This is my recap for 2010. This past year has been exciting, full of growth and progress. Talk To Me Johnnie was launched and CrossFit Football made it into it’s second year. We have been working on a site redesign and many other advances to come. For my year end wrap up, I have decided to answer a few questions I did not get a chance to respond to in 2010.

How do you scale the CrossFit Football workouts?

I will let you in on a secret; the workouts are designed by me for me. So when you see a workout come up imagine it being done by a former NFL player who lives to lift weights in a 5000 sq ft warehouse complete with all the toys, space, bars, weights and equipment needed to do the workouts. When someone asks about substituting movements or scaling I am not sure how to steer them because the program and workouts are designed for a specific effect. However, this would be my guide: If the workout calls for a 315 lbs deadlift and you cannot deadlift 315 lbs then I would lower the weight. If I cannot one arm power snatch a 2 pood kettlebell then I would scale it a weight I could power snatch.

John, I am 5’7”, 145 lbs and my squat is stuck at 225 lbs. I don’t feel that squatting more than one day a week is helping it. Can I do the program with squatting one day a week?

No. Just for my point of reference, my girlfriend is 125 lbs and squats 253 lbs.

What’s your take on what age young athletes should start lifting weights?  I am working with a group of 11 and 12-year-old baseball players doing mostly speed and agility work because their parents are terrified of strength training.

Refer to my article on Strength Training for the Young Athlete.

If you could have just one weapon for the zombie invasion what would it be?

36 inch bladed Katana with a 15 inch handle. Made by Zombie Tools.


What do you suggest for pre-training and post-workout meals?

Pre-training: Coffee, BCAAs and protein rich foods. If you expect a sweat, a high heart rate and spastic movements in your workout…carbs. Starchy carbs like roots and tubers.

Post-workout: Food. Protein rich. If there was a lot of sweating and spastic movement…eat carbs. Starchy carbs like roots and tubers.

My knees buckle inward while coming up during heavy squats. I usually catch it and push my knees outward after coming past parallel. Are there assistance lifts I can implement into my training or do I need to use lower weight and focus on keeping my knees out?

Keep squatting heavy. Before you descend in your squat, plant your feet and try to physically spin them out as if they were on dinner plates. At the same time clinch your butt together like you are trying to crack a walnut with your butt checks and hold. Most people’s knees come shooting in like some obscure dance move when squatting due to an inability  to fire there ass and hips and when shit gets heavy, your body will recruit whatever it can and in the this case, its your hip flexors and adductors.

Basically, you have weak ass and hips. Keep training.

I have been considering taking creatine. As soon I started to research, I was instantly overwhelmed by all the options/rumored horror stories and all the other controversy that seems to surround creatine. I was wondering what your opinion on the supplement?

Good for weight gain. Good for recovery. Two thumbs up.

*Take with caution. Any opinions or insights offered here are strictly those of the author. Use any advice or information at your own risk. TTMJ or CFFB cannot be held liable for any problems, injuries or illness coming from opinions or observations given on this site.

What kind of underwear do you like?

Women: Black. Low on the hips. Small in the back.
My training: Black. Fitted. Briefs.
Me not training: Commando


What is your take on belts and straps?


I think the CFFB programming is awesome and comprehensive but why do you only program power cleans and snatches and not full squat cleans and snatches?  Wouldn’t that speed-strength of explosively opening up the hip during the first two pulls and then rapidly and fully closing the hip during the third pull transfer over well to the needs of a football player?

We are not Olympic lifters. We are power athletes using the Olympic lifts as a tool to generate dynamic strength and violent hip extension. I have three reasons for not including full movements.

First, the problem with 99.9% people doing Olympic lifts is they miss hip extension. If you are missing hip extension and we are doing the Oly lifts to generate violent hip extension then we are not accomplishing then the movement is a waste of time. I see videos on Facebook of people asking for coaching help, most never reach full extension because they are so concerned with getting under the weight.

Second, the power clean and power snatch are longer pulls. You have to pull the weight higher, thus recruiting more muscle and strength. Coach Burgener told me, “A clean is a just a missed power clean.”

Third, we squat at least 2 times a week, if not more. If we included full variants of the lifts we would squat 5 times a week and be training like Olympic lifters. On a side note, Olympic lifting is a shitty way to get strong. Why? Because the limiting factor is rarely strength. Most people miss a lift because of technique or bad bar path. What Olympic lifting does do, is it allow us to display our strength dynamically. Do you think Pat Mendes can squat 800 lbs because of his 500 lbs clean & jerk? Or does Pat Mendes clean & jerk 500 lbs due to his 800 lbs squat? I would bet on the later.


John, I try to learn a much as I can about the theory and science behind strength but aside from Coach Rips works and anything by Louie Simmons Could you suggest some books, magazines or even websites? There is so much “silly bullshit” in the fitness industry that I don’t know what is worth my time.

Starting Strength by Rip.
Practical Programming by Rip.
The Westside Book of Methods by Louie Simmons.
Science and Practice of Strength Training by Zatsiorsky.
Supertraining by Yuri Verkhoshansky & Mel Siff.
Fundamentals of Special Strength-Training in Sport, Y.V. Verkhoshansky.
Paleolithic Solution by Robb Wolf

…and nothing replaces training with those with more experience and knowledge. Going to visit and training with great coaches is the best form of education. Sitting in your garage, training by yourself, posting your training log under some obscure reference to Lord of the Rings won’t make up for a week at Wichita Falls Athletic Club with Rip.

You want to unfuck your lifts and get your training on point?

Visit Rip.

He is at the gym everyday from 3 pm to midnight. I know, because I call him on my drive home once a week to talk about training. Want to train hard and unfuck yourself? We train 5-6 days a week in Newport Beach at noon. Nate drives an hour to train with us…and he put 200 lbs on a squat in 5 months. In the 6 months before, he made 10 lbs of progress, injured himself twice and was training in a garage by himself.

Visit Kstar in San Francisco. I drive 6 hours north to have Kelly work on me and watch my training. He can sort me out in minutes. The list goes on and on.

My wife and I wanted to go on trip but were stumped for locations. I follow the CrossFit Football site and I figured I would ask you. As an NFL player you probably have been to some cool spots. Any help?

When I think of going somewhere I think of going to a beach, even stranger since I live at the beach. After all my years playing in Philly and KC where it was cold and snowy, the off-season is about going somewhere warm.

Bora Bora in the French Polynesian Islands.


What do you eat for breakfast?

I will make it easy.

Breakfast: Meat
Lunch: Meat
PWO: Meat
Dinner: Meat

My deal is that I am in the U.S. Army and I need to have some bit of endurance. I could do straight CFE but I am still pretty weak and progressing on the lifts. Basically I just need some confirmation if it is possible to do both, or just do one or the other. Some people have suggested to do this.

Tue: CFFB SWOD+CFE WOD (Intervals)
Wed: Rest
Sat: CFE WOD (Stamina)
Sun: Rest

Would this be effective?

This looks solid, but then again I am not an endurance runner. I have never run a marathon or 100 miles. If you want to run a 100 miles contact someone who has a run a 100 miles and ask them. It would be like asking an marathon runner how to squat 1000 lbs. You want to squat 1000 lbs visit Mark Bell or call Louie Simmons, much like Rip, he will answer the phone.

I just found your site, and love it. I’ve been an avid CrossFitter for 3 years now, but wanted something a little more strength based, so thank you. Any chance you guys are working on an iPhone app.


Now if you have seen South Lake Carrol Dragons football team their offensive linemen line up in a 2-point stance and both run and pass block out of that stance.  Now I have seen other teams line up in a 3-point stance and both run and pass block out of that stance. What is the physical advantage of being in a 3 point as an offensive lineman?  Is this just old school football?  I have seen teams block affectively out of both types of stances, and don’t see on the advantage of a 3-point stance.

Did you ever play football? Ever played on the line?

3 point stance = run & 2 point stance = pass

Teams have offensive lineman play the majority of plays out of a 2 point is if their offensive is more run and shoot orientated. If the majority of plays are passes and draws with the occasional power run it can be beneficial to go from a two-point.

Personally, I hated run block and pass blocking from a two point. The 3-point stance allowed me to sink by butt and play low. Going from a two point I just got high. And when I say high, it means that I would not keep my knees bent. In the game of football the lowest man wins. I used the “low stance” so much; people started referring to it as the “low stance”.


What do you think about mixing Wendler’s 5-3-1 with CrossFit Football DWODs?

I think Jim Wendler’s program is an excellent strength program. If your goal is to get strong do then do the program as I think it was intended with the “Big, But Boring” 5×10 rep scheme; looks money to me. Add in another day of squatting on the deadlift day and you should be good to go. Most of CrossFit Football’s rep ranges fall in the 5’s and 1’s; 5’s for volume and 1’s for max efforts. Wendler’s 5-3-1 uses 5’s, 3’s and a final intensity set for max reps; a balance of heavy lifts with volume.

This is not rocket science…even though some like to make you believe it is.

Lift heavy weights often. Run fast. Jump high.

My question is what is your advice for a nutritional strategy while traveling? I know that you do a great deal of travel and was wondering what you do when you are on the road. I try to utilize pre-made jerky kits as often as possible, but this isn’t a solid plan and I need some other ideas.  Any ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Don’t be lazy. Pack a lunch. Mat Lalonde doesn’t travel across the street without packing a lunch. We are adults and can plan ahead.

And my favorite…

I have struggled my whole life to get bigger and stronger and can never seem to do it.


Here is my guide for size and strength.

Consistency. Stop program jumping. Find a program. Commit to it and do not waver for 1 year.

Sleep. Like a 2 year and realize you need a full nights sleep and naps.

Eat. Like it was your last meal.

Stop trying to create your own special secret squirrel hybrid program. If you knew what you were doing you would already be strong, fit and have a site with 15,000 hits a day, a best selling book and a sold out seminar.

Stop posting. The guy with 15,000 posts on the message boards is not an expert. Do not listen to him. He does not even workout. How could he? He doesn’t have time, he has 15,000 posts!


Getting bigger and stronger and lifting weights is not easy. There will be days when the weights are heavy. You will have to eat to the point of feeling uncomfortable to recover. Your body will hurt and you will lose more than you win. You will feel like you are going backwards. These are the days that most of the population and people complaining on message boards around the net will abandon their program. Just when it gets hard and you have to force your body into adaptation.

And you wonder why you can never meet your goals. Not anymore.