Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 49

As I type this, I am facing a full day of flying back home. Two weddings, two weekends. I swam in San Diego last Monday and the rocky bays of Western Ireland this whole week. Let’s just say the water temp in Ireland is “invigorating.” So, as I catch my breath, let’s look around the web.

Bodyweight work rises and falls, it seems, every month in the fitness industry. Obviously, it has great value and every coach needs this in the toolbox. Greg O’Gallhagher has a nice sum of the top six here.

Best line: “Too many people get so focused on hitting their muscles from different angles, feeling the pump and following some ridiculous diet that has them eating 5,000 calories per day…”

In addition, Dan Earthquake adds a few more here.

“Initially a few sets of 15 were as much as I could manage. I’d given up on my training diaries a few years ago but it was Coach Wade saying “Do it for old coach” that made me restart. I’m glad I did.  I started out by putting a set of 15 squats between other exercises and I found I could do a hundred and fifty during a session. Soon it was twenty five reps, then thirty and so on. As the reps got bigger, the sets reduced.  Some days I do five sets of a hundred. That’s not everyday–I’m not Ric Flair!”

“Sometimes I combine other movements using bars or benches and squat down whilst pulling on the lats as I descend. At the top I change grip and move forwards into a slow incline push up. This feels like an ideal movement to do in between sets of my favorite exercises: dips, pull-ups and push-ups.”

Many of us grew up in an era where bodyweight, strength training, sport and self-defense were integrated and we all tended to practice them all. I wrote on this recently, here.

It comes down to doing what you do. Whatever you are doing trumps everything you are not doing. Obviously. Just be good at it. Markus Wessel sent in this fine piece that opens the door a bit, so to speak.

“Some of the program’s students have continued their educations at Yale and Columbia universities, Max Kenner, executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative, told the AP. He noted that his students “make the most of every opportunity they have” and aren’t treated like men with criminal records in the classroom. ‘Students in the prison are held to the exact same standards, levels of rigor and expectation as students on Bard’s main campus,’ Kenner told the AP. ‘Those students are serious. They are not condescended to by their faculty.’”

Oddly, I found this article on prison debate to find the same ground as this article on something called “Twitter.” If you don’t know what it is, good for you. A worthy summary:

“We have created an abusive society. We have normalized, regularized, and routinized abuse. We are abused at work, by the very rules, norms, and expectations of our jobs, at which we are merely ‘human resources,’ to be utilized, allocated, depleted. We are abused at play, by industries that seek to prey on our innocence and literally ‘target’ our human weaknesses. And now we are abused at arm’s length, through the lightwaves, by people we will never meet, for things we have barely even said. We live in a society where school shootings are the rule, not the exception, where more people will have taken antidepressants than not…and now one where nearly everyone will have been abused on the web…for a random, off-hand, throwaway comment, an idle thought, something trivial, unremarkable, meaningless.”

Now that you know how I feel about abuse, let’s attack this.

Honestly? McDonalds as the answer to health and fitness? “An experiment of one” is always the single lowest level of proof and now this becomes an education program. We can’t teach these kids sexual health and appropriate family planning, but fries as the answer to health? Be sure to download the teacher’s guide that is actually quite good. One thing: I don’t disagree with it, but you can see the issue underlying the whole thing.

“John Cisna weighed 280 pounds when he decided to go on the McDonald’s-only diet. After 90 days, he had lost 37 pounds, and at the end of the six months, he weighed 224 pounds. Cisna limited his daily intake to 2,000 calories and exercised for 45 minutes five times a week. The documentary follows his journey, while incorporating footage from an amateur video he filmed while conducting the experiment. In the film, Cisna pushes the message that you can eat anything you want as long as you regulate calories and exercise.”

(My issue: 2000 calories a day, 45 minutes of exercise five days a week. That is absolutely the poster child for “Eat less, Exercise more.” And, we all know it works. The problem with MickyDees is that it takes a bit of work to eat sensible. Do want me to SuperSize this point?)

Laree Draper sent me this post on procrastination.

It is a nice expansion of Ike’s model, but for most people facing 2000 calories and five 45 minute walks a week, this needs to be part of the discussion.

“Figuring out the starting point of this chicken and egg paradox is each procrastinator’s personal quest. But a universal starting point is to try to remain aware as much as possible. Aware of what’s important, aware of what’s urgent, and most importantly—aware of the monkey. The monkey is not your friend, and he never will be. But he’s also part of your head and impossible to get rid of, so get in the habit of noticing him. When you wake up in the morning, he’ll be there. When you sit down to work, he’ll be there. Whenever you most badly need all the guts and grit you can muster, he’ll be there to take your guts and grit away. But he thrives off of unconsciousness. Simply by noticing him and saying to yourself, ‘Yup, there’s the monkey, right on cue’” you can start to tip the balance out of its default state. Then maybe one day, you’ll find yourself nonchalantly shoving the monkey off of the wheel with the simplest, ‘No monkey, not now.’ And your life will be forever changed.”

The counter, of course, to the McDonald’s Health Diet.

“Four days in, Harland’s feeling fatigued, he’s hungry all the time, and he wants to eat foods that contain sugar. It also doesn’t help that he’s surrounded by tempting, readily available sodas and other junk food. In one scene, a friend orders pizza while Harland munches on his umpteenth salad, and in another he’s sitting outside a burger joint, tempted to go in.

“The irony of that particular scene is that last year, Harland pranked attendees at an organic food convention in Holland by feeding them McDonald’s that had been chopped into appetizer-size portions. Holland and his mischievous partner asked folks if they liked the taste of the bite-size pieces of McNuggets and Big Macs. However, as seen in this video, Harland soon learns that his taste buds have been trained to crave salt- and sugar-laden items. By the end of the 30 days, he no longer wants to eat foods that are sweetened, he’s dropped some weight, and he has lower cholesterol too.”

So, we are back to Square One: Fast Food is bad. Fast Food is good. Explain that to your class or clients with absolute clarity, please.

Here’s an interview worth your time. Our training partner and friend, Mike Warren Brown, gets up close and personal with Bill Kociba.

Until next time, keep lifting and learning.


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