Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 64

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 64


Well, the Super Bowl is this weekend and I will miss it…again. I will be at the FitRanx cert and I am really looking forward to it. Between politics and the Super Bowl, this is hype week in America.

So, let’s look at some stuff that might ease the hysteria.

I enjoy James Clear. The point of this article is something we discussed in a Logic class a long time ago and it is a classic error of thinking. However, it is also the error that most of us seem to embrace. We make illusory correlations in many areas of life:


·      You hear about Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg dropping out of college to start a billion-dollar business and you over-value that story in your head. Meanwhile, you never hear about all of the college dropouts that fail to start a successful company. You only hear about the hits and never hear about the misses even though the misses far outnumber the hits.

·      You see someone of a particular ethnic or racial background getting arrested and so you assume all people with that background are more likely to be involved in crime. You never hear about the 99 percent of people who don’t get arrested because it is a non-event.

·      You hear about a shark attack on the news and refuse to go into the ocean during your next beach vacation. The odds of a shark attack have not increased since you went in the ocean last time, but you never hear about the millions of people swimmingly safely each day. The news is never going to run a story titled, “Millions of Tourists Float in the Ocean Each Day.” You over-emphasize the story you hear on the news and make an illusory correlation.

The following is rather different. I had a good laugh reading some of this, but this point is very true.


10. Don’t create anything–it already exists.

“I sometimes improvise with David Pasquesi and TJ Jagodowski. They’re two improvisers they work out of iO primarily, they’ve been doing it along time and they are arguable the best improvisers in the world…One of the things they actually rehearse is openings of the scene. So that moment when the lights come up and you’re looking at each other–and then Dave says, ‘All right, stop, where are we?’ And I say, ‘Well there’s a body of water right here.’ … ‘That’s right. We know where we are, we’re already in the space, we know it’s not magic, and it’s not a lie. We’re already there, it already exists, because it’s already part of us, it’s just about finding it in the other person.’”

Chris Holder has been a friend since 2008. He is a smart guy and this one list might be all you ever need to know about training athletes.


#5: Squat

“In my shop, you are going to squat, and you should be able to do it with ease. Unfortunately, because of the pandemics of sitting and technology, our athletes have begun to devolve at an alarming pace. Gone are the days where a new freshman walks through my doors and can sit deep with posture. It’s a shit show, to put it mildly.

“There are dozens of reasons you should squat. From strengthening the legs and hips to teaching full-body tension, the squat is the granddaddy of all movements. There are some less common aspects to why and how I teach the squat, including:

Developing a more intimate relationship with the big toe (something our athletes have completely lost)
Increasing flexibility
Teaching athletes how to breathe for power

“Whatever your reasons, make sure you are doing some variation of a squat.”

Bob Takano has been around a long time in the Olympic lifting world. Like many, he agrees that the warmup has been taken too far again. This is a great story.

“I did once see the great 100kg lifter David Rigert lying on a cot in the warm-up room of the Record Makers smoking a cigarette. Everyone else was engaged in warm-up lifts. At a certain point, Rigert got up went to a warm-up bar and snatched 60kg. He then returned to the cot to lie down and take a few more drags. A little while later he got up again and found a bar loaded to 120kg and snatched it. A few minutes after that he walked out to the competition platform and snatched 165 for an opener. His second was 178 for a new world record. Good lift.”

I grew up with lard and bacon fat. Oddly, few were fat! This article reaffirms this observation.

“Back when everyone started pointing the finger at saturated fat as the cause of heart disease, butter and other high-fat dairy products were demonized.

“Nutrition professionals all over the world started telling people to replace butter with margarine … which was low in saturated fat, but high in man-made trans fats.

“As with so many of the “truths” in nutrition, this ended up having the exact opposite result. Whereas saturated fat is harmless, trans fats are highly toxic (12, 13, 14).

“In the graph above, based on the Framingham Heart Study, you can see how heart disease risk goes up as people eat less butter and more margarine instead.

“For some very strange reason, many health organizations are still recommending that we avoid heart-healthy butter and replace it with processed margarine.”

Higher fat seems to help, but higher protein maybe helps more.

“We expected the muscle retention” said Phillips, “but were a little surprised by the amount of additional fat loss in the higher protein consuming group.”

“The results showed that the high-protein group lost about 10.5 pounds and the low protein group only eight pounds. All of the participants, by virtue of the demanding six-days-a-week exercise routines, got stronger, fitter, and generally were in much better shape.”

I learned a lot from this article. I didn’t realize how much voodoo was in calorie counting.

“In 2013, researchers in Jeffrey Gordon’s lab at Washington University tracked down pairs of twins of whom one was obese and one lean. He took gut microbes from each, and inserted them into the intestines of microbe-free mice. Mice that got microbes from an obese twin gained weight; the others remained lean, despite eating the exact same diet. ‘That was really striking,’ said Peter Turnbaugh, who used to work with Gordon and now heads his own lab at the University of California, San Francisco. ‘It suggested for the first time that these microbes might actually be contributing to the energy that we gain from our diet.'”

And the last paragraph:

“None of these alternatives is ready to replace the calorie tomorrow. Yet the need for a new system of food accounting is clear. Just ask Haelle. ‘I’m kind of pissed at the scientific community for not coming up with something better for us,’ she confesses, recalling a recent meltdown at TGI Friday’s as she navigated a confusing datasheet to find a low-calorie dish she could eat. There should be a better metric for people like her and Nash—people who know the health risks that come with being overweight and work hard to counter them. And it’s likely there will be. Science has already shown that the calorie is broken. Now it has to find a replacement.”

If this is all true, this is the supplement of the future. My first response: It’s better than most of the crap I take.

For exercise, this is a variation worthy of discussion.

“Australian scientists found that sprint work on a stationary bicycle for an hour a week was as effective for fat loss as jogging for seven hours a week. The study recruited chubby guys in their 20s and had them do short, high-intensity cycle sprints like this:

  • Sprint (peddle really fast) for 8 seconds
  • Recover (slow down) for 12 seconds
  • Repeat for 20 minutes
  • Do the workout 3 times per week for 12 weeks

In the USA, we are in the big week of college recruiting. I found this article oddly refreshing:

“So here’s how Petersen does it: When a player says he wants to commit to play football for the University of Washington, that player’s recruitment is, in effect, over. That’s how Petersen views it, anyway, and this much is articulated to the player in his commitment confirmation letter from UW.

“And if at any point that player decides he wants to take another official visit (or visits) to other schools, then Petersen no longer considers him committed. In other words: If a recruit is looking at other schools, then UW is looking at other recruits at his position.

But, Mom and Dad, the reality of college scholarships and pro experience is daunting. 1.7% of HS track athletes compete at Division One. Wow!

Until next time, eat your fat, eat your protein and watch out for the hype.