CrossFit Football for CrossFit


Let me first say, I love the site and the seminar. I was at your CFFB seminar last year and learned more than I could process. I was really excited about the program and have had great results with our high school athletes and people training for the CrossFit Games. My only issue is implementing it on a mass scale with our general population. I find two lifts and a short metcon take more time than most of our general population CrossFitters have.

I should have asked you while I was at the cert but it didn’t dawn on me till I got home. How would you structure the program in a general CrossFit setting?


crossfitfootball for crossfit #1Dan,

This is a great question and something that I have not been asked. When working with large groups of general CrossFitters you have roughly an hour window to warm them up and get them to their work.

How would one structure CrossFit Football for CrossFit?

We need to establish a few guidelines.

- Squat two times a week.

- Incorporate the 7 CFFB Primal Movements.

  1. Squat
  2. Step
  3. Lunge
  4. Vertical Push
  5. Vertical Pull
  6. Horizontal Push
  7. Horizontal Pull
  8. Change of Direction
  9. Less than or equal to 15 minutes of conditioning Monday-Friday. Reserve Saturday for longer metcons and field work training. This includes sleds, hammers, kbs, battling ropes, tires, stones, yokes or anything that takes physical strength.

- Chose one foundation movement per session and incorporate the other as a secondary movement in the conditioning portion.

- Pair that secondary movement with a body weight or other movement that compliments it.

Two weeks of amateur programming would look like this..

Week 1

Day 1
Squat 3x5
Complete 5 rounds for time:
3 Push Press 95-135 lbs
5 Pull Ups

Day 2
Deadlift 5 RM
On the minute for 12 minutes
Sprint 50 yards
7 Ball Slams

Day 3
Day Off

Day 4
Bench 3x5
Complete 3 rounds for time:
5 Squats @ 205 lbs
25 Supine Ring Rows

Day 5
Power Clean 5x3
Complete 2 rounds for time of:
12, 9, 6 reps of
Strict Chin Ups
Box Jumps 24”

Day 6
Field Strength/Conditioning
10 x 50 yard prowler suicides
*push the sled 25 yards and sprint back the line
*rest 60 seconds between efforts.

Day 7

Week 2

Day 1
Press 3x5
21, 15, 9 reps of:
Thrusters 135 lbs
Strict Pull Ups
*Each rep of thruster must start on the ground

Day 2
Deadlift 5 RM (add 10 lbs to last workout)
Complete 5 rounds for time:
3 Power Snatches 115 lbs
7 Push Ups
9 Toes to Bar

Day 3
Day Off

Day 4
Squat 3x5 (add 5 lbs to last workout)
21, 15, 9 reps of
Bench Press @ body weight
Chin Ups

Day 5
Power Clean 5x3 (add 2.5 lbs to last workout)
Complete 5 rounds:
7 Deadlifts 250 lbs
14 Double Unders

Day 6
Field Strength/Conditioning
Complete the following:
Tabata Sledgehammer Strikes
Rest 1 minuted
Tabata Burpees
Rest 1 minute
Tabata Sledgehammer
*Alternate LT/RT after each interval
*Only score your smallest round

Day 7

You can take and adapt it for the collegiate strength level as most days have two primary movements. Focus on one movement for strength work and drop the second movement to the conditioning portion of the training.

We have had great success adapting CFFB and other versions of strength training in my own gym, CrossFit Balboa.

Best of luck and next time don’t wait so long to ask a question.

Posted in CrossFit Football, Talk to Me Johnnie | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

23 Responses to CrossFit Football for CrossFit

  1. I have the same questions, but mine is more so pertaining to programing for a week, where as I have not come up with a successful way to program the strength for linear progress for my classes where people come in on all different days. The most success I have had is by running Wendlers 5/3/1 and having Monday be Squats, Tuesday Press, Wednesday was make-up day for either (squats having priority), Thursday was Deadlift, Friday was Bench. This worked well but was not sustainable forever. For now I program a squat, a press or bench, deadlift, snatch, and clean every week (sometimes in the workouts sometimes as strength before) but I was wondering if you have come up with any clever ways in your gym to program the strength I have been relegated to just programing a lot of strength lifts each week (4-5 days a week) and hoping to catch as many people as I can.

    • That is why it is a strength program, it takes some semblance of consistency.

      here is the deal for that…just make sure they squat two times a week.

      If they only come twice, then they squat every time you see them.

      If they come more…then get creative.

      The biggest hole I have seen in CrossFitters, the world over, is the ability to support a heavy bar on their back, sit down below parallel and stand up with out doing any spastic. No violent head head movements, caving knees or lack of spinal stability.

      The other shit is fluff. I have never met anyone with a strong squat that was not decently strong in the other lifts.

  2. Chris

    In this template posted you squat only once a week.
    Adding squat:
    week 1 day 4
    Week 2 day 1


  3. Michael RB

    in CFFB, he has people squat Mondays and Thursdays. It is the same here.

    I wish a NYC box would follow this programming.

  4. Hi John, awesome as usual! I run a strength biased cf gym in San Francisco and we have been grappling with this exact issue over the last year. Thanks for addressing this. We program roughly the same sequence of lifts along with our daily metcon and try to offer a “CFFB” verson of the dwod –heavier load, shorter duration, appropriate movement substitution etc– but using the same base movements to keep it easy for coaches to run the wod. I am really looking forward to the supplemental print info and coaches support you mentioned in the 2011 recap.

    Our biggest challenge is trying to lift before the dwod. Schedule wise, it works better for some classes to run metcon first but then they are not fresh for the squats. I am trying to iron this out in the coming months. Lately I find myself just forcing a lot of members to follow a program like Starting Strength and dropping metcon entirely for a couple months to establish baseline strength (we have an open gym hour between classes for this). As you mentioned, the ability to squat anything substantial is often lacking, as is the desire to put a heavy bar on the back with any regularity.

  5. Dave

    For me this raises the question of how long do people following cffb generally spend in the gym?

    Heres a typical day:
    5mins warmup
    1st set squats 3 mins
    Rest 3 mins
    2nd set squats 4 mins
    Rest 3 mins
    3rd set squats 5 mins
    Rest 3 mins
    1st set press 3 mins
    Rest 3mins
    2nd set press 4 mins
    Rest 3 mins
    3rd set press 5mins
    Rest 10 mins
    Dwod 12 mins
    Cooldown 10 mins

    Assuming each set takes a bit longer due to tiredness, adds up to say 75 mins. How realistic is my outline? How many people spend more or less than 75 mins?

  6. Sean

    Chris, re-check the conditioning portions of Week 1 Day 4: Complete 3 rounds for time: 5 Squats @ 205 lbs; 25 Supine Ring Rows. And Week 2 Day 1: 21, 15, 9 reps of: Thrusters 135 lbs; Strict Pull Ups.

    The squats are there! (albeit in the form of thrusters in Week 2). Only a crazy Russian is going to squat more than once a week doing 3×5 which is I’m assuming what you were trying to look for.

  7. Jaybird

    Big John, that is awesome. Less is more!

  8. I’ve found good success with Wendler’s program (especially as I age, the reduced volume is nice) but I think john is right, it is just creating consistency. Personally, I have replaced the 3 rounds of warm-up w/ some general agility drills/dynamic movement and then I lift. Then I metcon, I think the biggest problem that crossfit creates is the metcon methhead, where people just come in craving a 15-20-25 minute beat down. I think it benefits everyone if you add strength and limit the conditioning.

  9. PD

    we’ve been adapting CFFB to a 3 day/week schedule because mon, wed, fri works for our work and outside-the-gym lives. following essentially 2 weeks behind along the ASWOD to round out the DWOD based on the above CFFB movements and make sure each 6 training day cycle we hit each of the movements.
    day 1 – squat/bench 3×5 + DWOD
    day 2 – deadlift 5RM + DWOD
    day 3 – power clean 5×3/press 3×5 + DWOD
    perhaps a bit slower progress than 5 day/week cycle, but it’s still working and keeps me fresher for rec hockey games…

  10. John,

    Great info, thank you. I had this same question since attending your cert a while back, and I have been working to offer a CFFB style option at our gym. Like many CF gyms, heavy days are often the least attended (which we still program once or twice a week), so we took a slightly different approach and have separate lifting programmed for those that want it, and can demonstrate proficiency in the lifts. To work around the 1 hour constraint, these folks either come in early and lift prior to class or stay a little later and lift after. To compliment this, we also have CFFB style conditioning available each day. Typically it’s the same or similar movements as our regular group class so that each day’s mobility work and warmup covers both groups. We up the loads, shorten the reps and adjust the rounds to meet the 15 min or less guideline. Ideally I would like to just follow your programming, but this is a compromise until we can grow this crowd enough to justify a separate class(es) & trainer(s).
    For the additional lifting we are currently following the 5/3/1 program, but I was just brainstorming how to add in some oly lifting. This post was quite timely to remind me of the programming guidelines. No matter what I do, I’ll make sure that we are squatting twice a week. Thanks again.

  11. Hi John,
    i did the CFFB Cert in Belfast last August and i programme the workouts at my box similar to what you describe above. Sometimes i will use the strength movement in the met Con too just as the guys at CrossFit Pori(Mikko Salo’s box) do. I’ve had tremendous success with this programming.
    I train the local Rugby team using this style and they are currently sitting 4 points clear at the top of the league after gaining promotion last year with a young team. They have 7 wins and one defeat with 4 left to play. They all say CrossFit Football is their secret weapon this year. So thank you for all you advice and to say your programming is superiour to CrossFit mainsite is putting it mildly at least( But you already know that don’t you!) Thanks again, Ger.
    I’ll send you on a picture of the lads when they win the league!

  12. Sean

    CrossFitNYC is likely going to offer a CFFB class during the week.

  13. JeffM

    Excellent question, excellent answer.

    John, CFFB Primal Movement #7 is the Lunge. While I see how all the variations of Squats could work their way into a program, I’m wondering what specific movements the CFFB Lab considers to be in the “Lunge family.” Thanks for the solid information.

  14. Thank you for answering that question. This should help us out. I like the idea to squat twice a week but sneak it in once as part of the met-con. (Hehehe). We too have been wondering how to program sensibly for people who come in randomly, while running classes six days a week. We are trying Coach Rut’s MEBB (lift, assisance lift, short metcon) every other day with main site programming, mobility, and skill work in between. We have had to cap the mainsite WODs lately at 25 minutes, though, not really what I am looking for. If we were big enough to have two trainers per class we could repeat the MEBB days for people who missed them.

    Johnny, how does this look like in your CrossFit gym? What do you use instead of a rest day? Yes, I will go to CroossFit Balboa and look at your programming! But if you want to talk about it more I would be all ears!

  15. Pingback: Friday 1.20.11 | Crossfit Murphy

  16. buretto

    That was a strange breakdown of time for the strength work.
    Typically, it takes me 10-15 min to WU and get to my working weight unless I have a mob issue to address, in that case tack on another 5.
    1st set of squats takes 30-40 sec tops, rest 3-5 min and repeat 2 more times. You’re done with squat working sets in 12-17 min unless you’re resting too long.
    We’re a half hour in now. Hit press WU for 5-10, then 12-17 min to do the working sets.
    I’ve got time left to hit a fast & hard met-con after my 2 lifts if I am limited to an hr. But, the 1 lift followed by a met-con routine fits well into an hour (slapping a time limit on the strength portion has helped keep people moving).

  17. We had great success doing CFFB as rx’d over a few months last year. I layed out expectations for inclusions in this class (MTHF 5:30pm) and told them the program would not work unless they were consistent.

    Time was rarely an issue. After 2 weeks, everyone knows what to do. Superset when there are two movements ( squat, rest 90 seconds, press, rest 90 seconds, repeat), know exactly how much you are going to lift, get aggressive, spot your buddy.

    We had awesome results. PR’s for everyone who could honestly said they did the program. Some people didn’t stick with it and went back to our regular programming. No problem. They will always be asking me what they need to do to get better (get stronger. “How do I get stronger?” Do what I say).

    If you run a tight ship, you should be able to get through CFFB as rx’d no problem.

    I agree with a time limit. You can warm people up with Coach Burgener’s junkyard dog warmup in 3 minutes, then start warming up your squat. Tell them we are moving onto the met-con at x:xx time and that’s how long they have to get through it.

    Make sure your athletes eat enough and sleep enough. Basically, everything John says. GOMAD. Soon, your previous endurance athletes will answer to ‘tubby’.

  18. AlphaDog

    Anyone care to recommend how to run CFFB on a Monday – Friday schedule with Saturday as the game day?

    Friday would preferably be a rest day or upper body only so as to be fresh for Saturdays game. Sunday would be a rest day too.



  19. Whiskey1

    Love the program and a huge deal for John to layout the progamming “play book”!!! Makes even more sense now. Couple of quick questions:

    1. Is deadlift considered vertical or horizontal pull? I know the bar is moving in the vertical plain but on set up the back and arms are in the horizontal. (similar to a bent over row).

    2. What are sledge hammer swings and ball slabs considered in functional movement catagories?

  20. 1. For this program, vertical pulls are pull ups/chin ups. Horizontal pulls ar bent rows, one arm db rows and such.
    2. Rotation for sledge strikes. Ball slams are for violent hip extension and the way I see it, the opposing movement to a power clean/power snatch. And they are metabolically terrible.

  21. sam tan

    I run a fitness centre here in Malaysia and we have a S&C program called X45. I’m a big follower of CFFB and TTMJ. I program for myself and my clients according to the format you use here. Amazing stuff. Strength training is part of every workout. Out clients love making PRs. They’re proud of their strength.

  22. Steve

    Just seeing this post as I scroll through… I run CrossFit Lorton in VA, I brought 5 guys to Occupy Strength Mid Atlantic and we swept with First place in all 3 weight classes plus a 3rd in the Middles.

    We follow Wendler 531 for my general CF classes and to make sure I hit everyone as much as possible I move the lifts through the week so that over a 10 week cycle each day gets a lift twice- the weeks look like this:
    Week 1
    Deadlift-Press-Clean and Jerk-Squat- Bench Press
    Week 2
    Week 3

    It will rotate like this so that my people who come M-W-F are not always doing the same 3 lifts. This has worked real well for us and could be easily adapted to the SWOD.

    John- I talked to Luke at OS in South Baltimore- We need a Banner at CF Lorton. We swept that shit with a 1945, 1645 and 1540. My lightweight got screwed getting on the podium and was mistakenly put in as a middles and didn’t get his chance to be up there. I think those numbers deserve a banner!
    Thanks- it was a great event and we can’t wait to defend the crown next year!

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