I’ve been following CFFB for a nearly a month now and like the variety, the rest day mid week and mixed up work outs. I have increased in strength and put on a small amount of weight, & according to my good lady wife I also look better naked too!
I have read some of the previous questions and answers on the web page and before I ask my question think it may assist you if i give you my background: I’m male, 44 years of age, 6ft tall, ecto-morph, weighing 179 Lbs / 81kg. I joined the army at 16 (1984) I have trained with weights since then trying to increase my weight and strength. I think its fair to say that knowledge of weight training here in the UK is geared more to bodybuilding and therefore gains are made illegally with odd exceptions! Rugby as a sport has been Pro for about ten years and some of this knowledge is filtering through magazines etc…but nowhere near like that of CFFB.
I have a history of back problems, being diagnosed at the age of 22 with a ‘mechanical’ back problem. Largely I think this is a bit of a cop out by the then military physical therapists as private treatment has pretty much sorted this out. I have also self-managed this by exercise, and until now have overdone certain exercises (your ‘Deadlifts & Viagra’). I tore a rotor cuff 10 years ago and my general shoulder flexibility is poor. I also use Mobility WOD and use daily stretches. I work on your equivalent of a SWAT team and our hours of work can be very long – so sleep is affected on a regular basis. This said i have stuck to your training plan and eat healthy, as I am gluten and lactose intolerance! I use supplements such as whey protein and meal replacements when working.
Finally, my question is, should i expect my body to feel like I’ve been in a car accident everyday? My back becomes stiff and very sore, which I can get rid of after a couple of days of Mobility WOD pain ball rolling. I spend as long stretching, as I do on the SWOD & DWOD. I have been following the Pro SWOD as it appears to offer a more varied plan; I appreciate that after 3 weeks I have no idea what is coming next on a daily basis on the other two? Should I switch, stay on the PRO and expect the car accident to go away or ease off completely and look for another fitness style?
Hope all this makes sense, and thanks for your time.
First, Thank you for the incredible programming (CrossFit Football). I have been following your programming for about 14 months now and I can say with certainty it the most effective, well thought-out programming I have experienced. A quick question about a deload. I am 35 years old and I do not recover like I used to. You will have to trust me when I tell you that I eat the way I should and I get my sleep. Those bases are covered. I was a college athlete (D1 football) and I know how to take care of myself and I take it very seriously. As far as your programming goes, do you expect people to phase in a deload period based on how they are feeling (i.e. take a week or two off) or are you explicitly programming a deload period through volume/intensity manipulation? I have noticed volume come down during “CrossFit Football Total” weeks and I do feel slightly more refreshed the week after but there are times when my body (more normally my CNS) is screaming for a break. During those periods I do what most sensible people do, I reduce intensity (i.e. instead of a true 3rm may 85-90% of it). I understand that the majority of the people who follow you programming are less than 25 years of age where this is basically a non-issue (oh what I wouldn’t give to be 25 again) but, unfortunately, it is becoming more and more of an issue for me. I have been making incredible progress and I am approaching the athleticism of my late 20’s so I am a little reluctant to make changes to the programming without first getting some input from the you.
These two questions are so similar it just made sense to answer them together.
First…if you are over the age of 35 and have lived a life that consisted of being a typical Neanderthal, college, drinking, fighting, loud music, driving too fast, lifting weights, playing contact sports, military, law enforcement, fireman, tattoos and have not lived your last 35 years sitting in your mom’s basement pretending you were a veal…then this is for you.
If you are 18 years old, training in a campus gym and are pissed because there are rest days on CFFB because you could do three of these workouts a day and still sprint home to have sex three times before dinner, then drink two cases of beer before 2 am and still get up at 7 am for an 8 am class…this is not for you.
If you are old and beaten up you will need extra rest days. I suggest to either cut the Friday or Saturday metcon or both. When it says RM, that means rep max. That is NOT the heaviest weight you have ever lifted, that would be a PR or personal best. An RM, or rep max, is the heaviest weight you can lift on THAT day. If that lift just so happens to be 80% of your lifetime personal best, then that is your rep max on that day. The program has built in deloads. It is designed so on the days you feel 20 years old and bullet proof you kick the doors in. And on other days when you need a tube of flexall, 2 hits of espresso and 3 Alieve to just think about getting going, you can still have a solid training day.
Most of the CNS issues come from efforts over 90% on either the 1-3 reps over from racing the clock. AMRAPs and workouts that are for time, have a way of frying people. So know when you can go 100% in your lifts and metcon and know when you should go 80% in your metcon.
Kenny Rogers sang, “You got to know when hold em’, know when to fold em’, know when to walk away and know when to run…”
The problem facing most of us is, even though our bodies are broken, injured and show the scars of a life well lived, mentally we are still 18 years old. And our 18 year old brains will get our 35 year old bodies in heaps of trouble.
Take Brett Favre for example, in his 40’s he is sending dick pictures to a hot 22 year old NFL intern. The girl was hired by the Jets because she is smoking (check pic above) and would wear low cut tops at FSU games. Favre, still mentally 18 years old, sees her and thinks, “I could totally pull her…picture messaging”
My dad is 73 years old this year. Over a shot of tequila a few months ago, he told, mentally, he still thinks he is 21 years old. And when he looks in the mirror and sees this old man with white hair he thinks, “Who is that old man?”. My dad has practiced law for almost 50 years, still goes to court 5 days a week and drives the Porsche Turbo I bought him a few years ago with a playoff check. He told me the secret to life is never stop believing you are 21 years old…even when you look in the mirror and see the white hair or heading to the gym feeling broken and beaten, never let it creep into your head. The day you admit you are old, you will be old.
Ted, keep doing what you are doing. Keep eating right, drinking water, doing Mobility WOD and the Pro level. Know what days you can push it and when you need to take day off. The car accident feeling is letting you know you are still alive.
Jacob, be smart. When i say be smart, I mean listen to your body and make the right choices when it comes to picking the weights and the programming. Take a day if you need to and come back roaring.
Remember what the Kurgan told Conner MacLeod in the Highlander, “It is better to burn out, than to fade away.”
The irony of this post is pretty big when you consider our conversation yesterday.
Perfect timing. I had a feeling I wasn’t the only person out there with that question. Thanks for the info, John. At 33, going on 22, sometimes shit just hurts and my caveman brain can’t admit that: “You’re getting old, dude!”
I just about pissed my pants laughing when I read the comment ” should i expect my body to feel like I’ve been in a car accident everyday? ”
Waking up like this lets me know I am alive and living not just existing.
Foam Rolling & hot/colds help.
I’ve said many times that at 34 I can still do everything I could do when I was 22, I just take 2-4 times as long to recover. Kinda like that Toby Keith song.
Also, having 5 kids keeps me young, I think. Although sometimes I feel like it prematurely ages me. We’ll see how I feel about that when they are teenagers.
Guess that’s bad news when I’m 24 and feel like a bus ran over some days. Something important here I think, from my own brief experience as a human being, is that all stress affects your body in a similar manner. Whether it be from working out, your job, (in my case my job is working out) or a shitty period of life you’re going through. I find that when the times suck I need more rest days as my CNS gets wrecked.
Take ’em when you need them, you grow on your rest days anyway.
My dad gave me the same thing. He thought he was 18, really was 70 , with a pack a day habit for 60 years. As Indiana Jones said “It’s not the years, but the mileage.”
I’m in your neck of the woods re: age. You mentioned your shoulder flexibility is poor…I suspect that other parts (hamstrings, hips, calves) are also inflexible which is what your back is telling you. I found out a couple years ago that my hamstrings were tight and I didn’t realize until my back was screaming.
I worked on my hamstrings and within 2 weeks was good. I found recently after some injury downtime + sitting on my ass for a living the tightness is starting to come back. Project hammy is beginning and within 2 days I am seeing results.
Search K-Stars sight for specifics you can do to shut your back up. Lower back will often take the brunt of other deficiencies/inflexibilities in the body.
You also have to remember Marlboro for Harley-Davidson & the Marlboro Man,
“Older the bull, stiffer the horn.”
A buddy just sent me this link and I’m so damn excited to learn that I’m not the only guy that is going through this.
I guess I’ll just keep up the hard work and remind myself that it’s okay to not go to my 1RM every time I lift.
Great post John! I’m 45 years old. I’ve been doing the CrossFit thing for 5 years now. A lot longer than many guys half my age. The ticket to longevity in this training is SMART programming (CFFB) and the fact that I rarely ever give more than an 80% effort in a metcon workout during training. Save the hard work for weight training and competition.
Also, copious amounts of Sierra Nevada and having a 24yo girlfriend who is in savage shape tends to keep me younger too….lol.
I always knew that is the way to stay youthful, drinking the blood of the young. Good on you.
I’m only 24 years old but I’m currently on month 7 of a 12 month deployment. With 12 hour days I’ve been feeling extremely burnt out lately and appreciate the insight. Today I was drained and have been thinking maybe I had a CNS problem or something. However, I got myself into the gym yesterday and tonight and did exactly what you said; I did what I could, not what I wanted.
Thanks for the explanation on RM. I always tried to set PRs on those. Makes a lot of sense now and helps me out on days like today when I feel like laying in bed all day.
You know you wrote something great when you have internet/fitness royalty commenting and agreeing with your post. Nicely done, thanks. Keep up the outstanding work!
MobilityWOD is saving my life. One searing session at a time.
Good words. I’ve reached an age (44) when I can smile at the young ones and say: “Nope, I’m sitting on my ass today, ’cause I feel like it.” And then kick their ass all over the place the next day. Then again… I need to sit on my ass certain days.
So I’m not the only one on this sit who is over 35 (37 😉 ? Let’s just keep going, there is no other choice for a man anyway. I don’t want to stop even when it hurts more and more and it’s more demanding every day.
Age it’s just a number isn’t it ?
thankyou very much for the reply, i no longer feel alone!
I read an article by Mark Rippetoe in a CF journal (training for the aged) from June 2007 , handed to me by a mate today and he echos your words. Spooky timing.
I guess as cavemen we would be out killing and sha55ing and dead by our mid 20’s, thats what humans do, so CFFB is merely evelutional and i’d rather ‘burn out than fade away’ as u say
John, thanks again for the reply and thanks for CFFB
If you’re ever in the England we have a spare double bed as my son is travelling in Oz – i’l start stocking the fridge!!!
Thanks for the offer. We will be in Northern Ireland in a few months. Come by.
@Freddie – You are a great guy dating a blind woman.
@Sven – you and I are at the same age and the same mindset. It’s also nice to say ‘I don’t do those (whatever it is) because I don’t have to’.
I have been skipping hte Sat DWOD for quite awhile now (I don’t even look at what the wod is or I’ll want to do it – haha). It’s play time wih the family or whatever..
Plus – when I have to miss a day (like yesterday) – I don’t sweat it.
Needed to hear this. I almost never do the saturday wod more than twice a month and it pissed me off that when I would do it, I would be shite on Mondays lift. I’m started just moving and playing with some fun gwod stuff on Saturday and getting ready for Monday. Feels much better. Sometimes I scale friday and slam it Saturday. My 18 year old brain gets its ego in a twist but the 31year old coach in me smiles and reaches for the lax ball. Watching my younger athletes smoke it 5 days a week does still twinge me a bit, but that just tells me I’m still a competitive, Testo filled, meat breathing man.
I just turned 30, have 3 little kids and run a busy chiropractic office. After I started CFFB last year, I realized I needed to spend more time on the foam roller and stretchy bands and pain ball. I also finally realized it is ok to take the day off if it just doesn’t feel right. I finally learned something in my 16 years of training!
You must of been reading my mind..in the words of Robb Wolf “HOLY CAT’S”
My body thanks you!
Steve, the blind need lovin too….. =)
if you’re in NI’ i’d start saving for a new set of Kidneys now – those boys can put away the ‘Black Stuff’ !
Difference between Farve and Freddy? Freddy pulled the 24-year-old..haha
Wow. I can’t believe I missed that one. Freddy is a man amongst boys.
I started CrossFit less than a year ago at age 42 and suffered the same car wreck feeling all the time. Often I felt more like 82 when getting in and out of my car. Then Scott Hagnas recommended taking high doses of BCAAs, especially during strength WODs, and that has helped a great deal (I also read about this from Poliquin). I take 25 grams of BCAAs plus 2.5g of L-Lysine during a workout (5g+.5g at a time). Works well for me.
Forgot to ask – what are ‘metcons’ please
[…] sent this to me, talk to me johnnie It is better to burn out than to fade away From Chet Nunan, love the article by the way […]
love the response John… and being that I go to FSU and knew Jen, I’m loving the pictures.
Keep up the good work
John – Can’t thank you enough for all you do on this site. I am literally the same profile as Jacob – I’m an ex-D1 hockey player, 36 yrs old. I like to train hard and have made substantial gains on your programming, but I definitely take longer to recover than in my younger days. Priceless post. Thx.
Thanks! Timely too. I just PR’ed on squat the other day, took the next day for rest, and took another rest day today. Felt guilty about that second rest day all day until now. I’m 36, thinking i’m 18… dude, this was spot on. Still feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck and the last thing I want to lose the ability to do is get down on the ground and chase my 7 month old around. Thanks!
[…] Article courtesy of Talk to Me Johnnie John, […]
I’ve been in the infantry for 12 years now, and I was airborne for six. I’ve been through three deployments, all roughly a year long. On my last deployment, a year ago, things were so slow that I thought I would do follow the CrossFit football programming as religiously as possible.
NOT. Exercise is still stress, and the stress of patrolling and the high intensity exercise all combined to wear me out in short order, to where every day was feeling like I’d been blowed up.
Thank the gods for MobilityWOD. Following that programming has really helped me improve some of my issues and what I thought were permanent injuries. Now I tell people that I don’t believe in crippling injuries. MWOD and CrossFit and my own commitment has helped me feel like a brand new soldier in a 30 year old’s body.
[…] It is better to burn out than to fade away – TTMJ […]
John, why is Ali Landry (bottom right corner) in your Jen Sterger collage? I don’t mind, I’m just saying. I like variety.
Great article Jonny,
No doubt you speak the truth, after 23 years of being a fireman, and generally abusing my body(in a good way), most mornings I feel like the bug, not the windsheild. But I’m stronger and more fit than ever at 45 years old. The little aches and pains are just the price you pay for living the dream.
John, Thank you for the reply. Very helpful. I think about “optimal” intensity and volume more than I should. The best you can do on “THAT” day. self-regulation (as opposed to a forced parameterization) – I see the light. Thank you.
[…] stuff for those in the 30+ age bracket. Its is better to burn out then fade away. Ps pardon the […]
[…] Words of wisdom from John Welbourn for us “older” athletes. […]
[…] careful with your body (but then again I didn’t play pro football) but I love his response. Click here to read the specific questions John is […]
Outstanding post and comments!
Jjust in case you ever find yourself on Jeopardy: It’s Conner Macleod, not Colin McCloud.
Yes, I have no life!
Roger that. Correction made. Last time I do names from memory.
Great post! I’m 42, have been a regular crossfitter since 2007, then started CFFB as soon as John started posting it. Longevity is more correlated with power specifically, than any other physical attributes including any aerobic/anaerobic/metcon capacity so I figured I’d start early! I too fell like a 20 year old and love the sprints – a key ability to maintain as you age. I follow the WODs religiously although often up to a week late. I realised a while back that dropping Saturday and so having two full days off made a BIG difference to recovery (and size – easier to keep weight up) – so I never do Saturday’s WOD. If I still feel crap, or have a busy work week, I double up and do one day covering the strength portion for both Thursday and Friday and do no metcon at all ie. it becomes a 3 day week. This approach allows me to continue to do the strength WODs but take a bit of extra rest now and then! John, keep up the great work. The site is awesome.
[…] It is better to burn out than to Fade away! […]
very well put, im 39 years old and have been hitting this badass program since begining. I did as John recomended and cut out the Saturday wod’s and feel great. And made alot of gains.
[…] It Is Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away Why Americans Suck at Olympic Lifting Strong Is Beautiful Health Benefits of Coconut Oil Chasing Women… and Running Your Best Marathon May 7th, 2011 | Category: Uncategorized […]
This is the best one of these I have read, John. Just love it.
[…] It is better to burn out than to fade away – TTMJ […]
Well…a few months late on seeing this post. But, just in case any1 is perusing the site as I do…I am 55 going on 56 so yall are a bunch of freakin whippersnappers. I do the crossfit/crossfitfootball/or crossfit endurance workouts with mods/subs as necessary due to poor shoulder mobility, physics (i don’t care what any1 DOESN’T say, body shape, extremity length etc all effect ability to lift and strength potential). Every two to 3 mos, there is a 4 or 5 day period where the bod and mind just so “NO, not just no but HELLNO”. and I have learned to listen. I am not as fast as I was, nor do i have the old levels of endurance. I suspect the latter is decreased due to being 30 1bs of muscle heavier than when I married 34 years ago and not training for endurance. Currently am 5′ 10″ and 160 1bs. When I met my wife I weighed 128 and ran 100 hilly miles a week, and had just come out of growin up in the woods of Vermont where living off the grid involved a lot of heavy labor like wielding a chainsaw to take down trees, saw em into logs and split em into woodstove size pieces, etc etc. I have been crossfitting for approx 9 yrs, back when that site had only 3 affiliates, if that many. Just got into crossfit football and crossfit endurance in the past couple years and really enjoy all. Prior to crossfit was into sprint adventure racing which entailed years of 4 to 6 hr training days that included road bike, swimming, running and weight training. I like crossfit style stuff better; is more job appropriate and takes a lot less time. We all get old and die, is just a question of, say, bein’ able to do 2 pood KB swings and deadlifts when they bury you vs. just lyin’ there quietly when they throw the dirt on top of you. Lastly, I really enjoy this site and thanks to Johnny am doing curl work again. Never quit.
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