T Nation

Wednesday With Dan John


Dear Mom and Dad,

I'm having a fun time at camp. All the cool kids ignore me. I keep puking. Bugs are biting me.



Well, I am at another discus camp this week and I'm enjoying four sessions a day. I can break away today for Prime Time and I'm looking forward to it.


Good morning Dan.

Glad to have you on Prime Time, I was beginning to have withdrawal symptoms yesterday:)

How's the camp going?

  1. I decided to run a timed mile (fast pace though not a slow jog) this morning for a few reasons: 1. I'm in the Military and we get tested annually on a timed 1.5 mile run 2. just to see how my "cardio" was even though I hardly ever practice that because most of the time I'm doing 40 yard sprints uphill. 3. just for the hell of it.

Question: Do you think these kinds of things are "just good to do?" even though "modern research" says that it's not optimal for sports enhancement, bad for this or that, etc?

  1. I'd like to work w/athletes (particularly young athletes like in high school) one day too. Do you find it rewarding? Isn't it amazing how much progress those young athletes make even though they train "wrong" sometimes?

  2. Regarding your one dumbbell workout article-I've been doing something similiar w/my 50 lb dumbbell a lot lately and loving it-especially working outside in my yard

Question: what's the most reps you got clean and pressing that 61 lb dumbbell? Also, do you think that once you are able to clean and press that dumbbell for say 20 reps and above that it becomes fruitless and is not building strength anymore? I know you told me before that you can build strength (increase 1RM) by doing sets of 8 reps but what about sets of 20 reps?


Snap. I spent a few minutes yesterday morning hunting for the Monday night thread. Only to realise there wasn't one. It felt weird not to get a dose of Dan John wisdom, so I resorted to rereading The Book.

I notice you mention several books along the way and so I wondered what would be your Top 5 (or top 10 or whatever) recommendations? I was initially thinking in terms of training and nutrition and whatnot but you could do a general list too if you feel like it.

Thanks for all the articles and stuff you've written at times I find it really illuminating and fun to read too.



Danny - is that what your mother calls you? Being cool enough to also be named Dan, I get called by all three variants of the original:

Dan - by friends, girlfriend
Danny - by Mom, sister
Daniel - by Dad, by Mom when mad, by girlfriend when mad (as if that ever happens), telemarketers

For other random questions, please read on.

How did you decide to stay in Utah after being in the bay area? Utah is nice and quiet and clean and likely a better place to raise a family, but the bay area is hard to beat. just wondering ...

Lastly, regarding grip strength. I am checking into some grippers to allow me some work on off days and/or when sitting around the office. Other than your typical answer of throw stuff pull stuff push stuff lift stuff overhead, do you have any Dan Johnian hand strength wisdom?

Thanks Coach,



I'm definitely not Dan, but I've seen his answer to this question a few times.

His answer was farmer walks.


Ah, but I don't know how to farm. I do know how to walk, so I can learn. Anyone notice how farmers pretty much ride tractors all day anyway. I could do that, too.

Ever gathered and stacked hay? The little ~75# square bales? Wow that's a great way to shred your hands. That's as close to farming as I've ever come.

Yeah, I expect something along those lines. Any strong man implements are likely to help - odd shaped rocks, kegs, sand bags, etc. I know I just need to get after it, but I like to bother people with annoying questions, if you know what I mean.




I'm not Dan, and I can't answer for him, but we have a lot more sunshine than the bay area. And we have snow. And less rain. And less fog. We have huge mountains, and valleys, and water, and trees, and deserts, etc. etc. etc.


Yeah. I hear you. I have spent a fair amount of time in and around Salt Lake for skiing. I really like it, although I certainly notice the "hey, you're not a Mormon, get out" vibe in Salt Lake. It's not so bad in Park City and the ski areas, as so many of those people are transplants anyway. Still, I really like how clean and affordable it is. I would move there in a minute for the right job.

But it's not bad here either. Going camping in Sequoia National Park this weekend. Either that or driving up to Frisco. Choices ...



Hahahah-Are you calling me a bastard? :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Actually I have done that stuff. I'm from Texas!

Yeah I feel you man. I like to annoy people w/questions too:) One thing I'm doing right now in addition to farmer walks to increase my grip strength for heavier deadlifts is to load up a barbell (3 or 4 or 5 plates on each side or whatever is a doable challenge for you) and simply hold that barbell for a specified time-I hold mine only for about 5-10 seconds to replicate pulling a deadlift)

Just an idea that I use.


I am well read. That must come off as a touch arrogant, but I read about three to five books a week. I had the new Harry Potter book finished on Saturday...

  1. JK Doherty's "Track and Field Omnibook." Yeah, you don't do track. Read it anyway. Trust me.
  2. Maffetone's "Everybody is an Athlete." Just good stuff.
  3. Arnold's "Education of a Bodybuilder" Filled with small insights that are well worth reading again. Again.
  4. "Blink" It is a book about intuition and I saw it and liked it immediately.
  5. Tommy Kono's 'ABCs of Olympic Lifting"
  6. "The Throws" The new edition from T and F Press with John Godina on the cover...some of the most logical and insightful stuff I have ever seen on lifting...
  7. T. H White's "The Sword in the Stone." The book that made me a reader.
  8. Any of the books by Bill Walsh, former coach of the 49ers...great organizational stuff.
  9. Frank Herbert's "Dune" Again, just a good book, but the emphasis on "balance" is enlightening.
  10. Vince Gironda's "Unleash the Wild Physique." yes, it is bizarre. But, there are gems on every page. I have read it many times and still don't know what you should do when you train...but, a good book.
  11. "The Omega Zone." Don't buy it. Don't read it. Take your damn fish oil!

This is just a start. There are about 400 books in my collection on sports and lifting...but, I always try to distill everything into just a few points...


Either you can or you can't when it comes to teaching, so if you can...Do.

I just did the reps. I was injured badly and trying to stay in shape. Lots of sets of 8. Chris Shugart has a funny story about his photo op with the 61 pounder...ask him.


I really don't know why God kept me in Utah. I certainly don't fit it...I'm the fart at a funeral here.

Farmers Walks is all I do. I have done the grippers and all the rest following my surgeries, but the FWs were the best. Only in the past months have I come to realize how badly injured I actually was back when I blew my wrist apart. I'm amazed...truly...that I came back. I have been reading my journals and remembering the amount of pain and struggle just to be able to grip the damn bar (45 pounds!!!) and how long it took to finally turn over my wrist in the snatch...not to even mention the MONTHS later it took to clean. Yet, I just kept going on and on. Tiff noted that I moaned in my sleep for nearly a year.

In an odd way, I'm proud of it. I nailed a state record in the Clean and Jerk a few months ago...March, I think...and I have just figured out that it took four years to add two more pounds...


Then well done on your recovery Dan.

Really not a question but feedback
Your new template - Pull, Press, Abs, Quick Lift, Squat or Deadlift is very useful for the athletes I train.
Gaelic Footballers if your familar with the sport (just blend rugby and soccer if ur unsure) they were noticing that they were sore a lot due to there previous programs, and this one suits them fantastically basically every week some athlete is setting a PR or so.

Ohh after typing that I have a question.
The Russian system of GPP (i.e weightlifters playing volleyball) as opposed to the western approach - strongman training or something. Which do you prefer for your athletes?


Spring, good question. First, the Bondurchuk stuff...which I usually model...was not "volleyball" for a few weeks. That would be a thing called "Active Rest." I asked Jeori Sedyk about this and he noted that he rarely took more than three weeks off after a season "too hard to get back in shape!"

GPP is just about everything...and I think that is what we want to focus on. Pull sleds, pushups, pullups, games, strongman, HGs, everything builds the base wider. I love GPP and it has brought me into a new level of fitness and success in training. So, I favor anything and everything. A good athlete needs lots and lots of levels of competition, training, fun, experiences, whatever. So, get going...


I'm writing a follow up on my "One Lift a Day Program."

Any suggestions for things to add?


You're not the fart at a funeral. I keep running into people who know you. And they all exclaim what a brilliant man you are.


I think it would be great to have OLAD templates for different goals. Such as pure strength, greatest athletic carryover, etc. I imagine the templates would contain basic movement selections and set/rep parameter recommendations that suit the specific goal.

Just a thought.


two lifts a day? just a really dumb thought.

how about variations or guidelines for:
+ strength +
+ size +
- fat -

how about inclusion of olympic lifts?

how about a continuation of your rep/set perriodization whatever-you-call-it for a longer (ie. 8 week) program?

bah ... rambling



I could argue, but it is true. I have been told that before, but, in all humility...it is difficult to argue...


For the record, those are two great points about the One Lift a Day idea...I'm on it...