! Stay tuned for more.
Have a great week!
I had a few podcasts this week. I look forward to my weekly chat with Pat.
I enjoyed our conversation with “Consummate Athlete.” I would keep an eye on this site…the genuine feel of the material is heading in the right direction.
Bouncing around the internet this week, I found a fair amount of stuff that might help you today. As we head into a very strange Thanksgiving, it might be time to clear your head and remember what is important.
Reader Stephen Gurtowski sent this in. If you have ever been under stress and someone says “breathe,” this is the article for you.


How are breathing and the brain connected?
The relationship is anchored through the diaphragm, the only organ in the body that is skeletal muscle designed for voluntary movement. You can immediately take control of the diaphragm. So breathing represents a bridge between the conscious and unconscious control of the body.
When you inhale, the diaphragm moves down, and the heart gets a little bigger because it has more space. Blood flows a little more slowly through the heart under that condition. So the heart then signals to the brain, and the brain says, “Oh, we’d better speed up the heart.” So if you want to increase your heart rate, you inhale more than you exhale. The opposite is also true. Every time you exhale, you’re slowing down the heart rate.

End quote
Okay, as most of you know, I love lists. Now this list about comedy movies may be is the best list of all time. The film, by the way, is the most popular film in religious studies.


Groundhog Day (1993)

It’s not often you come across a film that takes the name of a well-known holiday and literally redefines it, which tells you something about just how powerful Harold Ramis’s legendary time-loop comedy really is. Yes, watching Bill Murray suffer for an hour and a half is great fun, and the jokes still land just as well now as they did nearly 30 years ago. But Groundhog Day is after something bigger than a memorable premise. It turned out, jokes and all, to be one of the great life-affirming American movies—a film about smiling through the pain and finding meaning when the world around you is a blur.

End quote
Test yourself! Computer versus human poetry contest. (I went three for three…for the win).


Poem A:
dollars of sand
in my hand
worth nothing more
than the Frisbee of man.
Poem B:
Big, small seashells quietly fight a lively, sunny tuna.
Never command a sailor.
The captain travels like a misty seashell.
All whales view rough, clear waves.

End quote
I thought this was excellent. Fair warning: there is a potty word in this text. I have the same issue, by the way, with some of my incoming emails.

Throughout most of our lives, almost everything has a clear result attached to it. In school, you write your term paper because that’s what your teacher told you to do. At home, you clean your room because that’s what your parents reward you for. At work, you do what your boss says because that gets you paid.
There’s no uncertainty. You just act.
Teacher wants a paper. So you write it. Mom wants a clean room. So you clean it.
But most of life — that is, real life — doesn’t work this way. When you decide to change careers, there’s no one there telling you which career is right for you. When you decide to commit to someone, there’s no one telling you this relationship is going to make you happy. When you decide to start a business or move to a new country or eat waffles instead of pancakes for breakfast, there’s no way of knowing — for certain — if what you’re doing is “right” or not.
And so we avoid it. We avoid making these decisions. We avoid moving and acting without knowing. And because we cannot act on what we don’t know, our lives become incredibly repetitive and safe.
I get a lot of emails from people asking me how to find their life’s purpose. Or how to know if they’re in the right relationship or not. Or how to know if they’re making the right change.
And I don’t reply to those people because I have no fucking idea.
For one, no one else can decide what’s right for your life but you. But secondly, the fact that you’re asking some guy on the internet (or looking for it in a book or something) is itself part of the problem — you are looking to know the result before acting.

End quote
I enjoyed reading this whole article, but this quote just really resounded with my experiences coaching football. It sounds simple: be on time, pay attention, be in condition and give it your all. It’s rare you see it. Oh sure, people SAY this kind of thing, but it doesn’t always happen.


Belichick, on the first day of 2000 training camp: “The main things I’ll ask of them, and be pretty firm on, are that they be on time, that they are attentive, be in condition, and give 100 percent effort. If they do those things, it will run pretty smoothly, and if they don’t, it’s very difficult to manage a group this size when we don’t have that type of cooperation and conformity.”

End quote
My good friend, Mike, sent this in. Mike is often part of many of my stories…often I have the need to under-embellish them after the event.

In 2013, a landmark study of mice found that their brains switched on a sort of dishwasher during sleep.

“So things like amyloid beta, which are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, seem to actually be removed more rapidly from the brain when an animal is asleep versus when they’re awake,” says Laura Lewis, an assistant professor of biomedical research at Boston University.

In 2019, Lewis led a team that showed how this dishwasher works in people.

“We realized that there’s these waves of fluid flowing into the brain during sleep,” she says. “And it was happening at a much larger and slower scale than anything we’d seen during wakefulness.”

What’s more, each wave of fluid was preceded by a large, slow electrical wave.

So now scientists are looking for ways to induce the slow waves that signal deep sleep. Lewis says it’s easy — in rodents.

“There’s a specific deep brain structure that if you stimulate it, you can cause these sleep-like slow waves in the brain,” she says.

End quote
Ray Bradbury. He wrote on writing as well as he wrote. I LOVE this collection. This advice is great advice for all of us: Ray Bradbury’s Greatest Writing Advice
What you’ve got to do from this night forward is stuff your head with more different things from various fields . . . I’ll give you a program to follow every night, very simple program. For the next thousand nights, before you go to bed every night, read one short story. That’ll take you ten minutes, 15 minutes. Okay, then read one poem a night from the vast history of poetry. Stay away from most modern poems. It’s crap. It’s not poetry! It’s not poetry. Now if you want to kid yourself and write lines that look like poems, go ahead and do it, but you’ll go nowhere. Read the great poets, go back and read Shakespeare, read Alexander Pope, read Robert Frost. But one poem a night, one short story a night, one essay a night, for the next 1,000 nights. From various fields: archaeology, zoology, biology, all the great philosophers of time, comparing them. Read the essays of Aldous Huxley, read Lauren Eisley, great anthropologist. . . I want you to read essays in every field. On politics, analyzing literature, pick your own. But that means that every night then, before you go to bed, you’re stuffing your head with one poem, one short story, one essay—at the end of a thousand nights, Jesus God, you’ll be full of stuff, won’t you?

End quote
Well, as I review this, I see there isn’t a lot of lifting stuff. Do three sets of three with Bosco’s Program Two. Enjoy. 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 169

“Perhaps he was thinking about something else,” whispered the Wart.
“Well, he shouldn’t have been,” hissed the Magician. “Giants like this do absolutely no harm in the long run, and you can keep them quite quiet by the smallest considerations, such as giving them back their stays. Anybody knows that. If he got himself into trouble with Galapas, let him stay in it. Let him pay the ransom.”
“I know for a fact,” said the Wart, “that he hasn’t got the money. He can’t even afford to buy himself a feather bed.”
“Then he should be polite,” said Merlyn doubtfully.
“He is trying to be,” said the Wart. “He doesn’t understand very much. Oh, please, King Pellinore is a friend of mine and I don’t like to see him in these forbidding cells with a single helper.”
“Whatever can we do?” cried Merlyn angrily. “The cells are firmly locked.”

End quote
Yelling near a giant is probably not the smartest decision Merlyn has made.
I love Merlyn’s defense of the giant. If you are nice to a giant, they tend to leave you alone. Write that down; it’s a valuable life lesson.
In White’s original text, he drew small pictures for each chapter. Galapas has the Nazi Swastika and the Soviet Union’s Hammer and Sickle on his outfit. I would say that is, ahem, “Not subtle.”
And, frankly, this is what confuses me. Giants are easy to deal with reasonably, according to Merlyn. In 1938, is White arguing to give the Nazi’s and USSR “what they want?” Or is he making a simple point with his drawing that I am simply missing.
I am probably simply missing it.


Wandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications


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