EA 14: How To Assess Gaps In Your Training Using The Dan John Matrix

Today’s guest is the amazing, awesome and wonderful Dan John. He is a prolific writer, blogger, and author. Along with being a strength and conditioning legend, and he is also an awesome guest to have at your wedding. Dan is the author of several books including his latest book Now What?: The Ongoing Pursuit of Improved Performance. He is a prolific writer and blogger, and you will find his articles all over the Internet including on Breaking Muscle and Men’s Fitness. He is also featured in several podcasts like ours and has a collection of informative YouTube videos.

Dan talks to me today about trends and fads in fitness, and how everyone is always looking for the latest and greatest thing. Yet, sound fitness fundamentals always win out and don’t really change much. We also talk about how workouts have evolved over time and how 10% of a workout can be pure genius, but the trick is finding that 10%. Dan combines his work along with historical research to find the best of the basic fundamentals. Dan also talks about specialization, peak performance, and improving top skills through general training, and a lot more.

Today’s topics include:

  • Being an adult in the fitness industry and not following every trend
  • How Dan created a DVD about loaded carries without realizing the true potential of this exercise
  • How Dan uses his coaching and experience to find what generally works and the basic fundamentals throughout history
  • How it is important to experiment with as many sports as possible and specialize later in life
  • The value of kettlebell snatches and loaded carries
  • Improving hockey skills by hitting tennis balls
  • How Arnold’s book made weightlifting valid, although the training may not relate to other fields
  • Training smart for athletics and training the way people should
  • How fun it would be to find the heaviest pole vaulter of all time
  • How it takes time to realize that you are working with something magical
  • Assessing gaps in training using the matrix of push, pull, hinge, squat, carry
  • Importance of maintaining a deep squat
  • Listening to what people say and then finding standards and trying to stay within them
  • Getting fatter when muscle declines
  • Olympic lift, then powerlift, and then bodybuild as you go through life. Training like a bodybuilder when you hit a certain age.
  • Hypertrophy and mobility work go best together and add some spring.
  • Working your butt and stretching your hip flexors.
  • The first email Dan ever sent was to Clarence Bass
  • The fountain of youth workout and training according to age
  • Doing kettlebell swings according to time and not reps
  • Dan is trying to get clear on what specifically helps performance
  • The picnic in the park workout approach
  • Intentional community and getting a little smarter
  • 28 kilo kettlebell is what Dan would take to his island
  • One arm press and snatch or swing would be his island exercise

Links and resources:


“80% of what I coach is absolutely right and true and will always be true.” Dan John

“I almost look at our fitness field as religious studies.” Dan John

“Even when you get to the top, you can still use general training to get better.” Dan John

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