Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 78

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 78

In last week’s video clip we saw Dan discussing gaps in training. Click here if you missed the clip.

I was in Dallas on an overnight last Friday and spoke on Easy Strength. I base that whole lecture on a point that many ignore: “Don’t ignore the obvious.” I think if you want to get stronger, lift weights. Flexibility? Stretch!

I go to these workshops and see all kinds of electric equipment, supplements and all kinds of shiny toys, but I still think a commitment to work and finishing the work trumps a lot of nonsense.

And, this makes me unpopular with some. But, most things in life that have value seem to come from “little and often over the long haul.” This is why I recommend reading Warren Buffet for strength coaching advice as much as almost any other author.

I have found few things in life that are made better by adding “Instant” in front of the word. Instant coffee, instant oatmeal and instant results are all worth the time you put in.

This week, my travels on the web were all over the place. I had a nice talk with Chris Poirier about corrective work and he explained how this, and functional training, are the two most misunderstood terms in fitness. This article has an insight.

“After spending many years under the bar while dealing with various back, leg, elbow and shoulder injuries, I’ve changed my tune. No lifter likes spending time on the DL or in a Physical Therapists office lifting pink dumbbells and doing unnatural things to stability balls.

“Lifters who focus on the big 3(squat, bench and deadlifts) can develop muscle imbalances. Some become either quad or hamstring dominant or don’t balance pressing with adequate amounts of pulling. Then muscle strains, aches and pains can darken the lifter’s doorstep.”

I always encourage coaches to play chess to practice their skill set. Chess teaches you that there is ALWAYS another option, a good life lesson. This article is a vault of coaching knowledge.

“But always remember: No matter how good you are at tactics, if you do not have a solid understanding of strategy, you will not be able to figure the correct tactical motifs in many positions.

“Therefore, we say that: TACTICS ARE SLAVE TO STRATEGY!”

I have been playing chess a long time and I always play on airplanes to pass the time. I found myself getting bored and tried the free checkers app. I was astounded to find that this game has its own magic.  I decided to improve my game and found this article that also made me a better coach.

“Play against the best opponents you can find. Playing against more experienced players who are willing to share their knowledge is a great way to improve your game. Whether that means entering tournaments or finding your local amateur expert, the better your opponents are, the more you’ll learn.”

Oops! This article continues the argument about what is good or bad in diet and drugs. Lowering cholesterol raise heart attack risk? I am looking forward about twenty years ago when we hear the whole “So sorry! Oops!” message countering the 1960s diet recommendations.

“In a much-cited study published in 2013, however, Ramsden, Zamora and colleagues were able to recover unpublished data from a smaller trial, the Sydney Diet Heart Study, and there they also found more cases of heart disease and death among patients who received a linoleic acid intervention (safflower oil), compared to controls.

“Following their recovery of data from the MCE study, the researchers added new data to their existing datasets from the Sydney study and the other three published randomized clinical trials of linoleic acid-based dietary interventions. In a meta-analysis of the combined data, they again found no evidence that these interventions reduced deaths from heart disease or deaths from all causes.

“‘There were some differences among these studies, but on the whole they didn’t really disagree,’ said Zamora.

“Why linoleic acid-containing oils would lower cholesterol but worsen or at least fail to reduce heart attack risk is a subject of ongoing research and lively debate. Some studies suggest that these oils can — under certain circumstances — cause inflammation, a known risk factor for heart disease. There is also some evidence they can promote atherosclerosis when the oils are chemically modified in a process called oxidation.”

This article gives us a much more logical insight about aging and exercise than some of the nonsense that made headlines last week.

“Anyone who is physically capable of activity should try to ‘reach at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity,’ says Klaus Gebel, a senior research fellow at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who led the second study. And a larger dose, for those who are so inclined, does not seem to be unsafe, he said.”

For a “one stop shop” on longevity, this is an interesting link.

I often joke that the worst thing one can be at a party is either in the fitness industry or in religion. I have both issues. Every single person I know is an expert on diet, fitness, exercise, world class performance, the afterlife, truth and God. Just ask them. This article gives some insight.

“First, we need to admit to ourselves that it’s a problem in the first place. If you’re not a scientist, reading a scientific paper can seem a bit daunting, but learning how to read a scientific paper can help. Part of being a good skeptic is being able to examine primary sources for inconsistencies or other flaws. Many anti-science sites will use data from initial or exploratory research that suits their need, then misrepresent the results. They will then purport in silico research as being true, when (at most) in silico means more research is needed. Having the ability to read and interpret a scientific paper can inoculate against the bullshit. Everyone is susceptible to the Dunning-Kruger effect. Sociologist Robert Merton stated that all ideas must be tested and are subject to rigorous, structured community scrutiny. Internet searches are quick and easily manipulated using poor search terms. Contrary to reading books, taking classes, or discussing research with others, the Internet offers us expedient answers to questions that are often complicated. Instead of believing everything you read on the Internet, don’t immediately buy into the sexy headline. Find out who the experts are on the subject, read what they’ve published, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are, and listen to what they have to say.”

I think this article might be the BEST thing I have read in a while. I know this story is a big deal in the soccer world, but this article applies to every sport.

“Leicester’s performance psychologist Ken Way told BBC Sport: ‘There are two psychologists at the club. One is me and the other is Claudio. The way he has spoken to the players has been exactly the same as when addressing the media. It’s all about focusing on the process not the outcome, and some of the lines he uses leave my jaw on the floor.’

“Way credits Pearson for assembling the backroom team, which has fostered a culture where players are accountable for their own actions. Sprint scores are presented to the group en masse, midweek five-a-side tables are published and players watch clips of each other’s performances.

“‘It’s about empowering the players to make decisions for themselves rather than ruling over them,’ said Reeves. ‘It helps with the group culture and the fighting spirit.'”

For most of us, the basics will take us far. This article nails it.

“People tend to resort to the ‘sexy’ fitness and diet trends because they promise quick results that not only go against the science of strength training and nutrition but also are not sustainable. The ‘unsexy’ takes some effort and planning; it’s so much easier to take a diet pill, make a shake, or follow a juice cleanse (even if it doesn’t work in the long run!) instead of to prepare a healthy meal with real foods and follow a regular exercise routine that includes strength training and some high intensity interval conditioning.  People say they “don’t have time,” and don’t want to put forth the effort.”

As I was getting ready to send in this edition, I saw this article that supports a closer look at studies.

“Anyway, the main point is that people lost weight and were still losing fat. However, what he mentions in passing is far more interesting. He notes that the ketogenic diet did not produce any slowing of the metabolism.

“That’s the gold medal, buddy!

“Over 25 days or so, there is no slowing of metabolism??? That’s the most important part of long-term weight loss! That’s the knife edge between success and failure. The difference between tears of joy and tears of sorrow. In the Biggest Loser, contestants had dropped their basal metabolic rate by 500 calories per day. In the ketogenic diet, they are still burning the same amount – EVEN AS THEY ARE LOSING WEIGHT.”

This week’s edition is certainly “wandering,” but some weeks seem like that: I find myself reading one thing and bounce to something completely unexpected. I hope all you had a Blessed Mother’s Day and, until next week, keep on lifting and learning.


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Publisher’s note: You already know the reasons why women should do weights. But if you can’t convince your clients, here’s Sophia Drysdale to help you articulate it.

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