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From Punk Skater to All-State(er)

Sunday, 27 June 2010 18:03

The Pat Cole Story


Joe DeFranco


Four years ago, a 150-pound, self-proclaimed “skate punk”, walked into our facility looking to get bigger and stronger so he could play high school football. But, truth be told, the first couple months of training weren’t exactly “focused” for Pat Cole. Maybe it was the immaturity of being an 8th grader (and one of the youngest athletes in our gym); or maybe things just hadn’t “clicked” yet for the young man.

Enter Coach John Impallomeni.

A couple months into Pat’s training, I set him up with a different trainer - John Impallomeni. John really focused on teaching Pat proper form in our “foundational” exercises - box squat, bench press, deadlift, chin-ups and box jumps - rather than just letting him “go through the motions”. According to Pat, as he started learning how to lift properly - and seeing progress - he began to “want to come to the gym more and more.”

After about a year of working with John and taking his training seriously, Pat’s physique and strength really started to transform. But it was at this time that Pat received some devastating news from his doctor during a football physical; Pat’s doctor informed him that he had a leaking aortic valve and playing football would not be a “healthy choice” for his heart.

Turning a negative into a positive

Instead of “hanging up his cleats” and giving up, Pat decided to take up track & field - more specifically, the shot put. His best throw during his freshman year was 43 feet; this was considered a “pretty good” start for Pat. But, “pretty good” wasn’t good enough for Pat Cole. He wanted to be the best. So he decided to totally engross himself in the sport and train specifically for the shot put. In less than one year, he added over 10 feet to his best throw! (He threw 53’ 02” as a sophomore.) This was also the year his best box squat went from 275 lbs. to 405 lbs.! Check out the videos below…

Pat Cole squats 275 X 2 as a freshman!

Pat Cole squats an easy 405 on his 16th Birthday!

There is a good lesson to be learned here for all coaches and trainers; I feel one of the keys to Pat’s success in the gym during this critical year of training was John’s focus on proper form, as opposed to implementing fancy programs. Way too many coaches look for “quick fixes” and fancy programs during the early years of an athlete’s training. Focusing on exercise form - as well as getting stronger in the “foundational” lifts - will build the best foundation for young athletes. Pat is living proof of this.


Once Pat developed a base level of strength, John started adding more jumps and throws, as well as specialty barbells for squatting (safety bar & cambered bar are staples) and some strongman-type exercises into Pat’s program. Speaking of Pat’s program, here’s an inside look at Pat’s Lower Body Strength Workout from last week:

1. Weighted Box Jumps, holding DB’s: 5×3 (Worked up to 35” box, holding 35lb. DB’s)

2. Cambered Bar, Low Box Squats (12” box): Worked up to 430 x 1!

3. Prowler Sprints: 6 X 15 yards

4. Barbell Russian Twists: 4 X 10 each side

*Pat’s program changes from week to week, depending on track meets, technical training, traveling, etc. He usually performs Upper/Lower training splits, although Full Body workouts are also used when he can’t get to the gym two or more times in a week.


This type of training has been a recipe for success for Pat. He added another four feet to his PR from the previous year with a 57’ 03” throw this year as a high school junior! Going into his senior year, Pat’s resume includes the following:

1st Team All-County – (Indoor & Outdoor Shot put)

4-Time Group 1 State Champ (2 indoor, 2 outdoor)

6th Place Finish at prestigious Penn Relays

Pat Cole – Penn Relays

Power of the Internet

Pat is currently being recruited by major Division I Universities throughout the country; he has his “on-field” performance and work ethic to thank for that. But, I wanted to add a note to this article for all the coaches, trainers and gym owners who are reading this; one of the things that Pat’s dad informed us has been a huge help in the recruiting process are the YouTube videos we’ve posted of Pat. In fact, a major BIG 12 University contacted Pat after seeing his 405 squat video and they are making a house visit this month! The Cole family couldn’t be more excited.

YouTube videos allow college coaches and recruiters to see how athletes train when “no one is watching.” This just may be the “x-factor” for a coach/recruiter that has two athletes graded equally on the field, yet he/she only has one scholarship to offer and needs something to separate the athletes. An athlete’s off-field work ethic or physical strength just may be the “x-factor” that separates one athlete from another. So even though posting videos may mean “more work” for you, it just may help one of your athlete’s get a scholarship or get recognized by a college that otherwise would have never known about him/her. And let’s be honest, having a “Pat Cole” representing you and your facility for the world to see, won’t exactly hurt business.

-Joe D.


**For those interested, Pat will be competing in the High School Division of this year's World's Strongest Athlete Competition! Although Pat was the youngest of all the competitors in the HS Division last year, he still placed in the Top 5. This year, he's looking to take home the title! This is only one (of many) interesting storylines that will be played out at this years event! Don't miss it! Even if you're not competing, you can still come out and support the competitors and the charity! For more information, goto!








"Road to the World's Strongest Athlete" video blogs!

Friday, 25 June 2010 00:42


Wanna go "behind the scenes" and witness what's involved in creating and organizing one of the most well-respected and unique competitions in the world?! Then goto our newest Youtube channel, StrongestAthleteTV, and click "subscribe" at the top of the page!

Here's a look at the first three episodes from this new channel! Sit back, relax and ENJOY!

Intro to Video Blog series...

Episode 1: 'Behind the Scenes' training footage & Joe D's B-Day cake

Episode 2: Charity Dinner prep meeting & EA-ALL-Day saves the day!

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING WSA REGISTRATION: For those of you that missed the registration deadline, we will be taking late entries up until this Sunday, June 27th at 11:59PM. At exactly MIDNIGHT on Sunday, registration will close for good! IF YOU DO NOT REGISTER BY MIDNIGHT, YOU CANNOT COMPETE IN THIS YEARS EVENT! PERIOD. To register, CLICK HERE!



*All proceeds from the World's Strongest Athlete Contest will go to:


Even if you're not competing, come out and support a great cause on July 17th! For more info, goto!

If you are attending, drop us a comment below and "introduce" yourself to our readers!

-Joe D.



"Behind the Scenes" - Summer Football Conditioning begins!

Friday, 04 June 2010 22:49


It's the time of year when tons of people start emailing me regarding my thoughts on football conditioning. Although most college strength & conditioning coaches prefer things like 300-yard shuttles and endless 110-yard sprints; we do things differently at DeFranco's. We prefer conditioning methods that actually improve an athlete's power, as opposed to taking away from it.

Since it's the first week of June, our goal wasn't to murder everyone; but we did want to challenge them with a tough, anaerobic conditioning workout to "break everyone in". As the summer progresses, we will increase the volume - and the specificity - of our football conditioning workouts. If today was any indication of the caliber of athlete we have training with us this summer; we're in pretty damn good shape. Not one of the 17 high school & college football players that performed the below workout puked today. That is a very good start and it shows none of our boys "let themselves go" this off-season.

Here are the specifics of today's workout:

*We started with some warm-up exercises and stretches that will be outlined in our AMPED WARM-UP DVD/MANUAL, then we did the following:

1A. Band TKE's - 4x15
1B. DB Squat Jumps (holding 15's) - 4x5

"FOUR QUARTERS" (Rest 2min. between each quarter)

1st Quarter: Prowler Sprints (70 lbs. on each side) - 6 x 20 yards, rest 30-45sec. b/t ea. sprint

2nd Quarter: Tire Battles - 4x10sec., rest 30sec. b/t sets

3rd Quarter: Resisted TredSled Sprints - 5x5sec., rest 45sec. b/t sprints

4th Quarter: Rope Battles - 3x30sec.


Here are some quick, "behind the scenes" video clips from the above workout...


Keep checkin' back for more "behind the scenes" summer workouts!

-Joe D.




Summer's Here: Don't F'in blow it (Your physique, that is...)

Sunday, 30 May 2010 12:56


Although I started this blog with the sole purpose of providing information on improving athletic performance, every now and then I stray from my target audience and help the "masses". It's summertime and let's be honest; everyone wants to look good on the beach, in the club, at the barbecue, etc. Even my NFL football clients ask me for tips on "lookin' good" during this time of year! So I figured Memorial Day Weekend would be the perfect time to provide some invaluable summer training information!

Since this website is full of training tips and nutrition advice on becoming muscular and athletic, I decided to put a different spin on this blog post. Since I've spent the past 8 years telling you what you should do; this blog post is dedicated to giving you my TOP 5 List of what not to do this summer! These are things I see and hear people doing every single summer in an attempt to look better with their shirt off; but the reality is that the common mistakes I've listed below are surefire ways to RUIN the hard-earned gains you made all year! After reading this blog post, please send it to as many friends as you can so we can finally put an end to people blowing their physiques every summer! So here we go...


#5 - Stop training lower body


Many guys will stop training legs (if they even trained them in the first place) during the summer to "focus" on their upper body and "beach muscles". After all, no matter how jacked you are, speedos just aren't tasteful! Since most guys' legs are covered in their bathing suits, they figure they'll hold off on training legs during the summer months. There are many reasons why this is wrong (especially if you're an athlete), but this is the worst thing you can do, even if you want to "focus" on your upper body. Anyone who has touched a weight knows that lower body training makes your upper body grow and look better! Exercises like squats and deadlifts trigger your body to secrete more anabolic hormones than almost any upper body movement, while burning a boatload of calories in the process! Want your upper body to be muscular and lean, as well as in proportion with your lower body? KEEP SQUATTIN' & DEADLIFTIN'! Period.

#4 - Go on a low-calorie diet


Unless you are a complete genetic freak, a low-calorie diet will not get you shredded! A low-calorie diet will make you "a smaller version of yourself" by burning muscle along with the fat you lose! Proportionally speaking, you will look the same as you did before your diet, but you will be a smaller version of yourself (which really sucks). Basically, you will be the "skinny-fat" guy at the beach, much like the picture of David Spade above. (And before you try and make yourself feel better by saying, "Yeah, but David Spade still gets tons of hot chicks!" Don't kid yourself; David Spade is rich & famous, your not. Looking like David Spade, without the money & fame, doesn't get you Heather gets you sand kicked in your face at the beach!

#3 - Perform long, steady-state cardio


DO NOT replace your sprints, prowler pushes, barbell complexes, etc., with long distance running or hours on the elliptical to "get shredded" for the summer. Like "#4", these activities will break down muscle tissue. Once again, this is a great recipe if you want to be the "skinny-fat" guy at the club!

#2 - Focus on high-rep (pump) training, especially right before going out


The ALL-TIME biggest summer myth is doing "tons of curls and push-ups" right before you go out so you have a pump. You may look great during the drive to the club, but once you get there you will be smaller!! Think about it; even the greatest pumps only last for about 20-30 minutes after your workout is completed. What happens to the pump after this? The blood temporarily pools out of the muscles, making you temporarily smaller than before you even worked out! Your body obviously goes back to "normal", but your "small period" is actually 1-3 hours after the workout...(the exact time you're tryin' to pick up chicks at the club!)

Wanna have a real pump - all day, everyday?! Lift heavy ass weights! That's right; lifting maximal weights creates myofibrillar hypertrophy, aka, REAL MUSCLE! (I refer to this type of muscle as "real" because it's actually made of dense, contractile tissue. High-rep training does not develop this type of tissue.)


Although performing heavy, 1-3 rep sets doesn't give you the immediate "pump" of a 20-rep set of cable flyes; it's residual effects are far superior! Those that train heavy probably know the feeling of getting a "pump" hours, or even a day or two, after performing a max-effort exercise. This is due to an "active" nervous system...and eventually this "pump" will just be due to the fact that you're jacked from liftin' all those heavy ass weights!

#1 - Drink beer or sugar-filled cocktails


Even if you "only" drink on weekends, beer and "fruity cocktails" can add thousands of calories to your diet, which will turn you into a bloated mess all summer! Obviously, the best thing to do is not drink at all, but I'm not naive. It's summertime and even the most dedicated athletes may have a few drinks here and there. If you are going to drink, the "best of the worst" is clear alcohol...and stay away from mixing them with soda, fruit juices, etc. The universal meathead drink of choice is Vodka with club soda (and a lemon/lime if you wish). If you switch to this drink, you'll notice a huge difference the next morning when you wake up -- you'll be much less bloated, along with less of a headache (if any), due to a fraction of the calories and sugar contained in fruity cocktails and/or beer!


So there you have it; you now know what NOT to do this summer! Avoiding the above activities, while training like an athlete or a badass, will definitely help you turn some heads this summer!

The rewards of training like an athlete

Hope everyone had a fun, safe Memorial Day! I'll be back soon with some BIG announcements, new products and no-holds-barred information on becoming a better athlete!

Keep checkin' back!

-Joe D.



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