Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 73

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 73

Newest on otpbooks.com: Vince McConnell discussing the best training programs

Well, I am tired. I left for Germany on Monday, got there Tuesday, worked Wednesday, returned Thursday, flew to Nebraska Friday, worked Saturday and came home on Sunday.

I always enjoy it when people who don’t travel give me jet-lag solution ideas. Jet lag is just part of the fun of traveling in a magic device that takes you to the other side of the world and back in one week. I loved my work in Germany and Nebraska, but I am also glad to be home. I am teaching a HKC this weekend in SLC, so that will keep me fresh and focused.

Calvin and Hobbes to the rescue again! I bought the fully bound three book edition of Bill Watterson’s classic comics and thought this was fun.

Watterson made a great point years ago about the process of work and creativity: “Mental playfulness.”

“It’s surprising how hard we’ll work when the work is done just for ourselves. And with all due respect to John Stuart Mill, maybe utilitarianism is overrated. If I’ve learned one thing from being a cartoonist, it’s how important playing is to creativity and happiness. My job is essentially to come up with 365 ideas a year.

“If you ever want to find out just how uninteresting you really are, get a job where the quality and frequency of your thoughts determine your livelihood. I’ve found that the only way I can keep writing every day, year after year, is to let my mind wander into new territories. To do that, I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness.”

In another direction, maybe the prophets of doom (“Idiocracy” comes to mind) were right. This is an interesting article on how the Friends TV show started our slow descent. I’m not sure how serious I am about this, but it is interesting.

“The show ended in 2004. The same year that Facebook began, the year that George W. Bush was re-elected to a second term, the year that reality television became a dominant force in pop culture, with American Idol starting an eight-year reign of terror as the No. 1 show in the U.S., the same year that Paris Hilton started her own “lifestyle brand” and released an autobiography. And Joey Tribbiani got a spin-off TV show. The year 2004 was when we completely gave up and embraced stupidity as a value. Just ask Green Day; their album American Idiot was released in 2004, and it won the Grammy for Best Rock Album. You can’t get more timely. The rejection of Ross marked the moment when much of America groaned, mid-sentence, at the voice of reason.”

“Yes, my theory is that Friends may have triggered the downfall of western civilization. You might think I’m crazy. But to quote Ross: ‘Oh, am I? Am I? Am I out of my mind? Am I losing my senses?’ Did you know the song that originally accompanied the Friends pilot episode was R.E.M.’s ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know (And I Feel Fine).’ A blissful song with an apocalyptic message that goes largely ignored.”

I think we get too many “lists” on the internet now, some lifting sites have just become “Five this” and “Seven that,” (I blame Joey Tribbiani) but this one applies to any goal set.

“‘Fear of criticism is the reason we do not seek feedback from others,’ Corley writes. ‘But feedback is essential to learning what is working and what isn’t working. Feedback helps you understand if you are on the right track. Feedback criticism, good or bad, is a crucial element for learning and growth.’ Additionally, it allows you to change course and experiment with a new career or business. As Corley says, ‘Feedback provides you with the information you will need in order to succeed in any venture.'”

Need feedback? This article by Jim Wendler gives plenty:

“The final test is a Prowler push done for ten 40-yard sprints with your bodyweight on the Prowler done for time. (Yes, the Prowler itself factors into the total weight.) We came up with the Prowler test while using the street outside my house. The surface you push on can vary greatly in resistance, so the Prowler test is horribly flawed, but it’s still a worthy test. Besides, you can always make your own test and standards.”

Mark Watts is a very smart man. Well, let’s just say I agree with him on everything, so, by default, he must be smart.

“So what does this all mean? It means, all of the fancy visual reaction boards that most DI schools have may be literally worthless. Experience in playing the sport is actually more important. Having the ability to read and anticipate is really what increases reaction time. Not reacting to a stimulus to train reacting to a stimulus. ‘This is why major league players couldn’t hit a college softball pitcher on their best day. This is why Albert Pujols can hit off of anyone in Major League Baseball but not Jennie Finch. It’s due to anticipatory cues, not reaction time.  A 60mph softball pitch from 43 feet equates to a 90mph from 90 ft. So why can’t they even make contact? There is no frame of reference and the anticipatory skill is eliminated.'”

Chris Holder is quickly becoming my “go to” guy to read on the internet. This is just brilliant. I talk about “inefficient exercise” all the time and here is a simple way to add this and thermodynamics to your training.

“When I quit playing, my body was broken. I had endured more than a decade in the trenches. I suffered a back injury during my senior year that would eventually end my playing career. Another player was dumped onto the back of my legs, bending me over backward. After the bodies were peeled off of me, I slowly returned to my feet and finished the game, but the next morning I couldn’t walk. I spent the rest of my senior year making multiple visits per week to the chiropractor, sitting out practices, and overdosing on ibuprofen. When game day rolled around, I’d grit my teeth and play through the pain. Things got so bad that I sat out my final two games. A shitty way to end a career.

“I knew I needed to rehab my back and lose weight to take some of the pressure off of my spine. Running was definitely out, and stationary cardio equipment was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t work long enough to make a dent in my weight without having to tap out because of pain. So, in an accidental stroke of genius, I found a pool and started treading water.

“I made a deal with myself to tread for at least thirty minutes daily, for ten days. I also made much-needed nutritional adjustments. At the end of that week and a half I had lost 18lb. I knew I was onto something.”

Tread water, then take a nap or take the “long nap” as my Godchild Chloe used to call bedtime. It will improve your performance.

“Researchers at Stanford University found that three-point shooting accuracy increased by 9.2 per cent after basketball players were asked to up their sleep to 10 hours daily.

“’Athletes are going to these crazy extents to make themselves better, with gas masks and all these different things,’ says Adrian Lightowler, U of T’s head strength and conditioning coach. ‘The two we hit them with all the time: hydrate and sleep. That’s the two easiest things you can possibly do to make yourself significantly better.’

“Lightowler points out that sleep helps athletes recover by boosting growth hormone while limiting cortisol, a stress-related hormone that suppresses immunity and breaks down muscle tissue. But he acknowledges scheduling sleep is a tougher task for university athletes, who balance practice with classes and tests.”

Balance this sleep information with good solid basics in nutrition.

“First, the pH of the stomach should be between 1 and 2 in order to sterilize the gut from critters you might swallow. The HCL in the stomach kills any bacteria or parasite that could harm your body.

“Second, the low pH is a trigger for the release of chemicals. These chemicals are important for digestion of key nutrients. For instance, the acidity of the stomach releases a substance called intrinsic factor (IF). IF is what releases B12 from the food that you eat . . . but it’s only produced in the presence of HCL. In addition, HCL is critical for breaking down proteins.

“Even if you’re loading up on protein, do you know if you’re digesting it? This is the primary reason why many older athletes complain about indigestion with meat and other proteins. The most common complaint is that the meat is ‘too heavy’ or ‘sits in my stomach.’”

This is a good collection this week. Enjoy and keep on lifting and learning.


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Publisher’s note: This week’s video clip features Chip Conrad discussing pushup & plank stability