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CrossFit Football: Amateur Progression by Ben Oliver - CrossFit Journal

In Coaching, CrossFit Football, HD Videos

June 18, 2012

Video Article

For amateur athletes aiming to gain strength, seven-day programming is simple, says CrossFit Football’s Ben Oliver.

On Day 1, it’s squats, presses and running. On Day 2, it’s deadlifts and max pull-ups. On Day 3, rest. Day 4 is squats again, plus bench presses and running. On Day 5, do power cleans and max chin-ups. Take two days off and repeat.

Following this easy formula is key to newbies getting stronger, Oliver says. But it’s not without its negatives.

“That’s why the amateur progression is so important—once you get that gain, it’s never going to leave you,” he says. “But that dark time is going to last a while, and you just got to suffer through it.”

On average, the so-called “amateur progression” can last roughly 20 weeks. Then there’s a reset, Oliver explains. At that point, simply drop the weight to what it was three weeks earlier—or by about 20 percent.

“You’re going to keep resetting every single lift until every single lift fails,” Oliver says. “Keep riding out that amateur progression until everything fails.”

11min 58sec

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Additional reading: Upward, Onward by Bill Starr, published March 28, 2012.

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12 Comments on “CrossFit Football: Amateur Progression”


wrote …

When will the next part become available, he didn't discuss the run portion of the workouts.


wrote …

Hope so


wrote …

Guys, they're just sprints...Check out CFFB and see some of the workouts to get an idea. Look for "sprints #x#yds" or something like that.


wrote …

I like the breakdown on this strength building program. Once I get my garage gym up and running I want to give it a try. A part 2 with a little more detail would be helpfull.


wrote …

Yes, we need the run info please!


wrote …

I love this video. I work at a high school and I see the workouts for the football team and they are about 5-7 exercises deep. The relative simplicity(I say relative because it still takes a good coach to teach technique) of this type of program gets overlooked in the more is better approach. Lift heavy, run fast, and play/practice your sport. Good reference to Siff and the russian literature.


wrote …

It was great to finally see this make it to the main stream. I created this format of adding a certain amount of lbs onto the bar from your last pr (one part of our current program) back in 2000 while training my athletes for sports. I didn’t like the progressions that the whole world was following and thought there had to be a better way. The basics of the program may sound simplistic; to just add weight onto your last pr, but as you use this type of progression you will realize there is so much more to the entire program than just adding weight onto your last pr. Think of that as the peak of the building, there is so much more that makes this system work on a continual basis. No one prior to 2000 created a program that is similar to what I have created and used for the past 12 years. During that time, I have adapted it to be much more streamlined than when I first developed it. I used this on all of my athletes and it has worked better than any other program that was or is currently being used as far as progressions. This is in stark contrast what you see in the black and white of strength and conditioning which is based on very, very slow progressions (both linear-progressive overload- and undulating), which I think was created back in the 1950’s and has not been challenged since. That slow safe progression is what is currently taught to future strength and conditioning experts in college. Only until they get out of college do they research and find / create something more progressive for their athletes. Another major issue that has pervaded the fitness industry (CrossFit included) is the bodybuilding community’s perception of developing strength. They put so much marketing into their magazines over the past 10 years that most people still follow what the core belief system is: stagnation. I designed my program to accommodate any athlete and any level. Athletes from beginner to regional to games level athletes have followed my program over the past 12 years, of course during that time it has become much more adaptive which allows us to add 5lbs on all lifts pressing or squatting and our development plan, if that doesn’t happen (which it won’t at some point, as this video states). As this video title (Amateur progression) working with a more advanced athlete will require what I call a Development Plan for the times they miss a pr. This has been invaluable to us and has made it much easier as a coach to work with multiple athletes at once or via web. One of the major points that people should take away from this video is that you are expected to know you pr's, I can't tell you how many times I said to an athlete, “What's your pr for this or that?” and the answer was "I'm not sure". If you don't know your pr in all lifts then you’re not getting under heavy enough loads. If you don't get under heavy loads, you will not develop strength to the degree your competition is. Also CrossFit is based on Power which is enhanced by strength, so if you don’t develop strength you will have a limited amount of power which will slow all wod times down. You should have a good handle of pr's on all major lifts and a 5rm on all secondary and tertiary movements. One other attribute that we train a lot is speed work (with a bar). This is something that Louie Simmons started and I think is essential in developing not only a football player but any CrossFit athlete. I have noticed that by incorporating a bar movement that has a high inter muscular coordination demand you will have a much higher carry over value to your sport than just performing heavy movements all the time. If anyone is interested I would be more than happy to look at their program and offer assistance.

Josh Mezzo


wrote …

Ok, so please don't think me an imbecile for asking this, but I must know. How does one increase a load by 2.5 lbs? I have never seen a plate any smaller than 2.5 lbs so how would I split that between both sides of the bar? Does that designation just mean that I add five total pounds with 2.5 on each side? I apologize if I am just missing something, but thank you for any clarification


wrote …

Olympic lifting for the longest time has had what they call "change plates". They usually come in 1/4, 1/2, and 1 pound increments. I'm pretty sure Rogue sells them.


replied to comment from Michael Kinslow

Mike, what I've been doing is just add a 2.5 lb plate to one side. I don't even feel the difference. Then the next time there will be one on both sides, obviously, and the following time I just add the extra 2.5 lb plate to the side I didn't last time. My gym doesn't have anything less than 2.5 lb plates either.


wrote …

I am baffled by instructors comment about dead lifting every 10 days or so because of the adverse weakening of a ligament? I would like to research this any suggestions on where to find info on this.


I'm not sure "created" is the right word... you may want to talk to Rip about that or really, Milo of Croton who is the first credited athlete using a linear strength template - about 3000 years ago. Seriously, do you really think you invented the linear progression?

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