Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 70

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 70

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I enjoyed my weekend in New York City with Equinox. This was a first-class event in the Time Warner building and the quality of everything was first class. For my Q and A section, I took the first half to go over training elite athletes and “the secrets” of working with them.

So, this week’s WW seems to follow the themes of training the best in various fields, plus a few additional fun things. When I review the discussions I have with the best in the collision occupations and elite sport, the most important insight is understanding that performance should be better than practice.

It is a tough thing to accept for many who love to leave championships in the practice field or the warm-up room.

I thought this article was simple and to the point.

“We tend to be very traditional with our strength training,” explains the club’s Head of Human Performance John Dams, who oversees the players’ physical training. ‘Our general preparatory exercises are tried and tested and we don’t tend to vary them much. Squats, deadlifts and bench presses form a large part of our strength programme.’

“Although players also do Olympic lifts, plyometric drills, medicine ball work and sled drills, their primary focus is always on these three basic but powerful exercises. Additional gains in strength come from adapting these exercises over time. ‘We like to use small variations of our main lifts, such as box squats, band-assisted bench presses and trap-bar deadlifts,’ reveals Dams.”

This little video got a lot of press this week. It reminded me of a story from one of my friends, a Catholic priest. He was in church one day and a girl was drinking a soft drink in the pews. He mentioned to her that, generally, people don’t use church to have a snack. According to him, the young lady had no idea that it was inappropriate.


They talked for a while and he realized that this woman had a deep prayer life, but had no idea about reverence, for lack of a better word this morning. This is one way to teach it.

Since we are on the topic of sports and the military, I thought this was excellent:

“Fosdick saw that there were vices aplenty, but nothing to ‘substitute for the things we want to drive out.’

“In studying how British and Canadian troops maintained morale, Fosdick discovered that instituting an athletics program into the military greatly improved morale, and recommended the US do likewise.

“Thus, in readying American troops for their involvement in WWI, the Army installed an athletic director to every training camp, and got the troops playing games and sports every day.”

On the exact opposite tack, this article teaches one’s “Inner Superman.” The posture drill with the wall is worth the read.

“In Presence, social psychologist Amy Cuddy highlights studies that show how assuming ‘power poses’ — including standing with good, upright posture — increases testosterone and decreases cortisol in the body.  On average, assuming a power pose causes a 16% increase in testosterone and an 11% decrease in cortisol within minutes. This increase in T and decrease in stress hormones causes people to feel less anxious and more confident. She and her research team found that after assuming a power pose or just standing with good, upright posture, individuals were more apt be assertive, proactive, and comfortable taking risks.”

If you need to get to the gym, this has some great ideas:

“It sounds like a no-brainer: you are more likely to achieve your goal if you think that it’s important.

“Well, yeah. Duh. The problem is that people think of things that are generically important. Everyone already knows that exercise is healthy, but for most people that information hasn’t helped them stick to a program.

“Instead of thinking about the abstract importance of exercise, think about what success could mean for you. Again, everyone knows that exercise can make you healthier and better looking, but how would that meaningfully affect your life?”

Well, not to be “that guy,” but I thought this whole thing was questionable years ago. The cholesterol scare will fit right there with the “Fat Phobia” from the diet side. Eggs are good!

“Sadly, many people take statin drugs, which are commonly known by brand names including Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor. Prescription drug spending in the U.S. shot up to about $374 billion in 2014, representing the highest level of spending since 2001. Statins undoubtedly made up a significant portion of this spending, and now consumers who take such drugs have much more to worry about than the dent it’s making in their wallets.

“The study, which was published in the American Journal of Physiology, states that statins ‘…impact on other biologic properties of stem cells provides a novel explanation for their adverse clinical effects.’ Specifically, the study states that such adverse effects include advancing the “process of aging” and also notes that ‘…long-term use of statins has been associated with adverse effects including myopathy, neurological side effects and an increased risk of diabetes.’ Myopathy refers to skeletal muscle weakness.”

Rather than statins, maybe we should get back to what we used to do. I’m going to go play in dirt right now.

“So, where does that leave us? We have to take responsibility for our own health and do the best we can with what we’ve got available to us. A lot of people can resolve their health issues “simply” by adopting a fiber-rich, whole foods diet and an ancestral lifestyle. However, for those with a severely damaged gut microbiota, this may not be sufficient to remedy the problem, meaning that to really be able to overcome – or at least slow down – the current epidemic of damaged gut microbiota, readily available and cheap solutions for repairing a dysfunctional microbiome may be required.”

I learned this from Earl Nightingale decades ago. Steven Covey and the rest of the snake oil productivity system gurus attacked this method, but it has worked wonders for me. It is good to see Ivy Lee getting his respect again.


During his 15 minutes with each executive, Lee explained his simple method for achieving peak productivity:

  1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

This next article is fantastic. I heard a bit of this at the workshops at Equinox, so it was nice to find this deeper explanation here. Quoting:

  • Have you ever thought about how you relate to yourself? Trippy question…but really, how do you relate to yourself?
  • Are you hypercritical of yourself?
  • Do you give yourself a break every time something gets tough?
  • Do you refer to yourself in the third person?
  • Do you habitually call yourself Sexy? (If you don’t, start. There ain’t nothin’ better!)

“In reality, we aren’t the hypercritical voice that lives in our heads, and we’re not the voice that takes it too easy on us. We’re not our jobs. We’re not our possessions. We are our mind’s relation to all of these things.

“But how do we figure out how we authentically relate to chaotic swirl of life, relationships and responsibilities? We shut shit down for a bit.

“Take time to limit distractions and just sit with yourself. Utilize periods of time during which you don’t listen to anyone’s advice. Just sit back, let the thoughts roll and see how YOU react to them.

“Removing the external and relating to ourselves limits future introject formation. It cuts us deep to the core and pulls out our authentic selves. That, friends and family, is rad.”

Mike Rosenberg sent in this one. It sums the last half an hour of my “Strength Training for Elite Athletes” workshop…far better than I am currently doing. Quoting again:

Here’s what Anders says can make you an expert:

  • Get Help: Find a mentor who can help you develop that image in your head of the best way to do something.
  • It’s Not “Try Harder”, It’s “Try Different”: Design specific activities to address your weak points.
  • It’s About Doing, Not Knowing: Remember the three F’s: Focus, Feedback, Fix it.
  • Study The Past To Have A Better Future: Find examples that have been judged and quiz yourself.

This weekend, I go to Strength Matters in San Diego. I will be presenting all new information and “work my craft” a bit.

Until next week, keep lifting and learning.


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