T Nation

Guest Forum: Pick EC's Brain


CW, CT, Mike, and Chris have all done great jobs with their forum stints, so I guess it's my turn to play the role of sacrificial lamb. Post your questions through Thursday night, and I'll have them all answered by Friday morning.

A few quick things that I should mention:

  1. My writing at T-mag is predominantly focused on biomechanics, functional anatomy, and injury rehabilitation and prevention, but feel free to toss out questions on anything that pops to mind. To give you a little background as food for thought, I'm a student in one of the premier exercise endocrinology labs in the country, and work with some of the best D1 athletes in a variety of sports as well. Although I was recruited to play both soccer and tennis in college, I'm now fully devoted to competitive powerlifting. Getting ridiculously huge was never a major goal; I've always been more fascinated with relative strength, as it's most applicable to athletics. This "fascination" led to an APA CT State Record in the deadlift last week. I pulled 510 at 165 (cut lots of water to make it!). Anyway, I'm done blowing sunshine up my own butt! My point is that you can pick my brain on anything and I'll do my best to help you out.

  2. Mike Robertson will be popping in to help out, too. If anyone has any questions about the NNM program or how to modify it for individual needs, we'd be glad to help out.

  3. Call me anal-retentive, but I'm not going to respond to questions from those who refuse to capitalize letters that should be capitalized. Don't even get me started on the "ur," "u," and "2" shortcuts! If I'm going to take the time to answer your questions, please take the time to relate them to me in a comprehensible, mature manner. Thanks!

  4. If you don't have any questions, please feel free to just post pictures of your scantily clad, attractive sisters.

  5. Red Sox fans get preferential treatment. If you guys are nice, I'll explain how Bill Buckner's blunder in '86 was more related to subtalar dysfunction than the curse of the Bambino.

Fire away!


HST type training (specifically 3-day whole body splits) is being dubbed the way to train of the future. Do you think this is just a fad or will it become the default way to train for bodybuilding like training a muscle group once a week was a few years ago?


I'll go again.

I'm weak as a girl but my size/mass/definition is definitely coming along. When training strictly for mass purposes, how often do you think one should incorporate pure strength training? I almost always have some low rep/high intensity work in my split, but those sets are designed more for hypertrophy eg: short rest intervals and heavy compound-light isolation supersets.

Will this suffice, or will i eventually have to take my srength to the next level to see continual gains.



Aging...we all will do it...and as the "Boomers", "X"ers, "Y"ers" and subsequent generations age, they all seem to fighting it's effects tooth-and-nail!

You are around athletes perhaps at their physical "peaks". What has your study, research and practical experience shown you to be the major differences between that 20 year-old running back or Soccor player...and him or her twenty years later? (In terms of overall physiology, muscular changes, etc.)?

What we know:

1)The 20 year old will have MUCH more room for error.
2)The 20 year old will have MUCH shorter recovery times.
3)The 20 year old will be able to fire his neurons much more quickly and efficiently.
4)Exercises effects on the tendons and ligaments of the older trainer will be more profound.
5)As noted, the 20 year old's hormonal and physiologic milieu will be much different.

Others? What about the best way to combat these changes?

Thanks, EC!



I'm a student in one of the premier exercise endocrinology labs in the country, and work with some of the best D1 athletes in a variety of sports as well.

Out of curiosity, do you work with these athletes in the endocrinology lab? If so, could you give some examples of formal or informal studies you do?

My labs have almost always used the general population. Athletic coaches and strength coaches are reluctant to turn their athletes over for any study taking them away from "regular" training. Which is something I would be wary to do as well.


I'll ask one more too, EC!

What do you see as the advantages and disadvanges of performing SUMO Deads vs "traditional" Deads IF the goal is 1)physique enhancement and 2)(for our Powerlifting friends) improving your overall lifts?

If physique enhancement is the goal, should you alternate the two, and how would you do it within a workout cycle? (Note: This one didn't get through to the Guest Forum last month).




How about picking a program such as a CW or DeFranco and showing how you would encorporate additional work to simultaneously deal with common postural problems, common highly tonic muscles, etc. This could be work added as warm up or cool down, work added between sets, or whatever you see as optimal.


Hey Eric,

I have a couple of question's concerning part 5 in the NNM series.
Will Mike and Yourself provide any stretches/PNF pattern's that focus on the Subcapularis and Pec Minor?. The reason i ask is that i have had several
shoulder issues due to tight Internal rotators and those Fantastic Weider principles that we all used in the early 90's ( Remember the "ALL OUT" principle, concentric failure plus forced reps and negatives on every set! my shoulder's "CLICK" in salute to Ben&Joe ) I've always felt a inability to stretch these 2 stuctures sufficiently as the subcap/pec minor seem resistant to conventional stretches and are prone to adhesion build-up.

hope you can help dude.



a bunch of questions on your "Neanderthal no more" program, which I will start in a couple of weeks:

  1. A number of exercises are unweighted (supine bridges, dead bug twists, side hip thrusts), - if I hit the max number of reps prescribed in all sets, should I attempt to add external load somehow (this might not become an issue...) ?

  2. Front squats and close grip decline bench should be performed as 3/2/1/3/2/1 reps: Is this supposed to be basic wave-loading (ie. priogressive load on first wave, higher progressive load on second wave) ?

  3. I might be stupid, but I dont get the descripion of the dead bug twists: Does the torso remain flat on the floor at all times, and only legs/arms move from side to side (opposite directions) ?

  4. I have access to several chest-supported rowing machines, but none that is really a t-bar type. Which kind of grip should I go for ?

Thanks again for the great work, - Im looking forward to fixing all the little problems with this program !


Hi Eric,

My first question is similar to John K's. The NNM3 program is for someone with bad posture. What do you recommend to someone who has fixed their posture and wants its to stay that way. How much work needs to be done to stop muscle imbalances besides doing things like rowing as much as benching etc.

With regards to the NNM3 program, what could I replace step ups with. My right knee seems to be able to handle lunges etc. but not these. Also there seems to be a lot of quad exercises (front squats, lunges etc). Then again the front squat volume is low. In extreme cases do you recommend not doing quad dominant exercises?

Finally can anything be done about structural scoliosis?



You wrote:

"Precede this session with a dynamic warm-up emphasizing ballistic stretches for the hip flexors, hamstrings, erectors spinae, and IT band.

Precede this session with a dynamic warm-up emphasizing ballistic stretches for the lats, chest, and anterior delts."


"There aren't any articles here that mention them, and specific descriptions would be an article of their own!"

Could you write an article on this.


EC, As our focus has been injury rehabilitation and prevention i was wondering if you think MSM, GLUCOSAMINE and CHRONDROTIN are worth the investment.

Secondly, I am basically lifting four times a week and playing ball the other three so as such i dont have any real rest days. Is this a bad thing? I have noticed lesser mass gains of course but is this a bad thing as far as injury prevention goes?



Ok. I'm 40 years old and just started weightlifting in March. I wish I had started years ago but I can't turn back the clock. I'm also fairily new to T-mag and I'm sure many people have asked questions about what split to use. I've been doing a 3 day per week full body workout and have seen quite a bit of gain in the weight I'm using and a bit in my appearance. I would like to add a bit more intensity and additional excersises and maybe try a 3 or 4 day split. I'm just having a real hard time believing that working out one body part per week is good enough. I feel like this would be a step backwards. I guess I'm looking for a bit of reassurance that this will work and maybe a quick 4 day split workout for an old fart like me.




Thanks for taking the time to let us pick your brain.

Could you give us a glimpse at some of the research you are doing in the lab?

What is the most surprising thing that you have learned from your research?



My question concerns an elbow pain I have recently experienced. It is very localized and is on the end of the bone that is on the inside edge of my arm directly at the elbow joint (Right arm, palm up, left edge directly at the arm crease). When applying pressure to the bone with the arm extended there is very little pain noticeable. The pain is most prevalent when the arm is bent. Also, the pain is minimal under no-load conditions but increases substantially under heavy loads.

I'm 43 and have been training serious for almost 2 years (5'10" 185 lbs. ~15% BF). My postural analysis indicates a slight internal rotation of the humeri, which I've just started to address. Workouts primarily consist of compound movements with occasional inclusion of a biceps or triceps isolation. Supinated movement such as chin-ups produce more pain than pull-ups or pronated bent rows.

Thanks for your time.


Didn't the Redsox just get swept by the greatest franchise in the history of pro sports, your New York Yankees? Bill Buckner was just a function of history, like Bucky, Aaron, and most recently the captain and his 4 row dive.



Can you give me your take on the transferability of power development from Olympic Lifting exercises to sporting movements for different classes of athletes?

I was recently given an article by a colleague in which the author states that for advanced atheltes the Olympic Lifts do not transfer well to specific sporting movements and that other means must be used to improve power production in these sporting skills.

You can read the article here:


What's your take on that?

Thanks for your input.



While Bryan Haycock has certainly done his homework with researching this type of training, I'd be very hesitant to dub it the training style of the future. It's one of those programs that, in my experience, either works wonders for someone or gives them nothing. A few observations:

  1. I definitely think it has merit for beginners, as it gives them structure that is often absent in programs in this population.

  2. I think it's unfortunate that very little of training is devoting to 5 reps, and none is devoted to 5RM loads and under. You need to have this heavy loading to stimulate sacromere (functional) hypertrophy, rather than just sarcoplasmic (structural, or "all show and no go") hypertrophy.

  3. I disagree with the concept of training muscle groups. Whether you're an athlete or a bodybuilder, the body functions as a single unique; the less you train in "isolation," the better.

  4. There is a predominance of single-joint exercises, which are inferior in terms of fiber recruitment and the beneficial hormonal response to exercise when compared to squats, deadlifts, etc. In other words, I'd much rather have an individual do an extra set of rows than move to curls.

  5. When it really comes down to it, this is just a form of linear periodization. New research (Dr. Kraemer, in my lab, especially) and anecdotal evidence (CW's programs) are showing the undulating periodization (or slight variations on the traditional protocols) and conjugated periodization (Westside-influenced) blow linear periodization out of the water.

One man's trash is another man's treasure, so my recommendation is to give it a shot if you're really intrigued by the program. Bryan is a very smart guy who has had some good results; otherwise, people wouldn't be coming back for more, right?:slight_smile:



I think it's very important to have some pure strength work in there, although I think you can get away with it with the shorter rest intervals (e.g. 8x3 with a 5RM load and 60 seconds rest in between sets). Give cluster training a shot, too. I'm actually working with someone right now who is planning to do his first bodybuilding show in October, and he's struggling with a similar problem: great endurance with traditional hypertrophy rep ranges, but no comfort under a heavy bar, and insufficient strength. The next few months are going to be devoted almost exclusively to near-maximal weights, as he needs to build up some density rather than just bulk. Since he'll be dieting toward the end of the programming, it'll work out well in terms of reduced volume/muscle damage when at a caloric deficit.

But, to answer your question, lift heavier weights throughout the year and you'll make much better progress overall.


Believe it or not, I think that the most overlooked aspect of all these problems is the mindset. Take a look at 75% of the D1 athletes with whom I work, and they got to where they are because they wanted it more than anyone else. Sure, there are genetic and opportunistic factors that obviously play a role in making it big time, but many of them just have that extra drive that separates them from the rest. You can see the same in powerlifters and bodybuilders, for that matter.

In the older crowd, we just don't see it. People try to find time for the gym instead of making time. Basically, they take on hundreds of responsibilities - work, children, etc. - yet ignore their most important responsibility in the world: the ones to themselves to be physically healthy.

I think that one of the most significant causes of these problems is the removal of the competitive fire. Most people thrive on competition, and that fire is lost when they get on in their twenties. Add it back in - whether it be through competition (powerlifting, bodybuilding, adult sport league), a good training partner to push you, or physique transformation contests - and people's gains go through the roof!

More to come...