Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 327

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 327

I’m not sure how many of our readers scroll down to The Sword in the Stone materials. This week, I share with you the paragraph, a statement by Merlyn, that has brought me more comfort (and joy…comfort and joy) than flowers, well wishes and candy.
 
Okay, maybe not candy.
 
Merlyn is trying to help young Arthur with sadness. His solution? Learn something.
 
This week, Andrew Gunn sent me a draft of a new book on one of my heroes and David Scott got me to rethink and rewrite much of my work (see the selection below).
 
Learn something.
 
It’s been a strange year or so. I don’t think I am understating that many of us are on the edge. My schoolteacher friends (and family) are stretched thin as they are teaching, cleaning, sanitizing and making hazmat suit decisions all at once. My daughter has been off and on quarantine so often, I don’t think she knows what month this is today.
 
I have visited a number of schools recently…safely. I have old friends and former students trying to make this work. One thing that keeps coming out: The lessons of this pandemic will be valuable for decades. (Of course, until we decide to forget them.) Many schools are discovering that blending online with in-seat education is going to work well…for many students, not all. Schools will probably continue to have “up staircases” and “down staircases” and many of us just flashed back to our youth.
 
My training, my recovery and my nutrition have all been reshaped by this past year. I have learned some things that I hope I can remember. Under stress, I think that my training has to be less ballistic…even though, yes, I did just finish the 10,000 swing challenge. This time, however, I did the challenge separately from my other training. I was fresh and I stayed inside where it was warm.
 
I found an interesting thing at the height of the hoarding here in Utah: the veggie area was full and almost untouched. My neighbors seemed to hoard frozen pizza (literally impossible at times to find any here in the valley) and I made more stews, soups and salads. This, hopefully, will be something I continue to do.
 
So, learn something. And remember it!!
 
This week on danjohnuniversity.com:
 
Here’s a link to Episode 80 of the podcast.
 
There were lots of great questions this week, so be sure to listen to the podcast.
 
We also started a Patreon page. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast or videos on YouTube (there are over 1,000 now) and would like to buy Dan a beer, I’m sure he wouldn’t say no. Of course, all the free content will continue regardless. 
 
Have a great week!
Brian Gwaltney, CEO Dan John University
[email protected]
 
I did a lot of podcasts recently but I haven’t been getting the links. I only have one for you today.
 
Pat Flynn’s has been on a roll lately. He has cobbled together a lot of kettlebell resources here. Be sure to scroll down the whole page.
 
I don’t have a lot of online articles this week, but they might be the best selections I have offered for you in a while. Enjoy.
 
This might be a perfect plan. Stu McGill still leading the way.

Quoting:

Even though every individual has particular training needs based on ability and lifestyle demands, McGill has devised a seven-day training cycle which provides an overall structure for staying fit into old age, and which can be adjusted according to individual preference. It’s very simple and consists of:
 
Strength training: two days
 
Mobility training: two days
 
“Something else”: two days
 
Rest: one day
 
The two strength and mobility days should not be performed consecutively.
 
Strength training: Grip, hips, and patterns
 
After 40, says McGill, people tend to lose muscle mass and strength. “I can’t strength train and recover like I used to, but I have to maintain some strength.” Therefore he’s shifted his strength training from heavy lifting and bodybuilding to lighter pattern-based training. This means choosing exercises based on common functional patterns such as pushing, pulling, lunging, lifting, lowering, and carrying. For example, to train his pull strength, he adopted a TRX strap pull. For pushing, instead of hitting the bench press, he’ll do some standing press exercises.
 
Instead of splitting up the week’s strength work into different body parts, McGill recommends working through the whole body on each strength day. He also advises focusing on specific kinds of strength that will help meet your demands (such as recovering from falls). This means working on his grip strength (he holds an iron bar and waves it in a figure-eight in front of him) and hip flexion strength (using hip flexion exercises on a roman chair).
 
Mobility: Unsticking what’s stuck
 
“Mobility didn’t matter very much to me when I was younger. I had it. But now things are getting stuck.” As we age, we tend to get stiffer, particularly in ball and socket joints such as the hip and shoulder. Decreased thoracic mobility is also common, leading to more slouched posture. McGill says that this means that it’s important for older people to focus more on maintaining their mobility.
 
Mobility work should focus on your own particular creaks and stiff spots. Pay attention to how you feel, and when something starts getting stuck, find some mobility exercises that use your full range of motion, says McGill. For him, that means just a few deep squats with no weight, as well as thoracic extension exercises to combat the tendency to slouch.  If you have pain radiating down from your neck or lower back, he says you might benefit from “nerve flossing” mobility techniques, which he describes in his book Back Mechanic.
 
“Something Else”
 
In addition to strength and mobility training, McGill prescribes two days per week of “something else”. Follow your own tastes here; the point is to enjoy yourself. For McGill, “it changes with the season. I might ride a bike, go for a swim, or go for a cross-country ski. Something to get the old ticker pumping.”
 
However, “cardio” isn’t one of McGill’s favourite words. “Yes, cardiovascular exercise is the intent, but ‘cardio’ makes me think of indoor treadmills and exercise bikes, which I absolutely abhor. Life is too short to be a rat in a wheel.” Instead, McGill recommends activities that incorporate a greater variety of movement. Because falling is a bigger risk, it’s also important to “create a balanced environment so people who are getting older can keep challenging and testing their balance.” Hiking works. McGill also said that Tai Chi is a great exercise for older people that builds strength, mobility and balance.
 
Recovery: More exercise isn’t better
 
Young bodies recover quickly. A twenty-year-old may experience a day of soreness before recovering, stronger than before. This process slows down as we age, and McGill says we should take that into account.
 
Older people should stop exercising before they get sore, says McGill, because that usually means they’ll need an extra day to recover. “It’s better to have two moderately easy days of activity than one hard day and then two days off.” He also recommends dividing physical tasks into manageable intervals. Instead of spending eight exhausting hours raking leaves at once, McGill divides the job into four intervals of two hours.
 
Because older bodies take longer to recover, he says the one “day of rest” in the seven-day cycle is non-negotiable.

End quote
 
Not long ago, I did a Youtube video of Tom Brady’s book, TB12. I was attacked by someone I know and I was shocked at the nonprofessional, visceral response. I deleted it…I regret that. For whatever reason, Brady seems to be divisive among otherwise logical people. Seven Superbowl Championship rings makes me think that maybe, just maybe, we should at least lean in when he, or his support staff, speak on things.

Quoting:
 
So, what the heck does Tom Brady’s diet actually consist of?
 
A lot of fruit, a lot of recovery fluids, and just the right amount of pizza.

Tom Brady consumes an astounding amount of liquid.
 
After he hops out of bed at 6 a.m., the first thing Brady reaches for is a 20-ounce glass of water infused with electrolytes. Then he sips a smoothie, which typically contains in blueberries, bananas, nuts, and seeds. Pretty normal.
 
During his 8 a.m. workout, he drinks more electrolyte-infused water, followed by a post-workout protein shake.
 
Brady stresses the importance of hydration and drinks anywhere between 12 to 25 glasses of water a day—which is probably enough to fill the fish tank you always wanted as a kid.
 
However, Brady trains a lot harder than the average human being, so the 25 glasses of water make sense.

Tom Brady used to be really strict about the foods he eats.
 
In his 2017 book, Brady explained that he was focused on eating “alkalizing” foods, or foods meant to decrease inflammation in your body. For lunch, Brady would eat fish and vegetables, and his personal chef revealed that 80 percent of what the Brady household eats is vegetables.
 
However, Brady says that he now gives himself some breathing room when it comes to his diet. “I have a friend who freaks out if it’s not the most organic this or that, and I’m like, ‘That stress is going to harm you way more than eating that chip is,'” he explained.
 
That said, Brady does favor routine: berry-and-banana smoothies pre-workout; avocado and eggs for breakfast; salads with nuts and fish for lunch; hummus, guacamole, or mixed nuts for snacks; and roasted vegetables and chicken for dinner.
 
And in his gym and fridge tour, Brady revealed a fridge full of fruits like grapes, blueberries, apples, pears, bananas, and veggies like cucumbers, kale, and spinach. He likes to add TB12 electrolytes to his water, and he’s a fan of recovery fluids.
 
On gamedays, his meals are simple: a smoothie and an almond butter and jelly sandwich.

Tom Brady isn’t afraid of cheat meals.
 
Brady doesn’t mind treating himself, but if he does, it has to be worth it.

End quote
 
Every so often, I re-find a Laird Hamilton article. I guess I like this article is because so much of it seems “real.” That’s big for me.

Quoting:
 
3 Be a fat-burning monster I don’t eat energy bars when I’m out on the water all day. In fact, I don’t need to eat anything. My body runs off its body fat. That’s because I’m paleo. I consume hardly any refined sugar, a few raw dairy products and almost no wheat or grains. I eat plants and animals. I grew up that way in Hawaii. Paleo researcher-kineseologist Paul Chek taught me that your body has enough fat on it to run for days… and that sugar fouls up your machinery. So after I cut alcohol, I began eliminating sugar and sugary fruit. I refined it over the past two years listening to primal lifestyle guru Mark Sisson and other paleo people. A triathlete can go for hours on a little almond butter and their own body fat. But if you eat refined carbs, your blood sugar spikes up and down. I love espresso. You could give me five shots of espresso, a quarter stick of butter, a quarter stick of coconut oil and other fat, and I’ll drink that. I could go for five or six hours and not be hungry, because I’m burning fat.
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4 But don’t be a zealot I have a saying: “Every-thing in moderation, including moderation.” I make it achievable, not stressful for me and people around me. I’ll use a little coconut sugar. I’ve got friends who have to stick to a diet at all times, and the stress of that almost overrides the quality of the way you eat. My eating is not such a hassle that I can’t go anywhere.

End quote
 
This is really an important point from David Scott. I think there is a truth here…maybe a gamechanger for some readers. I’m adding this to the new Easy Strength book and this year’s workshops.

Quoting:

Hinge/Push type
 
hinge/push- strength, work capacity/volume
 
squat/pull- mobility, core oriented
 
This person does well with strength and work capacity/higher volume centered around the hinge and push patterns.
 
So swings, deadlifts, cleans, snatches along with push-ups, over head presses, and what not.
 
For the squat and the pull, this person does better with single limb versions, off set weights or more core oriented variations.
 
Think split squats, goblet squats, single arm kettlebell squats, along with quad rows, plank rows and archer rows. These variations tend to produce better mobility.

Squat/Pull type
 
squat/pull- strength, work capacity/volume
 
hinge/push- mobility, core oriented
 
This person does well with strength and work capacity/higher volume centered around the squat and pull patterns.
 
Think any version of barbell squat, pull-ups, chin-ups or any kind of bilateral row.
 
For the hinge and push, this person does better with single limb versions, off set weights or more core oriented variations.
 
Think hip thrusts (single or double leg), single leg deadlifts, lateral reaching lunges, along with 1/2 kneeling presses, single arm presses etc.
 
Now keep a few things in mind here…
 
1) This is based on observations over the years with different clients. So, no, there’s no white lab coat tested study to back it up. Just thousands of hours watching people squat, pull, hinge and push.
 
2) I believe the volume of work might be the bigger factor in this.  More so than the exercises chosen. So if you’re a hinge/push, whether it’s a bench press or a 1/2 kneeling press may not matter that much. You’ll still be able to do a ton of them.

End quote
 
Like I said, not a LOT of articles this week but I think you can take some of these ideas and probably have an outstanding training program and lifestyle. I find myself, as I clean up and edit things, that I keep rereading and thinking about each of these selections. This was a good week.
 
And, maybe, next week will be better. Until then, keep on lifting and learning.

Dan
DanJohn.net

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 181

Quoting:
 
“Sir Ector has given me a glass of canary,” said the Wart, “and sent me to see if you can’t cheer me up.”
 
“Sir Ector,” said Merlyn, “is a wise man.”
 
“Well,” said the Wart, “what about it?”
 
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn—pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theo-criticism and geography and history and economics—why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough.”
 
“Apart from all these things,” said the Wart, “what do you suggest for me just now?”

End quote
 

I will leave Wart’s “snarky” comment here just so we can all realize that the student doesn’t always recognize the brilliance. This, however, deserves a rereading. It deserves several lifetimes.
 
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn—pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theo-criticism and geography and history and economics—why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough.”

DanWandering Weights is published each Wednesday by On Target Publications

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