Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 66

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 66

Newest on otpbooks.com: Thom Plummer: The training business has changed!

This is a busy time of year for me. I will be on the road every weekend for the next few months. I’m typing today from Florida after doing a two-day workshop with one of the MLB teams. We linked up with Taylor Lewis down here, too. He continues to do amazing work—you’ll get to know him better soon as OTP has an article and an audio lecture of his coming out at the end of the month.

I use lots of his insights, from the Stumble Drill and counting breaths rather than time in doing things like planks. That alone is worth thinking about: when doing a plank or hold of any kind, Taylor focuses on breaths as reps.

So, if today, you did ten breaths and held the plank for a minute and next week you crash after ten breaths in ten seconds, you might be under some stress that needs to be considered. He works with interesting clients: some of the most famous MLB players ever and Cystic Fibrosis patients. As he notes, if it works for baseball pros and people with CF, it will work with everyone who comes into your gym.

I think it really helps to have a varied population to train. When I first started strength coaching, I worked with male Division One track and field athletes. The answer to all questions could be as simple as the Olympic lifts, proper squatting and some extra stadium steps. I was asked by two Denver Broncos to help them and it was the first time I ever realized that different goals required different tools.

Working with athletes in individual sports (track and swimming) and team sports probably is the fastest way to learn the whole toolbox of strength and conditioning. Working with populations with illness or injuries would also develop a skillset that could help one no matter what direction the future holds for you.

In case you were wondering what Lou Ferrigno was up to…this is video series based on the original Star Trek episodes from the 1960s. They are not bad and Lou makes a good bad guy. It took me a moment to realize that it was Lou, but he continues to wear green well.

This point, low fat diets don’t work, has been all over the news again. It seems to come in waves about every decade. When I first came on the web, Atkins websites were all linked together, they called themselves “Atkids.” The answer seems to be the same, low fat diets don’t work, but we seem to keep relearning this message.

“Many large studies have concluded low-fat diets do not cause weight loss and have a negligible effect on long-term cardiovascular disease. Women who ate a high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet until satiated actually lost twice as much weight as compared to those who ate a restricted low-fat diet. Additionally, all major risk factors for heart disease and diabetes declined.”

Watch the embedded TedTalk, too.

For years, at Discus Camp, we have been using tires, balls, cones and sticks to master the technique of the discus throw. In a week, most people master the basic movement and, if they trust the process, throw much farther without actually touching a discus. This method really deserves some thought.

“The volunteers were segregated into three groups. The first (the controls) were only given one 45-minute-long training session. The second group were given one training session, then asked to wait six hours before they repeated the same exercise. The third group had the same experience, but their second training session modified the sensitivity of the controlling device, meaning they had to quickly adapt to the new conditions.

“The next day, all three groups were asked to repeat the first training session with the original device sensitivity restored. At the end of each group’s sessions, they were scored on how accurately and rapidly they were able to move the cursor around the screen. Intuitively, one would expect the third group to perform worse than the second group, with the changing parameters of their gaming sessions increasing the overall difficulty of the task. Remarkably, the situation was reversed, and the third group did twice as well by the end of the experiment than the second group did. The control group performed the worst.

“What we found is if you practice a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row,” said lead researcher Pablo Celnik, from Johns Hopkins University, in a statement.”

I thought this discussion about detox diets was short and to the point:

“Many detox plans include unfiltered apple cider vinegar – the kind that has a cloudy appearance – is full of probiotics. Probiotics are friendly (beneficial) bacteria – the kind that live in your gut and have a number of important functions in your body. Improving your gut bacteria may support immune functioning, improve the health of your intestinal tract, increase your body’s absorption of certain nutrients and alleviate constipation. Apple cider vinegar is acidic so I don’t recommend drinking it straight. Instead, dilute it in a big glass of water or another beverage. Other great sources of probiotics include kefir, yogurt (check the container for “live and active cultures”), miso soup, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi.”

While you are there, this article on nutrition and concussions has some value. Fish oil seems to be pretty amazing.

“EPA and DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids: EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and algae, increase fluidity of cell membranes, reduce inflammation and enhance cerebral blood flow (which is reduced for up to a month or longer in athletes that recover slowly) (7). Cell membranes are like gateways allowing substances to enter cells or blocking their entry. When cell membranes are more fluid (and therefore less rigid), they perform better, opening the gate for nutrients to come in. DHA, in particular, makes up 97% of the omega-3 fatty acids in the brain and is essential for normal brain functioning (8). Several animal studies show EPA and DHA supplementation before or after a traumatic brain injury helps limit structural damage and decline in brain functioning (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15).”

Shane McLean wrote this as a guest blog. Twenty-five years of training usually gets you back to where you begin. This point is very good:

“The majority of your training should be spent squatting, pressing, pulling, hinging and carrying something heavy. There are endless variations and sets and reps schemes that should keep things interesting for the rest of your training career. Anything outside of this is window dressing.  Not that there’s anything wrong with window dressing.”

Chris Holder has been putting out simple and to the point articles over on Breaking Muscle the past few weeks. I like this one and the summary outlines just about a perfect program for an athlete:

“There you have it. If you want a backside that looks like the athletes you admire, these movements will help you get there:

Glute bridge/hip thrust
Squats, reverse lunges, pistols, and step ups
Hinging exercises (deadlift variations, good mornings, kettlebell swings)
Olympic lifts
Sprints and stairs
Sled work”

So, work your butt, eat your fat and eat fermented foods. Got it.

Until next time, keep lifting and learning.