Dan John's Game Changers

Hi T-Nation,

I’ve been reading the articles here for a few years, but have never posted. After Dan John’s article, I thought I’d try the Game Changer lifts to see what I’ve accomplished over the past four years and post them up for advice on technique. Here’s an introduction:

I’ve been lifting for four years total, starting with two years of off-season lifting for rugby my first two years of college. Due to concussions, I couldn’t play anymore, so I started lifting year round my junior and senior year. I’ve just graduated and start work in three weeks, so I thought it would be a good time to see where I’m at.

Started at a lean 155 (I’m 5’10") freshman year. I “bulked up” to 185lbs my sophomore year, then focused on clean eating since I couldn’t play rugby anymore and am now just over 170 after my morning shit, shower, shave. My next goal is to adapt my lifting and eating schedule to a relatively demanding work schedule (6am to 6-8pm weekdays, plus some work on weekends) so that I don’t lose weight or strength. Once I’ve got that down, I’m going to focus on weight gain again.

My ultimate goal (many years down the line) is to be a lean 200 with respectable lifts - squatting and deadlifting in the 400s, benching low 300s, pressing my bodyweight for reps, and still able to do 12+ good pull-ups.

For this thread, I’m hoping for some advice on my lifts and advice on how to fit workouts into a busy work schedule and get in awesome workouts even after you’re drained from a stressful day at work.

I will be posting videos of Dan John’s Game Changers shortly, once I figure out how to make the videos right-side-up. For some reason they’re all upside-down…

Take two of the benching. Hopefully that first video doesn’t ruin the whole thread…

I have three things to apologize for:

  1. Shirtlessness: it was a hot day
  2. Ugly high socks: if I can help it, I don’t like the reopen the scabs I already have on my shins every week
  3. I only have up to 325lbs of bar weight, so I duct taped two 10lb dumbbells to the insides of the collars, which you can see in the video. Not my best idea, but whatever.

Pull-Ups. Shoulder-width, overhand grip.

[quote]Struan wrote:
Take two of the benching. Hopefully that first video doesn’t ruin the whole thread…[/quote]

Totally and completely ruined.

Good work on all of your progress so far. Keep that momentum moving.

If you’re into dan john’s stuff, check out his “even easier strength” program. Just google that phrase and it’ll come up on his site. It’s very low volume (you’ll be done in like 20 mins) and you never really push yourself that hard. But you use the same lifts 5-6 days a week. Basically a “practice makes perfect” mentality to it.

Another option would be 5/3/1 with the triumverate or any other low volume template. You can get in and out in ~30 mins with no problem.

Thanks GSD. I want to adjust to my work schedule as quickly as possible so I can keep making progress.

And I didn’t mean that this thread would be popular - I just meant that people might click on it, see the huge, wide video and not read anything! So thanks for reading.

Squats are below. I like doing squats, but once the weight gets heavy, I tend to end up leaning forward on the way up. Focusing on keeping tight and leading with my chest has helped a lot, but has anybody had a particularly helpful assistance exercise for this? I’ve been doing good mornings, since it mimics the position.

Since I don’t have farmer’s walk implements, I tried doing deadlift walks with 2x bodyweight instead. I don’t know if they’re supposed to be harder or easier than farmer’s walks, but it seems harder. I could only take quarter steps and my thighs kept hitting my fingers and making it harder to keep my grip than it otherwise would be. I made it about a third of the way.

So for the farmer’s walk portion I can say this: I made doing farmer’s walks with 85lb dumbbells a standard finisher for my deadlift day my senior year of college, so I know I can do 1/2 bodyweight per hand. When I worked out at a local powerlifting/strongman gym, I worked up to two 45s and two 25s per hand for three “there and back” sets a couple times, which is 140lbs + the implement weight per hand. This is probably about 10lbs short of bodyweight per hand. I don’t think I could do this right now, since I haven’t been farmer’s walking, so my conlusion is that I can do the other four “game changers” and just the basic level of farmer’s walks. Now I know what to include when I get my hands on farmer’s walk implements or heavier dumbbells.

A Dan John classic -this can get you very strong…

Thanks for reading guys.

I really like Dan John’s stuff. I actually finished his Mass Made Simple program a few weeks ago, getting 185x33, then x17 on the high rep squats. I gained about 10lbs, having lost roughly that amount while sick just before starting the program. I should’ve eaten more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I’ve spent some time reading articles from the past couple months and saw one by Jim Wendler about lifting on a tight schedule. Because of the long term approach and adaptability of 5/3/1, I think I will start my first cycle. Maybe once I’ve gotten used to my work schedule and have stalled on my lifts, I will do one of the other Dan John programs.

Thanks for the advice!