Building High-Performance Muscle™
The Pro-Maker
An Interview with Joe DeFranco

Joe DeFranco is a busy man. Right now he's training sixty high school athletes, thirty college athletes, and ten professionals. NFL agents keep his phone ringing all day long. HBO wants him to appear again on Inside the NFL. First round draft picks from Major League Baseball are waiting in line for his services. And DeFranco doesn't even advertise. He doesn't have to.

DeFranco is a pro-maker, a gun for hire used by athletes seeking an edge on the competition. DeFranco's coaching techniques have brought seventh round draft picks up to the third round, and third round pics up to the first. Thirty-one of his athletes have been drafted into the NFL.

Agents love him and players love what he can do for them. Scouts, on the other hand, think he's a scumbag. I asked him about that and about a number of other hot-button issues in our recent interview.

Testosterone Nation: Joe, for our readers who aren't familiar with you, tell us about yourself and how you got into all this.

T-Nation: Now, at age 28, you're a successful trainer of NFL players, but what happened to your own pro dreams?

JD:

T-Nation: So what do you do every day as a pro-maker?

T-Nation: You're still quite an athlete yourself. You definitely walk the walk. What are your best stats in the gym?

JD:

T-Nation: Party pooper. Now, you're an expert when it comes to prepping athletes for the NFL Combine and the "Pro Day," yet you think those tests are mostly bullshit, right?

JD:

T-Nation: Some critics and a few NFL scouts say your Combine coaching and videotape on the subject borders on cheating.

T-Nation: Agreed. You once took a shot at some other coaches, saying that any coach can make you tired, but it takes a true pro to make you stronger, faster, and more flexible.

JD:

T-Nation: Makes sense. What are the biggest mistakes athletes make in their training, generally speaking?

JD:

T-Nation: Good points, and true with regular people too, not just elite athletes. Now, as a performance coach, what do you think of this "functional training" craze?

JD:

T-Nation: You know, Joe, you should stop holding back and tell us what you really think. Just let it out and stop being so shy. Kidding. Let's do move on before that vein in your bald head pops! I've heard you use the term "training economy" quite a bit. What do you mean by that?

JD:

T-Nation: Speaking of conditioning, let's talk about bodyfat and athleticism. Does it matter? Some say who cares what their bodyfat percentage is as long as they're performing. Other coaches make it a goal to get their athletes ripped. Where do you stand?

T-Nation: Agree or disagree: A weak athlete is a slow athlete.

T-Nation: Simple enough. I notice many of your training ideas were inspired by the Westside powerlifting techniques. Why were Dave Tate and these guys such an influence?

JD:

T-Nation: Hey, a little off topic here, but I saw a picture of your dad and was blown away by how big and powerful he looked despite his age. What's his story? Was he an influence on you?

T-Nation: Why is that?

JD:

T-Nation: Wow, I think we need to interview dad next! Back to performance coaching.

You're a specialist at increasing the vertical jump. You once said that big calves have about as much to do with how high you can jump as the color of your hair. What's the full story on "big hops"?

JD:

T-Nation: You've mentioned the deadlift a few times. What kind of deadlift do you prefer?

JD:

T-Nation: Okay, cool. I've heard you make some pretty definitive statements about leg training. For example, you say to always follow squats or deadlifts with a single leg movement. Why is that?

JD:

T-Nation: Also, you always recommend finishing a leg workout with hamstrings, then doing core work for the abs and low back for five or ten minutes after legs. What's the thinking behind these rules?

JD:

T-Nation: Let's talk about flexibility. Why is it important and what kind of stretching do you use?

JD:

T-Nation: When exactly should we be stretching?

JD:

T-Nation: Okay, interesting stuff. Now let's hear some mutant athlete stories. Any good ones?

JD:

T-Nation: I can do the exact same thing. I'll show you, um, later. What's your second story?

JD:

T-Nation: That's amazing! Sounds just like Tim Patterson! (cough, cough) Do you work with your athletes on diet?

JD:

T-Nation: How about general supplementation? What do you recommend to your players?

JD:

T-Nation: Cool! Good to hear! Let's get back to iron. What do you think of the leg press machine for athletes?

JD:

T-Nation: While we're on that subject, what's the dumbest athletic training device or gadget on the market?

JD:

T-Nation: Already have two pair, thank you very much. Now, you do like the Swiss ball though, correct? That thing causes a lot of controversy.

JD:

T-Nation: How 'bout Olympic lifting? You don't seem to be a big fan of it.

JD:

T-Nation: Okay, here's something I've noticed recently. When I interview performance coaches I always ask them what the key exercises are for athletes. Yet when I myself design a training program for a guy just wanting to look good naked, I find myself prescribing most of the same exercises: deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, rows, dips, etc. What's the lesson here?

JD:

T-Nation: Yeah, some people deserve public beatings. Hey, what's the steroid scene like these days in high level sports?

T-Nation: Thanks for the chat, Joe. Very cool stuff. Where can readers find out more about you, your services and your video?

T-Nation: Thanks again, Joe.

JD:

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