T Nation

HoosierFan Gets Strong


While attending Test Fest, I was the fortunate recipient of three months of complimentary training from Mike Robertson. Several T-Nation members--okay, maybe two--wanted me to chronicle my progress in the forums.

So here it is.

I want to add an important disclaimer about posting my progress. You may find that my posts will lack specifics about my program. This is for two reasons as laid out by Coach Robertson himself:

1 - People pay Mike to design customized programs and his customer base probably wouldn't like knowing that his programs are just all over the Internet for anyone to use, free of charge.

2 - Some of you might look at my program and think, "This fucking sucks! I write better programs than Robertson." However, Mike knows all about me--my situation, my goals, my health--and has a long-term plan in mind. What he's designed for me is perfect for my current situation and where I'm going.

That said, I will answer any questions you have about what I'm doing as long as they don't violate the two rules. I appreciate your understanding.

So let's begin.

For the first step, I completed an assessment detailing my goals, prior training, any health issues. Here is my initial e-mail to Mike (please forgive the length):

[i]Here is the requested assessment information. It's a bit long, but I felt some of the information needed to be told.

My Current Training Program
I believe a little history about my workout history before I get into my current workout is in order. I tried for the majority of 2005 to get in shape. I struggled with allergy-induced infections that would lay me out for one to two weeks at a time, nullifying any workouts I would do. I played basketball and lifted when my body let me. I got that part under control with allergy medicine. So all's well that ends well, right?

In the late summer, I felt some pretty severe pain in my back and began seeing a chiropractor who also performs ART on me. Part of my treatment is to wear a 5mm lift to balance out my hips. I have an 8mm difference between my leg lengths. The lift has helped things out. Additionally, my L2 or L3, I can't recall which at the moment, is wonky and he's still working on straightening it out.

He didn't want me to lift so I began to swim. I stopped seeing him for a few months and finally said, "Screw it." My weight at the time was 228 pounds and I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I picked up Lou Schuler's book[/i] The Testosterone Advantage Plan[i] and felt the workouts would have a limited affect on my back. I even asked Lou for his non-medical opinion on the matter and he concurred that my back should be okay, but to ask my doc if I had concerns.

With my mind made up and plan in hand, I set out. On November 7, I began a 10-day version of the Velocity Diet to jumpstart the process. I then began the Testosterone Advantage Plan (TAP) a few days later. To date, I've lost 28 pounds and the pain in my back is lessoning. I'm back to seeing my chiropractor and he continues with adjustments and ART.

This may be more information than you asked for, but I felt you should know that I've not been lifting consistently for a long time and I do have an existing back problem.

I just finished phase two of TAP. This phase lasted three weeks and consisted of the following:

Workout A
W1-Barbell Bench Press
W2-Cable Row
X1-Lat Pulldown
X2-Barbell Shoulder Press
Y1-Lying Triceps Extension with EZ Bar
Y2-Preacher Curl
Z1-Dumbbell External Rotation
Z2-Swiss-Ball Crunch

Workout B
X1-Leg Press
X2-Leg Curl
Y1-Leg Extension
Y2-Back Extension
Z1-Seated Calf Raise
Z2-Reverse Crunch

Over three weeks, I alternated the workouts--workout A on Monday, workout B on Wednesday, etc. The lifts were performed as super sets as indicated by the letters. For each exercise, I performed three sets at 8-12 reps. When I hit 12 reps for a lift, I increased the weight. The first set was usually used as a warm-up and had lighter weight. I had a 60 second rest between sets and exercises. I have phase one and two written down and can provide that information if you need it.

My Current Goals
My current goals have primarily consisted of losing fat while not losing muscle and strengthening my back. I'm not concerned with getting hyooge right now but I do want to get stronger.

I also set a goal of returning to the basketball court when I reached 190 pounds. There's not much significance in the number other than it means I will have lost another 10 pounds and put in another four weeks or so of strength training to support my back.

To that end, these would be my current goals:

  1. Lose body fat
  2. Get strong (maintain my muscle)
  3. Get functional by strengthening my core
  4. Get back on the basketball court
  5. Dunk

Final Thoughts
As you put together my program, I'm a little hesitant to do any Olympic-style lifts if you're thinking of using them. First, my chiro doesn't want me to do dead lifts. I think he personally hates them more than he's actually worried about my back, but it bears mentioning. Secondly, never having done any Olympic-style lifts, I wouldn-t want to start out doing any of them incorrectly.[/i]

From that rambling message, Mike put together a lifting, flexibility, and posture rehab program. Here are the basics of what I'm doing:

  • Train 3 times per week with weights
  • Do posture/prehab/rehab work 3 times per week (minimum)
  • Perform cardio 3 tims per week for about 20 minutes

More specifically:
1 - Perform the dynamic flex/spinal flossing before each workout to get me prepped and ready to go.

2 - The training program. For the first phase, I'm lifting three times a week on non-consecutive days while alternating "A" and "B" workouts as before. He managed to mesh several goals into one program (fat loss, get the back healthy, and start bringing up the strength). Once I get totally healthy, the programming will change.

3 - Perform posture/prehab/rehab work at least three times per week on non-consecutive days.

After several rounds of questions to get an understanding of his training style and further explanations about lifts and stretches, I hit the gym last Tuesday.

My next post will start to talk about my impressions and results from my first week of training.

Thanks for reading and I hope somebody will find this worth reading and even benefit from it.

So, to paraphrase Coach Robertson:

Getting Stronger,


Glad you're puttin out like you said you would, I hate teases. I'll be reading this regularly so you better keep it up, plus the next test fest is likley to be closer to you and if you go you better be JACKED!



I'm afraid this little experiment is going on hiatus for about three months. I broke the fourth metacarpal in my left hand while playing basketball last week. Next week I'll have surgery.

And I was ready to give you a progress report on the almost completed phase one. This is frustrating because I was seeing and feeling results.

See you guys in three months.


Why do you have to take three months off for a broken hand?


I'm getting a plate put into my hand and I'll be in a cast. The doctor said I'll be able to do light lifting in 6-8 weeks but won't be able to resume the heavy stuff for three months. I hope to return sooner, but that's the initial plan.


Dude! That stinks. I was looking forward to seeing your progress.



Thanks. Mike Robertson is putting the training on hold until the hand is ready for his special brand of hell. And I'm so looking forward to it.