DeFranco’s Gym: Week in Review

“Hey, is there something in my teeth?”

Anyone who has followed this website knows that January & February are insanely busy months for me…

All of our college athletes come home on winter break…”Combine” season begins…NFL agents are in and out on a daily basis…I now have weekly trips to Connecticut to train WWE clients…and the daily grind of owning/operating a gym doesn’t exactly dissappear during these months either 🙂 

I was trying to figure out a way to keep the blog updated during these hectic months. So what I’ve decided to do this week (and maybe during future weeks) is give kind of a “random” update of some of the highlights that went down at the gym during the past few days. This will give everyone a “behind the scenes” look inside DeFranco’s Gym, but I’ll also give some explanations of the exercises & highlights to keep the blog informative/educational.

Here we go…



One of the things that our readers love hearing about each year is what we’re doing with our NFL hopefulls. As many of you know, this is our 1st year in our new/bigger facility. I invested in this new facility so we can incorporate more training techniques with our athletes. At my gym, we believe that you’re either getting better or getting worse; there is no such thing as staying the same! Although I’ve been getting incredible results with my NFL hopefulls for the past 13 years, I still aspire to get better every single year. 

Although I will not give away our new training template or any specific info – (because I know for a fact that many of my competitors read this) – I will share some general info on one of the things we’re doing more of this year with noteworthy results! 

Because of the layout of my new facility, we’re able to incorporate more of what’s referred to as Complex Training, Transfer Training, or Contrast Training into some of our sessions. With this type of training, we’re attempting to “excite” the Higher Threshold Motor Units and then “transfer” this heightened state into a synchronized activity — in our case, we’re attempting to improve sprinting speed. Basically, we will have our athletes perform a strength (resisted) exercise followed by sprints. The resistance exercises that I choose never last longer than 10 seconds and the rest interval between the resistance exercise and sprints is long enough to recover, yet short enough to ensure we don’t lose the “transfer” effect. I have been breaking up this type of training into two categories:

#1) General Transfer Training

 #2) Specific Transfer Training

Here’s an example of GENERAL Transfer Training…

I consider this “General” Transfer Training because – although the squats “activate” the prime movers in sprinting – the technique of the resistance exercise (squats) does NOT mimic the activity (sprinting) we’re trying to improve. 

On the other hand, here’s an example of SPECIFIC Transfer Training. In this video, you’ll see that the resisted exercise is very similar (technically) to sprinting…

I can tell you that both versions of Transfer Training workouts have produced BIGTIME results thus far. All 9 of the athletes I’ve experimented with have PR’d in their 10-yard sprints (electrically timed) using both methods. The “Specific” Transfer workout sprint times were slightly better than the “General” workout. In my opinion, this was due to improved technique to go along with the “excited” nervous system.

Here’s some general info from an actual “case study”… 

Former Penn State lacrosse standout & Monmouth University wide receiver, Chris Hogan, ran an electrically timed 1.70 10-yard sprint his 1st day with us. After making some changes to his stance and technique, he started running consistent 1.65’s. After performing multiple sets of 2-rep box squats with chains, Chris ran a 1.62. Then, we incorporated “Specific” Transfer Training (with the prowler) on one of our training days and Chris hit a HUGE PR with a time of 1.56 seconds! He now consistently runs in the high 1.5’s and this has taken his 40-yard dash to a whole new level! Here’s Chris running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash only four weeks into our program! 

In the above video, his 10-yard (electric) split time was 1.58 seconds. This made all the difference in him breaking the 4.4-second barrier and running this blistering 4.39-second 40 yard dash!

***The general lesson to be learned here is that the NERVOUS SYSTEM IS THE KEY TO SPEED, STRENGTH & PERFORMANCE! As “performance coaches”, we need to think less about “muscles” and more about the CNS!

Think about this: the most popular pre-workout supplements are the “N.O.”/Arginine products because they cause vasodilation and increase your muscular “pump”; most warm-ups only address stretching and/or activating the muscles without paying any attention to stimulating the CNS and “waking you up” before you train; and finally, most people’s main indicator of a good workout is a good pump and/or severe muscular soreness the next day! And then people wonder why they’re weak, “all show, no go” and sore/tired all the time! Why isn’t anyone addressing the CNS?! 

The fact of the matter is that people would see much better results and feel a lot better if their pre-workout nutrition, warm-up, workout and recovery methods payed more attention to the CNS, instead of just addressing the muscular system! This is a topic for an entirely different blog post, but I felt the need to touch upon it. To Be Continued…


While I’m on the topic of NFL Combine training, I can’t go without mentioning a HUGE feat of strength that took place this past Saturday afternoon. BIG Jeff Wills completed the heaviest sled drag in DeFranco’s Training history! The offensive tackle from the University of Minnesota dragged 1200 pounds for 15 yards!!! That’s more than half a TON! Check out the video…

1 Prowler + fourteen 45lb. plates + two 25lb. plates + 1 Joe DeFranco + 1 Asshole = 1200 lbs! 



Other impressive feats from this past week…

Brown University track athlete, Kesley Ramsey, became the 1st female athlete to climb our 25ft. rope…and she did it with ease!!! Check out the video…


And last but NOT least; here’s the video everyone has been talking about all week; watch as one of our athlete’s holds a 115lb. dumbell…WITH HIS TEETH!

FYI, before I get a thousand emails regarding the “dangers” of this exercise; I must admit, I wouldn’t recommend this to most athletes. John came up with this exercise himself and he swears by it, so we have no problem with him doing this after his workouts. (He apparently started this exercise years ago with a light dumbell and has worked his way up to the 115 pounder! And in case you’re interested; he does 5 sets of 40 seconds when performing this beastly exercise.) 

I will say this: John is a fullback and there is some validity to this exercise. Strengthening your neck and jaw can definitely reduce your risk of concussions and other head/neck injuries. (The main function of a mouthpiece is to make you bite down and “flex” your jaw; if your jaw is “clenched” – as opposed to loose/open – when you get hit in the head, you are much LESS likely to sustain a concussion.) And I can’t think of a more brutal position with regards to head trauma than a college/NFL fullback! So maybe this sick bastard is onto something?! Regardless of your opinion of this exercise; we just may be looking at the next great fullback to come out of this gym…look out Jim Finn, Deon Anderson and Tony Fiammetta — here comes young John Emili! He’s got all the traits of a great fullback — strong, explosive, tough…and a little, ummm…”off”. 


Those are just a FEW of the things that went down in ‘Jersey this week!

Only at DeFranco’s LOL!!!

-Joe D. 



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