Talk to Me Johnnie,

I’ve been following the CrossFit Football programming for several months and seeing steady progress. My question is about the speed of progression. For example, the typical amateur programming calls for a Press 3×5 (add 5 lbs to last workout) each Monday.  Should I realistically be able to add 5lbs to my press each week?  Or is the point to continually challenge myself and add 5lbs as soon as i can complete 3×5 with a specific weight?  At 5’11” and 180lbs with a 5rm press of about 125lbs, I’m fairly certain that i haven’t reached the limits of the amateur program.  My diet isn’t dialed in like some of the fire breathers, but I eat well and get good rest.  I’m guessing I just need to be patient and keep working. Thanks a lot for all of the programming and advice.



Sean – An issue we see with the linear progression is some movements stalling out before others. Usually, the Press moves very slowly in comparison to the squat and deadlift. If you find that you cannot move at the suggested pace then take smaller jumps. Instead of taking a 5 lbs jump every week take a 1.25 to 2.5 lbs jump. You might have to restart the progression if you fail, several times in some cases, if your other lifts are making progress.

The Press is the most difficult movement to make gains in, so you might just have to take it slow and be patient. Another issue your press might be failing is the lack of assistance work needed to make the lift successful. I know that when pressing I am strong off my chest and the bar tends to get stuck just above my forehead. I couldn’t lock the weight out and this was coming from a weakness in my triceps. Many times the limiting factor in a lift comes from a weak link in the chain. I started doing a gang of triceps assistance work, put more emphasis on getting them strong and the result was a stronger press. Now it seems if I can get if off my chest I can press it.


At the CF Football Certifications when talk turns to the bench press, most people are not very enthusiastic. This blows my mind as I come from a place where the marker of strength is a big bench. I have heard over the last year in my travels most do not bench press and tend to avoid it like the plague. Ask a non-QB/kicker football player if they think a bench press is non functional. What is more interesting is when we begin to discuss programming, I find the bench is lacking in many programs and people wonder why their press is lacking. I think the best assistance exercise for the press is the close grip bench press and vice versa. In my opinion, you will never build a strong body if you do not train compound movements in multiple planes. For the shoulders you need to train the press, a vertical push, and a bench press, a horizontal push. For your back, you need pull ups/chin ups for a vertical pull and bent rows/supine ring pull ups for a horizontal pull. You need to squat and deadlift heavy in training opposing movements. Another one, do not discard the back squat thinking the front squat is superior. The front squat has limiting factors beyond strength that play into whether or not you have a successful lift, shoulder wrist flexibility, core stability and many others. The foundation of every strong lifter involves a bar on your back.

All and all you need to be patient, lifting weights is hard work. It is not easy and takes a lot of physical/mental fortitude. This is where the Pinky and The Brain reference comes from. Everyday we take on the same task, getting stronger. Some days we have success, many days we don’t, but it does not stop.