Strength Coach Interview – Joe Meglio – Part I

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One of the great things about being a part of the strength and conditioning community is the ability to connect with other coaches and athletes to bounce ideas off of. There’s some awesome people to be found who really share my mindset: Throwing down and making their athletes better. I was able to catch up with one of the young guys I really like in the business and got him to answer some questions for you, my readers.

As you know, I have a pretty solid bullshit detector and I can’t stand the “Internet Coaches” who don’t train anyone but spout ideas. Being an academic is great, but be honest about that. I’ve had the opportunity to both train with Joe and to (more importantly) watch him train athletes several times during my visits to the Underground and there’s no question that he knows and does what he talks about.

All right, without wasting any more time, let’s here what “Coach Megz” has to say!

Isaac: First of all, Joe, take a second and tell my readers a little more about yourself and how you ended up where you are today.

Joe: My strength training journey started back when I was 13 years old. It was my first year of high school and the baseball team had mandatory team lifting in the old, dingy garage that had rusty equipment and no heat.

I was excited to get started because my dad always lifted and I remember wanting to have big muscles like him. Our coach set up a circuit of bench press, squat, curls and triceps extensions plus a few more exercises I can’t think of.

We would rotate from exercise to exercise until we did the circuit 3 times. I’ll never forget these workouts because this is where I first got into lifting weights. When high school was over, I went on to play college baseball and this is where my journey as a strength coach began.

I was a sophomore in college at the age of 18. I needed money to buy a car and while all my friends had normal jobs that 18 year-olds have, I decided I wanted to do something different. So decided I wanted to be a personal trainer.

My career as a “personal trainer” was actually pretty short, after 6 months or so I had to quit because of college baseball so I started training athletes randomly at parks. After a few months of doing this, I came across Joe DeFranco’s website and Zach Even-Esh’s website and I quickly become obsessed with their style of training. I remember staying up till 3AM every night watching their videos and reading every article they wrote.

There training broke the rules and went against the norms of what I was learning in the typical Globo gym and this is what really attracted me to their style of training. As time went on, I invested in Zach and Joe’s ‘Lost Secrets Of Strength’ and I continually to followed them religiously.

One day I saw Zach was looking for an intern so I thought that this was my big opportunity. I went down to the Underground for my “interview” which was a workout. It was unlike anything I ever experienced and there were a few times I thought I was going pass out but I never showed I was tired.

It’s now been over 3 years and I’m still coaching at the Underground. It’s pretty crazy, if you told me I would be the head Underground Strength Coach when I first started following Zach, I would have called you crazy.

Isaac: Yeah, the Underground is obviously a huge part of your life. You’ve benefited from “growing up”, so to speak, under a great mentor in Zach Even-esh. Obviously he’s influenced your training style, but I know you do some different things, too. What are some of the differences in your two styles and how did you come up with your methods?

Joe: Zach has been my biggest mentor, not only in training, but just the way he lives his life. He is dialed in with everything-his training, his family, his business. He has been a HUGE inspiration for me and it’s been a privilege to know him for 3 years now and be one of his top coaches.

Joe and his mentor, Zach Even-esh

Zach’s style and mine are very similar but one difference is Zach workouts place a greater emphasis on conditioning while I place a greater emphasis on strength. I’ve witnessed some pretty brutal workouts at the Underground that not only focus on building the body but also the mind. The beauty is both approaches work. Every single athlete that trains under Zach goes through a total mental and physical transformation.

For me, I’ve been able to build my mind by lifting heavy ass weight. There aren’t many more things gratifying to me then smashing personal records or hitting some big weights on the “big four”. Every time I approach that barbell it’s adversity staring me right in the face, and there is no better feeling then knowing I just overcame that adversity and I am not only physically stronger but mentally as well.

Another difference is Zach implements the odd objects more then I do. While most of Zach’s training is centered around barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells and bodyweight he still adds in his creative touch with the odd objects.

While I do utilize odd objects during certain times of the year, for the most part I stick to the basics and what I know best.

My methods have developed over time with my experience in both training others and training myself. It is always progressing and evolving overtime. Obviously Zach has had a major influence on my methods. Now I like to experiment with different ways of training to see what works best. After awhile I think it’s important that you develop your own philosophy or training methods.

Isaac: I know that you do some work with adults at the Underground, too, in addition to the athletes. A lot of my readers fall into this category. If someone wanted to make the transition from more traditional machine/bodybuilding-style training to a more athletic approach, how would you start them out?

Joe: I would get them started with bodyweight training. If you can’t handle your own bodyweight you have no business using an external load, it’s that simple. I would start them with bodyweight squats, various lunges, push-ups, and pull-ups or recline rows. We would also do a ton of sled drags or prowler pushes along with farmer walks.

That right there is the baseline for anybody I coach. I don’t care if you are an athlete, weekend warrior or soccer mom, I will train you like an athlete. Our bodies are designed to move and be athletic, not to sit in machines while exercising. Just the thought of relaxing while exercising is counter-intuitive.

After we build up a solid foundation of relative body strength with the basics, we’ll focus on progressing you to more complex training means.

Great stuff! Joe and I went over a lot more info, so I’m going to break this up and bring you another part next week! In the meantime, for more information about Coach Megz (plus I was able to twist his arm into giving you the hook-up on some stuff!):

Joe Meglio is a performance coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, New Jersey. Joe is a former college baseball player and has competed in powerlifting. He has been named the # 1 Rising Star in the Fitness Industry and STACK.com Expert Of The Month. For more information on Joe check out http://joemeglio.com/

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PS  If you’re looking for a fun and ass-kicking 12-week program from Joe, check out Lift Like a Man!

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Check out part two of the interview here!

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October 22, 2012

Joe Meglio @ 1:25 am #

Thanks for checking out this interview guys. If you have any questions feel free to post them here!

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