Hanging Out With John Gaglione

07 Jan Hanging Out With John Gaglione

If you don’t know who John Gaglione is, you probably haven’t read much in the last few years on how to get strong. John has written for T-Nation, Men’s Health, and EliteFTS among other publications and always puts out great, practical content. More importantly, John is owner of Gaglione Strength in Farmingdale, NY in Long Island. He coaches athletes and some really strong national level and beyond powerlifters. 

John is an incredible coach that has not only learned and mastered the technical points of strength but also the application and the ability to communicate with his athletes how they need to improve.

When I first came back to New York, I reached out to John. He didn’t hesitate to invite me out to his gym and I was overwhelmed as to how friendly and welcoming he was. I got to train with some of his lifters and coaches and pick his brain a little. Since then I’ve got to catch up with him some more and he was once again been very friendly and willing to to answer all my questions. Wanted to share them with all of you.

You’ll learn more from his answers than reading most articles on strength written these days. Check it out his website here and if you’re in the  New York area, check out his upcoming powerlifting seminar that he’s hosting at his gym on January 17. Here is a link to the info:



Jesse: When I came to visit you, I saw that some of your raw lifters are squatting some huge numbers and making a big impression inpowerlifting. There’s a lot of opinions as to what’s best training for raw lifters. Without getting into too much detail, what do you believe to be the best for developing consistent strength in them? Do you believe that “sport practice is king” and volume just needs to beprogressed and manipulated overtime with minimal variation to the lifts or do you think that frequent variation keeps lifters from becoming stagnant?

John Gaglione: There are many ways to skin a cat. I could write hundreds and hundreds of pages on programming. Honestly? This answer may surprise you but I think it IS important to just be on a plan, but there is one more important piece to the puzzle. Put a bunch of monsters in a room and have them train together and watch the magic happen. We have a great group of guys that are super positive and consistent and truly care about each other and want to get better. The biggest thing I have found (and learned from Stan Efferding) is CONSITENCY and INTENSITY.  You need to train hard over time to get best results. 

Now as far as programming I trained using a Westside System for many years and most of my personal career. I always trained four days a week and had two max effort days and two dynamic days. After learning from some of the greatest in the world I have changed my programming quite a bit since I started training more raw lifters. 

What I have found works the best is using a wave loading approach. Weeks 1 and 3 have the most intensity and volume and week two is moderate and the fourth week is a lighter week. 

As far as breaking up my athletes training for our elite raw guys we utilize a 4 day split. For our women and newer guys we use a three day split.


There is always a squat day, deadlift day, a bench day and if there is a 4th day it’s a bench accessory day. In general after the main lift we choose a supplemental move to help build the primary competition movements. We also use special peaking methods like reverse bands and sling shots to help peak our lifters for bigger weights closer to a meet.

So the biggest change in our focus for programming is utilizing the classic lifts more often and varying volume and intensity and switching up the supplemental moves more often to build the main lift.

Another key I learned from Dan Green. You need to build strength and skill. Variation builds strength but frequency with the main lifts build skill so both methods are important. I can go on and on but that’s the jist of it! 


J: Specifically for strength athletes, do you believe that increasing volume and frequency for a particular lift in a training week and/or cycle of training is key to progressing more experienced lifters or do you hold to the belief that one to two heavy exposures a week to a lift like the squat is all the body can handle to recover and keep getting stronger if done consistently over time?

JG:Everyone is different, but I find the stronger and more explosive athletes need less volume and higher intensity and more recovery so I need to space out their heavy days more. Women and newer lifters can utilize more frequency and get better results. One thing I learned from Caitlyn Trout is women can handle a higher percentage of their 1RM for more volume then men so when programming for women they can do more sets at a higher percentage in order to achieve a greater training volume.

I also think people need to build enough work capacity and ease their way into higher volume and high frequency training programs. If you are currently squatting only once per week it is smart to go to two days per week before 3 or 4 days per week for example. I also think this depends on stance. High Bar and narrow stance squatters can squat more frequently than low back and wide stance squatters in my opinion. The wide stance and low bar position can beat up the hips and groin as well as cause elbows and biceps tendon problems so there are a lot of variables to consider when discussing overall training volume and frequency.


J: You’re gym has a great atmosphere and it’s no doubt a credit to you building a culture there. What are some things you did in the early days of your business to make sure you built this culture and how did you keep it going? Did you ever turn people away from your gym because they didn’t fit the “mold” even if it meant losing out on their business  or did you just expect a standard from every new member and helped them expect it of themselves?

JG: Have strong values and never budge an inch on them. It’s tough sometimes and I have grown my business slower than I would like but I am very big on integrity. Some of my “haters” may think this is phony but this is me. I have my values on my lock screen on my phone as a constant reminder for the values I want to live by and also the values I want to instill onto my lifters and my team. I have kicked out people from my gym in the past for not being in line with our values. It was hard especially because some of the lifters were very accomplished but in the long run it was best for the team. I don’t want my gym to just be the strongest gym I want it to be like a family. I think in the long run my team will outlast others because I am building strong values and a strong community of ass kickers. Iron sharpens iron and one bad apple can spoil the bunch.


J: I’m sure you’ve heard of the 80-20 rule that 80% of success comes from just 20% of our efforts. What’s the your 20 percent that keeps you consistently the best coach you can be? What’s your 20% in business?

JG: I spend a lot of time on creating solid programming and an environment that fosters success. I guess the unique experience is creating a professional positive powerlifting experience. It is truly unique. And this may sounds crazy but ACTUALLY GIVING A DAMN about your client’s success. Some coaches flat out don’t care if their clients succeed or not. If a teammate has a bad day or doesn’t reach a goal I actually get upset. It bugs me and I always make an effort to switch things up to keep things moving forward. So I guess maybe the 20% would be auto regulating the programming. Changing things on the fly to ensure their success no matter what their current situation is.

If I can leave the reader with anything is that they should be true to themselves and follow their hearts. Don’t be a follower. Create your own path and find what works for you and makes you happy. At the end of the day that’s all that matters. 

Work Hard, Be Consistent and Never give up.

About John Gaglione

John Gaglione is a strength coach out of Long Island, New York. John trains a wide variety of athletes at his facility located in Farmingdale New York. He specializes in spitting out champion wrestlers and improving maximal strength for all athletes and “average joes”. He coaches a powerliftering team of over 25 lifters, several of which hold national ranking in their respective weight class and division.

John has also written many strength and conditioning articles for major online publications such as Men’s Health, Elite Fitness Systems, Testosterone Nation, One Result, and is the featured strength & conditioning author for Long Island Wrestling Association. He has been a featured speaker at several college including Cortland and Hofstra University for their exercise science programs.

An avid strength athlete John also has a lot of “under the bar experience” and has competed in the sport of powerlifting for several years. He has best competition lifts of an 850 Squat, 575 Bench and a 640 deadlift. If you would like to learn more about John you can reach him at gaglionestrength@gmail.com.



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