Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 77

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 77

Apparently it’s not well known that we have an archive of Dan’s Wandering Weights. Here’s the link; the page is updated weekly.

My wife, Tiffini, is recovering from the removal of a palm-sized growth on her thyroid.  She is doing fine and I am humbled by how much I simply do not know about the human body. I was flipping through some old collections of material here at the house and I find that many experts in nutrition and supplements target the thyroid and, frankly, they don’t pass the muster.

So, I have to keep things in check when I review things. Each week, I offer a mix of readings; usually, my goal is to provide some “food for thought.”  I enjoy finding information that contrasts so that we all get of sense of the complexity of things but understand that the answer is usually going to be fairly simple.

Honestly, one can only do so much to tweak complicated systems. That’s why I focus so much on using the same lessons from finance and wealth building to shape my training ideas: gimmicks make the salesperson rich. Like the great question from Wall Street in the 1940s: Where are the customer’s yachts? The stockbrokers all did very well, good enough to own yachts, but the customers were “yachtless.”

In the fitness industry, we are always promised something better, faster, sleeker and stronger, IF we give our credit card and join the inner circle.

I’ve learned a lot these past few weeks about the importance of minerals, blood testing and true medical intervention. It’s not as simple as “buy this!”

As I wandered the web this week, I found a lot of interesting things. These articles like the following do as much to confuse as to clarify. Frankly, I thought this point was interesting:

“It is simply false that ‘all calories are created equal.’

“Different foods go through different metabolic pathways and have direct effects on fat burning and the hormones and brain centers that regulate appetite (48, 49, 50).
A high protein diet, for example, can increase the metabolic rate by 80 to 100 calories per day and significantly reduce appetite (51, 52, 53).

“In one study, such a diet made people automatically eat 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding protein to their diet (54).

“There are many more examples of different foods having vastly different effects on hunger, hormones and health. Because a calorie is not a calorie.”

Well, calories aren’t calories and you only need one minute of exercise as this new study finds:

“‘There’s very good evidence’ that high-intensity interval training provides ‘many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,’ says Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla., and co-author of the new article.”

Few people will read the protocol, but my article here discusses some ideas for “shorter, briefer” training that doesn’t sell expensive machines.

My favorite is “The Humane Burpee.” Dan Martin gave us this name and I can’t think of a better term. You can certainly make this harder or easier, but just do the basic example first. It is based on three exercises: the swing, the goblet squat and the push-up. We use kettlebells, but dumbbells would be okay, too.

Be sure to follow the advice about reps on the GS and push-up: we want the reps to descend as we move through the Humane Burpee, hence the name “Humane.”

So, here you go:

15 Swings
5 Goblet Squats
5 Push-ups

15 Swings
4 Goblet Squats
4 Push-ups

15 Swings
3 Goblet Squats
3 Push-ups

15 Swings
2 Goblet Squats
2 Push-ups

15 Swings
1 Goblet Squat
1 Push-ups

That comes out to 75 swings, 15 goblet squats and 15 push-ups. The real exercise seems to be the popping up and down for the push-ups. Most of us don’t take any rest at all through the workout, but feel free to stop when you need to rest.

Marc Halpern gives us a good reason to eat appropriately here.

“If you want one reason to stop the dieting cycle, do it for your kids. Food practices and perceived body images are learned through the parents at a very young age. It’s hard to go back and change habits once the impressions are made, and these unhealthy mindsets carry into adulthood.

“A poor relationship with food begins early, and it is sad to see. But it’s not too late to make a lasting change. Food is a source of nourishment, a vehicle for making memories, and something to look forward to and enjoy. Let’s give that gift to the future generation.”

As long as we are discussing appropriate, this article takes us to the exercise side of things. I thought it was excellent and absolutely true.

“The fourth truth is that the most important movements are less about strength than understanding the movement itself. I recently taught a climbing/training clinic where one older guy—in his late 60s—intrigued me. I noticed that when doing pull-ups, he always pulled the rings down to his pecs, not the usual half-hearted chin-fuzz over the bar. There were a couple of hipster post-CrossFitters in the clinic, who started showing off by doing sloppy muscle-ups. The older guy asked, ‘Is that valuable for climbing?’ I replied, ‘Probably not directly, but it does show you have good range of motion and strength.’ The old guy then did the cleanest, smoothest muscle-up I’ve ever seen. He was a gymnast in his youth, and still coached. His arms were twigs, like mine, but he understood how to do a muscle-up in the same way old mountain guides know how to walk smoothly through rough terrain. Being strong is less important than understanding how to move. And moving is everything.”

I have a business partner like this. This whole article is worth reading.

“Two partners that I chose for one little phase of my life had the following rule: They created a little design/build construction team, and they sat down and said, two-man partnership, divide everything equally, here’s the rule; ‘Whenever we’re behind in our commitments to other people, we will both work 14 hours a day until we’re caught up.’ Well, needless to say, that firm didn’t fail. The people died rich. It’s such a simple idea.”

A few years ago, the throwing world was buzzing about Jacko Gill. He was a young superstar, he had great German coaching, and all the confetti. He also was an early specialized. Like what both Tommy Kono and John Powell preached, once you specialize you have three years to be world class in this sport. Frankly, Jacko was “right there.” But, he hasn’t really moved much since about 2012. This is an interesting read…not only about hisstalling, but his use of weight training.

“The often criticism regarding Jacko is his focus on gym work compared throwing. Whilst being interviewed by the IAAF as a 17 year old Gill said:

“’I enjoy weight-lifting, power-lifting mainly, so will lift for around four hours a day, and throw only a couple of times per week. Running would be with Earl, just small jogs, nothing over 2km. My main passion would definitely be weight-lifting though, especially bench press. I like the challenge of trying to improve, and in weight-lifting you either make the lift or you don’t; there are no excuses.’”

“This idea of heavily focusing on weights is commonly associated with the often criticised USA methodology that over emphasises weights in order to throw far.

“4 hours of gym work a day seems an awful lot for any athlete however placing this load on a 17 year old Shot Putter doesn’t seem the right way to go about training. First and primarily Jacko is a shot putter so by only throwing ‘a couple of times a week’ and doing strength and conditioning work for 4 hours daily the balance does not seem correct, especially for a then junior thrower. Could this huge focus on strength and conditioning be the cause of only 37cm of improvement in the last 4 years?”

Elite athletes have to make compromises. Bret Contreras does an excellent job here going through the issue of Anterior Pelvic Tilt.

“APT does not provide a muscular advantage during walking, but it does during sprinting and Olympic lifting. More individuals have APT than PPT or neutral pelvises, indicating that it’s normal to exhibit some APT. APT does not lead to low back pain in everyday living but it can lead to low back injury during sports or resistance training if excessive and not kept in check. The spine and pelvis move during heavy and explosive movement, indicating that they are used dynamically to generate torque, however, their motions should be kept in midranges; end ranges of spinal and pelvic motion are risky and dangerous under high loads. The reasons why athletes and lifters rely on APT during sports and exercise depends on the motion and exercise in question and is multifactorial. Resistance training, motor control training, static and dynamic stretching, and manual therapy should all be used to augment pelvic posture or pelvic mechanics during exercise if it is deemed safer or more advantageous.”

One of my favorite mentors in football, John Gagliardi, has been in mind recently. He is famous for his “List of No’s,” things other coaches swear by, but he refuses to do.

“Football players new to Gagliardi’s team say practices are different than what they’ve been used to.

“’Different from high school if that’s what you mean. It’s a lot shorter. No contact. It’s a lot safer. There’s not as many trauma injuries during practice,’ said Erik Roti, a freshman at St. John’s. Roti was recruited to play running back. He’s sitting out practice because an old stress fracture started acting up.

“Roti says he hit during high school practices, but at St. John’s hits and tackles are a rare sight.

“’I remember one day a couple of guys got tackled cause [they were] getting a little frustrated, so they started hitting a little harder,’ Roti said.  ‘John kind of looked at us like, ‘I don’t know why you guys feel the need to tackle each other. You’re all on the same team. You’re running plays how you’re supposed to. Let up. You can still practice well and let up when you’re about to hit.’

“Back in his office, Gagliardi says there will always be skeptics, those who say the survivors are the ones who get to play on game day, but he brushes them aside.

“’We can’t worry about them.’

“It’s impossible to know how many injuries Gagliardi’s approach has prevented, but it’s easy to notice his team’s titles, and his status as college football’s all-time winningest coach.”

Years from now, I think the cholesterol numbers will be discussed in a different manner. “Maybe” the body knows a thing or two and trades this for that. I will repeat the last line twice, as I think it has merit.

“The results were a surprise. Participants who ate a diet low in saturated fat and enriched with corn oil reduced their cholesterol by an average of 14 percent, compared with a change of just 1 percent in the control group. But the low-saturated fat diet did not reduce mortality. In fact, the study found that the greater the drop in cholesterol, the higher the risk of death during the trial.”

In fact, the study found that the greater the drop in cholesterol, the higher the risk of death during the trial.


Well, TTFN (Ta Ta For Now). I have a busy week ahead and I am starting the process of writing my next book, “Now What?”

Until next week, keep lifting and learning.


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Publisher’s note: From our good doc Mike Nichols, here’s an excerpt from his new book, Quantitative Medicine.