Workout Tips

Expert Training Advice for Maximum Gains

Joe DeFranco revolutionized strength training for football and is now working on the fitness industry at large.

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Coach of Coaches Offers Expert Training Advice

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

The reason my business grew so much is because I was really focused on the basics. I used to work in health clubs, and I always found myself by the squat rack with clients doing squats, presses, and chinups. My gym started out in a storage closet, 500 square feet. I had barbells, a rack, an adjustable bench, adjustable box, and we focused on technique. I made sure everybody could do the fundamental movement patterns properly, like squatting, lunging, pressing, pulling and hip hinging.

THE MUST-DO EXERCISE

Everything you do has you hunched forward. Your pecs get short and tight and your upper back gets stretched out and weak from being rounded over all day. That’s why I recommend so many band pull-aparts. It’s just to activate the muscles of your upper back. All my clients have a band that they can use. Every hour or so they’ll do 15 or 20 reps.

SEE ALSO: Everything You Need to Know About the Band Pull-Apart >>>

BEATING THE NFL COMBINE

I figured out how to train for every aspect of the test individually. I would find the limiting factor for each athlete and attack it. If somebody’s slow, I find out why. It’s either a technique, strength, or flexibility issue. The reason may be his hip flexors are super tight, so we’d focus on a mobility program to lengthen them. We’ve shaved 0.24 seconds off athletes’ 40-yard-dash times, on average.

TESTING YOURSELF

At the Onnit Academy [in Austin, TX, where DeFranco’s Gym is located], we’ve been experimenting with the Omegawave, a device that measures an athlete’s readiness to train. A cheaper, more low-tech way to do it is to test your vertical jump. If you’re not within 90% of what you can usually jump, you’re probably not ready to train hard that day. Instead, do some mobility work.

SEE ALSO: Build Powerful Legs and Increase Your Vertical >>>

BENCH PRESSING

Brian Cushing [linebacker for the Houston Texans and a DeFranco client] got 30 reps at the combine 225 test. We did it by building his maximal strength. We train predominantly in the two- to five-rep range. The stronger your max is, the less of a percentage of your max 225 is, so 225 feels easier. If you can bench 435 for one, 225 is easy to rep with.

A CERT THAT WORKS

The CPPS [a certification co-created by DeFranco, cppscoaches.com] combines science and real-world coaching. The certs that I took were a lot of science. When I passed them, I felt as if I knew what I was doing, but then a client walks up to you in the gym and you don’t know what to do. We teach you how to coach, how to teach exercises. How to talk to people and how to design programs. Putting somebody through a workout and designing a program are different things.

MORE INFO: Find out more about DeFranco’s methods at defrancostraining.com

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