Strong. Awesome.

Hey Johnny,

What do you recommend for post workout nutrition. I train in a box where EVERYONE is very Paleo and as soon as I start whipping out my shakers of BCAA's, protein powders, carnitine and glutamine, all while munching down on my banana, I'm the brunt of the joke at the gym. (I get my own back though considering my name is at the top of the boards on the daily WODs and most of the big lifts). Basically. I train twice a day, in the mornings I will do a CrossFit Football session and in the evenings I will do a Daily WOD with shakes after each, having a rest day and Wednesdays and Sundays and eating Paleo everyday (besides the supplements). Any advise you would give me would be much appreciated, because if you ask my missus she tells me every time I do a big lift "You just wanna be John Welbourn STRONG".

Thanks Mate,

Kurt S.

Welbourn Strong. Awesome.

True. Kelly Starrett has several shirts with Welbourn Strong on them. He wears them to bed most nights. Only on special nights does he sleep in his Welbourn Eagles NFC Championship jersey.

True. Proteins are composed of small molecules called amino acids. There are twenty-two standard amino acids, eight are called essential amino acids because the human body cannot create them from other compounds, and so they must be obtained from food. (The eight essential amino acids are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.) Each different protein is composed of various amino acids put together in varying order with almost limitless combinations. Most proteins are large molecules that may contain several hundred amino acids arranged in branches and chains. Proteins have various functions; they can provide structure, help in digestion, aid in muscle and play a part in our ability to see.

Basically, protein and amino acids are the building blocks of muscle, and as the saying goes, “Flesh builds Flesh.”

True. Whey protein is an abundant source of branch chain amino acids, these are used to fuel muscles and stimulate protein synthesis. The key player in protein synthesis is the essential amino, leucine. When ingested in high amounts, such as with whey protein supplementation, there is greater stimulation, which leads to increased recovery. Recovery is the key factor, as we do not build muscle while training. Training breaks muscles down; only during the recovery phase does muscle growth occur.

True. Protein synthesis is the mechanism by which the body affects recovery and repairs muscle. During exercise muscles will break down; the repair of the damaged muscle is known as anabolism. This is the building up and the growth of the existing and previously damaged fiber. When the body produces more synthesized protein than it consumes through its catabolic processes muscle will be developed.

True: Increasing protein intake through a diet rich in animal proteins and supplementing with whey protein will increase strength, muscle and recovery.

True. The body contains natural digestive enzymes that are used to break down your intake of food molecules. Individuals trying to gain muscle and strength are normally consuming an excess amount of calories and many times their digest this system cannot handle the surplus. To help enhance nutrient utilization a person should include digestive enzymes before eating some of their larger meals. Key factors that play into increased digestion are chewing the food completely before ingesting and not consuming water or beverages with the meal. Digestion starts in the mouth, if a meal is not chewed properly it will not completely digest. Liquids tend to dilute stomach acids and digestive enzymes and decrease the body’s ability to digest foods.

True. Creatine occurs naturally in anything with a skeleton and helps to supply energy to all cells in the body, primarily muscle, by increasing the formation of ATP. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism.

True. Whey protein, a high protein diet, supplementing with BCAA, leucine, vitamin D3, digestive enzymes, water and creatine all work to increase strength and performance. Avoiding gluten and gut irritants increases gut health, which translates to increased immune function. A healthy immune system is your best friend when it comes to performance and recovery.

Any crowd that shuns supplements, shoes, strength and curls is confusing. Any demographic striving for elite human performance should be looking to increase recovery, muscle and strength. The same confusion extends to the people who won’t wear shoes when they lift because it is not functional or do not think strengthening your biceps brachii through isolated single jointed movements has benefit. If your goal is elite human performance, things like supplements to aid in recovery, shoes to increase your lifts and curls to strength your biceps brachii for pulling movements makes total sense.

Remember for it to be called a strength program, it has to get you strong. For it to be called a conditioning or speed program, it has to get you in shape and fast. And if you are doing everything in your power to increase recovery and performance you have better be consuming the right things to get you there.

I have never wanted to mediocre at anything. I have never been average at anything I have poured myself into. And I can’t understand the desire to strive for mediocrity.

When you walk into the gym you should want to be the strongest, fastest, most explosive, well muscled athlete with the biggest engine. Period. Striving for anything less is unacceptable.

A few months ago I posted a statistic about the NFL,“…over the past 20 years, 15,018 players played in the NFL, but only 631 (4%) played three or more years. The average career length is 3.7 season.”

Take that a step further when you realize how many kids have played football in American over the last 20 years. Of those millions of kids only 631 played longer than 3 years in the NFL.

Do you think those 631 just strived to average? Do you think they just accidentally got there? No. They had a ton of genetics and trained for the demands of their sport.

Strive to be the best.


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 Power Athlete, Supplements, Talk to Me Johnnie | Tagged , , , , , , | 38 Comments

38 Responses to Strong. Awesome.

  1. justin

    great post John!

  2. Daz

    Still cant believe this website is free.

  3. Thank you. This is a great question with an outstanding response.

  4. SAO from PVD

    John, any comment on training 2x a day with CFFB in the morning & a CF Box WOD in the PM? I am guessing the answer is “If you can maintain intensity, go for it,” but I’m curious.

  5. Myles lewis

    Thanks for the post and all in info day after day, keep up the hard work John we all appreciate it!

  6. Evan

    This is a superb post. Thanks John.

  7. Phil Eich

    Epic. Well-written John…should be CFFB required reading.

  8. Dave

    @ Welbourn you’re a legend.

    @ SAO Why would the answer be anything else? Just ensure you can recover like a motherf–er. Most people can’t, so they don’t.

  9. PD

    This is a great response… Something I think about lots when killing the CFFB WODs with the wife to the songs of Justin Bieber at Ironsport in PA (Steve P sends his regards) when we could be paying $175/month and told to take of our weightlifting shoes when deadlifting and wraps when benching heavy… wait, CFers don’t bench.

    Just my humble opinion re training 2x per day by following 2 different programs–seems like a recipe for overtraining. I was watching some 1441 videos where Raph Ruiz talks speed/explosiveness/power vs. conditioning. His point is that there’s an inverse relationship between the two–if you want to be the fastest, you aren’t going to be the best conditioned. Look at 100m sprinters vs. marathon runners.

    Main site CF (and most affiliates) attempt to get you in the best “condition” (i.e. ready for anything). I would argue that most do a sucky job at that as the main site (and the local boxes around me) just hammer the same pathway day in, day out… So, if you want to be fast, then don’t strive to be mediocre at everything, which is the very mission of traditional CF. Following questionable affiliate programming on top of cherry-picking CFFB WODs seems anti-productive to the goals of getting big, strong and fast.

    I wonder how much longer the CF will remain in front of CFFB with this crazy talk of wearing shoes and strengthening biceps.

  10. I have to CHEW my food now??? What’s next John??

    Reminds me of one of my favorite simpsons quotes…
    Grimes: God, he eats like a pig.
    Lenny: I dunno. Pigs tend to chew. I’d say he eats more like a duck.

  11. James

    Dude. Bi-cep curls as supplimentary training to better pulling movements – PREACH IT.

    If one more snob walks up to me and scoffs at my “terrorist curls”…

  12. Leo

    I worked out barefoot, I shunned supplements and I would get embarrassed about curling. Then I looked back at the last 7 yrs of crossfiting and realized I hadn’t a significant strength gain in the last 3, and my conditioning really hadn’t changed much.

    Then I found this site, got shoes and started pounding shakes, food and babies.
    And now I’m back to making gains.

    Thanks John.

    I still get a little shy around curling.

    And I really wouldn’t harm a baby.

  13. Phil Eich

    Leo: “…pounding shakes, food and babies.” Awesome.

  14. Hilarious comments…

    Can anyone recommend a good enzyme supplement? I think Robb recommends NOW super enzymes… any thoughts?

  15. Thom

    Awesome post – been following the SWODs seriously for about a month and integrate a few of the DWODs along with other daily CF training (@SFCF).

    Like most of the posters here, my two a day’s (SWOD AM/ CF PM) and food/protein shake intake have put my *&^% through the roof lately. Quicker gains, faster times, more focus.


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  17. Nate


    I take the Now super enzyme.So far the only thing I’ve noticed is that, if taken before a meal that usually makes me fart all night, I instead have a couple crazy bass farts and am done with it.

    I don’t know if this proves anything about the nutrient partitioning or digestive help of the enzymes but it proves something…

  18. Mark Levy

    I always get concerned when everyone is drinking the koolaid! How can you argue against success

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  21. Awesome post, John.

    One of the things that has always bothered me about a lot (certainly not all) of Crossfit boxes is how close-minded they are… while preaching that they’re “open-source” and dedicated to taking the best from all styles to develop “elite” athleticism.

    The Recipe for Success and Avoiding Douchebaggery:

    Determine the goal. Determine your parameters, if you have any. Utilize any and all means necessary within those parameters to reach success.

    Acknowledge and shut the hell up if you have set parameters that will inhibit you from achieving your goal. Do not disparage others who don’t share your parameters.


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  23. Alex M

    True. Great post.

  24. tim

    BCAA’s … any particular ‘brand’? I’m always leery of the supplement industry as a whole, so if anyone can toss out some reputable product (yeah, from trusting the supplement industry to trusting a comment section, I know) I’d appreciate it.

  25. Charlie Dover UK

    Crossfitters jump over walls.

    CFFB’ers run through the walls.

  26. freddy camacho

    “When you walk into the gym you should want to be the strongest, fastest, most explosive, well muscled athlete with the biggest engine. Period. Striving for anything less is unacceptable.”

    This should be posted up at every gym in the world.



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  37. Noah

    What is your take on these supplements for high schoolers? Of course along with the healthy diet you talk about and the right training. Is it the same?

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