I am just starting to follow the CrossFit Football strength workouts. I am not sure where to start as far as weight is concerned. Where do you suggest I start? Do I just guesstimate with the weight each day? For instance today is 5 RM for DL, should I just try to find my 5 RM?
Lets get some things clear.
RM = Rep Max
A rep maximum (RM) in weight training is the maximum amount of weight on can lift for a given number of repetitions on THAT day during THAT workout. If the workout calls for a 5 rep maximum in the squat, that means 5 squat reps at the heaviest weight possible. If you can only do 4 reps, then you went too heavy and now know your 4 RM. If you can do 6 reps, then you did not go heavy enough.
PR = Personal Record
A personal record is your heaviest weight ever lifted in an exercise or the heaviest weight lifted for multiple reps in an exercise. This would include the one time when squatting, Jupiter and Venus were aligned, the girl pictured below asks to work in and you hit a number that was 20 lbs higher than ever before. You might be able to hit that number again but only if Melia shows up. That is your personal record or PR.
CrossFit Football asks you to set new PRs just 4-7 times a year, but we do ask you to test rep maximums a few times a week. This allows you to train at your daily maximum. Where people get in trouble is expecting to set a PR every time they do a rep max. This only happens with amateurs in the amateur window.
When starting the CrossFit Football program, I want you to think about Evel Knievel.
Evel Knievel was a daredevil motorcycle rider who did over 75 ramp-to-ramp jumps between 1965-1980. In 1974 he tried to jump the Snake River in a steam-powered rocket. The guy broke 433 bones during his career.
He was once quoted as saying, “Bones heal, pain is temporary, and chicks dig scars…”
He was asked what the difference was between making a jump and not making a jump. He said the take off. If he had enough ramp on his approach and got up to the speed the rest was in God’s hands.
The biggest mistake when starting CrossFit Football is not giving yourself enough ramp to the get up to speed. Basically, letting ego get in the way and starting too heavy. I want you to start 20-40 lbs below what you think you can do. Since you are adding 10 lbs a week on the squat and the deadlift and 5 lbs on the bench and the press, it will only take 4-6 weeks for it to start getting heavy.
Get that groundwork laid and build up speed as you approach the ramp and prepare for the biggest jump of your lift. You are going to need as much speed as humanly possible to carry you over the 14-20 weeks we call the amateur window.
The Amateur window is this short period of time, 14-20 weeks, when someone new to weight training, with little to no adaptation, will make gains like they own a Mexican pharmacy. Mix 8-10 glasses of whole milk with the Power Athlete diet and 20-30 lbs of lean body mass will accompany these gains.
Remember Evel Kneivel only cared about making his jump; just like CFFB he only cared about results. He didn’t care how fast he was going or the length of the ramp, only how far he flew in the air and if he landed. I don’t care how long it takes you to get up to speed, how hard the fight was during the training, only that you got stronger. The length of ramp needed and top speed are completely dependent on how far you needed to fly.
“gains like they own a Mexican pharmacy” sounds like a CFFB shirt to me. I’d certainly buy one.
Awesome post, John. As a guy currently 9 weeks into the amateur window, this makes a lot of sense and helps with perspective. Oh yeah, and Melia has a definite PR effect. Go CFM!
3 thoughts while reading this…
1. what a babe.
2. evel knievel was rad.
3. what a babe.
What is your take on bar speed when lifting for a RM? Should we be going for the heaviest weight even if the last rep is a slow grind or are you looking for good speed on all reps.
What is the difference in your mind when you write “a heavy set of 5 reps” and a 5 RM?
Thanks for the great site and info. As an old fart my T levels go up just reading your posts and looking at the pic’s.
A rep max is a rep max…the 5 heaviest reps you can perform, even if the last rep is grindy and slow. I dont see anything in that response having to do with speed.
A 5 RM is the heaviest set of 5 you can do. A heavy set of 5 (aka Jager Bombs & Pound Town) is just a heavy set of 5. If you lift weights long enough you know what heavy is. I remember Ed Coan saying he wouldn’t put his belt on till it got heavy. That was around 800 lbs. He squatted 975 lbs for a double in training with the straps down. In contest he squatted 1019 @ 220 lbs. so dont put a belt on till it hits about 80% and heavy is just north of there.
Thanks, since I am an old fart I am using CFFB488 but needed to do when life causes a deload. I am going to work in the Jager Bombs & Pound Town workouts in as needed.
I don’t recall where I read it but I had read some where that for a RM the bar speed should be fairly constant on each rep. If it wasn’t you were going too heavy. Likely, I also don’t recall the context hence the confusion.
Thanks for the clarification
I am working on another post for the CFFB488. Seems as if it needs some more details.
For someone who’s never used a belt before, what belt would you recommend purchasing for use?
EliteFTS does nothing for me. I am pretty sure they overcharge me when I order stuff. I did get a call after I ordered my mastodon bar, not sure how many people order those. They make some pretty good belts. Nate ordered two of them a while back and they are sturdy. As long as you get a good size and don’t gain or loss a shit ton of weight you are cool. Personally, I hate new belts and like them kind a worn an loose. Keep that in mind when ordering. Here is a link.
Always wondered this: while performing the DL 5RM, is it acceptable to drop the bar and re-set up, providing it’s right away? Or is the 5RM a strict, up/down, no letting go?
John, how about overlaying the conditioning elements of 488 on starting strength? I am making good gains on SS and trying to get in shape for CFFB (although slowly, I am 49 years old), but would like to start adding in some conditioning.
Two different programs. And I never recommend the blending or hybriding of programs.
SS is starting strength, this is usually your first exposure to lifting weights or your trip as a novice or amateur. Basic linear progression using the all powerful 5’s.
CFFB488 is based on a different principal as I am assuming more of the users are well past their novice/amateur stage. The program is based on controlled intensity, smart volume by limited heavy loading and using a lot of body weight movements to make up the difference. Plus a little body building to keep the muscles firing.
Two very different programs for two very different people.
I will tell you I dont care which program you follow as long as you follow a program and dont try to make your own secret squirrel secret sauce.
Thanks for your response John and all the info you provide here –
I am midway through my second cycle of SS – been taking the linear progressions very slowly – 2.5 lbs for most lifts.
Per the SS “standards” for my weight, I am between novice and intermediate on press and bench, but still below novice on squat and deadlift (back injury a few years ago with a long recovery period to get back to “normal”).
I will stick with SS for now but would like to get going on CFFB when I’m ready – I think the extra work in CFFB would be great for my “chosen” sport – 2 man beach volleyball. I feel like I could use some more endurance (meaning maintain speed and jumping) by the time I get to games 3 or 4 in the same day.
Joe – CFFB is near perfect for volleyball, also my sport of focus. I don’t know what kind of conditioning accompanies SS, but CFFB’s emphasis on power, speed, and especially off-the-line quickness falls right in line with the sport’s requirements.
I say, switch to the CFFB Amateur program now.
I have a question and it may be a little off topic but your repsonse “I will tell you I dont care which program you follow as long as you follow a program and dont try to make your own secret squirrel secret sauce.” has me wondering.
I have a 13 year old and a 16 year old and to be honest, i’m trying to make my own “secret squirrel secret sauce”. The reason is, they’re still trying to build a strong core / stabile plateforms. I see their form start to suffer after a few rounds on the strength portion of the workout. If I have them drop the weight to keep good form, they look at me at the end of the workout with a look of “is that all you got for us”.
I’ve been adding extra core work to each workout or additional rounds of the same exercise at lighter weights.
Questions is: Is adding the core work or extra rounds the right thing to do?
First the word “core”, as it relates to middle section of your body, makes me want to push anyone that uses it into on coming traffic. In CFFB land we use “trunk” to refer to section of your body that connects your legs to arms.
Core = apple
Trunk = tree
I rather be a oak tree than a mealy apple.
Second, adding extra trunk work to your kids training is not creating a secret squirrel hybrid. That is addressing a problem with the hope of creating a strong trunk.
A secret squirrel program is what we refer to when someone sends an email like…
John – I am thinking of taking the strength portion of CFFB but replacing the 5’s with 15’s and 10 lbs chains on either side of the bar (I only have dog chains but I want to be Westside), mixing it with CrossFit Dot Com 2 days a week, then add in CF Endurance two days a week, then every second Thursday and Sunday I am going to the SEALfit WOD and then on the third Sunday of every month I am going to simulate a tough mudder race in my backyard. And for extra work I am going to do a strongman WOD that involves carrying a fridgerator up 6 flights of stairs. All while eating no carbs, doing 23 hours in IF and only eating filet mignon and and almonds. But on Saturday, pre workout I will mix a 7 shot espresso with NOxplode.
And I train in my garage by myself, my 6 year old son spots me. do you think this is a good plan to win the CF Games in 2012?
John, you spying on our gym? You just described 90% of the “programming” nearly everyone else follows.
I have 100’s of emails that all begin the same. “i have this idea I want to try. What do you think of…”
And then it list 24 different programs and the magical secret squirrel hybrid. Usually some guy who didn’t play a competitive sport in his life, finds CF at 30 years old and decides he can create the perfect blending of programs so he can win the CF games. I spoke to Jim Wendler two nights ago and we got on the topic of people asking about hybriding his program with gymnastics, metabolic conditioning and olympic weightlifting…he believes it will give someone a rare disease causing their balls to fall off.
7 shots of espresso with NOxplode… and Extra Joss
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