Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 322
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 322
I will sneak over 5000 swings today. You can follow along with each and every rep on Youtube. I am shocked at how popular the videos have become since I began doing this. Oddly, there is a need to watch a 63-year old grandfather swing kettlebells.
Many people miss the point of Challenges. These are not PROGRAMS. I have a video on my vision on programming and I think that most of the time most of us should follow basic, simple training templates that are repeatable.
Challenges are something that make you a bit nervous, a little scared and involve step after step after step until we finish.
Finish. I can’t emphasize finishing enough. Many people miss the point. When I did the Velocity Diet all those many years ago, I didn’t care about the weight/fat loss, I just cared about the 28 day challenge. That next season, I felt unstoppable.
Remember, most of my career is sports. I see this quote nearly daily online:
I play real sports, not try to be the best at exercising.
Kenny Powers, Eastbound and Down
I think I agree with it. Mostly. The “Top Down” model of DO THIS training doesn’t really reflect how we improve over here in the Real World (I’m hoping to have my own MTV show on my life soon…I will 24/7 my life as a grandfather, strength trainer and friend of my dog. I’m sure it’s a money maker).
George Sheehan has a much more elegant vision of this idea.
“We need all three activities. Exercise is a science. Play is an art. Sport is both. Exercise is mechanical. Play is free-flowing. Sport is exercise with rules and a reckoning at the finish. Sport is exercise with consequences.”
The 10,000 swing challenge is mechanical. Hell, I look like something you would find in a factory. Hinge-Plank, Hinge-Plank. Watch the paint dry.
This challenge will set me up to play with my grandkids, including the one we are expecting soon, far into the future.
And that is motivation enough for me.
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
Here’s a link to Episode 75 of the podcast.
Our New Year’s special will be running throughout January. You can use code NEWYEAR to receive 3 months of access for $29.
We are over halfway done with the 10,000 swings, but it’s not too late to join us. We are posting every one of Dan’s sessions on YouTube so you can still start with him and go through the whole series.
Here’s Day 1.
Have a great week!
I’m at a quiet time for podcasts but I can share two with you this week.
Pat and Dan discuss why the overhead squat is both an awesome diagnostic tool and exercise to improve full body strength. They then discuss how to program overhead squats, the value of training with submaximal loads, and their respective high-volume swing challenges. Dan John on Overhead Squats, High Volume Kettlebell Swings, and Submaximal Training Loads.
Jay and I had a great conversation. Enjoy!
You can also find it here.
With the craziness of this week, I didn’t spend as much time playing on the internet as I usually do but I found some excellent things here. This article, to kick things off, helped me understand my “everybody else” clients a bit more.
Specifically, your sex hormones. Testosterone and estrogen are two of the biggest drivers of fat storage—they’re the whole reason that men and women tend to have different body shapes when it comes to chub. Biologically female bodies stash the stuff in thighs and butts, whereas male bodies tend to pack pounds onto the stomach. This is also partly why men tend to have more cardiovascular problems. Abdominal fat exacerbates metabolic issues and triggers all kinds of metabolic changes that have a negative impact on your cardiovascular system.
But it’s not as straightforward as “testosterone makes you put fat in your belly.” In fact, it’s men with low testosterone who start storing lipids there, which is why, as they age and their natural testosterone levels decrease, they generally start getting that potbelly look.
Both testosterone and estrogen actually promote leanness overall, and androgens (that’s the class of sex steroids including testosterone) seem to have very different effects depending on sex. It’s a complex system, and is made only more complicated by the fact that it’s very hard to study differences like this—the majority of people in the world remain either biologically male or biologically female for their entire lives. This means there are only a few windows where we can see how a significant change in sex hormones impacts body fat.
The most obvious is puberty.
Generally, I like lists. Some are pretty, you know, OBVIOUS. This point was good:
#6. Make sure your butt goes to the back of anywhere you sit.
Despite a decade in martial arts, I had awful posture because of the way I sat when using a computer. The gap I left between my butt and the backrest of the chair weakened my back muscles.
I don’t aim for perfect posture, I only make sure my butt is always flush against the backrest. By doing this, the other aspects of good seated posture feel more natural.
This is a nice summary of things for thriving after fifty years of age.
Establish a Routine
Swift is committed to debunking the idea that older athletes shouldn’t train hard or with intensity. In fact, strength training is arguably the most important part of maintaining fitness with age, but it’s often sacrificed in favor of cardiovascular exercise. “We need to keep people training hard and consistently. We just need to do so showing greater care and being more conservative with loading patterns and intensity. Older athletes need to be physically challenged just like younger athletes,” Swift says.
Both Swift and Owen recommend a training program that focuses on compound exercises—multijoint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time—and functional movement patterns that use a full range of motion. This isn’t all that different from a workout that either trainer might recommend to a younger athlete, but the key distinction is extra recovery time. Swift recommends three to four sessions of weight training a week for an older athlete and an extra rest day compared to what he might recommend for a younger person.
Regardless of intensity or volume, establishing a regular routine and sticking to it is the most critical part of training as you age. “Don’t stop training, ever. It is genuinely a case of use it or lose it,” Swift says. “Once you stop training at a later age, there is a decline at a much greater rate than for a younger population, and it is considerably harder to get it back.”
This has some pretty obvious stuff, but, hey, it’s good to remember that obvious is often best: Six ways to ‘reboot your brain’ after a hard year of COVID-19 – according to science
4. Keep socially connected
Loneliness and social isolation is prevalent across all ages, genders and cultures – further elevated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Robust scientific evidence has indicated that social isolation is detrimental to physical, cognitive and mental health.
One recent study showed that there were negative effects of COVID-19 isolation on emotional cognition, but that this effect was smaller in those that stayed connected with others during lockdown. Developing social connections and alleviating loneliness is also associated with decreased risk of mortality as well as a range of illnesses.
Therefore, loneliness and social isolation are increasingly recognised as critical public health issues, which require effective interventions. And social interaction is associated with positive feelings and increased activation in the brain’s reward system.
In 2021, be sure to keep up with family and friends, but also expand your horizons and make some new connections.
Finally, this article from Marty on Ed Coan has a large bucket of wisdom for all of us.
Coan and Hugh liked to incorporate a few select “assistance exercises.” Ed had a wider training menu; Hugh had his “hallmark” back-off sets. Part of the reason Ed Coan and Doug Furnas hit it off so well was that the training that Doug had learned from his power mentor, world champion and world record holder Dennis Wright, were strangely similar to Ed’s evolving approach. When Ed and Doug began comparing training notes the similarities were many.
Doug Furnas told me that when he began repping 700 + for reps, squatting twice weekly became impossible. He had to fit deadlifting in during the training week and 700 + for reps in two squat sessions and one deadlift session became too much, there was no recovering, session to session. A balance had to be struck. Cut back on the volume, quality over quantity. Chaillet and I had been using the one-lift-per-week approach for years with great success.
Coan’s progress on a bar graph went upward at a 45-degree angle. His across-the-board accomplishments remain untouchable 30 years later. His training approach should be studied and widely practiced. His training template is as valid and result-producing in 2020 as it was in 1985, when it was first formalized. His periodized in-season approach is a study in logic grounded in ruthless self-assessment. Coan was realistic and patient: he played the long game and never got ahead of himself.
That should keep you busy for a bit. Next time you read WW, I will probably be finished on the challenge. From there, I will be sliding over to Easy Strength for Fat Loss, donating blood (Power Red takes me down for about a week) and striving to be the best version of me I can be. 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 176
It was hay-making again, and Merlyn had been with them a year. The wind had visited them, and the snow, and the rain, and the sun once more. The boys looked longer in the leg, but otherwise everything was the same.
Six other years passed by.
Sometimes Sir Grummore came on a visit. Sometimes King Pellinore could be descried galloping over the purlieus after the Beast, or with the Beast after him if they happened to have got muddled up. Cully lost the vertical stripes of his first year’s plumage and became greyer, grimmer, madder, and distinguished by smart horizontal bars where the long stripes had been. The merlins were released every winter and new ones caught again next year. Hob’s hair went white. The sergeant-at-arms developed a pot-belly and nearly died of shame, but continued to cry out One-Two, in a huskier voice, on every possible occasion. Nobody else seemed to change at all, except the boys.
These grew longer. They ran like wild colts as before, and went to see Robin when they had a mind to, and had innumerable adventures too lengthy to be recorded.
Merlyn’s extra tuition went on just the same—for in those days even the grown-up people were so childish that they saw nothing uninteresting in being turned into owls. The Wart was changed into countless different animals. The only difference was that now, in their fencing lessons, Kay and his companion were an easy match for the pot-bellied sergeant, and paid him back accidentally for many of the buffets which he had once given them. They had more and more proper weapons as presents, when they had reached their ‘teens, until in the end they had full suits of armour and bows nearly six feet long, which would shoot the clothyard shaft. You were not supposed to use a bow longer than your own height, for it was considered that by doing so you were expending unnecessary energy, rather like using an elephant-gun to shoot an ovis ammon with. At any rate, modest men were careful not to over-bow themselves. It was a form of boasting.
As the years went by, Kay became more difficult. He always used a bow too big for him, and did not shoot very accurately with it either. He lost his temper and challenged nearly everybody to have a fight, and in those few cases where he did actually have the fight he was invariably beaten. Also he became sarcastic. He made the sergeant miserable by nagging about his stomach, and went on at the Wart about his father and mother when Sir Ector was not about. He did not seem to want to do this. It was as if he disliked it, but could not help it.
The Wart continued to be stupid, fond of Kay, and interested in birds.
Merlyn looked younger every year—which was only natural, because he was.
Archimedes was married, and brought up several handsome families of quilly youngsters in the tower room.
Sir Ector got sciatica. Three trees were struck by lightning. Master Twyti came every Christmas without altering a hair. Master Passelewe remembered a new verse about King Cole.
The years passed regularly and the Old English snow lay as it was expected to lie—sometimes with a Robin Redbreast in one corner of the picture, a church bell or lighted window in the other—and in the end it was nearly time for Kay’s initiation as a full-blown knight. Proportionately as the day became nearer, the two boys drifted apart—for Kay did not care to associate with the Wart any longer on the same terms, because he would need to be more dignified as a knight, and could not afford to have his squire on intimate terms with him. The Wart, who would have to be the squire, followed him about disconsolately as long as he was allowed to do so, and then went off full miserably to amuse himself alone, as best he might.
In a sense, “nothing” happens in this chapter. If I could only get you to read two chapters, it would be this chapter and Wart’s visit to the raptors at night. I think the evening with the hawks is discussion of how to navigate life…this chapter discusses how to navigate life when things don’t go the way you want.
Merlyn and Wart’s relationship has been growing older colder, in a sense. Wart’s ambitions don’t align with Merlyn’s vision of the world.
They will disagree in this chapter. Merlyn will dispel some myths. Wart will speak of his hopes and dreams. Merlyn will try to crush them. Wart will keep his vision.
I have had people try to stomp on my goals. Hell, I think it is part of the process of achieving a goal; nay-sayers seem to love to pop the goal balloons. Overcoming friend, family and foe is all part of the goal-achieving process.
Later, those same people will tell you that they “meant well” and they didn’t want you to be disappointed.
Disappointment? I’m not necessarily agreeing with Peggy Lee, but she sang it better:
I know what you must be saying to yourselves
“If that’s the way she feels about it, why doesn’t she just end it all?”
Oh, no. Not me
I’m not ready for that final disappointment
Cause I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you
And when that final moment comes and I’m breathing my last breath,
I’ll be saying to myself
Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is
Maybe this why so few people live the life of their dreams. There will be disappointment in life; there will be disappointment when you strive for your dreams.
Oddly, simply striving to gain your goal is far better than letting life click by you minute by minute, hour by hour.
I agree with Wart. But I listen to Merlyn, too.
DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications
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