T Nation

Prime Time MR


I'm only on for an hour tonight, but hit me up w/any questions you all have!


Mike, rumour has it that you have a new job... care to share any info?


Yeah, started my new gig today. I've been up since about 2:30 a.m., so forgive me if I'm a little "off" tonight (at least more so than usual!)

I'm now the Director of Custom Athletics in Indianapolis. We do in-home sport performance and personal training, but we are also consultants for several local area high schools and teams. Needless to say, I'm excited about the opportunities the job has to offer.

In my "spare" time, I'll be developing my own company, Robertson Training Systems. I'm hoping to offer seminars nationwide, along with program design for internet training clients. I have a lot more in store for this, but it will come in due time.

Thanks for asking!



I really liked your last article on ideas that bodybuilders could take from powerlifters. I asked your compadare Eric Cressey a couple questions about the article and I wanted to get your take on the two questions (since it was your article)

1 - Are their any aspects of bodybuilding training that powerlifters could benifit from? EC made mention of their diet, which made a ton of sense, but are there any lifting protocols that powerlifters could benifit from?

2- What things can athletes (football in particular) take from both of these disciplines? EC made mention of training all of the strenth qualites (powerlifting) and diet (bbing). Any other ideas that you could add?

One last thing I just thought of. When athletes begin to run, how much of the lifting volume needs to be cut, in your experience. I know that Defranco feels that one should cut the leg lifting down from two to one and keep the volume in check. On the otherhand I believe Joe Kenn stays with training the legs 3 days a week, along with all of the running.

Ok. I just thought of one more. How do you feel about kettleball conditioning for atheltes. I'm thinking about trying it out with my strongman work (using db's, i dont have kb's at my schools weightroom) and I want to get some imput on it. How many exercises could I do? I am thinking like 4-5 exercises in a set up like this.

KB swings x15
KB Clean + Press x15
KB Snatch x15
Overhead Walks x40yd
Farmers Walks x40yds

Repeat it a couple times. How does it look?

Sorry for the huge question.


What is the biomechanical difference between a true GHR and a 'natural GHR'(manual leg curl). To me it feels like the natural GHR doesnt have near as much glute activation.

Do you think that Nat-GHR's are a good enough substitute for those w/o the proper equipment?


Hi Mike,

I'm not sure if this is really your area, but I thought I'd ask. I've been recovering from lower back pain. Do you have any suggestions on how to strengthen the lower back slowly, without putting any major strain on it?




I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you; your choice. Just kidding! I'm working on a piece right now, so I don't want to spoil the fun.

Depends on the athlete, all though I too try to train my athletes throughout all ends of the strength spectrum, but putting more focus on their areas of weakness. Typically, however, I see too many bilateral strength movements in the gym. Don't get me wrong, I want an athlete that's hella strong (which squats and pulls will make you), but they have to be able to carry that strength over to on-field movements as well. Again, more in the upcoming piece.

Yes, but I believe Kenn does more total body workouts with less leg work per day, while DeFranco does one leg day, 2 run days, and his strongman day. Again, you have to focus on their weakness. If they are really strong, 2 leg days instead of one isn't going to make a huge difference in performance. But, if you cut their lifting down to one day and focus on the running and movement, well now you've just opened up new avenues for this player. I know people get tired of me saying this, but it depends on the athlete in question.

KB's? A good medium, but overrated in today's market. It's a great compliment or filler, but I don't feel it's the basis for a great workout by itself.

Stay strong


A natural GHR is way harder? Oh, sorry, that's not biomechanical.

The biggest difference is the lack of gastro-soleus activation d/t the lack of a toe plate. This is also why the "natural" version often feels like you're going to rip your hamstrings off the bone. They are great if you don't have a machine, but if there's any way possible, I would try and get a machine.

As an aside, when I was really pushing these, I was seeing an increase in performance in both my squats and pulls on an almost weekly basis.

Stay strong



Low back pain is a fairly broad term; if you could be more specific, I could probably help. Here are some questions:

Where are you getting pain at?
What movements provoke pain?
Is this an acute injury, or did it come on over time?

As well, I'd really suggest reading EC and I's Neanderthal No More series and the Get Your Butt in Gear series.

Stay strong


'these' being regular or natural GHR's?


Ok all, I need to get some SLEEP. I'll be on all night Thursday from 7-10 EST. If you'd like, drop questions in here in the meantime and I'll get to them before Thursday if I can!

Stay strong and Train Hard



My back pain is located in the muscles around the lumbar spine. It is an acute injury, possibly brought on by one of two events.

I ran two days in a row. The day after my second run, my back ached so I took the week off until it felt completely better. I then started my next workout with deadlifts. It was probably too much weight, too soon because I had taken some time off from deadlifting for a couple of months(focusing on other leg exercises). I didn't notice any pain until later that day though.

I also just started a new job and am spending the entire day in an uncomfortable chair in front of a computer, which doesn't help either!

It's more of a dull aching pain, not so much affected by specific movements, but is more prominent on the days that I sit for long periods of time.

I hope that was more specific. Please let me know if you need more clarification! I'll check out those articles you suggested in the mean time.




Hey Mike,

Thanks to you, I started doing deads about 4 months ago and love them. Where do you think rack pulls should be performed from? My goal as a basketball player is to jump higher, increase leg strength. Are heavy deads and squats enough, or do rack pulls fit into my program? Good mornings?



Hi Mike,

I?d like any feedback you might have on the program shown below which I have put together. I have just completed two cycles of CW?s Waterbury Method program, which I guess would be the ?Accumulation Block? for my current goal of improving my maximum strength. It?s now time to intensify things a bit and go to lower volume, higher load and more frequency.

I?ve decided to do an 8 day cycle through these workouts to allow a day of rest in between, but if you think any of the workouts could be done back to back I?ll be able to fit it in to 7 days.

Two of the workouts are ?heavy? days where there is a main lift using a double wave and the other lifts using low rep sets. The other two workouts are slightly more of a ?speed? day as I will do an Olympic lift on each day. Each workout also has a lighter pre-hab exercise. On the oly lift days I use the overhead squats as a warmup for the faster lifts.

Workout 1:
A. Back Squat (6/4/2/6/4/2 double wave)
B. GHR (4x4)
C. Bent Over BB Rows w/ pronated grip (4x4)
D. Close-grip Bench Press (4x4)
E. Face Pulls (3x12-15)
F. Trunk Flexion Exercise (3x8-10)

Workout 2:
A. Overhead Squat (3x8)
B. Snatch (6x3)
C. Incline Bench Press (6/4/2/6/4/2 double wave)
D. Chin Ups (4x4)
E. Cuban Press (3x12-15)
F. Obliques Exercise (3x8-10)

Workout 3:
A. Deadlift (6/4/2/6/4/2 double wave)
B. Front Squat (4x4)
C. Cable Row w/ pronated grip (4x4)
D. Dips (4x4)
E. Pull Throughs (3x12-15)
F. Trunk Flexion Exercise (3x8-10)

Workout 4:
A. Overhead Squat (3x8)
B. Clean & Jerk (6x3)
C. Flat DB Bench Press (6/4/2/6/4/2 double wave)
D. Rack Pulls (4x4)
E. Low Pulley External Rotations (3x12-15)
F. Obliques Exercise (3x8-10)

Any comments/suggestions would be appreciated.





I'll be on from 7-10 EST time tonight. Feel free to leave questions here and I'll get to them when I log on!

Stay strong


Mike, trying to pick the brains of all you Prime Time guys on this one.

I'm interested in your thoughts on training teenagers which I really don't have any experience in. What are the limitations if any? I've started training my girfriends youngest brother who is 14. For now as a beginner, he is lifting in the higher rep range, but I ultimately planned to move him into heavy training. I'm trying to sort out the myths from the facts. I've heard talk about not going too close to 1 rep max. How close is too close? Any input would be great. Thanks!


I would focus on ironing out any pre-existing muscle imbalances, and focus on proper technique on all lifts. As EC pointed out in one of his earlier Cool Tips, often bodyweight is plenty of resistance until you get the body working the way you want.

Stay strong


You could alternate pulls from the floor with rack pulls another week. I wouldn't focus on starting at one specific point, but different points and positions to make you strong throughout the range of motion. Good mornings are better utilized as an assistance exercise to develop the posterior chain. Good luck!

Stay strong


Looks pretty good. The total volume at those intensities is pretty high, but if your GPP is good you'll be fine. Good luck!

Stay strong


I have been keeping in fairly light so far-in accordance with EC's other cool tip for novice's to stay in the 8-15 rep range. Technique has been a priority as has unilateral work, which I think is very beneficial for beginners. Thanks for the input!