Written by Greg Ellifritz
I’ve had several recent requests from readers who want to know what my regular workout program looks like. Those of you who know me realize that in addition to my passion for guns and training, I also have a tremendous passion for picking up really heavy things.
I started lifting weights at a very young age and that led to a successful high school athletic career in football, track, and powerlifting. In college, I was a personal fitness trainer and gym manager for several years. I kept a few training clients even after I became a cop. Once I got my training position in the department, they sent me to numerous fitness certification classes so that I could train our officers. I have certifications as a Police Fitness Specialist through FitForce and our state police academy. I also have fitness certifications through Velocity Fitness, SETCAN, Crossfit, and Kettlebell Concepts. I’ve worked in some level of the fitness game for almost 20 years.
Up until 2004, I did standard bodybuilding style workouts. I thought I was strong and fit, but then I found CrossFit. I did their workouts exclusively for more than five years and became fitter than I had ever been. I started getting tired of the constant CrossFit beatdowns and decided to change things up in 2009.
Wanting to get stronger, I did Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 powerlifting program for almost a year. I put on 40 lbs of muscle and added 150 lbs to my deadlift in that time. It really worked for getting big and strong, but I felt constantly winded and lost a certain amount of athleticism. When I started having problems doing the things I like to do recreationally (like hiking and mountain bike riding), I knew I had to give up the pure powerlifting program and find something that worked better for me.
I settled on using CrossFit Football’s programming as a base and I’ve been very happy with that choice. That program uses CrossFit principles, but it has more of a strength bias as opposed to main site CrossFit’s obvious endurance bias. It’s a workout designed for pro football players and combat athletes.
No matter what program you choose as a base, it’s up to you to modify it for your own needs. My goals are simple…I want to be as big and strong as possible while maintaining an aerobic capacity that provides basic cardiovascular health benefits and the ability to fight all out for a few minutes without becoming gassed. I also want to avoid serious injuries at all costs. I’ve been able to do that. My currents stats are:
Bodyweight- 245 lbs
Bodyfat Percentage- 12-13%
Dead Lift max- 605 lbs
Jerk Max- 300 lbs
Power Clean Max- 315 lbs
Squat Max (below parallel)- 495 lbs
Even at my heavy body weight and advancing age, I can run a 40 yard dash in right around five seconds and run 400 meters in under 70 seconds. I’ve had no joint surgeries and have no serious issues regarding function or pain. I’m continuing to increase my strength and remain completely injury free with my program. While I’m not setting world powerlifting records, I’m stronger than almost anyone you’ll see in the gym and I can sustain any level of athletic endeavor I chose to undertake. And my workouts generally take less than 30 minutes a day. Here’s what I do:
I start with the basic template from CrossFit Football. I modify it slightly to fit my personal needs. I removed all weighted squats because my legs are too big to buy normal pants. I have to buy pants with a waist measurement 4″ larger than I would normally wear so that my legs fit in. I substitute posterior chain exercises like the Glute Bridge, Romanian Deadlift, and Barbell Hip Thruster for all the weighted squatting movements to limit the growth of my thighs, yet still give my lower body a good workout.
I also really like long walks for cardiovascular training, so I add them during periods of good weather. I don’t jog. I either walk or sprint. I think jogging is fairly harmful to the joints and reduces power outputs. Our ancestors either walked long distances or sprinted away from danger. They didn’t jog anywhere. I think general performance will be better if you cut out jogging and any type of machine based “cardio” and supplement long walks and sprints instead.
Additionally, I love to work out with kettlebells. I substitute a lot of kettlebell work for traditional barbell and dumbbell work in the CrossFit Football program. These minor substitutions keep my workouts fun and relevant to my goals. I generally work out 5-6 times a week and each session averages about 30 minutes. I start every session with SMR exercises on the Rumble Roller and lacrosse ball. I end most workouts with some light stretching. Here’s what my last couple weeks’ worth of workouts have been:
70lb kettlebell swings x 10
Walking Lunges x 10
As many rounds alternating these exercises as possible in 10 minutes
Close Grip Bench Press- 4 sets of 10 (working up to 205 lbs)
Supine Ring Pulls x 50
Angled Calf Raise Machine- 3 sets of 15
Double 53lb Kettlebell Press x 5 reps
Russian Twists x 10/side
70 lb Kettlebell swing x 15 reps
Alternate these exercises for 8 total rounds as fast as possible (11:21)
Walk 1 mile
6 x 60 meter sprints
Power Snatch- 5 sets of 2 reps (working up to 195 lbs)
Barbell Good Mornings x 100 reps
Weighted Pullups- 4 sets of 5 reps with 90lbs additional weight
Glute Bridges- 4 sets of 8 reps with 70lb Dumbells
Dumbbell Floor Press- 4 sets of 10 reps with 100lb dumbells
Clapping Pushups x 9 reps
20 yard bear crawl
20lb med ball slams x 7 reps
Alternate these three exercises for 5 rounds as fast as possible (5:53)
1.5 mile walk
Deadlift from 4″ deficit- 4 sets of 3 reps with 405lbs
Glute/Ham raise- 2 sets of 10 reps
Plate Shrugs- 4 sets of 25 reps with 45lbs
Preacher Curl- 3 sets of 10 reps with 105 lbs
Tricep Pushdowns- 3 sets of 8 reps with 190 lbs
53 lb kettlebell snatch x 3/side
70 lb kettlebell swing x 5 reps
40 yard sprint
Alternate these three exercises as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes (I got 7)
Walk 1.5 miles
Glute/Ham Raise- 2 sets of 10 reps
225 lb Power clean x 3 reps
40 Yard Sprint
Alternate between these two exercises for 7 rounds as fast as possible (8:50)
Barbell Hip Thrusters- 4 sets of 5 reps with 405 lbs
Plate Shrugs 5 sets of 25 reps with 45lbs
Dumbbell Incline Press- 4 sets of 10 reps with 80lb dumbbells
Isometric Pullup Holds- 4 sets for max time
Supine Ring Pulls- 3 sets 15 reps
Glute Ham Raises- 3 sets 10 reps
Tabata Deadlift with 315 lbs- Do as many reps as possible in 20 seconds. Rest 10 seconds. Repeat for 8 total rounds. (I got 42 total reps)
70 lb Kettlebell swings x 10 reps
Squat x 10 reps
25 yard farmers carry with kettlebell in right hand
70 lb Kettlebell swings x 10 reps
Squat x 10 reps
25 yard farmers carry with kettlebell in left hand
Alternate between these exercises for 3 total rounds as fast as possible- (6:14)
Kettlebell Press- 4 sets of 5 reps with 70lb kettlebell
There it is. Two weeks of typical programming for me. If I could distill everything I’ve learned in the last 20 years into a couple of principles, they would be:
1) Strength training is the most important activity you can do. If you add strength, all other aspects of fitness will improve.
2) Train frequently, but don’t beat yourself up.
3) Short duration, high intensity workouts will yield better results than any other workout system
4) Workouts should enhance your life, not BE your life.
This program won’t be adequate if you want to be a marathon runner, but if you want to be strong, healthy, injury-free and look good naked it may work for you. It’s less than 30 minutes a day on average. What do you have to lose (besides pounds of fat) by trying something like it?
If anyone has any questions, please comment below.