Josh Bryant is a speed, strength, and conditioning coach. He is also a personal trainer who has works with many clients in person at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas and via the internet. Along with ISSA certifications in fitness training, nutrition, and conditioning, Josh was recently awarded the prestigious title of Master of Fitness (MFS) by the ISSA. In addition to being certified by the NSCA as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and NASM as a Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), Josh is currently completing work on his master’s degree in exercise science.  Josh has won many national and world titles in powerlifting and strongman and was the youngest person in powerlifting history, at 22, to bench press 600 pounds raw. Josh has squatted 909 in the USPF, officially bench pressed 620 raw, and officially deadlifted 800 raw.  To learn more about Josh Bryant or to contact him visit

Introduce yourself to the readership and tell us a little about yourself.

I first started lifting weights when I was about five years old. My dad had bought a barbell set at Sears, and he made a rule that I could do whatever I wanted with it, but I couldn’t lift it over my head. I’d always sneak outside and lift it over my head because he told me I couldn’t. By 6th grade, I’d started lifting very seriously. My dad got me started and showed me some very basic stuff. In 8th grade, I was boxing, and a friend of my dad’s told me he could help me get stronger because I was going to play football the next year. His name was Steve Hall. He showed me how to train correctly, and I made huge gains at that point just training the right way.

I played all the other sports – football, track, etc – but my passion’s always been lifting. I just kept pursuing that, and I’ve been doing it ever since. It led me into my educational studies. It annoys me because a lot of people talk a good game, and they have this credential or that credential, but you get the feeling they don’t know what they’re talking about when the rubber hits the road. I decided to get every certification I could, and right now, I’m getting my masters degree – I’ll be done with that in July, and that led me to where I am.

I had my first strength coaching job when I was 19, at a school called Carpenteria in California, about 80 miles up the coast from Los Angeles. I was also personal training people while I was in college, in addition to lifting myself. At 23 years old, I started working at UCLA as an assistant strength coach, and I got to work under Doc Kreis. I learned a lot from him. In 2005, I got a job offer to personal train at a high-end studio in Nashville, Tennessee. I took the job, and it paid really well, and I got a lot of good experience working with higher end clients and doing the whole fitness industry thing. I also got a chance to work with some athletes there.

In 2006, I moved to Texas to train at Metroflex gym, and I’ve been there ever since. I train all sorts of athletes here and I do really well with that. I’m also strength and conditioning coach for one of the top high schools in Texas for all sports. When you work at Metroflex, it’s not like you work for them. You just run your own deal out of the gym. I was doing great, but then the athletic director found out about me from a connection at Metroflex. The job pays really well because I went and got certified to teach in Texas – it’s like a five week course.

What’s your specialty?

Around here I think I’m more known as a strength coach than a powerlifter, but I’ve dealt with everybody – I mean, surgeons, figure competitors, everyone. On EliteFTS, I’d probably be more known as a powerlifter. I’ll probably answer football and powerlifting questions first, but I’ve trained bodybuilders who’ve done very well, and I have a before and after picture of a diet I did on the nutrition page of my site that people should see. I trained a bodybuilding cycle with Brian Dobson because I wanted to get comfortable training people in it and wanted some practical experience.

You’ve been a world class powerlifter. What’s your training philosophy there?

I cycle some triples and doubles, then when I get closer to the meet I like to do submaximal singles – not balls out singles where you’re truly maxing out, but submaximal. I periodize those for three weeks, then do a deload week. I go hard for three weeks then do a deload week at about 70% of the intensity, in that area. I do something similar to Westside’s conjugate method. Say I’m getting ready for a deadlift, for instance. I teach myself with submaximal singles. I do max out in the gym a lot, but not with the exact core lifts. Let’s say I want to do an 800 pound deadlift. I’ll do a 745 deadlift for a single – that’s not really hard for me – then I’ll put some band tension on there and pull that balls out until I’ve truly maxed out. I teach my CNS to max out like that.

I train really heavy. I don’t know any other way. I always keep the core lift at the center, and I really believe in the principle of specificity. I train really explosively.

What about assistance work?

For bench, I’m a lot more known for raw benching because that’s what I enjoy. I really worked hard on my starting strength and my explosiveness. A lot of plyometric pushups of different variations. I have an article coming out about that. I do a lot of explosive power on the bench. If you do a speed bench rep, for instance, if you don’t have any bands or chains for resistance, it’s going to fit the strength curve where it adds it as you’re locking it out, you’re going to slow down when you’re locking it out because the bicep isn’t going to let you do it because you’re going to hyperextend if you go too fast. You teach yourself how to explode through, and the adjunct of bands and chains has done that. The plyometrics really does it because you don’t stop. With a medicine ball, you push up, and you’re getting off the ground, so you’re going beyond the lockout. That’s where I really got to that world class level – going from the mid-500’s to over 600 in meets.

I’ve worked a lot of dead benches where you just rest the weight right above chest level and push it from a dead stop to eliminate the eccentric part of the lift so it’s all starting strength. A lot of heavy flyes, front raises, military presses. I never got a lot of transference out of heavy incline presses.

For the deadlift, I do the submaximal singles, some down sets for speed – usually one real heavy lift that I max out on. I do stiff legs, shrugs, and some variation of bent rows, GHR’s and reverse hypers. For squats, I do regular squats, squatting against bands a lot – I box squat in the off-season. Lots of really heavy walkouts, pause squats – basically a lot of different variations of squatting is what’s worked best for me.

What’s your general philosophy on strength training for football?

We try to keep it as simple as possible. I like to call it “eliminating the dumbass factor.” Instead of doing power cleans, we’ll do high pulls and jump squats and push presses. We do those three, which has worked well. We like to get some strongman stuff in there and some explosive training. I wrote an article about strongman stuff on the site. We’re 7-0 right now. I’m in my third year at this school. I’ve sent a lot of kids to play in college that I’ve been training on the side. Our school is one of those overachieving places – we’re always stronger and faster than everyone else, but we’re not really big, usually. Metroflex turned into a good thing by accident. I’ve gotten really good results with athletes there.

How did you end up training people at Metroflex?

I was driving through when I was moving here and was going to train at a different gym, and I happened to stop by Metroflex, and I hit it off with the owner, Brian Dobson. He followed powerlifting and he sent me a nice, long email asking me if I wanted to train people there, so I did.

Do you see Ronnie Coleman and Branch Warren regularly?

I see Ronnie at the chiropractor all the time. He’s at Metroflex on and off now because he’s got weights at his house now. He’s not really training as heavy as he wants to, but he’s still really big and muscular. I know Branch a lot better. Brian and Branch go hunting all the time. They just went bear hunting and we had some bear meat in the gym tonight. It tasted a lot like bison meat. I’ve been out with them twice.

What has EliteFTS meant for you?

I started going on the internet a lot when I was senior in high school, and went on the site, read it, and it seemed like the people who wrote and wrote articles on the site seemed to know what they were talking about. They had a mixture of people who were academically accomplished and accomplished in the sport. We have message boards at my grad school, and these people have no practical experience. It can drive you crazy when they tell you some crazy thing. EliteFTS has more balance. I wouldn’t be talking to you right now if I hadn’t written an article for Elite.

What can we expect from you on the site?

It seems like the people who ask questions on the site have obviously put some thought into what they’re doing. They’re not just randomly asking dumb questions. I like to help people who’ve taken some initiative and already have some knowledge about the questions they’re asking. They’re not just taking a stab in the dark. It’s a good opportunity for me to learn from other people because I’ll get to communicate with the other staff members. I can certainly stand to learn a thing or two that way, so that’s a positive thing. The opportunity to network with people will be great.