Archive for Joe Defranco

“Extreme” Review

Posted in Uncategorized, Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by zenithstrength

Jim Smith and Joe Defranco are two of the best and most innovative coaches in our industry, so when I heard that they were coming out with a new dvd called “Extreme”, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

Extreme is the third product that coach Smitty and Joe D. have put out within the last year or so. Power and Amped warmup are the other two products that I also purchased and highly recommend them if you’re a coach or athlete.

Extreme is a fantastic resource utilizing over 130   exercises that bridge the gap between traditional lifts such as squats, deadlifts and benching to improve performance on the playing field.

Ultimately, the  goal of a  coach is to produce gains that transfer on the playing field on game day and this dvd allows the viewer to gain insight to a smorgasbord of supplemental exercises to achieve those goals.

The exercises are broken into Upper Body, Lower body, Rehab and Core to name a few. The value is seeing the creativity behind many of the movements, and if you understand how the body moves and the rationale behind the movements you start to look at many basic movements from a different perspective and it allows the coach to really get creative with exercises.

Below is a video from going through a variation of the rollout they use in the dvd.

If you want to learn from the best and add more tools to your toolbox get your copy of Extreme here.

Train Hard!



3 Strength Exercises to Improve Linear Acceleration

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by zenithstrength

Just about every sport involves short bursts of acceleration, whether it’s a wide receiver getting off the line of scrimmage to run a route or a tennis player chasing down a drop shot, an athlete’s ability to accelerate is one of the most important factors that determines success on the playing field. The bottom line is that you must put a tremendous amount of force into the ground to propel yourself forward. In order to do this you must work on getting stronger. In addition to strength training, another key component is teaching the proper mechanics of acceleration making sure that the athlete is pushing into the ground versus sliding the foot back.

Joe Defranco has a great article on acceleration mechanics and some great cues on teaching the start of the 40 yard dash and explains importance of getting full hip extension during the acceleration phase.

At Zenith Strength we use many different tools to improve linear acceleration of our athletes.

Here are my 3 favorite exercises to strengthen the lower body and improve first step acceleration.

1. Heavy Forward Sled Drags and Heavy Pushes

Heavy sled dragging and sled pushing should be a staple in your program if your goal is to improve starting strength and leg drive.

Both movements teach hip extension and enable the athlete to put force into the ground to improve their hip extension strength.

They also put  the athlete at a 45 degree angle which is the position you want to be in when accelerating.

You can also combine the sled work and get a drag push combo. I got this idea from Joe Defranco a few years ago.

Below is a video of the drag/push combo.

2. Split Squats with the rear foot elevated.

Split squats are a fantastic exercise to build single leg strength in the quads, glutes and hams in the weight room.

The rear foot elevate split squat (rfess) is the go to strength exercise used by  Mike Boyle, Joe D and Martin Rooney, some of the best coaches  in the industry,  for developing strength for linear acceleration. They work with some of the best athletes in the world and when they talk about what works for them you have to pay attention!

Here’s a video of Ben Bruno doing some RFESS with 75lb dumbbells and a weighted vest.

3. Woodway Force Resisted Sprints

The Woodway Force is a fantastic piece of equipment found and used by top collegiate programs and training facilities  to build acceleration power as well as top speed leg turnover.

We can set the load, which is the resistance, to teach the athlete to drive back to propel them forward and really work on improving their hip extension power output.

We will use a load that is 10-20% of the athlete’s body weight and have them sprint for 5 secs and rest 30 secs sometimes longer to make sure they are fully recovered during our power workouts. You can adjust the duration and rest periods depending on the sport you;re training for.

If you don’t have access to one you  can also uses resisted bands around the waist.

Here’s a video using the Woodway force .


Try these exercises out and you should notice an improvement in your ability to accelerate.

Train Hard!


Monday Sprint Workout at the High School

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on January 27, 2011 by zenithstrength

Sprinting is one of the best ways to improve your conditioning. Whether you are a professional athlete looking to improve speed or a weekend warrior looking to stay in shape the benefits of sprinting can help an athlete of any level.

There are many different modalities one can use and it doesn’t matter whether you use the prowler, tred sled, resisted s bands, or a treadmill,  the important fact is get out and start running some sprints.

As an athlete, resisted sprinting is a great to increase the benefits of heavy sled drags and pushes. One of those benefits is improved hip extension or leg drive in to the ground. In order to accelerate you need to push hard in to the ground to propel yourself forward.

Check out Joe Defranco’s article on the benefits of heavy sled drags for improved acceleration.

In my opinion, adding resisted sprints adds another component of force production that compliments heavy sled dragging and pushing. For those who are lucky to have access to a tred sled they are great for resisted sprints. For everyone else, bands work well.

At Zenith Strength, we like to use the Optum SPS unit which allows you to control the amount or resistance you can add. The website claims that you can add as little as 4lbs to as much as 1000lbs or resistance.  One  advantage of using this piece of equipment is that the tension is constant throughout the movement and very smooth. There is no jerking or increased tension as you sprint which happens with band usage. You can also perform multi directional resisted movements as well such as side shuffles and cross over steps.

Here is a sprint workout using the Optum SPS at a local high school.

If you are new to sprinting get back into slowly and make sure to warm up and dynamically stretch the hip flexor with some  lunge variations or spiderman walks.

Get out and start sprinting and enjoy the results.

Train Hard!