T Nation

EC Prime Time: 9/20 and 9/23


I'm going to be on the go all day today, so I'll get this started early. Any questions for tonight?



I'm following WS4SB 2, and I love it! I don't know why I haven't used a Westside-based system (conjugate) before. Actually, I do. All the templates were geared toward powerlifters. I never realized how you could manipulate the template to make other gains until seeing how Joe DeFranco set it up (repetition day instead of DE day and more work on other bodyparts as well as a strongman day).

Any suggestions for deloading weeks or how to implement some back off days into the program? I was used to working up in volume and intensity for three weeks and then backing off on the volume (but keep intensity) on the fourth week.

However, WS4SB 2 doesn't seem too high in volume (most exercises are 3-4 sets). So, how would I deload or implement back-off weeks? Or should I just go by feel each day and week and back off if needed?

Any tips for tweaking the program for long-term gains (other than changing max effort exercises every 2 weeks and assistance exercises every 4 weeks)?


p.s. I'm now a believer in the Westside method.


Good luck with your day.

More of a general question - how would anybody have recognised you before you broke out of the pack? I mean, there must be tons of guys with the same profile, lifting every day, wanting to become a trainer, competing in sports, working with athletes, blah blah blah. Yet many would argue (as I would) that you do know what you're doing and you're getting stuff right. A vast majority are not. Do you think you did anything different early on? Would you be able to spot it in someone else?

I'm mainly asking because I'm thinking of looking for someone over here in Madrid next year, and right now, I'd basically shoot down anybody who didn't preach the T-Nation way of doing things. And I don't know if that's the healthiest way to judge them.



Hey Eric,

With the benefits of the DL to Athletes, PL, BB (i.e. improved speed, a better barometer of total body strength, a move used in everyday life) why hasn?t it passed the Squat as King? ?O.C.


Is it possible to apply DUP to a distance runner, or triathlete's training?

How would you do it?

How would you set up a year for a beginner distance runner or triathlete or cyclist.

What would your periods be focusing on, not the specifics, just the generalities.

The reason why I am asking is because I read an Owen Anderson article on how effective DUP is for strength training, and i was curious if it was appliable (yes apply able, not aplicable) to endurance training.

He also mentioned the idea of a swimmer working on his stroke for large amounts of time before going into high volume phases.

Which makes sense. To straighten out your posture via strength training, and to do form drills like striders, then only after your form is very good, to do high volume. Which, i would think, will help avoid injuries.



Hi Eric,

My hamstring flexibility is extremely poor. When I stretch them with straight legs I feel very tight right behind the knees in particular, to the point that stretching is painful.

This is something I want to address to aid my lifting and also my general health.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated - what would you suggest to improve this ASAP?

Many thanks


Hi Eric,

I recently came down with some major pain in my bicep tendon and I am suspecting it is slightly torn. I hurt strained it last week training jiu jitsu, and the next day I tried to throw a football and it floored me.

I'm going to start taking creatine, glutamine and glucosamine/msm to try and speed up the rehabilitation process.

Any training advice from here? I plan to take a minimum of one week off then do a lower body day and see how I feel. After that I want to try to bench and see how it feels. I figure I can play it by ear and sort of try to listen to my body. Any other advice for this type of injury?


On your ME days do you time your RI between sets? Or just wait 'til you feel ready for your next set to begin?

How do you work the spacing on your grip for the bench? Change it on each set? Change it from workout to workout? Work most with the grip you'll be using in competition? etc. etc.

Thank you,



there have been alot of specilization articles here are T-Nation lately. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on them and also most importantly what are your feelings are maintaining certain strength abilities. I am right now trying the 60% rule that is mentioned in the science and practice of strength training. With the remaining 40% i was hoping to to maintain two strength qualities. Each phase, about 4-6 weeks in length, would focus on either strength,power, or hypertrophy and then the remaining two would be maintained using the the left over 40%.

How much would it take to maintain each of the three qualities( would a certain weekly volume/intensity score be needed to gain or maintain) or does it just depend on the individual when considering how much it would take to maintain. Would it just be better to first figure out my weekly volume score and then just break up the percentage and what ever is left over is what is left to maintain whereas the bigger number, the 60%, would be what it takes to gain.


hi eric i had a third question to go along with my first post. Do you believe there is a daily amount limit to the amount of stimilus you can give to a particular muscle group. say we use 8 sets of 3 with a 5rm for seated rows as our example(i know how much you love rowing). since the magic number of twenty four has been achieved would it be best to just move on to another muscle group or, assuming the added training volume was not abover what one could handle, could you come back and hit the back with another different exercise in a different rep range, and still achieve maximal results. My basic question is would it be better to train a muscle with more volume in each session, say two, or would it be better to just train the muscle more often with less volume in each session?


Hey Eric,

I broke a toe on my right foot Saturday night and went to the doctor yesterday. They taped it, put it in a boot, and told me to use crutches for at least ten days. So, I asked the doc about working out and she said doing upper body stuff is fine. This injury really doesn't bother me too much, I'm not even using the crutches, but I don't think it's a good idea to do leg stuff for about two weeks.

Anyway, I've been looking around in the archives for an upper body training article. I figured I would make the most of this leg off-time and focus on boosting my bench. Here's the problem:

I'm a beginner and pretty much weak all around (My current bench is about 170, Squat and Deadlift more than that, but haven't tested them yet)and I need to focus on bringing EVERYTHING up. So, I don't necessarily think following an 8-week program for just my bench is a good idea.

So, my question is: Should I perform CT's 8 week Bench Program (or a similar one), or perform it for two weeks, then go back to full body (I was on the last week of ABBH II when this happened). Or do you have any other reccomendations?




I'm currently taking a class on fitness at school and today we were talking about weight training and program setup. There were quite a few things that the teacher said that I didn't agree with. He isn't a strength coach at all, rather a baseball coach so I understood going in that I wasn't going to be getting a ton out of it. It's just an elective cake class anyway, I'm almost done with my major. Anyway, back to my question.

He said that you want to be working toward failure quite a bit because it forces the muscle to overreach. I had always understood that doing this would kill an athlete because it would overtrain his CNS a ton. Could you please explain to me why failure does so I can defend my postion if the situation?

Also, he talked about using vary short rest intervals, mostly for athletes, because it mimics there situation in sports. Isn't this a little far out there with the sports specificty training? I understand the need to build work capacity but shouldn't that be done in seperate sessions or periodized in? Shouldn't a football player training for strength make the workout strength deigined to allow themselves to recharge their CNS a bit? Could you also explain the why for that?

Ok, last one. He stated that strength work should be in the 80% zone. I have always understood (from the Elite guys, esp Wendler) that do get stronger you need to lift big weights, around 90% because it trains the CNS. Could you explain why (or why not, i guess) you need to lift big weights in order to gain strength?

Thanks for all the help. The reasoning I am asking all this is that at the end we have to put together a fitness program for a situation of our choice. I plan on using alot of the ideas I have learned on Elite and here for that program for it and I want to be able to defend their correctness in a reasonable manner because he is a good guy and I don't want to be a dick.


Hey everyone,

Sorry for the delay; I had some technical difficulties with my internet access. I'll get to everyone right now.



Shoot for a backoff week every fourth week. In these weeks, you can take any of several approaches, but my personal favorite for a conjugated template like this is:

Week 1: High
Week 2: Medium
Week 3: Very High
Week 4: Low

(These classifications are based on calculations from a system of mine that takes into account volume, intensity, exercise complexity, and a few other factors).

Now, in terms of backing off, I'd recommend that you really aim to push the volume in week 3. Try to get an extra few lifts above 90% 1RM and/or look to add some supplemental lift volume. When week 4 rolls around, you can either drop your ME lifts altogether and just do some supplemental work (if you're feeling beaten down by the heavy weights) or just take your ME lift with somewhat heavy weights and leave a few reps in the hole. Regardless, you'll want to take the volume down considerably on your assistance work.

With this approach, you should be feeling good by the end of week 4 and ready to set some PRs.


hi there eric one last question i think. if someone has to train first thing in the morning or within 30 mintues of waking up what kind of snack or meal should i have. would a serving of Surge be appriopate along with drinking a second serving during the workout or should i try a light snack of toast, fruit, whey


GREAT questions. There are a few things that come to mind:

First, I tend to adhere to a quote a friend of mine used in passing a while back. Pardon my French, but he said "You're not so fucking special." It's something that guides me; the second you think you're good at something, you become complacent. I'm always looking for new ways to get better, and truthfully, as a humble kid from a small town in Maine, I'll never be one of those unapproachable, egotistical strength coaches. I guess it's one reason why I feel weird answering this email.

Second, I practice what I preach. You'd be surprised how many coaches with good theoretical knowledge bases train like sissies or not at all. You'll never have a perspective on the physiological response to exercise if you've never experienced such a response yourself at a number of levels depending on the training stimuli.

Third, I'm a workaholic. This isn't a good thing when you're 24. I regularly work 60+ hour weeks when you factor in clients (in-person and online), Prime Time, and just answering emails day-to-day. I'm also still involved up at UCONN (was there all day today) coaching athletes just because I wanted to check in on the athletes with whom I've worked for a few years now (and just because I love coaching).

Fourth, I've been fortunate to interact on a daily basis with a lot of really experienced and intelligent people by phone, email, and personal interaction. I'm a firm believer that everyone has something to teach, so I go out of my way to talk shop with as many people as possible.

There are probably a few other reasons that will come to mind later. :slight_smile:

It's interesting that you bring "spotting this" in someone else. I guess I've kind of acquired a knack for it when it comes to our interns at UCONN. There are a lot that come through just to get their credit hours and kind of just go through the motions without ever really thinking "Damn, I could actually use this in my own training! Heck, I might even have something constructive to offer." With that in mind, keep an eye out for a guy named Mike Irr in the next few years; he's a good kid who has really impressed me of late. :slight_smile:

Things I would have done differently? Well, I would have set better rules for myself early-on about finding a balance between work and play. Right now, I work waaaaaay too much relative to the amount of time I play. I need to get better on this front just for the sake of mental health!


I'd say that it depends on who you ask! As I recall, in a recent Atomic Dog, TC actually said that the dead was a better indicator of overall strength than the squat or bench press.

Actually, I think the main thing holding back the DL's proper coronation as king is the fact that Joe Weider insisted that squats were king on several occasions. I believe it was right before he parted the Red Sea and invented the polio vaccine. :slight_smile:


PS - We live in a very quad dominant society, so people naturally gravitate toward exercises at which they can perform well quickly. To be a good deadlifter, you have to train movements that aren't familiar to you.


Yes, it's possible. Is it optimal? In my opinion, no. I'm a huge fan of the conjugate approach; I see absolutely no reason to separate different motor qualities into entirely different training days. Our bodies are smarter than that when it comes to adaptation.

Early-on, we'd work to establish movement efficiency with a variety of postural holds, altitude landings, and shock training progressions as well as basica form drills for each discipline. This would accompany traditional resistance training to improve neuromuscular efficiency.

From an endurance training standpoint, I would gradually increase volume of Z1 and Z2 training to establish a good base and supplement it with some interval work and higher intensity steady-state stuff (at around lactate threshold). The more experienced the individual got, the more intervals and LT SS work we'd do.

Yes, it's applicable. Unfortunately, a large portion of the resistance training community has failed to embrace conjugated - or even realize it exists - simply because no researcher has been informed enough to create a good study design to compare it against undulating or linear set-ups.

Correct. Resistance training will always correct deficiencies much faster than they develop.


Uh, stretching? :slight_smile:

Seriously, though, stretch three times per day. Get a partner to PNF you. Hit the foam roller, too. Finally, get cracking on some dynamic flexibility work; static stretching will only take you so far (keep an eye out for some cool stuff on this front in the not-so-distant future).