Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 55

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 55

From the OTP Content FilesClick here to read Gray Cook discussing how he whittled his ten movement principles down to four.

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. It is an 18-hour event with a Fifth Walk, Booze and Brunch, Yahtzee Tournament, Dinner, and then a host of people show up escaping both good and bad Thanksgiving gatherings.

I’m very thankful for an email I got on January 16, 2006. Laree Draper emailed about handling my three DVDs after the “Crossfit Issue.” That email turned into a career change (life change) that I truly never expected. It’s now almost ten years that I’ve worked under the OTP banner, and I’m very proud of our work together. [Editor’s note: I’m pleased and thankful too! ~Laree]

If you find something you like on the crazy world of the internet, ping me atdan@danjohn.net. I like these two links that came in from our WW readership. I wrote about Free Will in Chapter One of Never Let Go and I still think we don’t have a lot of it. This article argues that MORE choices leads to a wonderful issue: Decision Paraysis.

“This downfall is called ‘The Paradox Of Choice’. When we’re given too much choice, we end up not choosing for fear of making the wrong decision. In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper published a study titled ‘When Choice Is Demotivating’, illustrating this paradox. The study was based in an upscale food store where researchers set up tables with samples of high quality, exotic jams. Customers who sampled the jams were given a coupon for $1 off any jar of jam if they were to go ahead and make a purchase. The researchers had 24 different varieties of jam on offer one day, and only six varieties the next. Now the interesting part was that even though the larger display attracted more attention from customers, when it came time to make an actual purchase thirty percent of the people exposed to the smaller variety of jams actually brought a jar, whereas only 3 percent of the customers who were exposed to the larger variety of jams made a purchase. The study demonstrated that excessive choice produced ‘decision paralysis’.”

I think this is why some high school football coaches get so jumbled. Really, a team can win with just nine plays (the Veer Offense, the Run and Shoot and the Wishbone would be examples), but the game has gone to so much trickery that trying to get a team to remember to block and tackle has gone out of fashion. I have beaten this to death, but if all you had was a 16-kilo kettlebell, you would make progress because you have so few things to think about!

This article does a great job with the least appreciated part of good training, well, that and loaded carries.

“Having people think and decide without a given blueprint gives them the freedom to figure out a movement strategy,  which is what creative movement is all about.  We should encourage autonomous movement more often.  In being so quick to correct and streamline things, we miss out on other potential truths.  Modifications can always follow, but you can’t undo natural instinct without asking for it first.”

It’s a miracle anyone still steps up to coach in 2015. Parents demand meetings with the AD if you don’t schedule practice around their schedule (true story). So, one coach follows his policies and it makes the news.

“The attitudes the players exhibit seem to be what happens when you send kids through a school system that teaches them more about their own worth than about respect and being held accountable. It seems as though our society has been moving for decades toward teaching kids that everybody wins, everybody gets his way and that there are no consequences to bad actions.

“We need more men and women like Allen, not just as coaches, but as parents, teachers and leaders of all sorts. We need adults who love the kids as much as Allen clearly does, but who are dedicated to doing what’s best for them in the long run, not just making them happy for the moment. That requires learning to face mistakes and deal with consequences.”

Intentional Community has become the bedrock of my coaching influence. Conversation often trumps lousy research, science and salesmanship. In other words, talking with people you’ve shared a few meals and workouts with is far better than a sales plug wrapped in colorful “made up” facts. People who share my interests often save me hours of driving in the wrong direction, and give honest and important feedback. This is a pretty good example of how fun the article is and the amazing history of Master Mind groups:

“Out in the country and driving through the rain in an old Model T, a farmer noticed five men standing by a Lincoln touring car which was stuck in the mud. He stopped and assisted in pulling the car out of the muck, at which point one of the men stepped forward to shake his hand, telling the farmer, ‘I made the car you’re driving.’ ‘And I’m the man who made those tires,’ added another in the group. He then pointed to two of the others, saying, ‘Meet the man who invented the electric light—and the President of the United States.’ When the fifth man asked the farmer, ‘I guess you don’t know me either?’ the farmer replied, ‘No, but if you’re the same kind of liar as these other darn fools, I wouldn’t be surprised if you said you was Santa Claus.’”

And, while you are floating around that site, check out this great article. It’s a pretty impressive group.

My group was the focus on an article about a year ago.

I usually hate these lists online, but this one is pretty good. I’m not sure about all of them, but I think a few of them have great value.

Before We Go seems to be popular. I’m working on the outline and big topics for my next work, Now What?, which would follow up Can You Go. Although not complete, and one would need to understand the Venn Diagram fairly well first, here’s the first outline:

The 5-(4)-3-2-1 Answer to the 1-2-3-4 Assessment

Maybe the biggest issue with the 1-2-3-4 Assessment and the resulting “Hi, I’m Dan and I’m a Three” is that the solutions are so simple. And, that’s a problem. The answer(s):

Ones: Hypertrophy and mobility training
Twos: Hypertrophy and mobility training; nutrition and caloric restriction; inefficient exercise
Threes: Nutrition and caloric restriction; inefficient exercise
Fours: Strength training; nutrition and caloric restriction; inefficient exercise
Fives: Strength training
Sixes: Strength training; hypertrophy and mobility training
Sevens: Hypertrophy and mobility training; strength training; nutrition and caloric restriction; inefficient exercise

But, I can hear it now: this still too complicated! Especially those poor Sevens, but the key to all of this is focusing on what is NEEDED, not what is wanted. To make things even easier, especially on the training side, I put together a simple template.

I offer the 5-(4)-3-2-1 Program as the quick and easy answer.

Do the five fundamental human movements with appropriate loads and keep the total rep volume at ten and under.

The Five FHM:
Loaded Carries

Do hypertrophy work for the key phasic muscles and mobility/flexibility work for the key tonic muscles.

Phasic                                                Tonics
Glutes                                                Hip Flexors
Deltoids                                              Hamstrings
Triceps                                               Biceps
Ab wall                                               Pectorals

With the foundational statement “The Body is One Piece,” realize that training with reasonable reps, sets and loads for hypertrophy mixed with progressive, intelligent mobility/flexibility work is going to lead to a one-piece body. So, the parentheses represent “ONE.”

Threes need inefficient movements. We’ve been working on an idea based on doing three kinds of work in a bit of circuit: big movements, cardio machines and longer loaded carries. Let’s look at one example:

The Basic Template
300 Swings
2 x 500-meter Rows
1 Cook Drill (about 400 meters total)

One does not need to do these in order. The following is a great workout:

100 Swings
500-meter Row
100 Swings
500-meter Row
100 Swings
Cook Drill

The general explanation is this: The bulk of your inefficient exercises should be fairly big movements that will naturally prod the body into deep breathing. There should be some bellows work in the lungs and this can be done with swings, goblet squats, burpees or any training that makes you move up and down and back and forth. The Get Back Up drill would fit here, too.

I recommend Phil Maffetone’s numbers for this training. Very simply, he uses the formula 180 minus age (with a few variations) to figure the high range for the heart rate. When the HR dips below 160 minus age, it is time to get going again. Reps and sets change when you use a HR Monitor to control a training program. When the HR goes above the “180 minus age” number, stop. When it goes below 160 minus age, go.

You can do this with skipping, running, jump roping, hiking, blading or whatever you feel like doing. I like the control of kettlebell swings; when the buzzer goes off you either stop or start, but people are different.

We also encourage work with standard cardiovascular machines for some of the inefficient exercise training. Several bouts of around two minutes seem to have a positive impact on heart rate, body temperature and accelerated breathing without impacting the other qualities like strength and power too much. So far, two bouts of around two minutes each using a piece of cardiovascular equipment seems repeatable and doable every day. Tossing in these two heats makes the rest of training more inefficient.

Finally, some form of loaded carry or rucking to finish off the fat burning session seems to help. We can practically kill you with car pushes, but we want a repeatable, moderate finisher that will insist that the whole body works in union and provides some challenges for the fat-burning process. HeavyHands, Cook Drills, rucking or any other carry that extends to about five to fifteen minutes is fine.

Three Days a Week, Do the 5-(4)-3-2-1 Work

What about the rest of the time? Let me answer this in a roundabout way. For a while, I have been explaining the fundamental human movements in a slightly different way.

Pushes, pulls and squats work in a different way than the other movements. DeLorme’s numbers of 20-30 quality repetitions works well with these three movements. These movements naturally tend to work towards hypertrophy, mobility and, ultimately, strength.

In a proper program, you should push, pull and squat using the same total number of reps. This doesn’t, for clarity, work with hinge, loaded carry and the “Sixth Movement.”

Push, pull and squat also tend to lead to an increase in natural hormonal production. You can de-age by getting your push, pull and squat work in.

I call the push, pull and squat “the sex drive movements.”

The hinge and the loaded carries build athletes. We test programs by measuring the standing long jump and the farmer walk and, oddly, one can improve both without every do either movement for months at a time. But, if your SLJ and FW improve, we know something good is going on.

It’s hard to figure reps, sets and loads for either movement. 500 kettlebell swings or a 500-pound deadlift for one might be a very taxing workout. Loaded carries are almost just “Hey, go down and come back.” Yet, when done correctly these movements carry over into all areas of performance.

I call the hinge and loaded carry “the thrive movements.”

Finally, we have that bizarre catch-all, the Sixth Movement. It’s “everything else.” But here’s the key: when you need a Sixth Movement, you NEED it. Rope climbing might have no value to you…until you need to climb something to save your life. The same goes with swimming or CPR: There’s not a lot of need for it, until you need it.

I call the Sixth Movements “the survive movements.”

For the athlete, a focus on “Thrive” will help performance. To look good on the beach: Sex Drive.

But, you need to take care of “Survive” first.

1. Eye doctor, dentist, medical doctor
2. Breakfalling and tumbling
3. First aid, CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver (and using a defibrillator)
4. Defensive driving or advanced driving course
5. Swimming class
6. Bicycle riding and bicycle repair
7. Stress management course or appropriate application of stress management tools
8. Personal finance course
9. Gardening or gardening class
10. Survival course, survival skills

Like I said, this is just the brief notes and outline. Ideally, much more will be added and the fluff will find the dust bin, but the process is always fun.

Until next time.


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