Working Class Man: Marc Megna Workout

There are a million reasons why Muscletech performance coach Marc Megna shouldn't be living his dreams. But they're not stopping him.
Megna’s grandfather took him under his wing and taught Megna the basic lifts.
"Megna’s grandfather took him under his wing and taught Megna the basic lifts."

Forget that he's got the kind of body you'd sell a kidney for or that he played pro football with Tom Brady and Willie McGinest. Never mind that he now preps future NFL greats for the combine and models for one of the world's top supplement companies. You wouldn't fault him for any of it. Megna is your kind of guy for two reasons: he worked his ass off for all of it, and he doesn't think it makes him any better than you.

"People look at me and say, 'He's an in-shape, good-looking guy,'" says Megna, who's 6-foot-2 and a chiseled 215 pounds. "But I don't think that way about myself. I still have low confidence." Growing up in the blue-collar town of Fall River, Mass., Megna was overweight, dyslexic, and a target for bullies. He was raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs, and he knew he wouldn't go to college without financial assistance.

Athletics were not only an outlet for his frustrations, but also, he imagined, a way to build a better life.

"I thought that through sports I could get a little respect," Megna says, though he was anything but a natural athlete. In fact, even his Little League coach told him: "Sports aren't for you."

At age 12, Megna discovered the gym. His grandfather was an avid lifter who trained Everett Sinderhoff, a bodybuilding sensation in the 1940s. He took Megna under his wing and taught him the basic lifts.

"I told my mom all I wanted for my birthday was a membership to the gym, and I went every single day," he says.

"I told myself that I would use every ounce of energy in my body to change my circumstances." Megna's discipline never wavered.

"I wanted to take care of myself and the house and be an organized person," he said. "Every single thing I did, I wanted to do it right—no shortcuts. At some point, my athletic ability started to catch up with my work ethic." Megna played inside and outside linebacker on his high school football team, and although he was repeatedly told by coaches and friends alike that he didn't have the genetics to play college ball, he had a penchant for outworking his teammates.

Megna made every sacrifice. "I have a difficult time learning and staying focused," he says. "But I went to school and practices early, stayed late, and eventually got a full scholarship to the University of Richmond—and no one in my family has ever gone to college."

However, nothing got easier. At 218 pounds, Megna was undersized for Division I football, and his coaches wanted him to be a defensive lineman. He took his fair share of beatings playing against guys who weighed more than 300 pounds, but he trained and ate voraciously to keep up.

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"I thought, 'I'd rather be moving than sitting. I enjoy running, lifting, and being around positive people who do what they do with passion.'"

"I'd eat two Belgian waffles and six bagels for breakfast," Megna says of his force-feeding sessions. By his senior year, he weighed 255 and was still "flying around" the field making tackles. His bench press got up to 450 pounds and his squat to 650.

Megna stood on the cusp of his dream. The Jets took him in the sixth round of the '99 draft but released him after training camp. He was picked up by the New England Patriots, then bounced to the Cincinnati Bengals, then back to the Pats under Bill Belichick.

Though his time on the field was mostly special-teams play in a handful of regular season games, Megna can boast that he played for his hometown team alongside athletes whose posters he had on his wall as a kid. "I remember sitting in the locker room, staring at my jersey, and being in awe of it all."

In 2001, Megna went on to play three years in the Canadian Football League, where he became an all-star and won the Grey Cup (the CFL's equivalent to the Super Bowl) with the Montreal Alouettes. Already banged up from years of collisions, Megna saw his career end during a pass rush when a lineman jumped on his shoulder, causing Megna to tear three discs in his back. "I couldn't walk and was in pain for months," he says. It was four years before Megna could squat again, but he battled back to health.

Still, nothing makes Megna, now 35, happier than knowing he has achieved everything he's wanted through hard work.
"Still, nothing makes Megna, now 35, happier than knowing he has achieved everything he's wanted through hard work."

"When people play for years," Megna says, "they don't really go on to be insurance salesmen afterward. What else can you do but coach or be an analyst? When you get a taste of it, and then no longer get it, it's hard." But Megna remained optimistic. He was 29 and still had the chance to start a second career. "I thought, 'I'd rather be moving than sitting. I enjoy running, lifting, and being around positive people who do what they do with passion.' So I thought I'd like to help people as a coach."

He studied exercise science and took a job with Bommarito Performance Systems, a strength and conditioning company in Aventura, Florida that specializes in preparing players for the NFL combine. Megna has since had the chance to work with superstars such as Wes Welker and Maurice Jones-Drew, as well as the general population.

"When he was [at Richmond]," says DeMayo, "Marc was only an athlete. But he challenged the coaches to learn more. He brought information about what it's like to be an athlete. Now that he's a coach, he's already lived it, so he'll find better ways to do things for athletes." On top of his experience and love of learning, Megna possesses another essential coaching attribute that can't be taught: compassion. "He's the nicest guy I've met in my life," DeMayo says. "Talking to him is like talking to a big brother. He genuinely cares."

In 2009, leading supplement manufacturer MuscleTech contacted Megna. Needing an athletic model to showcase their products, they found Megna through photos on Facebook. He's now a MuscleTech-sponsored performance coach featured in numerous ads.

Still, nothing makes Megna, now 35, happier than knowing he has achieved everything he's wanted through hard work. He's quick to shrug off compliments and hype, a symptom of the humble upbringing he can't outgrow. "You look at what he's accomplished and gone through, and you'd think there's room for an ego," DeMayo says, "but he has none. Our industry needs more people like Marc."

What Supps Megna Takes

Pre Workout

Train For The Game

Prep yourself for pick-up football this spring with Marc Megna's preseason plan. Marc Megna trains football players to peak when NFL contracts are on the line, so he's pretty sure he can whip you into shape to handle a touch game with your buddies.

In the spirit of the NFL combine next month, Megna offers this 12-week workout program for regular guys who want to play like the pros. Week 1 appears below. Go to muscleandfitness.com to see the entire plan.

DIRECTIONS

Split: Perform each workout (Day 1, 2, 3, and 4) once per week, resting at least a day between each session.

HOW TO DO IT

Perform the paired exercises (marked "A" and "B") as alternating sets. You'll do one set of A, rest, then one set of B, rest, and repeat until all sets are complete. Perform the remaining exercises as straight sets.

For the speed exercises, use 55% of your max and move the weight as explosively as you can.

Day 1
Day 2
Perform each rep slowly.
Day 3
Day 4

Muscle & Fitness

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