Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 68

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 68

I’m back from Perform Better in Dallas. This was a great workshop and Chris does things first class. I brought out my new talk, “Now What?,” and it is always interesting to give a talk the first time.

This year, I will also be doing “Strength Training for the Elite Athlete.” The “secrets” are really “enough is enough.” I had a great conversation with Rick Eklof on Highland Games longevity, and he made a nice point about shifting to training ONLY with the light implements as one ages.

If there is a secret, we might have been circling it. As you are learning to throw, overweight implements really help slow everything done and build the system for a big throw. But, a day comes along where we know what we are doing and we shift to light implements to keep the speed without all the wear and tear.

It seems true in all power and strength sports: you need to really strain to get up to elite levels. To stay there seems to take much less effort. The great ones figure out “less is more” at the right time in their careers and trust the foundation and experience.

Training for HG is interesting because twenty years ago there were few implements and few competitions. People made huge improvements from year to year, as we could train, practice and learn without a lot of 56-pound weight throws. Then, things changed.

About a decade ago, one of my friends competed in 27 contests in one year. He also hosted several full training sessions a week, too. Improvement slowed as the volume and load began to wear down the qualities that make one throw far. I wasn’t shocked when his biceps came off as “enough is enough” is the body’s response to too much and too often.

More on this in the future, of course, but mastering “enough” is probably the secret to success in most things.

There is a better way to improve and this first article embraces it well.

Coach Ralph Maughan believed “Early and often over the long haul.” Discus thrower John Powell teaches: “Yard by yard it’s hard, but inch by inch it is a cinch.”

Track and field understands small but constant improvement. When I was incline benching 85 pounds (drug free!) and read that Gary Ordway was inclining 385, I understood the route.

It wouldn’t be overnight. But, 100, 200 and 300 came relatively quickly. Compared to some things in life, like wealth, it was overnight.

I didn’t know this, from the article:

“The reality is that it was developed by Depression-era American business management theorists in order to build the arsenal of democracy that helped the U.S. win World War II. Instead of telling companies to make radical, drastic changes to their business infrastructure and processes, these management theorists exhorted them to make continuous improvements in small ways. A manual created by the U.S. government to help companies implement this business philosophy urged factory supervisors to ‘look for hundreds of small things you can improve. Don’t try to plan a whole new department layout — or go after a big installation of new equipment. There isn’t time for these major items. Look for improvements on existing jobs with your present equipment.’”

“After America and its allies had defeated Japan and Germany with the weaponry produced by plants using the small, continuous improvement philosophy, America introduced the concept to Japanese factories to help revitalize their economy. The Japanese took to the idea of small, continual improvement right away and gave it a name: Kaizen — Japanese for continuous improvement.”

I constantly tell people how an RKC weekend can really impact one’s life and career. These two teammates from our recent San Jose cert highlight the learning from three intensive days. The first one:

“The RKC is the gold standard for learning and teaching the hardstyle kettlebell, a three-day workshop where you drill the six basic kettlebell moves and are taught instruction and programming with this wonderful tool.”

Still quoting:
Swing – Two-arm and one-arm versions
Clean – Swing movement where the bells end up in the rack position (at the collarbones)
Press – From the clean press overhead
Getup (or Turkish Getup) – From a lying position holding a kettlebell get to a standing up position with the bell overhead
Front Squat – with two bells in the rack do a below parallel squat
Snatch – Swing movement where the bell ends up overhead

“The amount of information we received can best be described as “very dense.” The RKC manual is 128 pages of excellent material devoted to the six fundamentals, mobility complexes, additional exercises and programming.”

And the second:

“Be a professional – All the time!  Even when your client may not be watching you. This came up time and time again over the weekend.  If you perform 99 perfect snatches during the snatch test, and then rep #100 you let the kettlebell slam to the floor – well…congratulations, you just failed the snatch test.  Picking up these heavy (or light) implements and setting them down LIKE A PROFESSIONAL really hit home for me.  Every time we go to address a kettlebell and pick it up, be a professional.  Your client is watching you and will be mirroring you on everything you do.”

In a different direction, this might be one of the most interesting articles I have read in a while. It is absolutely true. I always think that rude behavior, online and in real life, is going to catch up with you. This is a simple test.

Be sure to read the story about Dottie, too, as it really knits things together.

“Before every new hire, Bettinger takes candidates out for a breakfast interview. But what the potential employees don’t know is that every time, Bettinger shows up early and asks the restaurant to purposefully mess up the order in exchange for a handsome tip.”

This is a short piece, but 100 or so years ago, people were discovering that a college education was simply reading and discussing the Great Books. It’s nice to see that many still make the list. Frankly, and I can’t believe I am saying this, many of us would do better reading the Great Books and skipping some of the college experience.

“Plato, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Aristotle overwhelmingly dominate lists in the US, particularly at the top schools.”

These next two pieces jump on both sides of the gender discussion. For the men:

“2. Know that you cannot and do not need to fix everything
Us men can easily become the fixers and doers in our workplaces and households. I myself have a strong “rescuer” in me. This means that if I’m not aware of what I’m doing I can end up stepping in to try to fix a situation when I might not be wanted or needed. Worse still I might try to fix a situation when it’s not in my (or the other person’s) best interests. Acceptance of the way things are and allowing others space, to do what they want to do can be liberating for me.”

And this one for the women. Be sure to download the plan. Most of our readership will recognize the basics here. I offered this years ago in a T-nation article:

The 3RM Russian Pullup Program
Day 1: 3, 2, 1, 1
Day 2: 3, 2, 1, 1
Day 3: 3, 2, 2, 1
Day 4: 3, 3, 2, 1
Day 5: 4, 3, 2, 1
Day 6: Off
Day 7: 4, 3, 2, 1, 1
Day 8: 4, 3, 2, 2, 1
Day 9: 4, 3, 3, 2, 1
Day 10: 4, 4, 3, 2, 1
Day 11: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Day 12: Off.
Rest a few days and test “as many.”
The Major’s plan includes some of this, but has a lot of excellent ideas to accumulate volume.

So, men need to stop fixing everything and women need pullups. Got it.

Ashley, another new RKC, does a nice job discussing “perfect.” This is worthy in every aspect of your life.

“Old habits die hard, even the habit of expecting perfection out of ourselves.

“So how do we let go of the need for perfect?

“Just like I talk about adding in nourishing foods to create replacement habits for our undesirable eating habits, the best way to let go of perfection is to add in new guideposts in their place.”

Until next week, keep lifting and learning.