John – Just wanted to drop a line. Almost a year ago I attempted Kalsu 6-23-09…and failed miserably. Two days later I tried it again and thought with a better game plan I could finish it rx’d…again, I failed. About a week later I did it with 95, a few months later, I crushed my time with 95lbs. This past December I did it with 115 and felt accomplished, doing it in 21 rounds. After watching two of my athletes it hit hard with 115 on Friday night, I decided Saturday would be the day I once again attempted Kalsu with 135. I couldn’t sleep Friday night as my nerves were getting the better of me. I went in with the game plan of hitting my burpees controlled and relaxed and rotating round of 4, 3, and 3 Thrusters with the goal of doing it in 30 rounds. I was feeling great and hit 4 for the first 11 rounds, after that keeping all rounds to 3 and 4. The last 8 or so minutes was a complete gut check, but I saw the light, the last 4 rounds of 4 Thrusters were brutal. After 27 Rounds I had completed Kalsu. At 147lbs. this is a huge accomplishment for me and one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life. Today my entire body hurts, but it is well worth it. Thanks, Jason Ackerman
Jason – Thanks for the email and update on your battle with Kalsu. That is pretty amazing that you were able to do 100 barbell thrusters at damn near body weight. I am pleased and disturbed we could offer you challenge that you took so seriously that you were nervous the night before the workout.
For those of you that are not familiar with the CrossFit Football workout, Kalsu, it consists of good old fashioned thrusters and burpees, what could be better? The goal is to start each minute with 5 burpees, once you finish the burpees you have the rest of the minute to complete as many 135 lbs barbell thrusters as possible. Once the second minute starts you are on the hook for another 5 burpees. Remember, no starting the thrusters until the burpees are completed and it continues. The workout ends once you have completed 100 total thrusters. It lasts long as it has to…you can tell that things start to get real serious after a few minutes.
Some history about the man the workout is named for, Bob Kalsu. Bob was an NFL football player who died while serving in Vietnam. He was an All-American Offensive Tackle out of the University of Oklahoma. He was drafted in the 8th round in 1968, started for the Bills for one season and then in 1969 to fulfill his ROTC duties he shipped out for Vietnam. He was killed in action on July 21, 1970 in the A Shau Valley.
The mastermind behind the workout was one of the original guinea pigs for the football program, Andy Stumpf. I met Andy through his work with the CrossFit Level 1 Certification. Andy and I became fast friends and we ended up being training partners on many occasions. I remember one such workout where Andy, myself, Jimi, Dave and Jolie were crushed by Allison NYC. To this day we won’t let it be forgotten. If you have been involved in the CrossFit scene or been to a Level 1 certification in the last few years there is a good chance you had the pleasure of meeting Andy.
I was at Andy’s base housing for a bbq and guiness when we created the Tillman workout, so when the time came for another hero workout, I called him up and said “Dude, I need a hero workout fast!”, and the Kalsu was born. It was amazing that workout has had the effect that it has, as I had no intention of programming it. When he explained the workout and how it would go down I was completely and utterly against it. That type of awful workout would be counter-productive to making strength gains. Doing 100 hundred thrusters and at least that many burpees would not aid in progress but bring it to a grinding halt. Nevertheless, as our resident hero, Andy demanded it get programmed and I had to say “fuck it”. It makes me smile when I get emails like Jason’s or questions at CF Football certifications about “who programmed that workout? Worst workout ever created!”. The answer is always the same, “I had nothing to do with it” & “Andy Stumpf is the guy you want”.
P.S. The one year anniversary of the Kalsu is coming up on June 23. There is a strong chance something good might be programmed that day.
About the Author: John
John Welbourn is a former 9-year NFL starter and CEO of Power Athlete. And he also created the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John started over 100 games with 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete and FUSE MOVE. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete. EAT THE WEAK.