Episode 48. Strength Expert Dan John and the 1-2-3-4 Client Assessment

Mar 20, 2017 | 0 comments

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Show Notes

Strength expert Dan John shares his knowledge and experience using what he calls the 1-2-3-4 assessment for his coaching clients. We also discussed the difference between training for strength versus hypertrophy, what Dan calls stenosymbols, training and dieting that’s actually reasonable and sustainable, as well as changes in the industry.


The 1-2-3-4 Assessment

  • Dan emphasizes that you have to figure out what the client really wants, and then figure out okay… What do we need to do? The 1-2-3-4 assessment is designed to give you insight into this question.
  • It is also designed to focus on the difference between what the client says they want, and what he as a coach now knows what they NEED.

Assessment 1:  Stand on One Foot:

  • If the client fails this test, Dan will also refer the client to a medical doctor.

Assessment 2:  Two Measurements:

  1. Scale weight
  2. Height to waist line ratio

Assessment 3:  Three Measurements:

  1. How many pillows does it take for you to be comfortable at night?
  2. Do you eat colorful vegetables?
  3. Do you exercise for at least half an hour each day?

Assessment 4:  Four Tests:

  1. Plank
  2. To the floor and back up
  3. Standing long jump
  4. Farmer’s walks

The Venn Diagram

  • The assessments tell you where to focus your energy.
  • Dan uses a Venn diagram to show the ways a client’s needs may overlap.


  • For example, problems in Assessment Two (the measurements, meaning someone over 300 lbs. and/or with a waistline that’s more than half their height) equals a three in the Venn Diagram, and the client needs to focus on body composition.


  • “I want to lose weight” is a stenosymbol with a lot of semiotic baggage.
  • In fitness, when a coach says “nutritional intervention” what the client hears is “rabbit food and starvation.”
  • “Weightlifting” has gone from meaning the olympic lifts to bodybuilding-style training. The meaning has changed.

Other Notes

  • Dan also likes the idea of before and afters… and after the afters. How much can you lose and actually keep off?
  • Dan has taken a lot from the bodybuilding world, but he also considers it to be the current paradigm we’re in, so when trainees come to a coach, they expect to get what amounts to a bodybuilding workout.
  • Dan spoke to a professor in family life who said that labor saving devices just plain don’t save time. She was talking about vacuum cleaners, washing machines, dishwashers, and so on, but of course also think about email, the Internet, the latest app.
  • If you want to age really well in your 40s and 50s, you gotta do  the work in your 20s and 30s. Pro-active is better than re-active.

Links & Resources

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