What kind of exercises will I need?

Talk To Me Johnnie,

I'm a high school junior looking to play Division 1-AA football in college. I've been doing CrossFit for a couple of years now, and I'm looking for what types of exercises I need to be able to do, and goals I need to hit in order to make it.

I figure you guys would be the best people to ask. Let me know.





I am going to let you in on a secret, there is this training site programmed by this ex-NFL player called CrossFit Football. If you click on CrossFitFootballDotCom, you can find it.

Start on Monday with the Amateur level.


I will bet you a 40 oz rib eye, the first thing it will tell you to do is squat 3 sets of 5 reps. To clarify, that is 3 sets of 5 reps of the same weight on the squat. When I say squat, I mean a back squat. This is the variation where you put a heavy bar at the base of  your traps, stand erect, push your hips back, sit down till your hips are lower than the top of your knees and stand up as fast as you can. And for future reference, every time you see squat programmed, add 5 lbs to what you did last workout until you cannot squat all 5 reps. Hopefully by that time, your squat is at least 400 lbs or double your body weight. If you weight under 200 lbs you should squat 400 lbs, if you are over 200 lbs it should be close to double body weight.

Next you are going to press. When I say press, I mean a standing military shoulder press with a barbell. You are going to press 3 sets of 5 reps straight across. And for future reference, every time you see press programmed, add 2.5 lbs to what you did last workout until you cannot add 2.5 lbs to the bar. By the time you start to fail at your 3 sets of 5 reps, you should be close to pressing your body weight.

Then you are going to see something called the Daily WOD. This is the conditioning portion of the training. I want you to attack it with the fury of a thousand suns. It should only take 7-15 minutes...most days.

Make sure you drink plenty of water during the day and start eating. You will see the strength gains increasing as you consume more food.

I know it seems crazy but I promise you this, if you start to measure you protein in pounds, you will get bigger and stronger.

Lets roll play.

”Hey Steve, how much did you eat today?” 

“I had 3 pounds of meat and 8 lbs of milk.”

“Great work! And how is the strength coming along?”

“I have not failed on my linear progression in 3 months and am squatting over 400 lbs. I hit 300 lbs on the bench, have pressed my body weight and can deadlift 500 lbs. And I found sleeping 11 hours a day did wonders.”

“Absolutely amazing! Those are great results and I would say on paper, and merely judging by the weight room, you are ready to go play college football.”

The next day, you will wake up and see another workout on CrossFit FootballDotCom for Tuesday. I am sure you can see where this is going.

This will be a deadlift for 5 reps. You will warm up and pull the 5 heaviest reps you can and move on. This is just 1 set to 5, so don’t be tempted to do more.

To quote from a recent conversation with Mark Rippetoe, “Fives are almost too powerful. They should be reserved only for those who want brutal strength.”

You will move on to dead hand pull ups, 3 sets for max reps. Once done with the deadlifts and pull ups you will move on the Daily WOD. This will involve some running or jumping and should only take 7-15 minutes...most days.

Once done, make sure you drink plenty of water, eat your pounds and sleep.

The third day is a rest day. So instead of going into the gym and messing around, go home, get off your feet and rest.

Day 4 is going to be another squat of 3 sets of 5 reps. You will add 5 lbs to what you did on Monday and do 3 sets straight across. Then you will replace the press with the bench for 3 sets of 5 reps. Each week, similar to the press, you will add 2.5 lbs the bar until you can not add 2.5 lbs to the bar. When it fails you should be around a 300 lbs bench or 1.5 x body weight; only if you have eaten, rested and followed the program. Next, complete the Daily WOD.

Come in on Friday for 5 sets of 3 power cleans followed with 3 sets of max reps of dead hand chin ups. Followed again, by a Daily WOD.

On Saturday, if you are feeling up to it, there is a conditioning workout posted. If you are feeling beat up and tired, don’t concern yourself, take Saturday and Sunday to rest, eat and recover.

Come Monday, rinse and repeat.

Remember, the foundation of your training is the back squat.

If you want a strong back and hands, deadlift heavy 5’s.

If you want strong shoulders with a thick chest and arms blend a generous side of pull-ups and chin-ups with a stead diet of heavy benching and pressing.

If you want to hit harder, learn violent hip extension. It just so happens, it is extremely difficult to power clean a heavy weight without a violent hip extension, so you are in luck.

The only thing left to do is show up and do the work. But here in lays the problem. The reason 99.9% of people do not make gains or reach their goals is consistency.

Everyone can do it for a few days or even weeks, but can you be consistent for months? What about years? Consistency in your training means never missing a day. Consistency with your diet means making sure you eat your calories everyday.

Not the..."I didn't eat for 2 days so I am going to gorge myself on the third to make up for it."

If you follow the program as it is written with great consistency, eat with great consistency and rest you will be farther closer to your dream of playing college football than ever thought possible.

Posted in CrossFit Football, Football, Lifting Weights, Talk to Me Johnnie, Training | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

18 Responses to What kind of exercises will I need?

  1. justin

    Great post John! Constistancy is key no doubt. Got to want it bad, and keep your eyes on the prize baby!

  2. Dave

    You’re a legend John.

  3. Capps

    “Simple, not easy.” Well put.

  4. AJ Mirwani

    Love this. I started CFFB last May, and this makes me re-pumped all over again. You make it sounds so easy, and this scenario would probably be the case for me if I was 19. However I’m 35, a dad and a professional with a demanding office job. When I started last summer I slammed right into joint/tendon issues. First with major hip flexor strains then I tore my right labrum warming up an OHS. I’m still following the program, but I’m only going to go up in weight on BS when my technique is perfect (i.e. knees aren’t buckling, trunk is flat, etc.), and for Bench/SP when my right should is fully stable. Since I’m old, it’s probably going to take me longer to hit the numbers like you state, but I know as long as I’m consistent (and careful) I’ll get there, and I really want to!

  5. Remember who the article is written for…a 16-17 year kid who wants to play college football.

    That is a pretty good time to start this type of training. You guys remember those days…

    These gains can be made and then some by 16-19 year old kids…we have seen it in 25 year old kids who have never trained.

    If you are older, like AJ, take this w/ a grain of salt and don’t let your inner 16 year old get the 35 year old in trouble.


  6. chris

    Nice post agree totally, started cffb last march and I’m 21 seen gains i thought i would never see without illegal help lol! Thanks John for all you do for us crossfiter’s wanting power and strength, without losing our work capacity!


  7. Woody

    Question: I have been following CFFB religiously since November where I read the faqs and decided that with my experience training I would hit the pro version of the workout. I made some good gains but eventually decided to hit the collegiate as the majority of those on the site were on it and posting crazy numbers. Reading this, I am beginning to think about the amateur program as I am yet to squat 400lbs (at 95kg) etc. Recently, I have been using my training log and have made sure that I am upping my weights on previous pbs, and have made more gains.

    In short, in your opinion, should I keep to the college and approach it in a linear fashion like I have gotten round to doing in the last month, or should I just straight up attack the amateur program?

    Loving your work,


  8. jp

    John, I know this is probably far to much to ask given the ridiculous amount you already give to the community but I will ask anyways. Have you ever thought about adding the 488 plan to your site? Is there anyway we could nudge you in that direction? My inner 16 year old spends an awful lot of time getting me in trouble and I suspect I am not alone.

  9. AJ Mirwani

    Amen to that! Thanks John. Your stuff rocks.

  10. Dan


    Never trained before. Squatting 375, benching 300, pressing 170, power cleaning 225.

    Some numbers suck, but some for me are phenomenal. CFFB is as legit as it gets!

    Thanks John!

  11. Mfgilbert


    As a 33 year old desk jockey myself, it’s just my experience that these types of gains are possible for us older guys too. Just gotta want it and put in the work, work through the pain, and eat lots of meat and drink lots of milk. From November to January my DL went from 455 to 515, squats are not quite so spectacular but since it’s been some time since a 1RM I don’t have max numbers but I can share 3,5 and 7s which are 390-405,375-385, and 335-350 respectively.

    I wish I had had the drive at 16 that I have now. It’s possible to get great results though for us older mathletes too. Even with injuries(torn rotator cuff, broken foot, Achilles problems, and a pretty nice hamstring tear) I’ve managed to have good gains in both strength and size. I have absolutely nothing to do with my new found strength but I’m just hoping for the opportunity to cave a chest in one day.

    Good day sir!

  12. Chris

    I second the motion for the 488 on the site. It would take the guessing and scaling out of it for me. I know it’s more work but I would bet most people would even pay for the site if you charged. Something like $20 for the year like the journal. Anyhow thanks for all the the good things you provide. Waiting for the east coast cert, any plans ?

  13. Laughed my ass off several times and was also flooded of my early memories of CFFB. How easy it was to add 5lbs every week and eat my pounds. Thanks John, you’re the best.

  14. Matty

    @woody –

    Do the ASWOD, I am a former marine, was in a sniper unit, and have been a cf coach since 2008, I have many phyiscal achievements, but at this am new at cffb. I am still doing the amatuer program. And my old 1 RM will be my new 3×5 this week. I get it… no one wants the title amatuer, whatever man, I hope i stay on this amatuer program all the way to a 500 lbs back squat 🙂 Humble yourself, check your ego, be conservative, and DO EVERYTHING JOHN SAYS ON THIS SITE AND CFFB. This is his baby, he loves it, you can see it so you know he wont steer you wrong. Just dont over complicate, just listen.

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  16. Woody

    @Matty :Thanks bro, that’s exactly the kind of kick start comment I needed. Amateur program starts today.

  17. Brian

    For those asking for a CFFB488:
    I’m 42, and still making great gains on the ASWOD. But when the loads get heavy, and the recovery slow, I do this for a couple of weeks and start back with a minor reset. It has been a good combination for me.

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