Dan John's "Big Three"

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Miguel

Level 5 Valued Member
Miguel,

First, to be able bodied enough to move freely and be a useful active person, (even if I have to hide the pain and soreness later ).
Second, to fulfill the oath I swore to the community I serve.
To have enough of a "cardio" engine, physical strength...
To do this leading from the front...
Firstly, thank you for your selfless sacrifice and devotion to duty.

If your movement has pain, then it is not free. This says either you're masking old injuries or you might consider changing your approach_to_training. Workouts that leave you fatigued, and that cause low levels of energy and deep muscular soreness, compromise mission readiness (Ciampa, A. 2013. Physical Training Culture), which is the very thing you should be avoiding due to your job requirements.

That involves carrying a gun or two vice a briefcase, which means you must be ready at a moment's notice, yet have the endurance to continue operations...

What is your version of "enough of a "cardio" engine", sir? I am learning that there are some very erroneous ideas and misconceptions when it comes to cardio. Increased cardiovascular capacity is the key to superior health (Ciampa, A. 2016. Maffetone, P. A., 2016. White paper)

As a leader, you have a very real obligation to coach, teach, and mentor your subordinates. If one of them told you, "hey boss, I think I'm "strong enough"", how would that go over with you? If you knew of a better way to train, would you share it with your men? Or recommend it?

I don't hold the keys, but I know the guy who does. If you're interested, hit me up, sir. If not, or until then, good luck with your training and stay safe out there.
 

Rambro1*

Level 2 Valued Member
Miguel,

Thanks for responding.

My primary job is pretty unpredictable, but if I had to label it, would be more short distance running, with dynamic and enduring strength needs. Even more importantly, good movement patterns and agility, that aren't preceded with a warmup.

My second job can be more predictable, but much more arduous. For urban missions, wearing body armor for long periods of time. Lots of lifting, odd positions, getting up and down off ground, climbing, etc. Being nimble and agile while wearing armor, being the most important factor. For rural missions, the ability to hike miles in arduous terrain wearing armor and carrying equipment. Plus all the other ups and down. My last mission was urban, active shooter with rifle, and my operational time was 24 hours. Long time to wear armor. With a previous back injury, self treated, core stability and strength are a "no compromise" deal for me.

Thanks in advance for any input!

Rambro
 

Kyle Schuant

Level 1 Valued Member
Rambro1, I believe Dan John does seminars for a lot of what Pavel calls "tactical athletes" like yourself. I think you are probably already at a level beyond which we can't offer a lot of useful advice, like the guy who came in here with a 550lb squat. In your place I would email DJ asking about seminars, perhaps one at your workplace some time - dan@danjohn.net.
 

TravisDirks

Level 3 Valued Member
@tangozero Interesting, thanks for the reply! I think I did misunderstand what you were getting at before and I'm glad I asked.

Here's a question, now that you've developed a 500lb+ partial squat, what's your regular full squat 1rm?
I wish I knew. I actually started working partials on squats because I'm working through some mobility issues in the full range. My mental model is basically that if you do not work a range of motion ( probably within 30 degrees - similar to isometric carry over) near it's potential (lets say 60% of 1RM and above) it doesn't get stronger, except in so far as I have actually added new muscle AND can later tie in that new muscle to the range of motion where I did not build it. (I think that is essentially how I went from 315 to 585. I was learning to address and use muscle I already had in a new range of motion)

So my hypothesis would be that the full range got better, but not by a ton. Unfortunately I can't test it, because I don't have a before measurement within the past 5 years. I also, think that if I started dropping that 500lbs down an inch at a time I'd reach a 500 lbs full squat a faster than I would working the full range. (Citation Bud Jeffries and Paul Anderson ;))

If you develop a 500+ regular squat, that automatically carries over to a partial squat. But, if it doesn't work the other way around (ie your full squat doesn't improve much or stays the same) then you have to question; which movement is more effective and efficient?
I wonder if it's true that the full range automatically carries over to the partial range. I believe it is true if one has never significantly worked the partial range, in which case your full range RM is within spitting distance of your partial RM. But I would think that once you have built out the partial strength a bit, the weights you are using in full range movements would be too light to make much improvement. If we take my partial from 2 months ago of 315, and take a wild guess that I could have full range squatted 250 or 275 that's is less than 50% of my partial 1RM now. So if I went to full range and improved from lets say 275 to 350, I wouldn't expect my partial strength to have improved much. Does anyone have experience with this case?

I guess the question I'd ask myself is do I really need a 500lb full range of motion squat, if I'm getting the life benefits I need from a 500lbs 3/4 squat?
A valid question indeed. As with anything, what is it worth to you? and what will it cost you?
 

Kyle Schuant

Level 1 Valued Member
I misspoke earlier. I did a lot of manual labor growing up, but haven't done it consistently as a job for the past 14 years. Maybe there was some carryover from then. I think it was learning how to brace against a load, but anyway...
My experience in training people is that the body remembers, even if it was a long time ago. I have taken a woman in her 60s from being stuck in bed hopped up on morphine because of sciatica to deadlifting 115kg - 4 year process, but still. This is less surprising when you learn that in her 40s she was playing hockey, and in her 30s she and her husband built a mudbrick house by hand.

You Rambro1 have probably seen something like this if any people retired from your profession come to lecture or try things out - the skills decline, of course, but they're still a hell of a lot better than a newbie, and some months practice they'd be back up to respectable if not professional-level performance.

If this applies to professional skills, it certainly applies to basic abilities, like strength and literacy. Don't underestimate the importance of a good base in youth. This is after all why we try to give our kids a good education and get them to be active. The body remembers.
 

Rambro1*

Level 2 Valued Member
Thanks to all for the input.

The following is a summary of my current routine:

Running at least twice a week. Long slow and/or speed depending on how I feel. Usually one of each, but that varies depending on what my body is telling me. I also throw in hiking with plate carrier and backpack when I have an hour or more time to invest.

- S&S with crawling, naked TGU, and goblet squats for warmup. I do this a couple times a week.

- double kb complexes and chains. Usually just clean and press or clean and jerk, but sometimes a new variation depending on what I want out of it. "Total tension" complex is a good one. I also really like doing double kb reverse lunges. That move makes me feel like "solid".

- Day 1 of the Breacher Strong routine, or a modified variation, that includes the dead stop power swings. I really like these for a maximal effort A&A type protocol, and have even been thinking of posting something about it to share my enthusiasm. Form is perfect every time, and can really put "all out" effort in to each rep. Haven't found another exercise that compares for really putting out 100% effort on a rep. I use similar protocol as for S&S, and basically consider it a variation of it.

- I try to gtg pull-ups or regressions throughout the day or whenever I can.

- If I only have one kb, and am not feeling S&S, I may do a complex or chain session.

- I also occasionally modify S&S by alternating dead stop swings with FCT, and then alternating TGU with renegade rows and goblet squats. Love this one.

- Most importantly, practice good bracing and tension techniques all the time and in every workout.

Nothing special. Maybe even too much variety for some. But it keeps me sane, and I still get the wth benefits. I'm open to input or constructive criticism if anyone has any. Thanks in advance.
 

Kettlebelephant

Level 7 Valued Member
With deadlifts, the back is weaker than the legs and gets fatigued before the legs which doesn't allow most to improve their leg endurance like they can with most forms of squats.
Is this true for you guys? For me and everyone I know personally (who strength trains) the weakest link in the squat is always the lower back.
My friends who train for aestethics use the backsquat as overall mass builder, but leg presses etc. for leg mass, because none of them comes close to leg muscle failure during squats. The lower back always taps out first.
Doesn't matter whether it's deadlifts or (loaded) squats, the back's weaker than the legs in both lifts.
If you want more leg endurance my vote goes to stadium lunges (a full 400m round of lunges with as little rest as possible, hold a 45lb plate over your head if you really want to kill yourself :D) and high rep bodyweight squats (sets of 30-100, depending on your fitness level)
 

banzaiengr

Level 7 Valued Member
Is this true for you guys? For me and everyone I know personally (who strength trains) the weakest link in the squat is always the lower back.
My friends who train for aestethics use the backsquat as overall mass builder, but leg presses etc. for leg mass, because none of them comes close to leg muscle failure during squats. The lower back always taps out first.
Doesn't matter whether it's deadlifts or (loaded) squats, the back's weaker than the legs in both lifts.
If you want more leg endurance my vote goes to stadium lunges (a full 400m round of lunges with as little rest as possible, hold a 45lb plate over your head if you really want to kill yourself :D) and high rep bodyweight squats (sets of 30-100, depending on your fitness level)
I agree with this, anyone who has done high rep 20+ squats with some real weight has experienced this. The low back will go before the legs tire. Plus, it's a different type of failure than during the deadlift. When the back fails in high rep squats my experience is that it's due to poor technique. Most tend to want to do a low bar power lift type of squat and to really work the legs it has to be more of an olympic squat. Feet closer together, bar higher on the neck, and more of a chest up, back straight type of squat. Tom Platz talked about this a lot.

High rep squats as described by Perry Rader, Randle Strossman, and others was more of a systematic exercise. A fairly heavy weight on the body for an extended period of time. Deep breaths between reps and just gut out the 20. So you want to work up in weight, but the important thing was that you were going damn near to failure to hit 20. By keeping these things in mind, it will help with the issue of the back going much sooner than the legs tire.

A thing that a few of us tried was to work up to a weight squatting without a belt. So lets assume I am squatting 225 for 20 reps but I just can't get 230. Now I add the lifting belt and do 230 and continue up in weight until the next plateau. So I work up to 245 for 20 but 250 just won't come. Now I add knee wraps, I do 250 for 20 and continue my climb. I work up to 275 for 20 reps but can't do 280. Now I go back to 230 without support gear and continue again.

I have taken this tread from the pavement right into the ditch. I apologize for this but want to add a couple things. These aren't generally consider heavy weight. The idea is to do high reps and continue to add weight. By adding the belt this will help with the low back failing first. As will the knee wraps. The idea is to put as much weight on the body as you can do for 20 reps to work the whole system. The body soon starts to say, "what the hell, we've got to grow to continue this stuff". This is more of a bodybuilder workout that is meant to put on mass. Will it add strength? Yes, and is a very good way to stimulate the system when plateaus are hit doing 3-5 reps. Like Platz used to say, "the idea isn't to do just high reps, it's to do high reps with big weights". Then he'd laugh.
 

Deleted member 5559

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Is this true for you guys? For me and everyone I know personally (who strength trains) the weakest link in the squat is always the lower back...
Yep, low back and grip are usually the weak link. Swings are a foundational movement for this reason. I still think you get the legs more fatigued with squats than deadlifts though. The TGU is our loaded carry. Between the two S&S movements, 80+% of our fitness needs are covered. The other 20% we get from sport specific movements - for me, higher volume squatting movements is my 3rd staple for sport specific because, as a chief I used to have would say, "we train legs because they get you where you need to go."

I'm probably the most interested in the press being part of the "big three". I don't get a lot of life benefit from upper body pressing work; to get heavy stuff over head, I'm driving with my hips and legs. Also, after many a push-up, my elbows are kind of messed up and my shoulder girdle is not well balanced. Pressing seems to be a bit more sport specific. I feel like rows or pull-ups are more useful day-to-day strength movement than presses.
 

banzaiengr

Level 7 Valued Member
YI'm probably the most interested in the press being part of the "big three". I don't get a lot of life benefit from upper body pressing work; to get heavy stuff over head, I'm driving with my hips and legs. Also, after many a push-up, my elbows are kind of messed up and my shoulder girdle is not well balanced. Pressing seems to be a bit more sport specific. I feel like rows or pull-ups are more useful day-to-day strength movement than presses.
Try out the KB snatch. I can't agree more with your pull-up assessment and believe that the snatch does enough for the lats that you will see improvement there.
 

rickyw

Level 7 Valued Member
All,

I emailed Dan John and sent him the link to this thread. He responded (awesome) and said I could share his thoughts. So here they are below:

"Sometimes for T-Nation, I am asked to write very specific things. I then go through my journals, coaching experience and discussions with people to see if the article request reflects something I have seen or done. "Done" trumps "Seen!"

I think you should do the movement of squatting daily. That's hard for people to understand but Goblet Squats are a part of every workout/warm up we do. So, we "squat daily." My "Mass Made Simple" program is based on high rep squats...so much squat volume that you only train 14 timesin six weeks.

I'm not anti-squat. Every time someone teaches a Goblet Squat they are literally quoting me. When I did my RKC Cert in 2008, the squat teaching section was painful to watch. I introduced the GS as a participant and it was in the Manual when I was an Assistant at the UCLA cert. So, "pow," that thing took off in the Kettlebell Community.

Squats are good and squats can be overdone. This isn't Moral Theology...no true "bad or good."

Most people have no real gauge in understanding if they are strong enough. In the forum, you see a mention of Ed Coan mixed with someone telling they struggle to do "X" a basic level of strength. So, you get a discussion with people talking about the greatest lifter of all-time and a guy struggling to get to minimum standards.

As Dan Fouts said about one gathering: "Never have so many gathered to talk about weights and so few have looked like they ever have lifted weights." I swear the more we talk on forums the smaller our biceps become in real life.

The Farmer Walk, Press and DL are just flat out tough movements. As I tried to point out, getting strong with those three set a platform that makes other things easier.

I never meant ONLY this and everything else causes cancer. I make my living teaching:
Push
Pull
Hinge
Squat
Loaded Carries
Everything Else.

It was interesting to see the TGU discussed. I mix that in both Loaded Carries AND Everything Else. It is a carry, but it is also a roll, lunge, sweep, Waiter Walk, and probably a few more things. In my gym, we never do lunges, but we do TGUs for lunging. (I hope that is spelled right)

So, as you can see in the discussion, people chimed in about being about to do this standard or that standard. Doing all three standards...which are really easy to do with any traditional program and "little and often over the long haul"...would then lead to a look at your gaps in the more complex or challenging moves.

Like the squat. Once you Overhead Squat your bodyweight for a single, you put yourself in "rare air." It means that you are "one piece" as the other principle from the article (original) stated.

If you can't...why not? Mobility? Flexibility? Old Injuries?

My basic Performance Coaching Principle is "Train your weaknesses, put play with your strengths."

If you can't DL double bodyweight...yet...train it. In my case, I NEVER deadlifted. On a bet at my gym weighing 204, d@#$ Notmeyer had me lift 555 to break the gym's record in that class. As I walked up to the bar, he showed me the DL reverse grip.

Two years later, Bob Arello said I could DL 600. I pulled 605. He claimed he won the bet as he said: "I said 600...that's 605." Funny guy.

Finally, I pulled 628 at the Utah State Powerlifting meet because it was three in the morning and everyone wanted to go home. Another guy missed 622 and I just asked the judge "what's heavier?"

So, for me: I never ever DL. But, when I coach, I see that gap with many athletes. I Olympic lift (since 1975), so that DL power is there. I don't need to do DLs.

Most people do. Most people who come to me need the basic strength of the Press, DL and Farmer Walk. We teach the movements of so many other things while we build the base of pure strength."
 

Kyle Schuant

Level 1 Valued Member
So it's in line with what I say:

1. noobs need to do all the movements
2. and get decent at them
3. after that, it gets complicated.

#2 is the "standards" part, "what is decent?" Well that ties into #3. What Bob the SWAT guy needs is different to what edna on her walking frame needs, or what Jenny the high school basketballer needs. I would suggest that a minimum for everyone is to go as far as they can with a linear progression for 3-6 months. For Bob the SWAT guy that might be a 140kg squat, for enda that might be an unloaded squat below parallel, and for Jenny the basketballer that might be squatting 80kg.

But go as far as you can with a linear progression for 3-6 months. This then will be a good base for whatever else you want to do, and is a good point at which to reassess your needs and goals.
 

JamesO

Level 4 Valued Member
Was there ever a link to the original article in this thread? I'm trying to get an idea for what we're actually discussing. I didn't find a, "Dan John's Big 3" via Google.
 

ShawnM

Level 8 Valued Member
I wear all the fun stuff that Rambro1 one wears, although probably not as often. I found high rep (200) weighted step-ups followed by a 400 meter sprint to be just what I needed for cardio and leg endurance. A real treat was doing 50 reps with racked double 16kg bells. Squats are great and all but never had much carry over for me, could just be me. That and the DOMS just gets in the way at times. KB double FS I find to be a better option the BS and are great combined with deadlifts. IMHO.
 

DavThew

Level 6 Valued Member
Dan John clearly aims his writing at his audience whilst keeping the message pretty much the same.

For example in Easy Strength we have a dealift, a press, a pull, a full body explosive exercise, and an ab specific exercise as the suggestion. However on the T-nation summary of it the exercises are deadlift/pull, press, hinge, squat, loaded carry. Is either of these better thab the other? That probably depends on your aim.
The guys over at T-nation probably prioritise aesthetics and bulk more (in general) than people who read Pavel's work.

Both these programs would give great results if done consistently for 40 workouts, but one might be more useful for a soldier whilst the other was more useful for a bodybuilder on a strength cycle.

JMO.
 

Kyle Schuant

Level 1 Valued Member
Well with easy strength my suggestion is always to pick those 3-6 movements, do them for 6 weeks then retest maxes and swap out whichever improved the most and the least. Swap for "same but different", ie another push, another squat, etc. Whatever improved the most can be set aside for a while; whatever the least, well why keep banging your head against a brick wall, maybe swapping will help it.

As time goes on then you'll start to find the movements that work best for you in helping the rest of your life, like Shawn talking about stepups vs squats.
 
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