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The Quadrants of Diet and Exercise

The thing that amazes me the most the longer The first group in the pure-present are children
Im in this field is the great amount of discipline, because theres no past to them. They dont have the
free will and just human courage people have on memory for it and the futureWell, Im going to
the day before starting a new diet. It doesnt matter be a super hero or a cowboy. They live in the pure-
what you say. Theyre like Captain America rolled present.
into Gilgamesh, Hercules, Batman, Superman, King Poets, in which group I include actors, actresses
Arthur, anybody, the day before they start a diet. and artists, live in the pure-present. We shuffle our
Of course, once the diet starts I hear, Well, I movie stars into this all the time. The person might
know Im supposed to eat seven cherries, but I have made a trillion dollars in films, but one dud
didnt have cherries so I ate a quart of ice cream. I and boom. The person is nobody anymore.
hear this constantly and its funny, but Im amazed it The elderly live in the pure-present. In fact, thats
keeps going on and on and on. one of the real joys of being around older folks. I
What got me thinking about these dieters in would say the sick as well live in the pure-present.
the last few months was actually my academic Theres nothing more now than being ill.
background and I came to realize two big points Of course, the last group would be athletes;
about diets and exercise that Im going to tie together athletes live in the pure-present. Its funny. With
here. the Olympic games, people talk, Well, he won four
The first point goes all the way back to when I years ago, like hes some kind of bum. He got a gold
was in college, which to me seems like a week ago, last time, but this time he took fifth. Whats wrong
but to others it was a long, long time ago. with him?
I studied Beowulf as part of my masters degree. Fifth is pretty good at the Olympics.
In fact, of all the things I know, I think I know I contrast the pure-present, or warrior speech,
Beowulf the best. I worked really hard on it. I went with kings. The best way to get a sense of kingly
through it one time with Burton Raffels English speech is to read the Gettysburg Address. It starts off
translation and broke down every sentence into with a reference to the past, Fourscore and seven
a sentence deciding whether it was a declared years ago Abraham Lincoln notes the present
sentence or a question. Oh, I worked too hard on and then goes on to reference the future by saying,
that. Then it hit me that a big issue in the book Years from now, few will remember what was said
Beowulfthe old epicis that warriors in the story here. Thats a perfect kingly speech and thats how I
always speak in the pure-present tense. Ive called think most of us should approach a lot of the things
this warrior speech my whole life and I think thats we dopast, present and future.
the way athletes usually talk: Lets talk about today.
One of my newest clichs Im just beating to
When Im getting ready for a track meet, please death is, Its not what youre going to eat tomorrow
dont ask me, Dan, didnt you at one time throw blah, thats the issue. Its what you ate yesterday. Think
blah, blah? No. No. Today is today. What about back to the heroic dieter on December 31st with a
next month? Are you going to the Monkey Magic fistful of booze, a pocketful of Cheetos and a handful
Invitational? No, lets talk about today. When Im of munchies telling you how disciplined hes going
in warrior mode, Im all about today. You have to to be tomorrow.
be to be an athlete.
But it doesnt always work. Most of us need to
Though Ive never really found out who actually sit down and say, Okay, this is what Ive been doing
said it first, Ive always quoted George Sheehan as for a long time. Heres where Id like to be 20 years
saying there are four people who live in the pure- from now.
This is the transcript of Dan Johns The Quadrants of Diet and Exercise audio lecture.
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Right now, whats the best way to go from where the meet 21 pounds overweight. The truth is, who
Ive been in the past, to where I want to go in the knows whether I would have done better on one
future? I call this the kingly approach. Just quickly plan than the other. I dont know. Now, lets contrast
to review, the warrior approach is to live in the this with my second point and one of the principles
pure-present. The kingly approach represents the people miss, which I think is really important .
past, present and future. Years ago, I was reading a magazine article about
Usually I talk about this with diet. I call it a prayer and spirituality. The article was by George
warrior-style diet. Ori Hofmekler wrote a great Niederauer, which was interesting because my boss
book called The Warrior Diet and its really one of at the time was Bishopnow ArchbishopGeorge
the best ways to look at dieting. Id also throw in Niederauer. I sent him a little note, Are they talking
Chris Shugarts Velocity Diet, which Ive written too about you? He let me know, Yeah, thats my article.
much about, and maybe even the two week meat He said prayer comes in two kinds. There are
fest that is the Atkins Induction. bus bench prayers and park bench prayers. A
Intermittent fasting folks are pretty warrior- bus bench and a park bench look exactly the same,
minded. I was out years ago with a group of military but your expectations sitting in them are radically
guys who were all doing intermittent fasting. There different.
was no place to eat at meal time, so we went to a If youre sitting on a bus bench and waiting on
McDonalds. It was stunning to watch these guys the 8:14 (the bus I used to take to work), and that
pushing two and three sundaes in their mouths, bus isnt there and you dont see it coming down
then burger after burger, trying to get as many the street by 8:09, you get a little weird. At 8:10 if
calories into their faces as fast as they could. No, you still dont see it, now youre thinking, Im going
Mom doesnt want you to eat like that, but folks, to be late. If you dont see it by 8:12 or 8:13, youre
thats warrior eating. freaking out. Of course if it gets to 8:15 or 8:16,
The kingly approach to dieting is more my you might be late for work and bad things happen,
favorite. A good example might be the Mediterranean especially if youre a schoolteacher. Thats the bus
Diet. Take a class on it, and the instructor will bench.
discuss the olive oil business one week or the history Take the same bench and put it in a park. You
of the tomato. Then heres a recipe to cook today. and I go to the park this week. Its a nice day. Theres a
Of course if you eat this way, three years from now bird over there. Hi, Mr. Bird. Theres a squirrel. The
youll have golden, tanned skin with just a sheen of squirrel pops overpop, pop, pop. Hi, Mr. Squirrel.
health. Youll be thin where you want to be thin and He leaves. Three days later, its the same park bench.
robust where you want to be robust. We see the bird. Hi, Mr. Bird. Theres no squirrel. I
I like that approach and I think both approaches dont get angry if theres no squirrel today. You dont
are right. I think you can have the warrior diet get angry if theres no squirrel today. Im perfectly
approach. Ive always thought that and I am a huge fine without a squirrel today.
fan of things like the 28-day Velocity Diet. Thats the park bench.
This is what I get ripped for on the internet most I think a lot of people try to train in what I
frequently. That Dan John, he likes everything call the bus bench mode. You know when youve
and I do. I also think there are times when you can been on a bus bench program. Thats a two-week
warrior diet. I dont want to repeat what Ive had to program, or six weeks to add one inch on your
do to lose weight for an Olympic lifting meet, but arms, ormighty titanic triceps in three days. That
its scary stuff. At the same time, it might have been Soviet squat program I did years ago was rough and
a brighter idea for me to eat more reasonably for six I will tell you one thing: If you dont get results in a
months so I wouldnt have shown up two days before

This is the transcript of Dan Johns The Quadrants of Diet and Exercise audio lecture.
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bus bench squat workout, you have the right to be Thats a tough diet with a tough workout
angry. You worked hard. You should get results. program. However, I dont know if you can do it
When I did the Soviet squat programthe one for 90 daysthat would be rough. Its like when a
where one workout has six sets of six with 80% of person gets a juicer and decides to drink and eat just
your bestit killed me. I racked the bar after the juice for two weeks or do a liver cleansing for two
first set and was sick to my stomach realizing I had weeks plus train hard. After a short amount of time,
five more of those to go. Thats tough stuff. At the your body just throws in the towel. I think you can
end of that time, though, I added 20 pounds to my do both, but its the hardest combination to do.
front squat. I expected results from the program Looking at other combinations, lets try a
and it worked for me. Thats a bus bench program. park bench workout with that warrior-style diet.
If you read my work, youll notice I usually argue You actually see that with the new Velocity Diet
for park bench workouts. I also call them punch information from Chris Shugart. Theres no question
the clock workouts, but I like this notion that you that six protein shakes a day is a warrior diet, so
just kind of go in the gym sometimes and work out lets combine that with a very park-bench workout.
a bit. Its not an heroic quest. That might be three days a week doing every human
movement for three sets of five or three sets of eight.
My point with the Intervention book and DVD You leave the workout more refreshed than when
is to point out that fairly reasonable training can, you first started, and I love that kind of thing.
over time, lead to much better gains than these
insanity programs that last 90 days. Dan Martin I really think warrior-style dieting mixed with
famously called me Mr. 91 because Im the guy park-bench workouts is doable. In fact, if you were
who sits around going, Okay, 90 days is great. What to tell me youre going to try to attack fat loss solely
are you going to do on day 91? Seriously, what are with diet, Id tell you to go for it. Do that 28-day or
you going to do? Ive made my career thinking this two-week thing, but make sure your workouts are
way. reasonable.

The mistake you might make is to think On the other end of the continuum, I find a
park bench workoutsdoing the basic human king-style diet such as Mediterranean, Atkins or
movements, doing them with reasonable sets and even the Paleo Tiffany and I call meat, leaves and
rep programs, doing them with reasonable loads berries, very doable for a long period of time.
are somehow right and these crazy 90-day programs You can disagree with the specifics, but follow the
are wrong. I didnt say that. Both park and bus bench principle of the park-bench workout. If I were to
workouts have a place in our training. The problem say, Okay, I want you to eat the Mediterranean
for most people is when they try to combine all the diet, three meals a day with lots of vegetables, lots
points Ive made so far. of spices and lots of color in the meals, mixed with
reasonable workouts, youd look at me like, Yeah, I
I think its pretty clear we can create four can do that forever, Dan.
quadrants with these combinations of diet and
exercise. Right. Thank you. Thats the point: park bench
workouts and a king-style diet. The bulk of your
The first quadrant is a warrior-style diet and bus training probably is a king-style diet (a reasonable
bench workouts. Heres what most people think they diet) mixed with park-bench workouts (a reasonable
can do: Theyre the drunk December 31st crowd. workout).
They think they can do a bus bench workoutPX90
or something like thatwith what I would call a There is one other quadrant left to discuss. This
warrior-style diet. This might be Induction from is when you combine a reasonable diet with tough
Atkins; this might be the Velocity Diet. You know workouts. Personally, I think this is how to peak.
what? I think there are times when you can do that. Once again, you have this king-style diet. For the

This is the transcript of Dan Johns The Quadrants of Diet and Exercise audio lecture.
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sake of example, lets stick with the Mediterranean Is it possible to do a warrior-style diet with a
plan because it has the least critics. Could you do park-bench workout? Yes. To be frank, I think you
the Mediterranean-style diet and mix it with a really can probably do that for about four weeks. This might
tough program such as a 13-week peak cycle like be a great thing to do before bikini season, perhaps
Dave Turners 10-week peaking plan? You absolutely before a school reunion or before a wedding when
can do that. You can ratchet some tough workouts if you really tighten down the diet and keep training.
youre being reasonable on the diet side. In fact, its very doable.
When you have a reasonable diet, you can Most of us recognize this as one of the ways
practically do anything in the weight room or on the we do a quick size-loss program. Now, I dont want
training field. If your diet is reasonable, you can do a to call it fat loss or even weight loss, because that
lot of reasonable workouts, but you can also ratchet doesnt always happen. However, this represents a
up the intensity a couple of times a year and go after reasonable workout mixed with a tough diet, and
it with some tough workouts. we can handle that maybe twice in a year. Doing a
When I was young, I used to think I was always tough diet and a tough workout, maybe we can do
only three to six weeks away from my peak. To be that once every four or five years. It would have to
honest with you, when I was 18, 19 or 20 and my be for something really, really important to me. For
snatch was only 231 pounds and my clean-and-jerk those of you who do physique contests or perhaps
was just over 300, it wouldnt take me very long to those of you who wrestleyoure a better man than
get up to those numbers. A few weeks of just going I am, Gunga Din.
after it in the weight room and Id be right there at You could do the king-style diet mixed with the
my best numbers. Of course as a career goes on, you bus bench workouts, or what I call the reasonable
need to take more and more time to build up to the diet with tough workouts, twice a year if youre
bigger numbers. an athlete. Marty Gallagher talks about how he
Is it possible to combine warrior-style diet made Captain Kirk Kowalski and Ed Coan have
and bus-bench workouts in a year or a decade? two 12-week cycles a yearone to get ready for
Absolutely. How often can you do a tough diet and the Nationals and one to get ready for the Worlds.
tough workouts with the tough diet being a warrior- They werent allowed to miss repetitions. They were
style diet? For the combination of tough and tough, supposed to come in and just take care of business.
I think its rare and I think most people can probably These are tough workouts but doable if supported
only do it for two weeks. by a reasonable diet.
There are a few people who can probably sneak As I age as an Olympic lifter , I can see myself
that up to four or six weeks. I certainly know if peaking for eight weeks or 10 weeks. Im not going
youve been in a physique contest, you know how to peak for the Christmas Invitational, but peaking
to do it even longer. Bless you. I hope thats a skill for the Nationals might not be a bad idea. For the
set you keep for the rest of your life because thats bulk of the time, though, its really important to
rare air. have a king-style diet mixed with a park-bench
workoutreasonable and reasonable.
One thing youll note about people who compete
in physique contests: Ask them how theyre doing When I discuss tough workouts, I often hear,
and they might punch you. Youre not your happiest Theres not enough time in the week for us to do
when doing tough diets and tough workouts. Its all of this. I have done some pretty tough workouts
tough on a marriage. Its tough on raising children. and I believe that I have 24 hours a day, roughly,
Its certainly tough at work. I found out afterward seven days a week. Do I suddenly sneak up and have
that I was not always the happiest man in the world extra time?
on the Velocity Diet.

This is the transcript of Dan Johns The Quadrants of Diet and Exercise audio lecture.
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A person who was staying with me in Utah John Powell often talks about this idea called
was telling me about how he trained three hours a simple. We teach the discus technique called Stretch-
day. Its going to be tough to for an adult to raise One-Two-Three. One time John was teaching this
kids, have a full-time job, have a relationship that technique to a boy. The boy started doing it, tripped
matters, be part of the community, on and on and over his feet and fell on the ground. Then the boy
on, training three hours a day. I could certainly do said, You said this would be easy. John famously
that in college, but even then I think I wasted most said, I said this would be simple, not easy.
of my time in training. Folks, reasonable diets and reasonable training
This visitor and I did a little experiment. We sound so easy but its not. Its simple. Its simple, but
went to Dave Turners gym and did the Hercules let me tell you something thats hard: If youre going
Barbell Club workout. In one hour, Dave took us to work out three days a week for the next 10 years,
through 13 warm-up exercises. He then made us that means most of you are going to work out three
do snatches and clean-and-jerks with sticks. Then days a week for the next 10 years in the gym.
we did 26 sets of exercisesfront squats, snatches, I have my own home gym. Going out to the
clean-and-jerks and presses. For the few minutes garage to train three days a week on your own in
left, we had to clean up, yell out the teams motto the hot summer or the snowy winter when there are
and then we left. better and more fun things to do around the house
The challenge was that we had to have it all done is tough. I know its tough because Ive been doing
in one hour. We did 26 sets of Olympic lifts, plus a it for decades. Reasonable sounds so simple but we
pretty brutal warm-up in less than an hour. Two and fall in love with the toughness of tough training. Im
three days later, my house guest was still sore. He all about this tough stuff, tough stuff, tough stuff.
said to me, I suddenly get it. My workouts werent In my humble opinion, the simple programs
three hours. I was in the gym for three hours. that look easy on paper are the hardest to do because
Im crazy about this concept of reasonable you dont have that heroism of, I am taking on the
workouts with reasonable diets most of the time. world. I am Beowulf. I am Superman. I am Wonder
You can see it in my book, Never Let Go, and its in Woman. The boring programs I recommend for the
everything I write: Hey, folks, sometimes you have bulk of the timereasonable training programs,
to lighten up. You have to enjoy it. And a warrior- reasonable diet plans are hard!
style eating program is actually kind of fun. I hate When you tell somebody, Im doing the
to say it like this, but you kind of feel better than Mediterranean Diet, Im doing the basic human
everybody. You do. Its like, Look at me! Look at movements in the weight room and Im making
me! I am the paradigm of discipline! sure my joints are mobile, hey, even I got bored
As I come to the end of this idea, I want to make writing that sentence, but thats what works long
sure we dont pigeonhole these quadrants of dieting term.
and training. I constantly hear, Oh, thats Dan John. The heroic tough workoutsI get it. We fall in
Hes the guy who makes things simple. That drives love with them, but remember, reasonable work
me crazy. and reasonable diets are their own kind of hard. To
quote my friend, John Powell, I said it was simple,
not easy.

This is the transcript of Dan Johns The Quadrants of Diet and Exercise audio lecture.
If youve received this material, do not own the audio lecture and would like to learn about it, visit
For more from Dan, visit him at