Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 62

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 62

From OTPbooks.com: In this new column, Vince McConnell takes a look at training after age 50.

My short little “stay-cation” is over as I will begin road tripping this weekend. I’m going to the Deer Park Strength and Conditioning Workshop this weekend with a talk on coaching the high school athlete. This begins a long series of flights and workshops.

I will focus on the three great principles of team coaching for this workshop:

Shrink the Gap
Attention to Detail
Climb the Ladder

The biggest mistake you can make when coaching teams of any kind is focusing on the “top.” For American HS football, the team is only as strong as probably the 35th athlete. If your scout team can push the varsity, good things tend to happen. If your superstar practices against a wet paper sack all week, the program is going to be hurting. So, Shrink the Gap.

Attention to detail is a cliché now in coaching, but it doesn’t mean it is not true. In the weightroom, safety is 24/7 and you can’t let that get sloppy, especially with groups sneaking up on 60 to 70 athletes. The details can be as simple as not fouling in practice, leaving things better than you found it, or making sure the lights are off when you leave, but, oddly, great programs (and coaches and teachers) seem to master this concept.

Climb the Ladder is the term I use for not just progression but also in the sense Thomas Merton used it: when you get to the top of the ladder of success…make sure it is on the right wall. I believe in progression (and regression) in exercise selection, recovery methods, and the obvious one, load.

But, I also think you have to be on the right ladder. Having all your athletes squat huge loads that lead to banged-up knees or backs the athletes have to deal with the rest of their lives is having the ladder on the wrong wall. I’m not anti-squat; I’m giving an example. Injuries happen, but make sure the overall direction of the program is positive. Moreover, ensure that the lifelong impact of the sport is positive in terms of health, fitness and longevity. As best you can…

I’ve been finding a lot of articles recently that seem to get us back to what we knew in 1962: strength training and lower carbs are pretty good for body composition. This article summed up the need for resistance training over some other things.

“Eventually, though, the article has another, even more important message than ‘resistance beats cardio training’. Which one? Well, there is ‘no relationship between any treatments effectiveness for inducing acute changes in energetic balance with the effectiveness for induced responses to body composition or biomarkers of health from said treatment program’ (Clark. 2015). A revelation that reinforces the idea that our individual body composition is not a function of energy intakes vs. expenditure. The effects of metabolic stress, which is obviously greater for resistance and HIIT training (compared to steady state, the HIIT studies in the meta-analysis yielded better results, too), on the other hand is still underappreciated by both practitioners and scientists of who James E. Clark is one of the first to conclude that the ‘focus of treatment should be on producing a large metabolic stress (as induced by RT or high levels of ET [don’t overdo it on “cardio’, though | learn why]) rather than an energetic imbalance for adults who are overfat’ (Clark. 2015)”

This article is “money.” It is absolutely true at all levels of sport now. If you want to find out the character of an athlete, ask the strength coach.

“Which leads me to the three groups professional scouts talk to when they come on campus – your coaches, the sports medicine people, and me. If you go to school where I work, it’s likely not in that order. Many teams come to me first. They aren’t going to invest millions of dollars in a person who is going to be a problem for their franchise. When I spend time with the scouts, how much you lift is something like number 25 on a list of 26 things they ask. We have the inside track on everything that is going on within athletics, so scouts will take what we say about your character, work ethic, and leadership.”

Sometimes in a week I will bump into a series of articles that seem to connect together in my head. These next three articles make some simple points that seem universally true, like “Show Up, Don’t Quit, and Ask Questions,” my success mantra.

Consistency makes a bigger difference in results than intensity.”

Your athletic prowess doesn’t have to take a dive as you age. Taking care of your digestion and consuming supplements such as vitamin D and BCAAs can go a long way to help you recover to sustain your athletic ability.”

“Remember: Celebrities don’t have fans because they’re celebrities; celebrities are celebrities because they have fans.”

One of our readers sent in this blog and I like the overall “principle” here:

“Essentialism is the intentional act of focussing on the few key things that really make a difference and omitting the things that don’t.

“In the words of Harrington Emerson –

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

“Essentialism is those principles.

“The fitness space is filled with methods: Detoxes, cleanses, low carbs, high carbs, paleo-ers, IIFYM-ers yada yada.

“All of the above, are just methods, sexed up and then sold on. The principles, though, the things that really make these methods work are always going to be the same and will be the same forever.[1]”

Running in the USA has been in a decline since jogging emerged…oddly. This article seems like the poster for the “anti-running” movement. The whole article, if all true, seems odd to me.

“Hall, 33, who was one of the last remaining hopes for an American front-runner in this summer’s Olympic marathon, is succumbing to chronically low testosterone levels and fatigue so extreme, he says, that he can barely log 12 easy miles a week.

“’Up to this point, I always believed my best races were still ahead of me,’ said Hall, who has faced a series of physical setbacks since the 2012 London Olympics. ‘I’ve explored every issue to get back to the level I’ve been at, and my body is not responding. I realized that it was time to stop striving, to finally be satisfied and decide, ‘Mission accomplished.’'”

Stanley has another insight piece here with some insights on training with a time crunch.



– Before Breakfast:  Walk 45 minutes.
– Before Dinner:  Kettlebells with a focus on Hinge and Press.

– Before Breakfast:  Walk 45 minutes.
– Before Dinner:  Kettlebells with a focus on Squat, Pull, and Loaded Carry.

– Before Dinner:  Kettlebell complex lasting between 12 and 15 minutes.

– Before Breakfast:  Walk 45 minutes.
– Before Dinner:  Kettlebells with a focus on Hinge and Press.

– Before Breakfast:  Walk 45 minutes.
– Before Dinner:  Kettlebells with a focus on Squat, Pull, and Loaded Carry

Stanley White’s blog is so sensible. I wouldn’t mind just copying and pasting the whole thing for you. As I wandered around the site, I started following his links, too.

Adam T Glass has been quiet, it seems, for a while, but this is a classic post. One of the most insightful things I have ever read on kettlebells:

“My biggest problem with Crossfit- changing a movement to be different and finding excuses to back it up. The overhead swing is dumb. I have fixed far too many CFers who came to me pretty jacked up from doing it- I don’t get it. Want to put the KB overhead? Snatch it. Want to move it to get you out of breath? Swing it to chest level quickly, or clean and jerk it for reps. Still easy? Go find a heavier bell. Overhead swings are harming service members who are stuck doing cultfit because stupid captains/junior officers/junior NCOs make them do it for unit PT. Since my record for fixing people vs. breaking them with training is 100% win/0% fail- I feel qualified to say overhead swings started by a quad dominated lumbar flexion snaps [screw] you up.”

And let’s not forget the three great principles of team coaching.

Until next time, keep lifting and learning…and showing up.