Dan John: Wandering Weights, Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 28

With the release of Can You Go?, I've been getting lots of email with questions about assessment, usually around the issue of longevity. I have this odd belief that we should hang on to the following for as long as we can.

1. Stand on one foot for ten seconds
2. Hang from a bar for 30 seconds
3. Squat down, hold the squat for 30 seconds, and stand up
4. Standing long jump your height
5. Farmer walk your body weight for whatever distance you can go
There's some research showing up that strength is an indicator of “early death.” This huge trial in 14 countries showed that each 11-lb (5kg) reduction in grip strength increased the odds of an early death by 16%. The odds of a fatal heart problem increased by 17%, and stroke by 9%.
And let’s not forget to measure and log the waist measurement. Phil Maffetone offers a great insight

“The most practical way to monitor body fat is to not step on a scale, but rather to measure your waist. Measuring your waist is easy, and most people already know if they have gained body fat because their pants fit too tightly or they have had to increase their pants size. If you want to be more accurate, get a tape measure and wrap it around your waist at the level of the belly button, keeping the tape parallel. But don’t do this every day. Just as with the obsession of daily scale weigh-ins, this only contributes to mental-emotional stress we can all do without. This added stress can contribute to fat storage, too. Instead, measure your waist once a month on the same day and time (in the morning before breakfast works well).”

If you haven't tried Phil's Two-Week Test, you can find it here. It's as reasonable as anything you will ever find.
Athletes need to keep a gauge on Father Time, too. Laird Hamilton makes an interesting point.
"I look at my career as following two lines on a graph," says Hamilton. "One line shows my physical systems, stuff like VO2 max and fast-twitch muscle fibers, either flattening or very gradually declining. The other line shows the intangibles–maturity, experience, judgment, passion, perspective–steadily rising. The two lines cross at an interesting place, and I regard that place as my peak. It's not a point, but a plateau. Your peak isn't really a product of your body, but of your enthusiasm. I intend to live on that plateau for a long, long time."
Usually, I don’t trust “news” blurbs on the internet, but this myth-buster was good: “In fact, gaining muscle through resistance training is one of the best ways to offset the small decline in metabolism that naturally occurs with age" … “Typically, from age 30 to about age 80, you lose about 15 percent of your muscle mass.” … “You can offset that if you start lifting. The earlier you start, the better off you’re going to be as you get older.”
For a bit of inspiration this Memorial Week, consider this. I've always been a fan of mining the lessons of the great stories of humanity. Often, the Viking stories get the Hollywood treatment (“I’m Thor.” Me, too…I Thquatted yesterday), but this article, and hopefully a series, has a great insight. No matter what, give Tyr a hand for what he did. Now, you HAVE to read it!
It’s nice to see articles that try to pull these stories into a modern light. Try these two—this one is what one would expect, but this article talks more about using the mechanics of storytelling…perhaps the key to great coaching.
Brian Burton sent this one from Nic Horton’s archives. That's just a great summary of coaching at the end. If all you read is this, you will be better—

“One thing at a time.
"The Olympic lifts are hard … too hard. And for each problem you are fixing, you are sometimes creating another. What is imperative in the learning process is a systematic approach to learning and error correction that focuses on only ONE thing at a time. The lifter likely has many things wrong going on, but a coach has to be able to know which one (and only one!) of those to attack first.
"A sure sign of someone who doesn’t really understand coaching is someone who just blurts out, every five seconds, the problems with someone’s lifting: 'This is wrong, and that is wrong, and you should really fix…'
"That doesn’t help anybody. You have to hone in on the one thing that is causing the worst problems and fix that … even if, in the short term, it exacerbates one of the lesser problems. You’ll get to that next. Knowing which problem is the one that needs the most attention is something that you can only learn by coaching lots of different people over time.”
Brian Deede sent over an article that really supports one of my key coaching principles that volume must come before intensity. It's a fun read.

"'I don’t really train,' Bosio tells me with a laugh when I finally meet up with her at her creekside home in Truckee. 'I put in a lot of volume but not much intensity. Sometimes I see what other people are doing and it seems'—her brow furrows—'excessive.'"
Age brings wisdom. Let’s try to be around as long as we can to be libraries of wisdom for our families and communities. Keep training…and keep training with an eye to longevity!

PS: Laree's going to make me add a "to buy Can You Go?" link here. She's my publisher…it's her job to nag me about this stuff.

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Publisher’s note:  Dan's new book is here!

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