Sitting down to write this is kinda surreal as Talk To Me Johnnie, the blog, was just a way for me to answer the hundreds of questions and emails I received after launching the CrossFit Football site in 2009. For those of you new to this, CrossFit Football launched on March 31, 2009 and nothing like it had been seen in the training space as of yet. Athletes were either following a constantly varied training program or some from of periodized program and template, both were used with success, but when CFFB launched with periodized strength templates that followed progression a specific blended with constantly varied metabolic conditioning, sprinting and jumping; functional fitness world was turned on its side.
As you can imagine, people were curious, excited, angry and supportive and they let me know it via email. At first I sat down to answer these emails one by one, I shortly realized there had be a better solution.
About that time my favorite movie, First Blood, came on TBS and as Colonel Troutman speaks the iconic line, “Coven leader to Raven, talk to me Johnny”, I got an idea. The concept of a searchable database of nutrition, training and performance that athletes could use during their training journey. Talk To Me Johnnie was born shortly there after with the help of my good friend, Chops.
Fast forward five years and hundreds of blog posts relating from everything from training, getting stronger, getting faster and what to eat to fashion advice on jean shorts. My blog covers it all as I did not cherry pick questions and I answered them as they came. My only stipulation was I had to be in a certain mood to write and had a few beers. I find that my funniest and most insightful work comes towards the end of the night when something interesting hits my inbox, I then would grab a beer and sit down to “tend the flock”. I am sure there has been as much butt hurt as good humor, as was found in the post “Always Hungray”.
In this specific post the questioner had either been in a hurry and decided not to spell check or just didn’t respect himself enough to put his best foot forward. When you send a letter or email, it is always best to take a second and proof read what you wrote. This works two fold; first you need to make sure the question you are asking is being conveyed in your submission and second you need to make sure it is legible. If the person on the other end of the email can’t understand what you are asking or has to proof read it before answering, things tend to go down hill quickly.
Fortunately for our friend, I did my masters work in Education and student taught at Berkeley, so I am familiar with trying to decipher cryptic literary works. If you have some time, check out the post out as it has a solid kick to the balls tempered with the secret to life my dad taught me.
“Finally, years ago my dad gave me the secret to success in life: Consistency
He told me to get up early each day and work. And to take everything I did with great pride; success breeds success.”
Since I did attend Berkeley for my undergrad and masters work, I am a lover of knowledge and reading. The one class I took at Berkeley that made me feel like I was out of my league, was a poetry class I took on the recommendation of my favorite professor, Will West. Professor West had taught a few of my undergrad Rhetoric classes and we had a great rapport; when he recommended a poetry class he was teaching, I signed up.
I have never had to work as hard with anything in my life as I did with that poetry class. Before the class started my favorite poet was Shell Silverstein (and still is), telling you how far I had to come.
One poem that stuck with me is this one by Jack London.
“As for the primitive, I hark back to it because we are still very primitive. How many thousands of years of culture, think you, have rubbed and polished at our raw edges? One probably; at the best, no more than two. And that takes us back to screaming savagery, when, gross of body and deed, we drank blood from the skulls of our enemies, and hailed as highest paradise the orgies and carnage of Valhalla.”
In the 21st century, if you hear the term poetry you think of of coffee shops and emo kids in cardigans reciting haikus about bees and their favorite sweaters. But if you go back a few centuries, poets were warriors and savages as the dominant form of story telling to recount battles, victory and defeat was poetry. This poem by Jack London reminds me of this.
The main reason I started TTMJ was to answer questions on training, getting strong and getting jacked. There are few things in this world I enjoy more than talking training and chasing lean muscle.
I received a question from a contributor that was fearing that his legs were going to grow too large by squatting in multiple workouts a week. I was able to “reassure” him that even if this happened, it would be a good thing as it would be result of getting stronger.
“The single most important contributing factor to the successful heavy one-rep attempt is the ability of the muscles involved to produce force. The heavier the weight, the more force required to move it, as should be obvious. The one-rep set doesn’t take very long to do, so muscular endurance is not a factor, and neither is cardiovascular capacity, for the same reason. Even a bone-on-bone limit attempt doesn’t take more than a few seconds. The only thing the muscles must do is produce sufficient force to overcome the weight on the bar as it moves through the range of motion of the lift one time. So, in response to 1RM training, the body adapts by getting better at producing high amounts of force, one rep at a time. It does this by adjusting the components of the system that produce the force: the nervous system, the neuromuscular system, and the muscles themselves, specifically the components of the muscle that actually produce the contraction.”
Or one of my favorite blog posts that came after receiving a folded flag and certificate of appreciation from FKS crew that had started using the CFFB program overseas. The flag had been flown in the face of terror at FOB in Afghanistan and was sent to me as a thank you. What struck me deep was the line from the late John F. Kennedy that stated,
”Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Talk To Me Johnnie has been as beneficial to me as it has been to the readers. It is a sounding board for my thoughts and demands that I think and research topics to answer intelligently (the Internet is already full of bullshit, and I don’t want to add to it). However, what many don’t realize is Power Athlete grew out of Talk To Me Johnnie.
TTMJ started as a resource for CFFB and after answering many questions about training I realize there need to be a more detailed offering that provided specific work in strength, speed, power and body composition. That program is Field Strong; FS is a detailed strength and conditioning program designed for athletes looking to increase strength, speed and power. After the great success of Field Strong, I released Jacked Street, a program that based purely on my passion of gaining muscle and just…getting jacked. Athleticism wasn’t a concern; only concern was can I blow out my pants and have to buy new shirts because of the training. Realizing that these programs were long and tedious, I needed a shorter, more flexible program for my corporate warriors that were logging more miles behind a desk and in the seat of a car then they were in the weight room. There had to be a program that would allow these suit and tie samurais to meet their goals; Grindstone is this program.
I owe a lot to Talk To Me Johnnie and assembling it into an eBook with unreleased material and commentary has been rewarding and enjoyable. I have learned a lot form writing this work and my thoughts have evolved since writing much of this; I have tried to make this corrections.
If you have some time and want to pick up the book, it is roughly a 1000 pages depending on how you view it.