I attended the CrossFit Football trainer seminar couple months back in the UK and learned more from your team than any certification I have attended. So much so, we want to host one in Germany whenever you are available.

I have started training a few players from a professional hockey team in Nuremberg, Germany in preparation for their upcoming season. They want a strength program in conjunction with their conditioning work. They have exposure to strength training but nothing you would call organized. I would like to start them on the amateur linear progression. Do you think this wise or should I assume the amateur window has closed because they are professional athletes? The majority of players are between 20-23 years old.



Pagan #1

First, call me John. I get a strange feeling when someone calls me “coach.”

The term “coach” is affectionately reserved for aging and out of shape men who watched me play football while screaming incoherent things, all while wearing uncomfortably short shorts.

I have yet to abandon my fitness or don the polyester shorts so affectionately worn by coaches across America.

You might have seen a movie back in the 80’s called Dragnet with Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd. It was a remake of the original Dragnet TV show from the 50’s. To this day it is still one of my favorite movies.

Early and Streeback go undercover to infiltrate this group of troublemakers known as the PAGANs. PAGAN is an acronym for:

People Against Goodness and Normalcy

As they pull up in disguise, a guy in a horned goat mask reminds them, “Don’t forget your goat leggings,” and hands them two sets of goat fur chaps.


First, I have always counted the athletes following the CrossFit Football site as my own PAGANs. People who want something different than the majority; people more prone to take the road less traveled than follow the herd. Frankly, it takes a certain person to put a heavy bar on their back week in and week out and keep coming back for more.

Second, the amateur linear progression is the “goat leggings” of the program; can't hope to make gains and take part in a program without laying the vital ground work. Much like Early and Streeback showing up for their first PAGAN meeting, you need to strap on your "goat leggings."

Third, I consider anyone who has not done this style of training to be an amateur. And when I say “this style of training,” I mean putting a heavy bar on your back or in your hands a few days a week and squatting, pulling or pushing 80%-100% of your best for reps. This means your training is composed of heavy compound movements and a formalized strength program with progressions and direction.

And I am not just talking about for a few weeks to tone up before spring break, but everyday, for months, if you not years. I am referring to someone who knows the joy of making gains and the pains of getting "Swinglined."

Pagan #2

The term “Swinglined” refers to the old staplers we had in school. When the weight staples you to the bench or platform we call that “Swinglined.”

Drake, start your athletes on the amateur linear progression. Let's see where their level of adaptation is. If they have been training seriously, you will know pretty quickly whether it was a good idea or not. If they fail, then put them on the collegiate program.

My advice would be not let them max out day 1. Start their sets of 5 well below what you think they can do, around 30-40 lbs less than what their best is. Let them start to feel good about the training and give them a chance to get up to speed. Just know in a few weeks, things will get serious and you will be better able to evaluate your athletes after they put on their “goat leggings.”

Posted in Lifting Weights, Talk to Me Johnnie, Training | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

12 Responses to PAGAN

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  2. Jared

    I saw the title on the link on CFFB and was hoping it was a reference to People Against Goodness and Normalcy. This is a great acronym to use when you accuse someone of being a PAGAN. Rarely does anyone laugh at the goat-leggings reference.

    Although it bears no relevance, the interrogation of Emil Muzz is also a classic. “Well, Emil, it is you…and me. Your balls….and this drawer.”

    “Say Joe, wouldn’t a couple of danishes go great with this coffee right now?”

  3. Big Josh

    “…and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were married, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire…”

  4. PHONE

    “Oh, there it is. Here, let me just go ahead and get that from you. Great… “

  5. Ingo B

    John, you misspelled…..just kidding.

    Thanks for posting this. Now I have something to point to when folks accuse me of taking the “easy way out” via Amateur.

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  7. Ww

    Excuse me copper
    Mr. Crime stopper
    we’re just trying to dance
    in our goat skin pants

  8. Nate

    I seem to recollect the term “coach” being used within the CrossFit community before. Where was it? Huh, must have slipped my mind.

  9. Davetree

    Raging!!! I’ve been thru all the posts now and I’m not quite sure where to go next. I’ve been like a sponge trying to soak up all the info and now I need something else, that will help me continue in a similar vein. Anybody suggest any other good blogs while I wait for the next ttmj post?

  10. Old post, so I’m betting this won’t get a response, but I gotta try. I trained CFFB for over a year, and one of my trainers went to a CFFB cert recently. Nothing but positive stuff. Anyway, I would like some clarification on this part of John’s response:

    “Drake, start your athletes on the amateur linear progression. Let’s see where their level of adaptation is. If they have been training seriously, you will know pretty quickly whether it was a good idea or not. If they fail, then put them on the collegiate program.”

    It’s the last part, the part about them failing that I don’t understand. “If they fail, then put them on the collegiate program.” What is meant by that? How can someone fail at the amateur program in the beginning? Thank you.

    • Luke

      On the amateur progression, an athlete should be able to add weight to the bar week after week for 10 – 20 weeks. If 2 weeks in they can’t add any more weight to the bar, then they have failed.

      Make sense?


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