Dan John: Monday, May 9

Tonight… on T-Nation…

Well, any questions? Last week, we answered the question about the meaning of life and had a wide ranging discussion about eating and lifting. The consensus was that “eating is good,” although I don’t want to start that fight up again.

So, post early and I can answer more…

I’ll throw one in…

What was your most desparate attempt to get a good workout in…

In other words…

Have you ever been traveling and found yourself isolated from even a just-above-terrible “fitness facility”.

How’d you survive?

If not…

What objects, found in nearly every hotel room, would you have searched out to get a work-out in…

Along the lines of over-head-one-legged squats with complimentary night stand Bible.

I’m curious to know how much age influences training response variations. I’m 44 and have been lifting diligently for about 2.5 years. My gains have been slow and steady, but I’ve had to be patient.

Personally, I only seem to progress as a result of “the law of repeated efforts”. I typically struggle to add 1 rep to an exercise every couple of weeks and then, maybe, after 6-12 weeks can increase weight. This requires me to implement an extended version of most of the training articles posted on this site. Switching exercises every 3-4 weeks eliminates boredom but just doesn’t work for me. Is this common for an “over 35er”?

Cairo, Egypt. Summer of 1985.

I had been in the Middle East a few weeks, picked up a parasite and went on the “Egyptian Weightloss Special.” I was hurting, but still did what I had to do each day.

After a few weeks, I started feeling miles better (although I would have health issues for about three more years) and decided that I needed to start working out. We had been doing a lot of tours…not just the sites, but lots of schools and ministry things…and so I felt that I was getting my walking in. I also discovered that 120 degree heat seems to encourage me to swim a lot.

A year or so before, I had been at Portland State for studies and I had done some O lifting in their gym, a great place at the time, but on weekends and many weekdays, I simply couldn’t get to lift. So, I started doing these long “horse stance sits,” basically a wall sit or isometric squat, lots of ab work (you can invent thousands of things) and a far amount of old fashioned pushups.

In Egypt, I started doing the same thing. Pushups have the ability to make you work anywhere, any time. Soon, I did a dip variation with my corner table and a chair and, honestly, in a few days I could see nice things happening.

Pavel has a book, “Naked Warrior,” simply about the one legged squat (Pistol) and the Pushup…one handed. His point is that you can get a lot done with very, very little. I found the same thing. You know, most of us “live in Egypt.” We think that because we don’t have bumper plates, the best O bar, a platform and the world’s greatest coach…we can’t learn to do a Power Clean.

I say you can.

So, when on the road, either: take a few days off, or, make do. Some of the best workouts I have ever had have been in the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas with a 50 dumbbell. Just keep doing swings, snatches and presses without putting it down for as long as you can…

School will be out next month and I’ll be spending a fair amount of time outside at our swingset and at the local playground. I’d like to add something on to our very basic swingset (not one of those superduper ones) to do some fun workout stuff like pullups, chins, etc. Any ideas for me? What are the best exercises to try at the local playground (that hopefully won’t make the other moms snatch up their kids and run for their minivans!) Thanks!

I’m not sure we know anything about the post 40 athlete. Seriously, there is an amazing lack of research in this idea. One thing that I keep finding, though (Winnett’s book, Charles Bass’s stuff, “Ready Set Go”) is that we are clearly able to make progress far beyond what we think.

So…in your case, you might need to do these exercises that you choose to increase more often. You have to teach the nervous system…and doing a lift “rarely” won’t help. In my Get Ups, see my website danjohn.org , you will find a thing called the Forty Day Program. It might really help you. The idea is to pick five lifts and do them for forty days. Don’t vary the lifts, but vary the loads. What I found was that this worked wonders for about 25-30 days. Pick the five you want to increase, start really light and do them daily…five days a week or less or more…and teach yourself to master the lifts. Just an idea, but one that works.

Jillybop, you look exactly like the mom in that movie…

Don’t just chin on the swings, do “monkey bars” where you brachiate from bar to bar, dips, push ups, sit ups on the top of the slide. Invent things.

People will think you are weird. That is just part of the joy…

If you were to incorporate major pulling into a workout, like pulling a small vehicle on a flat surface, would you use a major sized rope or use a body harness?

I use both, but now I seem to prefer the harness. Drive over to Upper Limit off of the 201…about 9th West…and pick one up…


46 years old, been lifting 4 years using various T-Mag programs. My fitness regimen prior to lifting involved lots of distance running. The problem is ACL surgery 18 years ago on the right knee.

Here’s the question. I enjoy sprints and 5-10k runs. Typically sprint 2 days and one long run on the weekends. Lift 3-4 times a week. My knee is tender at the beginning of the run but once I warm up it gets better. Should I curtail my running activities now to save my knee for later in life? I know walking is better for me at this stage in life but honestly I get bored real quick. Oh, and I play pick up games of soccer when time allows.



I am 30 years old and feeling the effects of almost 15 years of resistance training. I have tendonosis in my elbow and knee, but still love to train heavy; however, my body doesn’t always allow me. What training protocols would you recommend that would still increase strength and hypertrophy but will be relatively easy on the joints.

Thanks for all of your contributions,


Good Day,

This is my first post so bear with me. I recently (8 months) started Olympic lifting and I have seen decent progress in my lifts (85kg to 120kg in clean, 60kg to 85kg in snatch). My problem is that I have not seen any progress in the last two months (I know the initial learning phase is over and gains will be more difficult from here on in!!!) and I am a little stuck on where to go from here.

I know my front squat needs to come up (120kg max) and my flexibility is probably a limiting factor (tight hips, hammys and glutes). I have decent explosive power (6’- 205 lbs, 33 yrs old can still dunk a b-ball) and my deadlift numbers surpass my squat.

Where I live there is no coaching available in Olympic Lifts so I am going it only with my training partner who is in the same boat. I have read some of the info available on your website and you talk about not missing lifts for long periods of time, and at this point I find myself mising a lift or two every session.

Could you give some recommendations regarding specific flexibility drills for Olympic Lifting and a little insight into what direction a new lifter like myself might wish to head.

Any help is greatly appreciated,



Nothing to add or ask, I just want to say thank you for your contributions to the S&C world, you opened up my mind to a lot of new possibilities.


I know you have worked with plenty of throwers, but I am hoping you can answer a question regarding sprinters. I recently read an article were Mark Foster (a European sprint swimmer) said he switched to a high protein diet after talking to a sprint hurdler named Colin Jackson. Now, I believe that many world class sprinters use steroids and this could have an influence on how much protein they eat. But in the article Foster said since his race only lasts about 20 seconds he needs the protein for power and explosiveness, not carbs.

Now, I have always read that athletes should eat plenty of carbs. I was wondering if your experiences could lend any insight into this and what kind of a diet you would reccomend for sprinters.


Dan, what do you think of using protein powder while on MLB? Thanks

[quote]Danny John wrote:
I use both, but now I seem to prefer the harness. Drive over to Upper Limit off of the 201…about 9th West…and pick one up…[/quote]

I’ll check it out.


Dan, what is your take on Crossfit? If you wanted to be good at everything would you do the WOD all out and that’s it? What would you add/take away?

A couple of sprint questions here. First, Charlie Francis is the genius here.

But, my two cents.

Hell yes, Protein!!! The more, the merrier! It will make you strong and lean you out. (My opinion)

Jogging, though, has no place. I like the Crossfit model of building up to repeat 400s…I thought that was genius. Rather than going farther and farther, you keep the distance at 400…ideally going faster over time and increasing the volume. Maybe 200s would be better for fat loss and maybe even speed, but I doubt you will get hurt much doing 400s.

In the weight room, don’t do much variation, if you are going to be a sprinter. I like the Alyssa Felix model of doing:
An O lift variation
A Press

EVERY workout!!! Keep the sets at like 2 sets of 2 and 3 sets of 3 and really get strong in the weightroom and pour all your energy into getting fast on the track.

Jackson, on the O lifts, you might be too light…in terms of bodyweight. At 6 foot, you can carry a lot of bodyweight as an O lifter.

You have to, first and foremost as an O lifter, be honest about your weak points. Flexibility will come, do your Front Squats and Overheads and you can’t help but get more flexible. But, now, you need to be honest and look at what aspects of each move is holding you back. I finally cured my Front Squat issues simply by doing those “Deadstop Front Squats” (see my site) until my nervous system finally listened up and I improved.

So, stop with the vague…what are you weak at?

Homer and dkruck,
You both asked the same thing…what can I do that won’t hurt, yet still allow me to …(fill in the blank)?

I wouldn’t jog, but sprinting might help. In the weightroom, compound exercises rarely hurt your joints as much as isolation crap. Triceps kickbacks will bug you a lot more than Military Presses. I remember when they were telling us that Leg extensions “saved” the knees…now, “they” tell us that they destroy them.

Stay with the big moves and the big weights. Sprint. Walk. Take the dog for a walk. Play with the kids. Don’t make yourself into a little machine: that is what hurts people. Stay flexible in mind and body.

Protein powder on MLB…not by definition, but you could. If you start the day with a steak and eggs, eat salmon for lunch, and another steak for dinner with a can of tuna as an afternoon snack…you might not need protein…