Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 59

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 59

From OTPbooks.com this week: Last week Dan sent a few goblet squat links, so to wrap that up, here’s Dan’s goblet squat excerpt from Intervention.

2016 is sniffing around the door. It will be an Olympic year and a Presidential election here in the USA. The gyms will be crowded for the next week and a half.

Then, they empty out again. How do we keep people coming back? Well, first, I have this sliding scale:


It goes from left to right: starting something (like a diet) is easy. In fact, if you don’t have something in your mouth right now, you can tell someone you started a fast.

Increasing things…I usually tell people more water, more veggies and more protein…is just a bit harder, but it is the best approach to get most people to move ahead on health, fitness and performance issues.

Decreasing is much harder. Fewer cheat meals, less carbs and all the rest are great, but we humans tend to struggle with “less.”

Stopping? Good luck. Talk to former smokers about how easy this is to do.

This is where the New Year’s resolutions concerning “Stopping” are so much harder than anything else. From my workshop Now What? I have this list for fat loss:

Start a food log.
Increase water, veggies, and protein.
Decrease cheat meals.
Stop smoking.

If you are considering a New Year’s res, consider that list and the words you pick to achieve them.

Ashley Palmer is one of our three “resident” nutritionists here at the gym on Westridge. Her blog is an undiscovered gem of logic and common (uncommon?) sense. Ashley complements my thoughts on goal setting.

“Goals can be exciting. They are often fun to plan and think about and map out… and it can become really easy to plan a thousand different actions to take at once. I’ve done it, and I’m sure you have too: You make a list of all of the things you’re going to do right now to change your life, and the list gets longer and longer and longer. At some point you look at your beautiful, shiny, exciting list and think: ‘I can’t possibly do all of that.’ It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed when we try to change too much at once. We can’t expect to simultaneously modify five hundred tiny things about our actions and our behaviors and not feel overwhelmed as a result.”

Greg O’Gallagher keeps us on the same tack here with his thoughts on fat loss exercise.

“You see, here’s the thing, most people only view cardio from a one dimensional point of view. They only pay attention to how many calories they are burning…

“But this is where you need to think of the big picture. Ask yourself, is all this cardio helping me stick to my diet and calorie intake? When dealing with fat loss, this is the most logical frame of mind to come from. My goal for you is to make fat loss downright enjoyable. If you are enjoying your cut, you’re going to get to you goal! Plain and simple. The reason people fail to achieve their fat loss goals is because they can’t consistently stick to the plan.”

Mark Watts and I have spent many an evening in Dennison University dorms discussing the wide and wonderful world of weights. His insights here are perfect for those with performance goals.

“Here are three goals to set as a coach for stage 4 of this process. These are very cliche’ and stolen, but meaningful (at least to me).”

Still quoting:

Set goals for your athletes that they could never set for themselves. Then, give them the plan, the skills, and the confidence to reach them.

Be the person you needed when you were their age. We all (especially coaches) have a tendency to become influences we never had growing up. Fill that void for someone else.

Make them earn everything. Every time you give them something they don’t deserve, you diminish them as a person.  Don’t steal the motivation and their decision on what is important to them.

It’s not about what they are getting from you, but who are they becoming because of you. Almost all (if not all) of the athletes you work with will not make a living playing sports. Make sure that the lessons you teach and the things they work hard to achieve will transcend throughout their lives.”

I found some interesting reading this week, too, beyond the goal setting. This article on the NFL is valuable for any one. A fascinating read. You don’t need to go much deeper, but cost to benefit is the foundation of good coaching and it is obvious the NFL is still pretty far behind the curve in business. (So is the NCAA, but both make a lot of money! Not the athletes…no…that would be immoral!)

“Digital firms such as Amazon, Google, Facebook (FB), and many others have the added benefit of user transactions right on their sites, allowing them to grab valued data and use it to forecast what consumers might do next. ‘How would a Google or Amazon have handled Deflategate?’ Iansiti asks. ‘The NFL is missing out on very basic sources of data. That just wouldn’t happen in a real company.'”

I was sent an article that has solid advice on morning meals.

“This is my personal favorite, and it has become the favorite of a few of my clients as well. I originally got this idea from the blog of Tim Ferriss. It is a great way to get fiber, greens and protein all in the same meal. The steps are simple:


Grab a bowl, cooking pan, cooking spray and 2 or 3 eggs, pre-cooked lentils, and baby spinach.
Spray the pan with the cooking spray and crack the eggs into the pan to fry.
Put lentils and spinach at the bottom of the bowl.
After eggs are done cooking, place on top of lentils and spinach.”

An oldie but goodie for those still discussing swings versus deadlifts. For the record, this isn’t moral theology: there is no good or bad in training!

“I’ll keep this brief. Many meatheads say that kettlebell swings are a sissy exercise. However, Jim Wendler approves them (10), and Jim has squatted a grand and has a huge beard. Enough said! I’m sure he’d like them even more if he had a 203-pounder to throw around. Heavy swings are not a sissy exercise, trust me!”

Oddly, the very next article I read was on saving money…and happiness! So, swing and save money.

“‘Basically, what we find is that the more credit card debt you have, the less you enjoy your discretionary spending,’ he said. ‘So to be really happy, you need to make sure you feel financially secure—and get your credit card debt under control—and then you should use your discretionary resources to bring you closer to your friends and family. That is the simplest path from money to happiness.'”

One of my Christmas presents was The Emperor’s Handbook, the collected writings of Marcus Aurelius. Todd and Chris sent this to me (thank you) and it reminded me of why I like to read the Stoics.

“The Stoics did seek detachment from all things outside of their complete control like wealth, health, and yes, social status, choosing instead to make inner virtue the primary focus of their lives. But the Stoics weren’t totally indifferent to those external goods, either. Rather, they thought of things like wealth, health, and social status as ‘preferred indifferents,’ and poverty, sickness, and low status as ‘dispreferred indifferents.’ That is, they thought wealth, health, and status were preferred over poverty, sickness, and lack of status, and could be sought as long as they did not get in the way of the pursuit of virtue. But, if they failed to attain these preferred goods, they were, well, indifferent to that outcome; they didn’t get upset about status setbacks.”

Speaking of presents, I also received a subscription to this magazine. The site has dozens of great things to read and some, like the story of the coyote and the skunk, will give you some insights on life.

Finally, Matthew Woodard, one of our readers, sent in this very interesting piece.

“Every day. For Decades.”

I can’t think of a better way to set up not just 2016 but the rest of your life than finding some positive things to do and do them Every Day. For Decades.

Happy New Year.



Publisher’s note:  For today’s little treat, here are ALL of Dan’s audio lectures in a discounted bundle.
And if that’s too much for this still-holiday week, here’s his new one, FREE, in which he discusses the differences and similarities of Intervention & Can You Go? and talks about how to use blend them together.

Dan John Audio Lectures

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