Sunday, July 12, 2009

Never Let Go by Dan John

I just finished reading Dan John's book Never Let Go and all I can say is I'm sorry I waited this long to read his work. This guy is an incredible author! I've seen his name thrown around on message boards but all I really knew about him was that he was a thrower and coach somewhere out mid-west. I had never read any of his stuff, and for that I was unfortunate.

Better late than never I suppose but reading this book earlier would have saved me a lot of misdirection in my training career. This is one of the best books I've read in a while and I put it up there with other favorites like Dinosaur Training, Power to the People and Rock Iron Steel. It has done me a lot of good to hear how Coach John breaks things down into such simple, simple concepts. One of my favorites parts of the book is right in the preface when he says,
There are three kinds of strength training:
1 - putting a weight overhead
2 - picking it off the ground
3 - carrying it for time or distance
The simplicity in that is beautiful. I think I've told that to everyone I've talked training to since I read it. I am a big fan of this kind of message, summary and presentation of information.

As I read this book, I was constantly reminded of the Bruce Lee quote about "simplicity being the height of cultivation". As someone who reads a lot and knows a lot about strength training, I could see how cultivated Dan John's training philosophies are and I could see that he knows a lot more than I do. And right after I would read something that would totally blow my mind, in the very next paragraph he'll write that he's not telling me anything I don't already know. In many cases he was right, but hearing training concepts distilled to such purity really helps refine ones own philosophy.

My favorite workout that he writes about is the One Lift a Day program. I first did this workout in 2003 in preparation for a strongman contest - this was long before I read anything by Dan John. In that workout I deadlifted 405 for 53 reps in 50 minutes. The last time I did this workout (Thanksgiving 08) I deadlifted 405 for 100 reps in 60 minutes. The One Lift a Day program is a great workout! But I thought I made it up! Apparently not because in June of 1979 Dan John squatted 315x30, 275x30, 225x30. I squatted 225x30 once and I thought I might die. Wait, in June of 1979 I was not even a year old. Hmm. Ok, I guess I didn't make that workout up but it's still one of my favorite workouts that I hate doing.

The subtitle of the book is "A Philosophy of Lifting, Living and Learning" and I find it refreshing to have those things highlighted in a book on training. When training is such a large part of a persons life, and they've spent so long learning about training, and teaching training to others, you can't leave that stuff out in a book on training. This is exactly what I want to read about! I want to train, I want to learn and I want to live.

Dan John will tell you that everything he knows he has stolen from somebody else, in other words, he gives credit. Coach John, I will do the same when I steal from you!

Never Let Go is available at


Anonymous said...

Great to see you keep your knowledge fresh. We are all teachable and can learn much from one another.

Anonymous said...

Coach Dan John's book is definitely an excellent read. His humor comes through just like in Pavel's books and amidst his storytelling lies lessons both in the training world and in life that we can all learn from. I was searching for his blog when i came upon yours. any idea what his blog is?

Eric Moss RKC said...

whoops meant to leave my name up on my comment

Eric Moss RKC

Anonymous said...

I recently read this book and it's absolutely fabulous. In fact a friend of mine who is always looking for Viagra told me about it. I really enjoyed.