Anthony Donskov is the founder of DSC where he serves as the Director of Sport Performance. Donskov holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Science & is the author of Physical Preparation for Ice Hockey.
Lessons From a Legend: 3 Lessons from Coach Dan John
I recently had the opportunity to read Coach Dan John’s newest book “Easy Strength.” To say that I enjoyed the read would be an understatement! In my opinion, it may have been one of the best strength and conditioning books that I’ve read since graduating from University (10+years ago). Coach John is an in-the trenches coach with decades of experience, practical application and resolve. His approach is simplistic in nature, but takes commitment and adherence to implement. In other words, it’s not easy! “Easy Strength” is a systemic education of iron, chalk, quadrants, reps, sets, failures, successes, and dreams of one of the best in the business. The books is packed full of practical information for strength coaches and fitness professionals. Below are three lessons learned from a legend: 3 Lessons from Coach Dan John.
1.) AIT: This is a simple three-part formula: Accumulation, Intensification, and Transformation. Accumulation: We need to master basic movements early and often. You can’t learn to speak French overnight. If it’s important: do it everyday. It takes years to master certain lifts (Olympic lifts). This can’t be learned through magazine articles, and weekend certifications, it’s accomplished through constant repetition! Intensity: There comes a point in an athletic career where intensity needs to be ramped up to meet the demands of sport/event. This needs to be closely monitored, manipulated and documented. Transformation: when accumulation and intensity merge!
Coach said it best: “For the record, work all the muscles you DON’T see in the mirror.” –Coach Dan John
2.) Inverted S-Curve of armor building: Call it the “Elephant in the room”; call it “functional hypertrophy”, or “armor building”, but for athletes in quadrant II (collision athletes) this is an important topic. Coach John describes these attributes using the inverse S-Curve. Early in an athletes career armor building is important: “Hypertrophy needs will rise along with the level of sport until the athlete completes his career-usually in his later teenage years.” (Coach John) After this initial hill (4-6 training years), the importance of this quality drops for other qualities (absolute strength, power, speed). However later in one’s life, the importance of hypertrophy continues to increase until death.
Coach said it best: “We need to remember we are throwers that lift, not lifters that throw.” –Coach Dan John
3.) Easy Strength: Here are a few important lessons I learned in my goal of attaining “Easy Strength”:
- Don’t major in minors!
- “Coax the gains, not force them.” (Coach Dan John)
- “Smaller CNS demands over a longer period of time result in more acceptance and greater improvement, while the rush to get more done leads to uncertainty down the road.” (Coach Charlie Francis)
- Keep volume around 10 reps/lift.
- Keep the rep ranges in the 1-5 range
- Always leave at least 1 or 2 reps in the bank.
Coach said it best: “Lift heavy not hard.” -Coach Dan John
One of the qualities that I have always admired in Coach John is the simplicity in which he operates. As a young Coach I confused simplicity with “ so obvious”. Several years ago I received an e-mail from Coach John in which he stated: “I think "so obvious" is the most difficult concept in advancing one's work!” Indeed, wise words spoken from a Legend in our field. It is my hope that as my career advances, I too may be remembered for my simplicity and “so obvious” approach.