Hey John, I’ve just been reading a lot of material on the Paleo diet, and I believe I’ve gotten a lot of the science down pat and analyzed. But now, I’m wondering more about programming and the type of reading I should be doing. I’ve taken the CFFB Level 1 Cert, and I’m wondering if there’s any specific books your would recommend? Per chance some Mark Rippetoe?



Yes! I have been waiting for a question that relates to books, training, research and what information I would recommend. I will give two parts to this question…one being books or information I feel you should read while trying to increase your knowledge on nutrition and training. The second will contain books I believe you should read and read often. Oh yes, I am one of those people. I re-read book constantly, if I find a good one I will go back to it. I do it with movies and books. We will save movies for another day.

Last year after the Paleo Brands lecture with Dr. Cordain, I emailed him for a syllabus to continue my education on Paleolithic nutrition. He forwarded me this reading list:

From Lucy to Language by Johanson D, Edgar B.

Extinct Humans by Tattersall I, Schwartz J.

The Last Neanderthal by Tattersall I.

The Last Human by G. J. Sawyer, et al

Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins by Carl Zimmer

In addition to this reading, I have been fortunate enough to be included on a lengthy email chain containing papers and research on biology and the effects of what we eat on our bodies from Mat Lalonde. Mat is a researcher with a PhD. in organic chemistry. Between Robb and Mat’s information dump and the time we have spent together, I have a massed a good base of understanding on how to make nutrition a useful tool for performance.

In terms of training, here are a few books I believe are very useful for developing strength and speed.

Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe – Rip gives a systematic approach to training beginners. Simple, just keep adding weight the bar until you fail. Squat, DL, Press, Bench and Power Cleans mixed with pull/chin ups. This program works very well, a must read.

Practical Programming by Mark Rippetoe – Now that you have the basics, add Practical Programming into the mix.

Only the Strong Shall Survive by Bill Starr –Starr’s book is the first football training manual and a training bible for hundred of thousands of football players for the last 30 years.

Westside Barbell Book of Methods by Louie Simmons – Gives great explanations of the WSB methods of max effort/dynamic effort/repetition method. Full of great information and a must read.

Fundamentals of Special Strength-Training in Sport by Y.V. Verkhoshansky – I count Yuri Verkhoshansky as the father of modern sport training, the scientist behind the Russian’s research on athletes and inventor of shock training (plyometrics). He just passed away last month and has a many books on the topic of training, GPP, SPP and power/strength training. He worked with all Russian Olympic teams from the 50’s to the 90’s included hockey, sprinting, Olympic weightlifting, boxing and many others. When I started lifting we did the “Russian Squat Program”, but we did it for all lifts. I started with 6’s, instead of the Bill Starr 5’s. Yuri Verkhoshansky has a website full of  information and his life’s work.

5-3-1 by Jim Wendler – Jim has a 2000+ lb total and totaled Elite status in his first PL meet. He trained at WSB and now works at EliteFTS with Dave Tate. His book is a great read, as Jim is funny and personable. His training is simple and is built on banging heavy weights, assistance work and hill sprints. Got to like a program that mixes heavy barbell lifts, auxiliary movements and sprints.


I think with these books and articles in your arsenal you are on your way to understanding a few different approaches and basic programming. From here you can leap into any direction with a firm understanding of what each programs goal is and its desired effect.

Now for some recommended reading I have found invaluable thus far. As Bundy’s brother, Mongo, would say, “The adventure is on the road, not at the destination”.

COURSE SYLLABUS#3De Oratore – Marcus Tullius Cicero

A History of Knowledge – Charles Van Doren

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

Divine Comedies: Volume I & III by Dante

American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis

The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary – Ambrose Bierce

Thick Face, Black Heart – Chin-Ning Chu

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Guns, Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond

48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene

The Arts of Seduction – Robert Greene

Vicious Vocabulary – Phil Eisenhower

Any book you can find by Chuck Palahniuk, especially Fight Club

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Way of the Peaceful Warrior – Dan Millman


I have just scratched the surface of what I consider vital. I look at Talk To Me Johnnie as the course adjunct to CrossFit Football and the books I have recommended are just a few of the books I would consider required reading.