Monday, February 24, 2014

Intervention by Dan John

I just finished reading a pretty thought provoking training book -- Intervention - Dan John

It's a training book with exercise recommendations in it, but it comes at the idea of training from a big picture perspective.  It was a great read given where I have been the last year (i.e. aimless) with regard to training/exercise. 

His basic premise is that effective training requires three things. A, B and the route between the two.  Clearly the easiest way to get from A (where you are) to B (where you want to be) is a straight line.  But Dan's point is that few people even know A (where they are currently) or B (where they want to be) are.  His premise is drawing the line between the two isn't that hard, but you have to know the start and end are first. 

The book centers on general weight training, fitness and current health assessment, and the concepts apply to any type of training - running, triathlon, etc.  One of the most timely elements of the book for me was the concept of life long fitness.  Dan makes the point that Crossfit style "collapse on the floor gasping" workouts should be used very sparingly, and most work should be pleasant and something that you look forward to.  I've just started to explore workouts where you aren't chasing a clock or someone else's results and its been an interesting experience. 

Anyway, the Kindle version is only $4.99, so it is definitely worth the price of a big Starbucks latte. 

Some quotes/concepts from the book that I liked:

"Mastery in authentic movement should be the key for everyone, and consistent practice is the key to this idea."

The 80/10/10 rule -- Spend 80% of your time on what your goal is about.  The rest is spent on weight and mobility work.  For those of you with diet/body composition related goals, that means 80% of your time should be spent on meal planning, preparation, etc - not exercise.  I don't know one person who says they have a diet related goal who actually does this. 

Bus Bench vs. Park Bench workouts.  You sit on a bus bench because you have a schedule.  The bus needs to be here by a certain time, you have to be somewhere by a certain time, etc.  These are the time and intensity focused workouts.  You sit on a park bench because you want to relax, enjoy the day, watch the squirrels play, etc.  A park bench workout is one done at a lower intensity and is intended for you to enjoy the experience of exercise and feel better when you are done than when you started.  Dan's thought is the vast majority of workouts should be of the Park Bench variety.

 "Always strive for a quiet head, efficient movements and sense of calm while training."

"We have this work ethic that somehow we feel we're sinning unless we train at maximal effort each and every workout.  That's simply not how the body works.  We need to ramp it up at times, yes, no question about that!  However, keeping the gas pedal down at all times leads directly to burnout.  Find appropriate weeks and months to really attack what you need to do, but don't be afraid to ease off when you need to."


  1. I try to do park bench workouts, but cannot control myself. Have expectations that I cannot break. Like anything over 9 minutes per mile on a treadmill and I feel like I did not put in the effort. Not sure if this disease effects everybody or just me.

  2. It definitely affects me too. Chasing the clock is a huge problem for me. But I'm learning that there are benefits to the park bench approach. I'll post more on that soon.