January Athlete of the Month - Johnny Kruger

Published January 2, 2017

My name is Johnny Kruger and I'm currently a 37-year-old college student. I attend Mira Costa college and plan on transferring to SDSU in the fall of 2017. I started out as a mechanical engineering major but decided it wasn't for me. I found myself constantly googling videos and articles about powerlifting and getting strong and read numerous books on the subject, so I changed my major to kinesiology with an emphasis on strength and conditioning specialist.

I served 10 years in the Marine Corps infantry and did a tour in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq back in 2004 where I found myself fighting my way out of Fallujah and earning two purple hearts and a bronze star with a "V". After being wounded the second time, I came back to the states and later was transferred to another unit. I reenlisted at the end of 2005 and 6 months later was diagnosed with stage 4 testicular cancer. I underwent a few surgeries and a few rounds of chemo, which caused me to gain a significant amount of weight.

When I returned to full duty after my cancer treatments, I started to have thoughts about what I believed fitness was. I had no clue! I was doing what all the other gym bros do in corporate gyms. I couldn't understand why bodybuilders had aesthetics but lacked strength and why were powerlifters so strong but so fat? I started to think about football players such as running backs and some receivers who I perceived as being well-rounded athletes. SO, I started to incorporate squats, deadlifts, and power cleans into my program. I went online and bought my first kettlebell and a few books on weight training as well as some books on bodyweight exercises. I included all this with running and pull ups. Was I on to something?

One day I saw a crowd of people standing around my boss's computer and I asked them what they were looking at. They replied very smugly, "Crossfit." I walked over to the computer and saw a video of a tiny (but fit) girl climbing a rope. A saw a few more videos and assured myself that it was just a fad. Then my boss, who was a Gunny, told us that we were going to do today's "WOD" in the gym at lunchtime. I didn't know what the hell a WOD was but I thought whatever, let's do it. The workout we ended up doing was "Fight gone bad" and it kicked my ass! I was 280 lbs and every WOD we did was brutal!

The first things I noticed about Crossfit were my strength gains. Within 3 – 4 months, my back squat went up to 455lbs, front squat 355, and my deadlift went up to over 500lbs. I stuck with it for a while and then in 2008, me and a friend of mine discovered Crossfit Football. We were hooked. A strength WOD and a met-con? We loved it and it would be my go-to program for a long time. I also began researching Westside Barbell's training methods and bought some of their books and DVDs as well as some of their bands and chains.

After I got out of the Marines I needed a place to continue training. So I very reluctantly signed up at 24 Hour Fitness. I knew what to expect from a place like that, but I didn't know how stupid it would actually be. I spent about 6 years there, then at the end of June this year I checked out the OCF website and saw that they did Westside training along with conditioning. I thought, how could I lose? So, officially signed up on the first day of July.

The first thing I noticed about OCF was how hard the WODs were and how fat and out of shape I had become! But I continued to stick to it and have noticed some changes since being here. My pull ups have gotten better and I have regained some strength that I lost from taking time off from the other gym and from nagging injuries. My overall conditioning has also been improving, so doing a WOD is no longer a death sentence (most of the time).

Currently, my 1RM are as follows: Back squat 410, front squat 355, OHP 185, bench press 285, clean and jerk 255, snatch 125, deadlift 505. Within the next year my goals are to be able to back squat 500, front squat 405, OHP 225, bench press 335, clean and jerk over 300, snatch 225, and deadlift 605 all at a lower body weight. My goal is to do all this at around 225 lbs of body weight. My lifelong goal would be to stay at around 225 lbs of body weight, but have the strength of someone that is 260 – 270 and have the conditioning of someone that is 170 – 180. I believe this is possible. Look at weightlifters that weigh in the 160s – 170s that can back squat over 600 lbs for reps and clean and jerk over 400 lbs. The same thing can be said of powerlifters who are also at a lighter body weight but can bench over 500 and deadlift over 800 lbs. I would like to someday be able to back squat around 675, front squat over 500, OHP 275, bench 405, clean and jerk 405, and snatch 315 all at a body weight of about 220 – 225. Now it's time to get to work and dial in my nutrition and supplementation along with cutting out my ABCs. For the next few months, I plan on losing about 40 lbs.

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