Derek Sivers

Before We Go - by Dan John

Before We Go - by Dan John

ISBN: 1931046913
Date read: 2021-06-19
How strongly I recommend it: 6/10
(See my list of 200+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Collection of essays about fitness and weight lifting. I love all of Dan John's books. This one is one of his best. Nothing revolutionary. Just great reminders.

my notes

The basic human movements in your training:
Push, Pull, Hinge, Squat, Loaded, Carries.
15-25 total rep range for each movement.
If you can’t do 15 total reps, the load is too heavy.
If you can easily do over 25 total reps, the load is too light.
If you’re getting those reps and over time increasing the load, you’re getting it right.
If you haven’t added plates in a while, consider this as the real issue behind your lack of progress.

Squats can do more for total mass and body strength than probably all other lifts combined.
Doing them wrong can do more damage than probably all the other moves, too.
Push your knees out with your elbows.
Get your chest up. Up!
Puff up the chest, which tightens the lower back and locks the whole upper body.
The lats naturally spread a bit and the shoulders come back a little.
The torso is slung between the legs.

Learn the single best lifting movement of all time: the goblet squat.
Kettlebell cradled against your chest, squat down with the goal of having your elbows - which are pointed downward because you’re cradling the ’bell - slide past the inside of your knees.

Let the body teach the body what to do.
Try to keep your brain out of it!

Where do you place your feet?
Do three consecutive vertical jumps, then look down.
This is roughly where you want to place your feet every time you squat.
The toes should be out a little.

Do grinding moves like double-kettlebell front squats (DKFS).

The two greatest workouts I know: the ButtBurner 4000 and the Eagle.
ButtBurner 4000:
Grab a kettlebell or dumbbell in the 25-60lb range. Go lighter than you think.
Now, do this: Perform one goblet squat, then one Bulgarian goat bag swing.
Perform two goblet squats, then two Bulgarian goat bag swings.
Now, three and three.
Work your way up to ten and ten…if you can.

You’re either progressing or regressing. There is no maintenance

The 10,000-Swing Kettlebell Workout will rapidly transform your body in only four weeks.
Use a 24kg kettlebell.
Train two days on, one day off and repeat.
Set 1: 10 reps
Set 2: 15 reps
Set 3: 25 reps
Set 4: 50 reps
You’ve now completed 100 reps - one cluster.
Repeat the cluster four more times for a total of 500 swings.
After each round of ten, fifteen and twenty-five reps, rest thirty to sixty seconds.
After each set of fifty, the rest will extend to three minutes or more
Stretch anything that needs it.
Time your workouts. Each week you should be getting faster.

The swing is a hip hinge. Maximum hip bend and minimal knee bend. It is not a squat.

A menu for every meal is going to save more time, energy and emotional breakdowns than anything else.

We all have the discipline of monks when it comes to what we’re “going to eat.”

The front squat is the best whole body lift.

If all you did was clean and press, you could be awesome. Massive shoulders and upper body development.

Yoga will do marvels for mobility, flexibility, basic movements, groundwork and recovery.

Add more plates. Rest more. Grow. Get stronger.

Tumbling and rolling can improve work capacity and simultaneously change body composition.

A complex is a series of lifts back to back where you finish the reps of one lift before moving on to the next.
The barbell only leaves your hands or touches the floor after all of the lifts are completed.
The key to organizing a complex is to make sure the bar passes over your head in some kind of logical manner.
In other words, if you do rows followed by back squats, how did the bar get there?
You need at least one intermediate move to get the bar onto your shoulders for the back squats.
I try to have the bar pass backward over the head after a few lifts, but I only pass it forward again once.

Those with the most variations in their training are usually the weakest and skinniest.

When I want to increase work capacity and build mass, I only assign one complex for a six-week assault on bulking.

Here’s my favorite complex:
Row
Clean
Front squat
Military press
Back squat
Good morning
If the workout calls for 8 repetitions, you need to do 8 rows, followed by 8 cleans, 8 front squats, 8 military presses, 8 back squats and then 8 good mornings.

Many of us didn’t allow our sons and daughters to watch TV on school nights.
Maybe they miss some popular culture, but they become voracious readers and get skilled at games and sports.
That’s the way deprivation works. You give up something and gain something that might even be better.

Use heavy weights and slowly, steadily, build up the volume.

Integrity, according to my mom, is being one person all the time no matter what the circumstances.
Integrity comes from the same root as integer. Like a whole number, integrity asks you to be a whole person.

Overhead squat, straight-leg deadlift, dip and pullup (done correctly) could do more for flexibility than all the ballet classes at charm school.

The calendar is the single greatest training tool you have for success.
The calendar is proactive. The calendar gives ideas about where you want to go and a bit of a roadmap to this destination.

Every success in your life doesn’t call for several extra rounds of beer, a salutary doughnut and high fives from everyone.
You’re an adult now; you don’t need a cookie every time you do something special.

Instead of resting between exercises, plank between exercises.
Getting up and down off the ground will drive the heart rate through the roof, not the actual plank.

Do fifty reps.
Bodyweight Squat
Plan on taking some days off after you attempt this challenge.
How many deadlifts can you do with 315 pounds in half an hour?

The biggest gap in most people’s training the total lack of groundwork.

Get a heart rate monitor and for five minutes, get down on the ground (vary the position, front or back or sides) and stand up.
Repeat.
Yes, that’s it. Now check that heart monitor.

I’d come home from a long day and do these lifts:
Overhead squat
Straight leg deadlift
Chinups (neck touching the bar)
Dips
Side bend of some kind
Not only a tonic, refreshing workout, but I was stretched out by the moves.
These movements tended to “put everything back into place.”
I always walked away feeling better than when I started.

Hypertrophy training becomes even more important as we age.
Joint mobility is more important than practically everything else when it comes to dealing with the ills of age.
In other words, stay lean, muscular and loose for as long as you can.

Half an hour before I go to bed, I take the following: ZMA, Fish oil, A serving of sugar-free Metamucil
With a glass of wine, you can feel the body relax.
I think magnesium continues to be the most underrated of supplements, and its wonderful calming effects.

Faced with a decision to keep climbing and probably die on Mount Everest or to come back to base camp, he came back down.
But, he noted, he learned far more from this failure than he would have from succeeding.
In a sense, success can dilute the lessons of life.
Failure seems to prod most people into rethinking the attempts, the journey and the path.

Don't get buttonholed in a job that stops you from exploring all the directions life presents.

Many athletes quit the sport after the Olympics.
The medal doesn’t fulfill the athletes as much as the dreams of victory during training.

When you get your goals, dream up other goals.

After age 28, the body seems to conspire to lose lean body mass and stiffen up.
Jogging, while certainly better than nothing, tends to waste some muscle mass and lock up the joints.
Just lift and get some crashless cardio in.

Spend all the time you can spare on hypertrophy and joint mobility.

TRX is a relatively new innovation I’ve grown to love.

If you could only do one exercise: The one-arm press.

Doing pelvic tilts - or hip thrusts - are a one-stop shop for stretching the hip flexors.

Are you taking fish oil?
Because, if you’re not, you have totally missed the last decade of research.
Fish oil capsules are so inexpensive and work so well that I can’t believe some people still don’t take them.

As we age into our middle years and beyond, winning the fight to hold muscle mass is probably the single best indicator of health.

If no one in a typical gym is doing something, it’s probably pretty hard to do.

Rolling around on the floor doing getups is an insightful, thoughtful way to get reacquainted with getting off the ground.
If you get on the ground and then get off the ground, you’ll stimulate a lot of fat loss.

Here’s a great workout:
Stand up.
Now, get to the ground and lie on your back.
Repeat this for five minutes.

The ability to nap when necessary: I recommend squeezing a muscle tight, then breathing out and releasing it. This helps enable falling effortlessly asleep literally anytime, anywhere.
I recommend ZMA, eyeshades, and earplugs.

Weaknesses demand full concentration.
Weaknesses need to be given full attention.

If you have flexibility issues, I recommend the thirty-day yoga challenge (promise to go to ninety-minute sessions every day for 30).

Start doing farmer walks, waiter walks, suitcase walk, sleds and pushing cars a few days a week.

To become obese, you did something unbalanced.
To get yourself back to sleek, lithe, firm and fantastic, you honestly can’t do a balanced approach.
Finding balance at one hundred pounds over-weight will keep you there.
He recommended an “unbalanced” approach to get back to your target.

People walk up to the fireplace and say “give me heat.”
The right way to do it is to get some paper, some kindling, some logs and light a match.
Then you get some heat.

One-arm overhead presses work the obliques better than all those odd side bends and twisties.

2-3-5-2-3-5-2-3 is my favorite variation of the standard 5 × 5 protocol.
Double, rest, a triple, rest, etc.

For fat-loss exercise, discover things you’re terrible at and do them.

I’m a huge fan of Steve Ilg’s book, Total Body Transformation.
Pavel Tsatousline has a wonderful book, Relax into Stretch.