As usual, we have a ton of things going on here in Wyckoff, NJ. Here are some topics of interest for our readers…
I wanted to start today’s update by telling everyone about a very important project. My good friend and two time cancer survivor, Alwyn Cosgrove, recruited a number of the top experts in the fitness industry to contribute in the fight against cancer. We each donated an article, program or other training advice and Alwyn compiled all of the information into an incredible 800-page CD-ROM titled, ‘LIFT STRONG’. LIFT STRONG only costs $24.99 and the best part of this project is that ALL of the proceeds will go to the leukemia and lymphoma society.
If you’re interested in helping find a cure for cancer, CLICK HERE to order your LIFT STRONG CD-ROM today!!
If everyone who reads this buys the CD-ROM, we can make a difference.
Summer Training Documentary!
We have been contacted by a company that is interested in shooting a documentary about our unique facility and the dedicated athletes that train with us. The cameras will have an “all access” pass for the months of June & July as they follow our athletes, trainers and anyone else who gets in our way! Stay tuned for more details on this project…this should get interesting!!!
***Attention all out-of-state athletes! If you were planning on traveling to New Jersey to train with us during the months of June and/or July, you must email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot and get housing information before May 5th! We need to finalize our summer schedule & the housing situation by May 5th in order to move forward with the above mentioned project.
Get ready for an EXPLOSIVE summer!!
J-E-T-S…Jets, Jets, Jets!
I want to take this time to thank my good friend and NY Jets strength & conditioning coach, Sal Alosi, for bringing us in this week to check out their off-season training program. I must say that Sal and his staff run one of the most well-designed, well-organized programs that I’ve ever seen. The only flaw that I found with the Jets organization is that they don’t keep enough medium & large t-shirts in stock! (Apparently, they are not aware that Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner.) But don’t worry Sal; I was able to easily remove the sleeves from my XL shirts.
Seriously though, these guys put a ton of work into what they do and it shows. Look for some big things from “Gang Green” this year!
(Pictured left to right: Jeff Carr, John Impallomeni, Sal Alosi, Joe DeFranco, Mike Jones)
For the 2nd year in a row, DeFranco’s Training Systems has been named the official speed & strength trainers for the Finn-Scanlon football camp!
Unlike other “Pro” football camps, Jim Finn (NY Giants fullback) & Rich Scanlon (Kansas City Chiefs linebacker), along with a number of other NFL players, are at the camp the ENTIRE weekend instructing the kids.
I highly recommend this camp for all 6th, 7th & 8th graders. For more info, CLICK HERE!
I have two questions actually. One is: There is new technology out suggesting that chains and bands are good but air pressure is better. I know you've seen these Keiser machines that allow you to adjust air pressure resistance acting in place of the bands and chains. How do you feel about this concept with regards to it’s effectiveness in training athletes?
Two is: You are probably one of the smartest people I have ever heard in this industry yet you don't claim any distinct certification. Is this because you are self taught or because you feel the credentials aren’t worth mentioning? I know these are different questions but I was wondering so I asked.
You da man.....holla
Thanks for holla-ing at me. Now onto your questions…
I am well aware of the “air pressure” machines that are out there. In fact, I used one of these machines almost exclusively about 8 years ago when we were experimenting with some athletes. Here’s what I found - The “consistent resistance” that these machines market as a positive feature is actually detrimental to athletes. I say this because I want my athletes to always try and ACCELERATE the barbell when they lift. The act of actually making the barbell move faster is what helps develop explosive force. The “air pressure” machines provide a CONSTANT bar speed, regardless of how much force an athletes applies when performing the lift. In my opinion, this may actually decrease an athlete’s explosive force!
By adding bands and/or chains to a barbell lift, we accommodate resistance which enables the athlete to accelerate the barbell through a greater range of motion without as much emphasis placed on decelerating the bar. To me, this is far superior to air machines.
With all of the above being said, I do feel that almost anything can have its place in the training of athletes. For example, air machines are great for rehab and they are very safe; so I am not totally against them. I just don’t use them in the training of my athletes.
I prefer barbells, dumbbells, med balls, jump training and the occasional use of bands & chains.
NOTE: Please don’t email me any stories of how you saw a pro athlete training on an air machine so they must be good. I DON’T GIVE A SH*T! There are many great athletes out there that achieve success IN SPITE of their training methods. I feel strongly in my views on this topic so I’m not interested in hearing what a handful of genetically gifted athletes may be doing.
Now onto your 2nd question…
Within one month of receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science, I passed two highly respected certifications. Looking back, I am very proud at what I accomplished. I traveled to Connecticut and took the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s intense 5-day course. At the end of the 5 days, I passed their Advanced Level Certification. The certification contained a lot of anatomy and advanced biomechanics. I think only 1/3 of the people taking the test actually passed. Needless to say, I was extremely proud of this certification. I remember going home and passing out that night because I was exhausted from that course. Then, the very next morning, I hopped in my car and drove to Boston by myself to take the CSCS test (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist). I had been studying for this test my entire senior year of college because this was considered to be the “gold standard” in the strength & conditioning industry. I was exhausted when I got to Boston. I remember staying up in my hotel room for 2 nights straight finishing up all my readings and preparing for the test. (I think this is actually when my caffeine addiction started.) To make a long story short, I passed both sections of the CSCS and earned my 2nd certification!
For 5 years straight, I wouldn’t write my name on anything without adding my credentials – Joe DeFranco, BSc, CSCS, NASM-CPT. I worked my ass off to earn those letters and I was very proud.
Now it’s been about 10 years since I took those certification courses and I sign my name like this… Joe DeFranco. You see, I have now found out that nothing beats EXPERIENCE. I’m not taking anything away from those courses; it’s just that I have learned so much more by actually being in the trenches and training athletes for the past 10 years! I have also been fortunate enough to develop the best network of colleagues in the world. Ever since I became a part of TEAM ELITE FTS, the best coaches in the world are only a phone call or email away. If I have a question about training, I don’t have to read a book, take a course, or pay for certification CEU’s anymore; I go right to the best in the world. No certification can compare to the HUNDREDS of years of experience that I have access to by being in contact with guys like Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, Buddy Morris, Jason Ferruggia, Alwyn Cosgrove, James Smith, Michael Hope, Zach Even-Esh, just to name a few!
Hopefully this gives you some insight on how I started and where I am now.
I have exchanged my certification ‘letters” for real world EXPERIENCE & RESULTS.
Q: Joe, I recently purchased your Super Strength DVD. It's unbelievable! I love the combination of the different kinds of training. I have a few questions about the workouts. When it states work up to 3RM, 5RM, or 1RM what does that mean? How many sets should I do and where should I start? Also I am a baseball player, should I strictly stick to the baseball workout? Thank you.
I think I’ve answered this question about 1000 times, but I will answer it again; “work up” basically refers to your warm-up sets before your max-effort attempt(s). The number of warm-up sets is undetermined because they depend on the strength of the athlete. The stronger you are, the more warm-up sets you require to reach your max weight for the exercise. But this does not mean that if you’re weak, you would just perform 1 or 2 warm-up sets and then attempt your new max. My guideline is that even the skinniest, weakest bastard should perform at least 5 sets on their main exercise. If skinny bastards don’t perform enough volume, they won’t get bigger & stronger. Here’s a sample warm-up for a skinny kid whose goal is to bench 165 lbs. for 5 reps during a given workout…
45 x 8
75 x 5
95 x 5
115 x 5
135 x 5
155 x 5
165 x 5
Now checkout the warm-up that I used for my max-effort 3-board press last week; (You’ll notice the bigger jumps in weight with each warm-up set, yet it takes more sets to hit the max weight.)
45 x 5
135 x 5
185 x 3
225 x 3
275 x 2
315 x 1
365 x 1
405 x 1
425 x 1
440 x missed attempt
Hopefully this will finally clear up what “work up to a max set” means.
Regarding the baseball workout in my Super Strength DVD…
The baseball workout that I outlined in my Super Strength DVD was just one workout that I have performed with my baseball players; there are literally hundreds of other options! The entire goal of the Super Strength DVD was to explain the system of training that we use with our athletes. After learning our system, you should be able to choose the best exercises and design the best program that suits YOUR specific needs! Don’t ever limit yourself to just one workout!
Q: I have a high school combine coming up in 2 weeks and I have a couple of questions about the 185 pound bench press test. I’m wondering how I should warm up coach? I’ve done 18 reps in training but I know I can do 20. Also how should I perform the reps – some people have told me to do them as fast as possible and other people have told me to do a couple reps at a time and pause in between. I know your the best coach so can you please give me some advise!!
I haven’t given any sarcastic answers in a long time regarding the grammar used by the people who write to me; since you’re in high school and education should come before athletics, I wanted to make some grammatical corrections before I give you bench-pressing advice…
“Your” should have been spelled “you’re” in the last sentence of your question; the reason is because “you’re” is the contraction for “you are”. Since you were trying to say, “you are the best...”, “you’re” would have been the appropriate spelling. “Your”, on the other hand, is a possessive adjective which shows ownership so it wasn’t used properly in your sentence. Also, you spelled ‘advice” wrong; you spelled it with an “s” instead of a “c”.
O.K., class is over; now let’s get to some really important stuff…BENCH PRESSING!
As far as a warm-up is concerned, here’s how I feel a kid of your strength level should warm-up…
95 X 5
135 X 3
185 X 1
225 X 1
Rest 2 minutes then perform the 185 lb. test
As far as repetition technique is concerned, I coach my athletes to think of the test as multiple “sets”, as opposed to just one long set. For example, below you will see a video of one of our high school athletes performing 26 reps in the 185 lb. bench press test. Our goal was 27 reps during the workout that this footage was filmed so we discussed his rep technique before he benched. You will notice he performs 10 reps without stopping; then he pauses at the top, takes a couple quick breathes and then performs another “set” of 10 reps; then he pauses at the top again before performing a “set” of 4 reps; then, he performs 1 rep at a time, resting at the top after each rep, until he can no longer complete anymore reps. Also, notice the speed at which he performs his reps; he performs his reps quickly but he doesn’t apply too much force into the bar during the beginning of the test. I used to teach to push as hard and fast as possible, but experience has taught me that too much speed during the first couple of reps will end up frying the athlete out early. Perform the reps quickly, but not out of control.
After watching the video, I feel that the athlete would have gotten more reps if he started doing “one rep at a time” after the 23rd rep. (The 24th rep was performed too fast after the 23rd rep and it fried him out.) He should have done 10 reps-paused-10 reps-paused-3 reps-paused-then perform 1 rep at a time, pausing at the top after each rep. (He could have also paused longer after the 25th rep.) These two slight technique changes would have probably gotten him 27 or 28 reps.
Practice the test then come up with YOUR best rep scheme.
Q: Coach Defranco – I don’t really have a question, its more of a thanks. I play soccer and before I discovered your program I used to pull my groin all the time. My old trainer would have me do the seated adductor machine all the time but it didn’t seem to work. Then I switched over to your program and I performed more unilateral exercises for my legs. I didn’t think single leg squats, step-ups and reverse lunges worked your groin that much but boy was I wrong. I was really sore during the first couple weeks but my body has really become accustomed to your training style. Now after watching your super strength video I have incorporated the suspended chain single leg squats - I couldn’t do them at first, but now I’m up to 3 sets of 8 reps with 1 chain with good form! Basically I wanted to thank you and tell you I’m stronger than ever and injury free for the first time in my career. Please keep the great info coming coach!! Your website is the best.
I love getting emails like yours; it’s cool to see that we’re able to help so many athletes worldwide through this website.
And I’m glad to hear that adding more unilateral work into your program has helped to strengthen your adductors. Too many athletes rely on that friggin’ seated adductor machine, aka, the “inner thigh” machine. In my opinion, that thing is worthless for athletes. (And it aint gonna due much to ‘shape & tone” the inner thighs either, ladies!)
The adductors largely serve to stabilize the knee and hip when there is movement in the sagittal plane. This is why it is imperative to perform unilateral exercises in which one of the athlete’s feet is in contact with the ground and their balance is being challenged. Exercises such as single leg squats, step-ups and multi-directional lunges have worked great in strengthening our athlete’s adductors.
Suspended chain single leg squats are very advanced; when you can perform them properly you will notice a dramatic increase in strength & balance.
Here’s a new one for you…
Below you will see one of my hockey clients performing barbell single leg squats with 53lb. kettlebells suspended from mini bands. This exercise is VERY advanced and it challenges your balance and control like no other. You CAN’T perform this exercise fast; you must use a controlled tempo when performing your reps and you must prevent any wasted motion. This exercise has proven to be a great adductor strengthener for our advanced athletes.
Try 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps of this exercise at the end of your leg workout and tell me what you think!
Site by Yellow House Design