Power Athlete Template


What would CrossFit Football look like if you DIDN’T have to satisfy the "metcon craving" of many CrossFitters? If you were given free reign to design a workout protocol that only emphasized strength and power to the exclusion of all else, would it look different? 




First, do not throw the baby out with the bath water. My training and program has always emphasized conditioning. I wrote a piece last year called, “Do I Need To Be In Shape?”, addressing this very issue.

Second, all training is metabolic, as anything you do will have an effect on a metabolic system.

Answer this, if I am standing and breathing does that mean I am doing metabolic conditioning in the oxidative pathway?

When people refer to "metabolic conditioning", they are usually referring to high intensity interval training. And remember, not all conditioning is glycolytic.

What you see on CrossFit Football is my own programming and I do not add or delete anything from it. I have had “free reign” to design my own program, seminar and methodology from Day 1 and have never been asked to alter it in the very least. This program is an evolution of what I have learned from coaches much smarter than myself. I was able to train with many of the best coaches in the world and take what I felt worked best for the program. Because my focus was on performance and getting better, I was able to make changes and evolve. The only goal was to create bigger, stronger, faster athletes.

While the programming and direction have never been an issue, my friends and associations have been.

This is a template we use with a few of our more advanced athletes.

Day 1
ME Sprint (Vertical/COG/Multi-Directional)
Squat Volume
Horizontal Push Intensity
Accessory Vertical Push Volume
Hard Trunk

Day 2
Sled Push or Sled Drag (Forward or Reverse)­
Intensity Pull
Upper Back Pull
Shrug Variation
Low Back
Light Trunk
4-Way Neck Work

Day 3

Day 4
Squat Intensity
Vertical Push Intensity
Accessory Horizontal Push Volume
Sprint Volume (Vertical/COG/Multi-Directional)
Light Trunk

Day 5
Dynamic Pull
Weighted Vertical Pull
Power Shrugs
Low Back
Hard Trunk
4-Way Neck Work

Day 6
Field Work/Conditioning

Day 7

This would be the amateur variation; a very simple to follow program with no accessory work. Since, the volume/intensity are combined, we limit the extra accessory work. We have a very specific amount of volume we need to hit for each day. We need 30 reps on squat and 30 reps on vertical push + horizontal push to keep driving adaptation. If we need do not hit our numbers, then we need to re-access. In some cases this would constitute a reset of 20-30 lbs or another variation that I will go into in another post.

Day 1
ME Sprints (Vertical/COG/Multi-Directional)
Squat 3x5 (when program repeats add 5 lbs to Day 4)
Press 3x5 (add 2.5 lbs to bar from last press day)

Day 2
DL 1x5 (add 10 lbs from last DL day)
Vertical Pull (Prone Grip) 3 x max reps
4-Way Neck Work

Day 3

Day 4
Squat 3x5 (add 5 lbs to Day 1)
Bench 3x5 (add 2.5 lbs to bar from last bench day)
Volume Sprints (Vertical/COG/Multi-Directional)

Day 5
Power Clean 5x3 (add 2.5 lbs to the bar from last PC)
Vertical Pull (Supine Grip) 3 x max reps
4-Way Neck Work

Day 6
Field Work/Conditioning

Day 7


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.

Latest posts by John (see all)

Posted in CrossFit Football, Lifting Weights, Talk to Me Johnnie, Training | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

19 Responses to Power Athlete Template

  1. Dave

    Awesome post john, i like the structure of your programming.

    How much different do you think a super bowl level player’s schedule would look compared to your in season prof lvl program?

    And when can you come do a cert in Australia?

  2. every team is different, as they have high level S&C coaches planning everything. the program you see for the collegiate/professional is based off my own in-season training.

    And we are scheduling seminars as we speak and will have Oz and NZ on the list.

    See you soon.

  3. Dann

    John, any seminars coming to the UK?

  4. Charlie Denning

    Nice read.

    How might an in-season CFFB template look? Would it change much?
    I never know whether the rest is more important pre or post game…

    Thanks for your work,

    Charlie (Dover RFC – UK)

  5. New Guy

    Total new guy here: What is a Max Effort “COG” sprint?

  6. Jared

    Thanks for the great post, John. I replayed the latest Paleo Solution podcast you were on when you answered this question. You were speaking pretty fast, so I literally replayed it three times to write everything down.

    I still think it is really cool that you give Raph a large amount of credit for programming and helping your NFL career.

    Thank you for putting this template down and I think the idea behind it is spot on (as if you needed my or anyone else’s approval). I am sure there will be a few posts later on from people insinuating you forgot to include something (planche progressions) or that they have a better template for developing football players.

  7. We are working on dates for 2012. UK is on the ticket.

    COG = Change of Direction

    No, it is different. I will do a post about it once I work through some of my backlogged questions.

    There is a reason Ruiz is one of the best S&C coaches in the world. I trained with more than a few and he is one of the best. And he has the client list to prove it. With that said, we differ and argue on many aspects of the programming, movements and application. But that is why it works b/c we are always working to improve.

    This is a template, not a program. A blue print, not a picture. A program would have the loads + reps x sets…

  8. Corey

    Can you give an example of a ME sprint and a volume sprint workout? thanks

  9. Phil_Harris

    Corey maybe he will write you a free program.

    Oh wait, that already happens on CrossFit Football.

  10. Johno

    What constitutes a ‘hard trunk’ exercise and does that differ to light trunk by virtue of load or difficulty of movement etc.? Look forward to attending a Europe based seminar. Many thanks and keep up the good work.

  11. jaybird

    Badass programing template big dog.

  12. Micky

    Would it be too much to add in weighted dips to the amateur variation? I’ve read Bill Starr who emphasizes the importance of dips strengthening the press, and my goal is to press my body weight (190lbs). Thanks for all the info and help you provide.

  13. Gary

    Can i ask, why only 1×5 on the deadlifts??

    Only you say that you need 30 reps for adaptation.

  14. Pingback: Paleo Solution Podcast #100 with John Welbourn - All Things Gym

  15. What is a re-access and how is it different than an assessment?

  16. Pingback: Lessons Learned - John Welbourn

  17. chupacabraj


    1×5 on the deadlifts because the deadlift is more of a test of strength then anything else. Any deadlift in the percentage of 85-100% of an rm can take almost up too 21 days to recover from. (Barbell shrugged, PA podcast) With everything else PA has us doing, we can’t afford to not recover.

  18. I’m impressed. Your blog is highly educational and engaging.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *