FFF 028: Goblet Squats, Basic Lifts & Tumbling To Get Stronger And Feel Epic – with Dan John

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This week we have legendary strength coach, author and educator – Dan John – on the podcast to chat about getting stronger, faster and leaner.

Dan John podcast interview

Dan John is an all American discus thrower; he’s competed in the highest levels of Olympic lifting, Highland Games and Weight Pentathlon – an event for which he currently holds the American record. He is a world renown coach and is renowned for his ethos which is simplifying training and focusing on the basics to produce fantastic results.

In this episode, we talk about Goblet squats (an exercise which he invented); why he’s a big fan of single arm overhead work; using prowlers; looking at other underused exercises; why he thinks barbell complexes are so effective and why he includes tumbling in his workout routine as one of his favourite approaches to improve flexibility and why he thinks it’s an effective cardio workout. We also look at his other workouts and he provides us with suggestions of things you can start doing to mix up your training to get stronger and start building muscle whilst burning fat.

Transcription

Scott: Hey Dan, welcome to the show.

Dan: Hey, thanks so much. It’s a bit of a cloudy day here – reminds me of Scotland.

Scott: You wouldn’t be far wrong! Dan, give us a little bit of info about you – Who are you? What do you do? And why are you so good at it?

Dan: I always tell people I’m the youngest of 6 from South San Francisco, California. I grew up in an athletic and military family. I went to High School and played all the sports that we do here in the United States and began discus throwing in my 9th grade year to improve my American Football. I became pretty good at it and that paid for all of my education. I travelled all over the world – I went to Utah State University which is a very big track and field school. I got all my degrees, I have a Masters in History and a Masters in Religious Studies and I was a Fulbright Scholarship. At the same time I’ve done the academic side, I’ve also done athletics, Highland games, Olympic lifting – a lot of different sports and I’ve always enjoyed it. I’ve been coaching since 1979 and I’ve been lifting weights since 1965 which is kind of interesting. It’s been a long, fun career. I started writing a column back in the early 90s and practised the art of writing for a long time. One of my articles hit in fitness and here we are now. It’s been a long, fun road.

Scott: Awesome. What would you say your ethos towards training is? If you were to summarise it, what would say your approach to lifting is?

Dan: You should do the fundamental human movements with appropriate reps, appropriate sets and improve as appropriate – it’s that simple. I don’t know why people spend money listening to me talk. Nothing I say you couldn’t find from a magazine from the 1940s or from Hackenschmidt in 1910 but I think my ability to continue to pound away at the basics is the key. A good friend of mine, Rick Bojak once said “the key to writing this American Football offence called ‘the veer’ is it is the job of the Coach not to get bored”. Your athletes like success. Your job is not to get bored and to keep trying to change everything so it’s my constant pounding of the fundamentals I think makes me a little unique. I don’t get caught up in the flavour of the month so to speak, I pretty much stick with what we’re doing.

Scott: I like it. Do you then think that there’s a tendency for people to over complicate things or the perception that if something is more complicated and harder, it’s therefore going to produce greater results. I certainly find that with nutrition that sometimes people keep expecting me to tell them something new, something that they don’t know that holds the key to their fat loss when it’s really the fundamental basics, like you said.

Dan: Wouldn’tyou say it’s true with every single aspect of life? With matters of the heart, there’s always things on how to voodoo, ninja, get women to like you; or learn how to dance by reading good books. It’s always the search for the complex that the amateur strives for. It’s always the search for the complex that the amateur strives for. ~ Dan John Click To TweetWhen you look at some great writers, like Ernest Hemingway – his sentences were historically to the point. When you look at the great poets, I would include Dylan Thomas, the great Welsh poet, when you read his poetry you can sit back at the end of one his poems and say “I knew that, I could’ve written that”, but you didn’t – he did. It’s respect for the fundamentals and respect for the basics that is just not sexy. In the United States there’s a thing called “I’ve got nothing behind the curtain” which is a Wizard of Oz reference – I’ve got nothing behind the curtain, I’ll tell you on day 1 what we’re going to be doing on day 2001 and people keep thinking that I’m going to pull away this vail and say “here’s what we really do” and this is not what will happen. Art De Vany said one time, and I thought it was very interesting, a woman asked him “what’s the best way to lose fat” and he said “don’t get fat in the first place” and I guess it pissed the lady off quite a bit but I whole heartedly agree with that. I know it’s rude but that’s a fundamental, it’s a basic. When you work with High School kids, or even College kids, you’re like these little behaviours that you’re picking up – the pizza and beer diet – you’re not going to be able to undo that damage in about 10 years.

Scott: Prevention is better than the cure.

Dan: Right. Like floss your teeth from age 3 and on because flossing is far better than replacement. We all know that. One of my athletes got a flat tyre yesterday and so she replaced all 4 and I applauded her in our training today and said “that’s what big kids do”, and she asked me “what do you mean by big kids?”. I said “there’s certain people who would repair the flat – if you’ve got a crappy tyre, you fix the crappy tyre. Some people replace one tyre, which is probably not a bad idea, but big kids replace all 4 tyres and make sure their aligned, make sure your breaks get looked at and while they’re underneath there, look for anything else.” That’s how big kids work. Big kids are always going to replace 4 tyres and replace the battery. It’s a crazy thing to say but I think that’s true. We know that’s true in accident prevention with cars. It’s even more so true with one’s physical or career.

Scott: I really like that. Dan, let’s jump in to look at the training side of things – if anyone has followed your work they’ll know that there’s certain exercises that seem to stand out quite a lot and, correct me if I’m wrong, you’re a big fan of goblet squats, single arm over head presses and pushing and pulling and carrying heavy things. Why are these exercises so good and why are you such a big fan?

Dan: Those are the fundamental human movements.

Scott: Let’s talk about goblet squats – why would someone goblet squat as opposed to putting a barbell on their back and doing it that way or holding the dumbbells at their side?

Dan: Because I invented the goblet squat so we know that it’s going to work. I invented the goblet squat so we know that it’s going to work ~ Dan John Click To Tweet

Scott: I was fishing for that one, I’m glad that you brought that one up.

Dan: There’s nothing magical about any of them. The idea with the goblet squat is that it’s a very deep squat, a very easy squat to master and you can do it almost right away. Teaching someone to put a weight on their barbell, an untrained person to put weight on the back of their neck, their body reacts with a frightening response and they never really get around to learning whereas you can teach someone a goblet squat on day one and they’re squatting away. There’s no good or bad, better or worse. In the push family I tend to like the one arm overhead press a lot because we can get a lot of volume with it and no one gets hurt doing it and no one gets particularly tired with doing it. In the pull family, I’m a big fan of the TRX pulls with the whole squat family but since you said goblet squat, we could say goblet squat, front squat or overhead squat. In hinges, we like swings but then we also like deadlifts and we also like the Olympic lifts. When it comes to the loaded carrying family, anything you can think of is marvellous and great to do. I just gave you a training programme right there.

Scott: Why do you prefer the single arm overhead work as opposed to someone doing it with both dumbbells or how most people in commercial gyms train shoulders is the seated overhead dumbbell press. Why would someone start doing single arm work instead?

Dan: Don’t let yourself get into this thing where you think one is good and the other is bad. The reason why I like the single stuff is that you’ve got the whole body supporting it so you can usually use more load per hand. Are you kilos or pounds?

Scott: We’re kilos over here.

Dan: OK, so you’ve got a male who can press 100kgs overhead – they might be able to press 60kgs with one arm. It’s stunning. You’ve got one arm but it’s supported by one torso and two legs. When you press with two arms, it’s still only supported by one torso and two legs so I like that. Also, most men go deeper with one arm presses than they do with two and then finally of course you can really see asymmetries very quickly and they’re also obviously athlete without having to point it out.

Scott: Nice. With the carries, again that’s something that so few people do in the gym. What are some of the benefits over doing some loaded carries and how would you recommend people do them – say we don’t have access to a prowler, would you say they just hold the dumbbells and strap up and do that or would you say get a trapbar deadlift? What’s the best way and why would someone do them?

Dan: The equipment is the least important thing in this. We have bags that we carry that weigh about 40kgs. You just wrap your arms around them, pick them up and walk. Anything that you put your hands on and walk is perfect. One of my guys does “rucking” – that’s you throw in a heavy backpack and he just goes for these long, long walks with it. We’re talking 10km walks with 15, 20, 25 kgs on your back. That’s a long loaded carry. We also have them as short as 10m here. The loaded carry family develops work capacity first and foremost but it also develops posture. Oddly, when you do loaded carries, your body lines up exactly as we’re trying to teach you in the rest of the weight room. Your box is on your ***, your ribcage is on top of your pelvis, your head is on top of your ribcage, your ears are in line with your shoulders. The second I load you up, you line up because your habits are instantly compromised by the reality of load. It’s a great way to teach posture, the farmer walk of course, much of it is grip but we call it “walking planks” because to do a loaded carry, you have to maintain the plank position, squeeze at the abs and do the best you can.

Scott: Nice. What would you say are some other underused exercises? The ones that you think give you a huge return but hardly anyone does them for whatever reason.

Dan: Here’s two right here: the goblet squat and the farmer walk – those are my go to answer on practically everything. One of the things I look at in people’s training programmes is gaps – what are you not doing. Most people aren’t doing loaded carries and most people aren’t doing deep squats. Most people aren’t doing loaded carries and most people aren’t doing deep squats. ~ Dan John Click To TweetFrom there, the big miss would be ground work. Crawling has become very popular in the last few years but there’s also tumbling, there’s also Turkish get-ups, there’s also rolling around on the ground and having some fun. Those are the big three that most miss. From there, if you farmer walk, goblet squat and did some tumbling, used not only for your survival but your thrival – you would thrive and survive doing those three. I just gave you a million dollars of advice right there. What you do with it is up to you of course.

Scott: When you mention tumbling, are we talking about forward rolls and cartwheels?

Dan: Absolutely. Those are the two that I teach. I teach shoulder rolls, summersaults, forward rolls, a variety of handstands, a variety of headstands, cartwheels, what we call cartwheels for distance – they’re called “handsprings” but if I just say “a cartwheel for distance” they learn it in one second.

Scott: Why do you think they are so effective? What’s the benefits of someone including them in their routine?

Dan: You haven’t done them, have you?

Scott: Not as part of my training, no.

Dan: For one thing, at my age, one of the most dangerous things I can do is fall. This is fall injury prevention. People love getting the foam roller out – I use the earth as my foam roller. I do shoulder rolls and tumbling and that does all the same thing that a foam roller does. The other thing that’s interesting is that when Adrian Craddock from Golloway came out, the first time he tumbled in our workout, he had to go to the can and vomit. I didn’t want him to do that on purpose but he had never got his brain into that getting flipped and thrown around. After about 2 weeks he never got sick again. He had trained himself how to fall and still keep his brain in control. Kind of like if you ever go on a fighter plane, when they hit Gs, most of us in the audience will pass out, but if you teach your body not to pass out, it stops passing out. The other thing – and this will shock you – is if you want a fat burning workout, do 5 forward rolls, 5 right side rolls, 5 left side rolls, cartwheels and handsprings and then tell me how your heart and lungs are doing.

Scott: Nice, I’ll put that in for next week.

Dan: You can always tell when people haven’t done it because it’s like “what’s the advantage?” and the day after you’ve done them you’re like “ah, I get it.”

Scott: We do handstands but I wouldn’t put forward rolls or any kind of tumbles in – until now. In your writing, you’ve also talked a bit about barbell complexes. Again, why are you such a fan of them and for the listener who maybe doesn’t know what a barbell complex is, can you explain it to them?

Dan: Well, not very well. It’s funny because it’s so obvious, the doing is so easy but trying to explain it on a Podcast is hard. It’s when you do a series of exercises back to back to back to back without putting the bar on the ground. Complex A is 8 rows, 8 cleans, 8 front squats, 8 military presses, 8 back squats, 8 good mornings and sometimes 8 deadlifts, so you go back to back to back. That’s about 2 minutes and so the time on your load gets your heartrate through the roof. Plus you are being squashed the entire team and that seems to do some wonderful things to you. We also do some simple things with kettlebells and loaded carries that do the same thing.   I’m going to give you right now a three minute workout that on paper is only 36 squats – you do 8 goblet squats, put the bell in your left hand and walk for 20-30m, then do 7 goblet squats, put the kettlebell in your right hand and walk back, 6 then walk, 5 then walk, 4 then walk, 3 then walk, 2 then walk and 1 then walk. Even if the bell is light, for e.g. a 20kg bell for a male, you’re ready to throw that bell on that last rep of squats because even although suitcase carries (that’s a one-handed walk) are very easy by themselves and probably doing 36 goblet squats in a row would be hard, I grant you that, but it’s the time on the load that begins to hit you. Your heartrate goes really high, you breathe hard but you are also asking the body to stay tense the entire 3 minutes because the suitcase carry is probably, in my view, the best throwing exercise a thrower can do in the weight room. Then you’ve got the goblet squat which is not only great for mobility and flexibility but it’s also a very good leg and butt workout. I love putting things together like that. We call that workout the “sparhawk” – the sparrow hawk – for whatever reason. We name our walking squat workouts after the rapture family, so eagles and sparrowhawks so that people know that family of movements are going to always have a rapture in it in the same way that our bear crawl family is always called bear, so there’s bear lift and all these different types, so you know that that family is going to be that kind of movement. When you get to something like complexes, you can use it for muscle gain and you can use it for fat loss, and frankly I’m not sure if I would believe you if you told me 30 years ago that there would be a muscle building, fat losing thing. I’m still not sure that it really happens but it seems to. You can’t doubt your own eyes.

Scott: Another thing that people always want, or always talk about are abs. Everyone wants good abs and we know that it’s all down to low levels of body fat and so on but with regards to core exercises, is there any that you particularly enjoy? Do you get somebody on the ground and get them to do specific targeting work or do you find that throughout the multi-joint big lifts that you were doing and the carries that that’s pretty sufficient to stimulate the abdominals and the supporting muscles?

Dan: What does the research tell us? The research tells us that most of the crap we do for abs is crap. What does the research tell us? The research tells us that most of the crap we do for abs is crap. Click To Tweet

Scott: Yeah, to get good abs squat and do pull ups.

Dan: You get abs in the kitchen, you don’t get abs in the weight room. I still believe that teaching the person tension helps. Women complain about the “Mom pooch” after they have had babies but one of things that they have to re-teach themselves is abdominal tension. That’s why I like what Stu McGill teaches. We do the traditional planks and the bird dogs and the idea of that is to teach the tension. Today, for example, we were doing really simple things, it was one of the easiest ab complexes that we’ve ever done and it’s funny because they’re tests so we did a 2 minute plank followed by a 1 minute hollow rock. A hollow rock is when you lay on your back and you push your lower back into the ground as hard as you can and then you move your feet and legs until you find the spot where you can no longer push your lower back into the ground and you stick with it, and that’s where you want to be. I’ll be honest, suitcase carriers are the best ab exercises most of your listeners will ever do but you are going to get your abs by getting the body fat level down. Having said that, you are going to have to ask yourself a big question – how important is getting my abs to show going to be? Many of your listeners literally don’t have an ab wall to show. When I was in college, I was down at 7.9% body fat. This was when the coaches told me that I had to put weight on, and I barely had abs at 7.9, and yet we had an African American guy with me that day who was in the mid 20s for body fat with the perfect set of six-pack abs, the kind every single one of your listeners would want because this guy was born to look magnificent at age 21 and hugely obese at age 41. You’ve got to be careful, your Celtic listeners they’re going to have a Celtic hip and probably will lack a six pack no matter what they do. That’s just DNA.

Scott: One thing you’ve not mentioned is pull-ups and one of the questions that people often ask me is how can they improve pull-ups because they’re a good exercise but it’s one that is challenging – especially for females. Are there any progressions that you’ve found work especially well or complimentary exercises to improve someone’s ability at doing pull-ups?

Dan: I didn’t mention pull-ups because you didn’t ask, in my defence. There’s three family of movements: the push, the pull and the squat that can only be trained by pushing, pulling or squatting and pull-ups are in that family. Let’s say the listener can only do 5 pull-ups which, by the way, is just fine, there’s nothing wrong with that but what we would have you do in our gym is that on day 1 do 1 pull up then rest; 2 pull-ups then rest; 3 pull-ups then rest; repeatedly and then just wave that in as many times as you can. Over time, we can do one of two things: either add load which I think is better for anyone over 25. After about age 25, high-rep pull-ups will make the elbows start to bark, but if they really for some reason like a military test, or a firefighter thing or contest need to get the reps up, we have to get the reps up then we would go 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4, up to 5, and then when 5 gets easy we’d go 2, 3, 5; 2, 3, 5 and when 7, 8, 9 gets easy or 10, 11, 12 gets easy, we might go, 2, 3, 5, 8; later 3, 5, 8; later 5, 8, 13 and you’re just going to wave and always well before failure, miles before failure, because you never want to fail at pull-ups. If you’re doing a test and you’ve got to do 25 to make the recon force and you’re at 23 and you’re tired then I’m going to take a match and put it under your butt to make sure that you get those last 2 reps. For the rest of the time, we would never push to failure on pull-ups.

Scott: Last question on the training side of things before we look on to more of the goal setting and mindset. Deadlifts – we’ve mentioned them but I’ve not really asked you much about them – what are some of the top tips that you would give someone for improving their deadlift or coaching cues that they could easily remember that’s going to ensure that they’ve got good alignment and posture to be able to do the lift properly?

Dan: I don’t necessarily think that you need to deadlift to improve your deadlifts. No offence Scott, but this is the kind of question that I don’t usually get asked because I’m not a powerlifter. Most of the guys I’ve worked with have massive deadlifts and we never deadlift unless it’s out of the rack. My athlete, Chandler, misunderstood what I told him to do. Here’s what he ended up doing and it ended up being a pretty good programme. Week 1 he took 260kgs and he put it as high as he could on the rack so twice a week he did basically lock-outs with a deadlift; next week he lowered it down a pinhole and worked there; a week later he lowered it down; he lowered it down for around a 7 or 8 week period until the bar was on the floor and he deadlifted that which is interesting because that was about a 50kg PR in his deadlift.

Scott: Impressive.

Dan: Now that wasn’t what I told him to do but it worked so well, let’s just pretend that that is what I told him to do.

Scott: I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

Dan: The best way to deadlift is, I think, top down. I’m too tall to deadlift off the floor so if you’re taller than me, that bar is way too far down on the ground. Most tall guys hate the first 4 or 5 inches off the ground and that makes sense to me because there’s no scientific reason for the bar to be at the height that it is on the ground, right? That’s just metal energy, that’s just science. They couldn’t figure out a way to make it taller, that’s all. If you ever get a chance to lift off plates that are at the top of your socks or an inch or 2 below your knees, your deadlift would go through the sky because you’ll be in a much more efficient position to deadlift. The other thing we find that improves people’s deadlifts is sled poles, car pushing, that kind of thing – overall farmer walks and overall work capacity increased seems to do a lot more than just some fancy put your gripper there or not.

Scott: OK. Let’s look at, how do you get people in the gym? I know you’ve got a book out recently called “Can You Go?” My buddy, Mike, we used it in a workout the other day with the expression that one of us was complaining about something and Mike just said “well, can you go?” I said “Yeah, OK, I’ve got it”. For people that struggle with motivation or work a whole day and then the prospect of going to the gym involves a drive in the snow etc, is there any top tips for motivating someone? Obviously someone will only go if they actually want to go but is there anything that you’ve seen that is good for actually getting people into the gym or getting people training?

Dan: The biggest mistake that most people do is they focus on what the client or athlete wants to do and of course I always emphasise what they need to do trumps it. In our gym, if you need strength work – that’s what you do If you need mobility work, we pump every set of exercises that you do, we’re pumping in mobility work and flexibility work around every single rep and set you do. If you need body composition work – your waistline is too big – we’re going to pound you with swings and concept 2 rowing so your rest period will be when you’re lifting – that’s when you get the chance to take a break, you’ll think “thank God, I’m squatting!” That’s what we do. Today’s workout lasted half an hour and every single one of us was just amazed that in that half an hour we had a 4 minute squat workout, we had a 3 minute plank, I already told you that about the hollow rock, we had a 5 minute swing test and so for like myself, I did 320 something swings today, a 4 minute squat challenge (you go to the bar on a goblet squat, you hold it for 30 seconds, you stand up; back to the bottom, hold it for 30 seconds, stand up; and then you do that for 4 minutes and the idea is to increase your hip mobility but we’re also try to fry your planking muscles so that when we tested the plank right after, instead of re-using your back which was now exhausted, you had to use your abdominal wall and by God did that work good).

Scott: We’ve talked about swings a few times but we haven’t actually clarified what they are. In just one sentence, what is a swing?

Dan: The swing is a ballistic hinge movement – you hold the bell in your hands, you throw the bell back between your thighs while stretching your hamstrings, loading up your butt cheeks and loading up your spinal erectors and then you snap it forward like you’re trying to throw it across the room and then you catch it in a tall plank and then you throw it back between your legs. You’re just trying to pump them out.

Scott: Excellent. For anyone who wants a description, I’m pretty sure if you stuck that into Google – “kettlebell swing video” or “Dan Jones swing”, I‘m sure you’ll get something.

Dan: I’m warning the listener, you’re going to get a lot of crap.

Scott: If we look back on your career in this industry, you’ve coached numerous people. It’s a long impressive career. What do you now know that you wished you knew when you started and what would you say is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?

Dan: When I first started we did power clean military press, front squat bench press, I wish I would have stuck to that template a lot longer. I wish I had known kettlebell work, especially the swing and goblet squat and parts of the Turkish get-up – that would have been glorious to know. I had been given advice from the 1936 Olympic discuss champion that doing pull-ups would be a good thing for me. The world record holder in the 70s told me I should do pull-ups and because I was so smart, I ignored both of their advice. It’s funny, when you listen to what I’m saying on this side, clean front squat military bench, swing, goblet squat, get-up, pull-up – that’s a pretty good programme right there and then add the farmer walks on top. On the nutritional side, I would sit little Dan John down and say don’t listen to anybody talk about food – it’s OK to go hungry, get your protein, eat your vegetables, drink water, that’s all it is. It’s OK to go hungry, get your protein, eat your vegetables, drink water, that’s all it is. Click To Tweet It’s protein, veggies, water. Don’t listen to anybody else. On the recovery side, I would have taken more time early in my career to take meditation classes. I struggled sleeping. Once I mastered sleeping – it sounds so strange to say that – that and farmer walks really kicked my career into high gear again in my late 40s, which was pretty cool.

Scott: You mentioned that you struggled sleeping – is there any best advice that you can give to help someone who might have trouble getting to sleep or sustaining quality sleep?

Dan: I knew as a child because of Bud Winter down at San Jose State this thing called “relax and win”. We can all tense our muscles as fast as everybody else but the key to superior athletic performance is tensing, absolute relaxation, and then re-tensing. The secret is who can tense the second time faster: tense, relax, tense. Physical relaxation they’ve found in the 1940s with our pilots here in the United States leads to mental relaxation. One little thing that I tell people, and it’s an odd thing, but a hot tub followed by an ice shower is one of the best ways to sleep, because you’re playing with the tension/relaxation cycle of the human body. You are getting really relaxed and then that ice shower is tightening your nuts and bolts down, if you will, and when you go and lay down after that, as your body begins to warm back up to fall asleep, all of a sudden you’re asleep. That’s relaxation and tension. On the other side is arousal control. I don’t want to go into great depth but when you deadlift, if the dial goes from 1-10, you want to deadlift probably to a 9, the discus is probably a 4, the shotput might be as high as a 7. It’s interesting because the Olympic snatch is probably a 4 or 5 and the Olympic clean and press/clean and jerk are probably 6 and 7s also which is why interestingly you’ll notice that shot-putters get a lot out of a clean press/clean press and discuss and hammers get a lot out of the snatch. Arousal control, at the other side, when you get your relaxation and tension side dialled in, you can also get an ability to dial in your arousal scale. If you’ve had a long bad day and you come home and you need 7 scotches to unwind, that might not necessarily do anything to unwind your actual arousal control. Going into the gym and doing planks and deadlifts and then taking a hot tub and an ice bath probably will do more for you than all of the booze and drugs you could do because what that’s going to do is going to turn your arousal up high with the planks and deadlifts so that you consciously turn it back down. There’s a method of getting people to overcome certain issues like my buddy Eric Seubert is the one who taught this during College, is you take a bat or a cane and you take it with both hands and you begin to hit your bed as hard as you can. You hit your bed and then you keep hitting it for around 5 minutes and you just simply hit it. Most people begin sobbing in tears about 3 minutes in because what this has done is it’s messed with your arousal and your tension control so much that your body begins to just go “what do you want?” and you relax. I’m looking at a picture of my daughter, Kelly, right here and the first time that she deadlifted 125kgs, she dropped it and started sobbing. “Why?” I asked her and she said “I’m just crying, leave me alone!” The reason she was sobbing was that her arousal control was at 9, then she let go of the bar – boom, 1 and her body had an emotional response and she began to sob. What I’m trying to tell your audience I guess is that the best way to fall asleep is to make yourself sob – it’s to dial up your tension, practice dialling up your tension with planks and deadlifts, dropping the bar and getting as relaxed as you can. Plank, stand up and shake it loose. Hot tub, relax and ice shower. If you have a lousy day, instead of trying to relax with a couple of scotch whiskeys, bang on your bed with your cane for a two minutes or go lift weights and make yourself more aroused so that you can bleed off the arousal under your own control later.

Scott: Sorather than a £40 single malt, just nip down to the garden store and buy a cane – it’s just as good, if not better.

Dan: Exactly,beat your bed senseless.

Scott: This has been fantastic, Dan. The final question is what’s happening at the moment? Is there anything interesting on the cards? Of course the answer is yes but can you tell me what? How can the listener find out more about you?

Dan: My website is danjohn.net. I’m also on Facebook under Dan John Strength Coach. Basically, I do a lot of workshops and I write a lot of books. My favourite awful reviews of my books come from Amazon UK. Some of the stupidest things I’ve ever read in my life come from those. They are quite funny and so worth the time. It’s easy to find out a bunch about me but if you have questions, go to danjohn.net and e-mail me, I’ll be glad to answer your follow-up questions. Don’t let your UK soles be injured when I challenge you in a book. Sometimes I get notice back from my UK listeners that when I write things, I’m mean so please don’t take it seriously. I’ll be coming to Aberdeen to hug all of you next year. We’ll just stand in the Town’s square and I’ll hug every one of you, we’ll hug it out.

Scott: We’re fairly thick-skinned up here so I’m sure we’ll be OK, but we do appreciate the offer of the hug. If anyone does have any other questions as well, if you are on the show notes for this episode which is on foodforfitness.co.uk/podcast/28 there’s a big section below that says “comments”. If you put your comment in there for either me or Dan will get back to you. Dan, it’s been an absolute pleasure, thank you so much for coming on. We’ve learned a lot. It’s been great chatting shop with you and hopefully we’ll get you on again soon.

Dan: Thank you.

Transcription

Scott: Hey Dan, welcome to the show.

Dan: Hey, thanks so much. It’s a bit of a cloudy day here – reminds me of Scotland.

Scott: You wouldn’t be far wrong! Dan, give us a little bit of info about you – Who are you? What do you do? And why are you so good at it?

Dan: I always tell people I’m the youngest of 6 from South San Francisco, California. I grew up in an athletic and military family. I went to High School and played all the sports that we do here in the United States and began discus throwing in my 9th grade year to improve my American Football. I became pretty good at it and that paid for all of my education. I travelled all over the world – I went to Utah State University which is a very big track and field school. I got all my degrees, I have a Masters in History and a Masters in Religious Studies and I was a Fulbright Scholarship. At the same time I’ve done the academic side, I’ve also done athletics, Highland games, Olympic lifting – a lot of different sports and I’ve always enjoyed it. I’ve been coaching since 1979 and I’ve been lifting weights since 1965 which is kind of interesting. It’s been a long, fun career. I started writing a column back in the early 90s and practised the art of writing for a long time. One of my articles hit in fitness and here we are now. It’s been a long, fun road.

Scott: Awesome. What would you say your ethos towards training is? If you were to summarise it, what would say your approach to lifting is?

Dan: You should do the fundamental human movements with appropriate reps, appropriate sets and improve as appropriate – it’s that simple. I don’t know why people spend money listening to me talk. Nothing I say you couldn’t find from a magazine from the 1940s or from Hackenschmidt in 1910 but I think my ability to continue to pound away at the basics is the key. A good friend of mine, Rick Bojak once said “the key to writing this American Football offence called ‘the veer’ is it is the job of the Coach not to get bored”. Your athletes like success. Your job is not to get bored and to keep trying to change everything so it’s my constant pounding of the fundamentals I think makes me a little unique. I don’t get caught up in the flavour of the month so to speak, I pretty much stick with what we’re doing.

Scott: I like it. Do you then think that there’s a tendency for people to over complicate things or the perception that if something is more complicated and harder, it’s therefore going to produce greater results. I certainly find that with nutrition that sometimes people keep expecting me to tell them something new, something that they don’t know that holds the key to their fat loss when it’s really the fundamental basics, like you said.

Dan: Wouldn’t you say it’s true with every single aspect of life? With matters of the heart, there’s always things on how to voodoo, ninja, get women to like you; or learn how to dance by reading good books. It’s always the search for the complex that the amateur strives for. When you look at some great writers, like Ernest Hemingway – his sentences were historically to the point. When you look at the great poets, I would include Dylan Thomas, the great Welsh poet, when you read his poetry you can sit back at the end of one his poems and say “I knew that, I could’ve written that”, but you didn’t – he did. It’s respect for the fundamentals and respect for the basics that is just not sexy. In the United States there’s a thing called “I’ve got nothing behind the curtain” which is a Wizard of Oz reference – I’ve got nothing behind the curtain, I’ll tell you on day 1 what we’re going to be doing on day 2001 and people keep thinking that I’m going to pull away this vail and say “here’s what we really do” and this is not what will happen. Art De Vany said one time, and I thought it was very interesting, a woman asked him “what’s the best way to lose fat” and he said “don’t get fat in the first place” and I guess it pissed the lady off quite a bit but I whole heartedly agree with that. I know it’s rude but that’s a fundamental, it’s a basic. When you work with High School kids, or even College kids, you’re like these little behaviours that you’re picking up – the pizza and beer diet – you’re not going to be able to undo that damage in about 10 years.

Scott: Prevention is better than the cure.

Dan: Right. Like floss your teeth from age 3 and on because flossing is far better than replacement. We all know that. One of my athletes got a flat tyre yesterday and so she replaced all 4 and I applauded her in our training today and said “that’s what big kids do”, and she asked me “what do you mean by big kids?”. I said “there’s certain people who would repair the flat – if you’ve got a crappy tyre, you fix the crappy tyre. Some people replace one tyre, which is probably not a bad idea, but big kids replace all 4 tyres and make sure their aligned, make sure your breaks get looked at and while they’re underneath there, look for anything else.” That’s how big kids work. Big kids are always going to replace 4 tyres and replace the battery. It’s a crazy thing to say but I think that’s true. We know that’s true in accident prevention with cars. It’s even more so true with one’s physical or career.

Scott: I really like that. Dan, let’s jump in to look at the training side of things – if anyone has followed your work they’ll know that there’s certain exercises that seem to stand out quite a lot and, correct me if I’m wrong, you’re a big fan of goblet squats, single arm over head presses and pushing and pulling and carrying heavy things. Why are these exercises so good and why are you such a big fan?

Dan: Those are the fundamental human movements.

Scott: Let’s talk about goblet squats – why would someone goblet squat as opposed to putting a barbell on their back and doing it that way or holding the dumbbells at their side?

Dan: Because I invented the goblet squat so we know that it’s going to work.

Scott: I was fishing for that one, I’m glad that you brought that one up.

Dan: There’s nothing magical about any of them. The idea with the goblet squat is that it’s a very deep squat, a very easy squat to master and you can do it almost right away. Teaching someone to put a weight on their barbell, an untrained person to put weight on the back of their neck, their body reacts with a frightening response and they never really get around to learning whereas you can teach someone a goblet squat on day one and they’re squatting away. There’s no good or bad, better or worse. In the push family I tend to like the one arm overhead press a lot because we can get a lot of volume with it and no one gets hurt doing it and no one gets particularly tired with doing it. In the pull family, I’m a big fan of the TRX pulls with the whole squat family but since you said goblet squat, we could say goblet squat, front squat or overhead squat. In hinges, we like swings but then we also like deadlifts and we also like the Olympic lifts. When it comes to the loaded carrying family, anything you can think of is marvellous and great to do. I just gave you a training programme right there.

Scott: Why do you prefer the single arm overhead work as opposed to someone doing it with both dumbbells or how most people in commercial gyms train shoulders is the seated overhead dumbbell press. Why would someone start doing single arm work instead?

Dan: Don’t let yourself get into this thing where you think one is good and the other is bad. The reason why I like the single stuff is that you’ve got the whole body supporting it so you can usually use more load per hand. Are you kilos or pounds?

Scott: We’re kilos over here.

Dan: OK, so you’ve got a male who can press 100kgs overhead – they might be able to press 60kgs with one arm. It’s stunning. You’ve got one arm but it’s supported by one torso and two legs. When you press with two arms, it’s still only supported by one torso and two legs so I like that. Also, most men go deeper with one arm presses than they do with two and then finally of course you can really see asymmetries very quickly and they’re also obviously athlete without having to point it out.

Scott: Nice. With the carries, again that’s something that so few people do in the gym. What are some of the benefits over doing some loaded carries and how would you recommend people do them – say we don’t have access to a prowler, would you say they just hold the dumbbells and strap up and do that or would you say get a trapbar deadlift? What’s the best way and why would someone do them?

Dan: The equipment is the least important thing in this. We have bags that we carry that weigh about 40kgs. You just wrap your arms around them, pick them up and walk. Anything that you put your hands on and walk is perfect. One of my guys does “rucking” – that’s you throw in a heavy backpack and he just goes for these long, long walks with it. We’re talking 10km walks with 15, 20, 25 kgs on your back. That’s a long loaded carry. We also have them as short as 10m here. The loaded carry family develops work capacity first and foremost but it also develops posture. Oddly, when you do loaded carries, your body lines up exactly as we’re trying to teach you in the rest of the weight room. Your box is on your ***, your ribcage is on top of your pelvis, your head is on top of your ribcage, your ears are in line with your shoulders. The second I load you up, you line up because your habits are instantly compromised by the reality of load. It’s a great way to teach posture, the farmer walk of course, much of it is grip but we call it “walking planks” because to do a loaded carry, you have to maintain the plank position, squeeze at the abs and do the best you can.

Scott: Nice. What would you say are some other underused exercises? The ones that you think give you a huge return but hardly anyone does them for whatever reason.

Dan: Here’s two right here: the goblet squat and the farmer walk – those are my go to answer on practically everything. One of the things I look at in people’s training programmes is gaps – what are you not doing. Most people aren’t doing loaded carries and most people aren’t doing deep squats. From there, the big miss would be ground work. Crawling has become very popular in the last few years but there’s also tumbling, there’s also Turkish get-ups, there’s also rolling around on the ground and having some fun. Those are the big three that most miss. From there, if you farmer walk, goblet squat and did some tumbling, used not only for your survival but your thrival – you would thrive and survive doing those three. I just gave you a million dollars of advice right there. What you do with it is up to you of course.

Scott: When you mention tumbling, are we talking about forward rolls and cartwheels?

Dan: Absolutely. Those are the two that I teach. I teach shoulder rolls, summersaults, forward rolls, a variety of handstands, a variety of headstands, cartwheels, what we call cartwheels for distance – they’re called “handsprings” but if I just say “a cartwheel for distance” they learn it in one second.

Scott: Why do you think they are so effective? What’s the benefits of someone including them in their routine?

Dan: You haven’t done them, have you?

Scott: Not as part of my training, no.

Dan: For one thing, at my age, one of the most dangerous things I can do is fall. This is fall injury prevention. People love getting the foam roller out – I use the earth as my foam roller. I do shoulder rolls and tumbling and that does all the same thing that a foam roller does. The other thing that’s interesting is that when Adrian Craddock from Golloway came out, the first time he tumbled in our workout, he had to go to the can and vomit. I didn’t want him to do that on purpose but he had never got his brain into that getting flipped and thrown around. After about 2 weeks he never got sick again. He had trained himself how to fall and still keep his brain in control. Kind of like if you ever go on a fighter plane, when they hit Gs, most of us in the audience will pass out, but if you teach your body not to pass out, it stops passing out. The other thing – and this will shock you – is if you want a fat burning workout, do 5 forward rolls, 5 right side rolls, 5 left side rolls, cartwheels and handsprings and then tell me how your heart and lungs are doing.

Scott: Nice, I’ll put that in for next week.

Dan: You can always tell when people haven’t done it because it’s like “what’s the advantage?” and the day after you’ve done them you’re like “ah, I get it.”

Scott: We do handstands but I wouldn’t put forward rolls or any kind of tumbles in – until now. In your writing, you’ve also talked a bit about barbell complexes. Again, why are you such a fan of them and for the listener who maybe doesn’t know what a barbell complex is, can you explain it to them?

Dan: Well, not very well. It’s funny because it’s so obvious, the doing is so easy but trying to explain it on a Podcast is hard. It’s when you do a series of exercises back to back to back to back without putting the bar on the ground. Complex A is 8 rows, 8 cleans, 8 front squats, 8 military presses, 8 back squats, 8 good mornings and sometimes 8 deadlifts, so you go back to back to back. That’s about 2 minutes and so the time on your load gets your heartrate through the roof. Plus you are being squashed the entire team and that seems to do some wonderful things to you. We also do some simple things with kettlebells and loaded carries that do the same thing. I’m going to give you right now a three minute workout that on paper is only 36 squats – you do 8 goblet squats, put the bell in your left hand and walk for 20-30m, then do 7 goblet squats, put the kettlebell in your right hand and walk back, 6 then walk, 5 then walk, 4 then walk, 3 then walk, 2 then walk and 1 then walk. Even if the bell is light, for e.g. a 20kg bell for a male, you’re ready to throw that bell on that last rep of squats because even although suitcase carries (that’s a one-handed walk) are very easy by themselves and probably doing 36 goblet squats in a row would be hard, I grant you that, but it’s the time on the load that begins to hit you. Your heartrate goes really high, you breathe hard but you are also asking the body to stay tense the entire 3 minutes because the suitcase carry is probably, in my view, the best throwing exercise a thrower can do in the weight room. Then you’ve got the goblet squat which is not only great for mobility and flexibility but it’s also a very good leg and butt workout. I love putting things together like that. We call that workout the “sparhawk” – the sparrow hawk – for whatever reason. We name our walking squat workouts after the rapture family, so eagles and sparrowhawks so that people know that family of movements are going to always have a rapture in it in the same way that our bear crawl family is always called bear, so there’s bear lift and all these different types, so you know that that family is going to be that kind of movement. When you get to something like complexes, you can use it for muscle gain and you can use it for fat loss, and frankly I’m not sure if I would believe you if you told me 30 years ago that there would be a muscle building, fat losing thing. I’m still not sure that it really happens but it seems to. You can’t doubt your own eyes.

Scott: Another thing that people always want, or always talk about are abs. Everyone wants good abs and we know that it’s all down to low levels of body fat and so on but with regards to core exercises, is there any that you particularly enjoy? Do you get somebody on the ground and get them to do specific targeting work or do you find that throughout the multi-joint big lifts that you were doing and the carries that that’s pretty sufficient to stimulate the abdominals and the supporting muscles?

Dan: What does the research tell us? The research tells us that most of the crap we do for abs is crap.

Scott: Yeah, to get good abs squat and do pull ups.

Dan: You get abs in the kitchen, you don’t get abs in the weight room. I still believe that teaching the person tension helps. Women complain about the “Mom pooch” after they have had babies but one of things that they have to re-teach themselves is abdominal tension. That’s why I like what Stu McGill teaches. We do the traditional planks and the bird dogs and the idea of that is to teach the tension. Today, for example, we were doing really simple things, it was one of the easiest ab complexes that we’ve ever done and it’s funny because they’re tests so we did a 2 minute plank followed by a 1 minute hollow rock. A hollow rock is when you lay on your back and you push your lower back into the ground as hard as you can and then you move your feet and legs until you find the spot where you can no longer push your lower back into the ground and you stick with it, and that’s where you want to be. I’ll be honest, suitcase carriers are the best ab exercises most of your listeners will ever do but you are going to get your abs by getting the body fat level down. Having said that, you are going to have to ask yourself a big question – how important is getting my abs to show going to be? Many of your listeners literally don’t have an ab wall to show. When I was in college, I was down at 7.9% body fat. This was when the coaches told me that I had to put weight on, and I barely had abs at 7.9, and yet we had an African American guy with me that day who was in the mid 20s for body fat with the perfect set of six-pack abs, the kind every single one of your listeners would want because this guy was born to look magnificent at age 21 and hugely obese at age 41. You’ve got to be careful, your Celtic listeners they’re going to have a Celtic hip and probably will lack a six pack no matter what they do. That’s just DNA.

Scott: One thing you’ve not mentioned is pull-ups and one of the questions that people often ask me is how can they improve pull-ups because they’re a good exercise but it’s one that is challenging – especially for females. Are there any progressions that you’ve found work especially well or complimentary exercises to improve someone’s ability at doing pull-ups?

Dan: I didn’t mention pull-ups because you didn’t ask, in my defence. There’s three family of movements: the push, the pull and the squat that can only be trained by pushing, pulling or squatting and pull-ups are in that family. Let’s say the listener can only do 5 pull-ups which, by the way, is just fine, there’s nothing wrong with that but what we would have you do in our gym is that on day 1 do 1 pull up then rest; 2 pull-ups then rest; 3 pull-ups then rest; repeatedly and then just wave that in as many times as you can. Over time, we can do one of two things: either add load which I think is better for anyone over 25. After about age 25, high-rep pull-ups will make the elbows start to bark, but if they really for some reason like a military test, or a firefighter thing or contest need to get the reps up, we have to get the reps up then we would go 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4, up to 5, and then when 5 gets easy we’d go 2, 3, 5; 2, 3, 5 and when 7, 8, 9 gets easy or 10, 11, 12 gets easy, we might go, 2, 3, 5, 8; later 3, 5, 8; later 5, 8, 13 and you’re just going to wave and always well before failure, miles before failure, because you never want to fail at pull-ups. If you’re doing a test and you’ve got to do 25 to make the recon force and you’re at 23 and you’re tired then I’m going to take a match and put it under your butt to make sure that you get those last 2 reps. For the rest of the time, we would never push to failure on pull-ups.

Scott: Last question on the training side of things before we look on to more of the goal setting and mindset. Deadlifts – we’ve mentioned them but I’ve not really asked you much about them – what are some of the top tips that you would give someone for improving their deadlift or coaching cues that they could easily remember that’s going to ensure that they’ve got good alignment and posture to be able to do the lift properly?

Dan: I don’t necessarily think that you need to deadlift to improve your deadlifts. No offence Scott, but this is the kind of question that I don’t usually get asked because I’m not a powerlifter. Most of the guys I’ve worked with have massive deadlifts and we never deadlift unless it’s out of the rack. My athlete, Chandler, misunderstood what I told him to do. Here’s what he ended up doing and it ended up being a pretty good programme. Week 1 he took 260kgs and he put it as high as he could on the rack so twice a week he did basically lock-outs with a deadlift; next week he lowered it down a pinhole and worked there; a week later he lowered it down; he lowered it down for around a 7 or 8 week period until the bar was on the floor and he deadlifted that which is interesting because that was about a 50kg PR in his deadlift.

Scott: Impressive.

Dan: Now that wasn’t what I told him to do but it worked so well, let’s just pretend that that is what I told him to do.

Scott: I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

Dan: The best way to deadlift is, I think, top down. I’m too tall to deadlift off the floor so if you’re taller than me, that bar is way too far down on the ground. Most tall guys hate the first 4 or 5 inches off the ground and that makes sense to me because there’s no scientific reason for the bar to be at the height that it is on the ground, right? That’s just metal energy, that’s just science. They couldn’t figure out a way to make it taller, that’s all. If you ever get a chance to lift off plates that are at the top of your socks or an inch or 2 below your knees, your deadlift would go through the sky because you’ll be in a much more efficient position to deadlift. The other thing we find that improves people’s deadlifts is sled poles, car pushing, that kind of thing – overall farmer walks and overall work capacity increased seems to do a lot more than just some fancy put your gripper there or not.

Scott: OK. Let’s look at, how do you get people in the gym? I know you’ve got a book out recently called “Can You Go?” My buddy, Mike, we used it in a workout the other day with the expression that one of us was complaining about something and Mike just said “well, can you go?” I said “Yeah, OK, I’ve got it”. For people that struggle with motivation or work a whole day and then the prospect of going to the gym involves a drive in the snow etc, is there any top tips for motivating someone? Obviously someone will only go if they actually want to go but is there anything that you’ve seen that is good for actually getting people into the gym or getting people training?

Dan: The biggest mistake that most people do is they focus on what the client or athlete wants to do and of course I always emphasise what they need to do trumps it. In our gym, if you need strength work – that’s what you do If you need mobility work, we pump every set of exercises that you do, we’re pumping in mobility work and flexibility work around every single rep and set you do. If you need body composition work – your waistline is too big – we’re going to pound you with swings and concept 2 rowing so your rest period will be when you’re lifting – that’s when you get the chance to take a break, you’ll think “thank God, I’m squatting!” That’s what we do. Today’s workout lasted half an hour and every single one of us was just amazed that in that half an hour we had a 4 minute squat workout, we had a 3 minute plank, I already told you that about the hollow rock, we had a 5 minute swing test and so for like myself, I did 320 something swings today, a 4 minute squat challenge (you go to the bar on a goblet squat, you hold it for 30 seconds, you stand up; back to the bottom, hold it for 30 seconds, stand up; and then you do that for 4 minutes and the idea is to increase your hip mobility but we’re also try to fry your planking muscles so that when we tested the plank right after, instead of re-using your back which was now exhausted, you had to use your abdominal wall and by God did that work good).

Scott: We’ve talked about swings a few times but we haven’t actually clarified what they are. In just one sentence, what is a swing?

Dan: The swing is a ballistic hinge movement – you hold the bell in your hands, you throw the bell back between your thighs while stretching your hamstrings, loading up your butt cheeks and loading up your spinal erectors and then you snap it forward like you’re trying to throw it across the room and then you catch it in a tall plank and then you throw it back between your legs. You’re just trying to pump them out.

Scott: Excellent. For anyone who wants a description, I’m pretty sure if you stuck that into Google – “kettlebell swing video” or “Dan Jones swing”, I‘m sure you’ll get something.

Dan: I’m warning the listener, you’re going to get a lot of crap.

Scott: If we look back on your career in this industry, you’ve coached numerous people. It’s a long impressive career. What do you now know that you wished you knew when you started and what would you say is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?

Dan: When I first started we did power clean military press, front squat bench press, I wish I would have stuck to that template a lot longer. I wish I had known kettlebell work, especially the swing and goblet squat and parts of the Turkish get-up – that would have been glorious to know. I had been given advice from the 1936 Olympic discuss champion that doing pull-ups would be a good thing for me. The world record holder in the 70s told me I should do pull-ups and because I was so smart, I ignored both of their advice. It’s funny, when you listen to what I’m saying on this side, clean front squat military bench, swing, goblet squat, get-up, pull-up – that’s a pretty good programme right there and then add the farmer walks on top. On the nutritional side, I would sit little Dan John down and say don’t listen to anybody talk about food – it’s OK to go hungry, get your protein, eat your vegetables, drink water, that’s all it is. It’s protein, veggies, water. Don’t listen to anybody else. On the recovery side, I would have taken more time early in my career to take meditation classes. I struggled sleeping. Once I mastered sleeping – it sounds so strange to say that – that and farmer walks really kicked my career into high gear again in my late 40s, which was pretty cool.

Scott: You mentioned that you struggled sleeping – is there any best advice that you can give to help someone who might have trouble getting to sleep or sustaining quality sleep?

Dan: I knew as a child because of Bud Winter down at San Jose State this thing called “relax and win”. We can all tense our muscles as fast as everybody else but the key to superior athletic performance is tensing, absolute relaxation, and then re-tensing. The secret is who can tense the second time faster: tense, relax, tense. Physical relaxation they’ve found in the 1940s with our pilots here in the United States leads to mental relaxation. One little thing that I tell people, and it’s an odd thing, but a hot tub followed by an ice shower is one of the best ways to sleep, because you’re playing with the tension/relaxation cycle of the human body. You are getting really relaxed and then that ice shower is tightening your nuts and bolts down, if you will, and when you go and lay down after that, as your body begins to warm back up to fall asleep, all of a sudden you’re asleep. That’s relaxation and tension. On the other side is arousal control. I don’t want to go into great depth but when you deadlift, if the dial goes from 1-10, you want to deadlift probably to a 9, the discus is probably a 4, the shotput might be as high as a 7. It’s interesting because the Olympic snatch is probably a 4 or 5 and the Olympic clean and press/clean and jerk are probably 6 and 7s also which is why interestingly you’ll notice that shot-putters get a lot out of a clean press/clean press and discuss and hammers get a lot out of the snatch. Arousal control, at the other side, when you get your relaxation and tension side dialled in, you can also get an ability to dial in your arousal scale. If you’ve had a long bad day and you come home and you need 7 scotches to unwind, that might not necessarily do anything to unwind your actual arousal control. Going into the gym and doing planks and deadlifts and then taking a hot tub and an ice bath probably will do more for you than all of the booze and drugs you could do because what that’s going to do is going to turn your arousal up high with the planks and deadlifts so that you consciously turn it back down. There’s a method of getting people to overcome certain issues like my buddy Eric Seubert is the one who taught this during College, is you take a bat or a cane and you take it with both hands and you begin to hit your bed as hard as you can. You hit your bed and then you keep hitting it for around 5 minutes and you just simply hit it. Most people begin sobbing in tears about 3 minutes in because what this has done is it’s messed with your arousal and your tension control so much that your body begins to just go “what do you want?” and you relax. I’m looking at a picture of my daughter, Kelly, right here and the first time that she deadlifted 125kgs, she dropped it and started sobbing. “Why?” I asked her and she said “I’m just crying, leave me alone!” The reason she was sobbing was that her arousal control was at 9, then she let go of the bar – boom, 1 and her body had an emotional response and she began to sob. What I’m trying to tell your audience I guess is that the best way to fall asleep is to make yourself sob – it’s to dial up your tension, practice dialling up your tension with planks and deadlifts, dropping the bar and getting as relaxed as you can. Plank, stand up and shake it loose. Hot tub, relax and ice shower. If you have a lousy day, instead of trying to relax with a couple of scotch whiskeys, bang on your bed with your cane for a two minutes or go lift weights and make yourself more aroused so that you can bleed off the arousal under your own control later.

Scott: Sorather than a £40 single malt, just nip down to the garden store and buy a cane – it’s just as good, if not better.

Dan: Exactly,beat your bed senseless.

Scott: This has been fantastic, Dan. The final question is what’s happening at the moment? Is there anything interesting on the cards? Of course the answer is yes but can you tell me what? How can the listener find out more about you?

Dan: My website is danjohn.net. I’m also on Facebook under Dan John Strength Coach. Basically, I do a lot of workshops and I write a lot of books. My favourite awful reviews of my books come from Amazon UK. Some of the stupidest things I’ve ever read in my life come from those. They are quite funny and so worth the time. It’s easy to find out a bunch about me but if you have questions, go to danjohn.net and e-mail me, I’ll be glad to answer your follow-up questions. Don’t let your UK soles be injured when I challenge you in a book. Sometimes I get notice back from my UK listeners that when I write things, I’m mean so please don’t take it seriously. I’ll be coming to Aberdeen to hug all of you next year. We’ll just stand in the Town’s square and I’ll hug every one of you, we’ll hug it out.

Scott: We’re fairly thick-skinned up here so I’m sure we’ll be OK, but we do appreciate the offer of the hug. If anyone does have any other questions as well, if you are on the show notes for this episode which is on foodforfitness.co.uk/podcast/28 there’s a big section below that says “comments”. If you put your comment in there for either me or Dan will get back to you. Dan, it’s been an absolute pleasure, thank you so much for coming on. We’ve learned a lot. It’s been great chatting shop with you and hopefully we’ll get you on again soon.

Dan: Thank you.

Thanks for listening and the support – if you enjoyed this episode, I hope you can leave the podcast a rating and review on iTunes, and if you haven’t subscribed yet, this is the best time to do that too. This will help the show to get up in the rankings.

Scott Baptie

Scott is the owner and founder of Food For Fitness. He is a fat loss coach, speaker and fitness writer with a masters (MSc) degree in Applied Sports Nutrition.