Starting Strength & Velocity


First off, I would like to thank you for the great programming CFFB provides! I am a huge fan and have been following CrossFit Football programming with a buddy for over a year.  I am a college baseball player with dreams of draft day but realize that I will need to make up for my lack of height with speed and power, but its the power part I am having trouble with.  I am a 180 lb, 20yr old, 5'10'' left fielder and have trouble gaining weight, retaining the mass and my speed.  I've been a thin guy all my life but have had great success with CFFB as I now weigh the highest in my life and lift a lot heavier than I did in high school.  I follow a fairly strict zone/paleo diet with dairy mixed in; take whey protein post-workout and casein protein nightly.  I have tried creatine but found it to make me feel too bloated and I shed the weight within the first 4 weeks in-season.  I am tired of being the skinny guy and want to put on around 15 pounds this off-season.  I have never really contacted anyone like this before but any insight that you could give me would be greatly appreciated. 


Heath Steele
Oklahoma Christian University

UNDATED Pete Rose The Enquirer/Ed Reinke Scanned February 9, 2007.

You are right, to play in the majors you need speed and power. When I played in Philadelphia, I would head up to Bronx to see the Yankees play and hang with friends on the team. Those guys were all big, strong and on the field, had the ability to generate force. It comes down to coordination and starting strength.

Starting strength is defined as, your ability to begin a movement with a high level of strength, and velocity. The stronger you are, the faster you will overcome resistance, whether it be your body weight, gravity or the bat.

Lifting heavy weights will build that starting strength. Doing dynamic, ballistic movements like power cleans, power snatches, barbell lifts at 50%-75%, box jumps (and not the 20” box jumps for 300 reps), reaction drills, medball throws, sprinting, fly starts and plyometrics will increase your explosiveness.

Sub-maximal efforts over long duration, are not going to assist you in building the needed starting strength, max velocity and explosiveness.

If you want to gain weight, the only thing I want you to count is protein. Don’t count almond, no could blocks, just count protein, 1 gram per pound of body weight. I want you to supplement your meals with fat and carbs. I wrote an article a while back called; “Just tell me what to eat”…click on it.

Personally, I have problems with casein. I always thought it was whey that upset my stomach, but once I found a whey protein that did not have casein, I was fine. For me, casein is a gut irritant. I would mix up a shake before bed of whole milk, 2 scoops of whey and 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil.

I would mix creatine with 10 grams of BCAA, high in leucine. Start at 2.5 grams of creatine and work your way up to 5 grams, just in your post workout shake. I feel like some people bloat on creatine if they do not slowly load it and let their body acclimate.

If you want to gain weight and play at the next level, start eating and training like it.

Good luck and I love to hear when athletes are using the training for their sport.



John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and creator of Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year starter in the National Football League and NFL veteran. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early and retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL and other professional and Olympic athletes. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete and the CrossFit Speciality Seminar: Sports Specific Application. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie or at Power Athlete.

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Posted in Diet, Lifting Weights, Talk to Me Johnnie, Training | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

7 Responses to Starting Strength & Velocity

  1. Rev 6'2/220/19

    It’s so cool to hear of other baseball players using CFFB! I am a 19 year old JC baseball player with Big League dreams as well. I have been following the program for the last two years and the results are REDICULOUS!!!! Thanks for the program John. And keep up the hard work Heathe, I’ll see you in the show.

  2. Frances

    I play indoor soccer and this program works wonders for it. While brute strength is not that important in soccer, it definitely helps a lot specially when there are some big guys on other teams. The sprint work and ballistic exercises have made me faster than before as I can only thank you John for the awesome programming and the results I’m getting out of this program.

  3. Lee

    Any chance you could pass on the whey protein without casein? I am struggling to find any powders that specifically state they are casein free.


  4. Heath

    John, thank you very much for the advice! I really appreciate it! I’m so pumped for next season being more powerful and faster than ever before! Thanks again for the great programming and insight.

  5. Mike Hollister

    If you’re looking for sups like John recommends you can try and make some custom mixes. You can order 4-1 leucine bcaas there and add creatine to any mix. You can also order pure whey protein isloate. The only issue w/ creating a custom mix is that they very often end up tasting like ballsweat, particularly if you are like me and can’t stand the taste of sucralose or stevia. John also recommends and I think cffb works as a discount code there.

  6. Dan

    Can you give a little guidance with creatine. It’s been a while since I’ve taken it. Do you need to load up and cycle it (6 weeks on/off) or do you just take one scoop daily and stay on it?

  7. BG


    Look at optimum nutrition’s hydro whey. There’s no casein and it’s a little more refined so it absorbs better. One thing to look at is the number of grams of protein you get per scoop (based on the size of the scoop). If you divide the number of grams of protein by the number of grams in the scoop or serving size, that will give you an indication of how “pure” the protein is. For example if a 36g scoop has 24g of protein in it, 24 divided by 36 equals 66%. You should be looking for a protein above 80%, obviously the higher the better. Hope that helps, good luck.

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