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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Career Path: Q/A

Dear Mike,

This writing is a request for assistance. I am at fork in the
road on my career path. I'm 22 years old and will graduate
college in December. For the last few years I have been
excitedly learning everything I can about weight training and
nutrition. I chose to pursue mainly nutrition in my
undergraduate studies at Central Michigan University, as a
Dietetics major, but as I near graduation I'm unsure of
whether I want to pursue further education in sports nutrition
or go the route of strength training and become a strength and
conditioning (S & C) coach. I'm inspired by the thought of
someday interning and working with coaches and like-minded
people like you. All I seem to think or read about these days
is related to weightlifting, nutrition, athletics, athletic
development, body composition, and so forth. These are my
passions. What I'm not clear about is how to discern my next
best steps-specifically related to formal education (even
though I realize most education is outside of the classroom).

I'm hoping you might be willing to offer some insight or
suggestions regarding:

1. How I might clarify my passion and/or next steps? (I
realize that it doesn't necessarily have to be strength
training OR nutrition, but having a narrower goal would help
in choosing where to pursue a masters degree, and with what

2. What is the best formal education path once I determine
which route to take? For example, if I choose the S & C route,
would a masters in Kinesiology with a concentration in
exercise science or biomechanics (or something else) be the
best route? If I choose further nutrition education, what
degree(s) would put me in the best position to give nutrition
guidance in an athletic type environment? (I definitely don't
want to be a clinical dietitian.)

3. Are there any masters degree programs or other educational
or training opportunities or internships you especially recommend?

I greatly appreciate any guidance, tips, or helpful resources
you might be willing to offer or point me toward. If you
prefer to talk by phone let me know.

Thank you!

Shane -

Thanks for contacting me - I think you've put yourself in a great position
to be successful down the line.

Firstly, PLEASE make sure to complete your dietetics degree and get your RD.
We need more athletic-minded RD's in the field! Beyond giving yourself an
edge over the competition, you'll be better able to help the
athletes/clients you work with down the line.

As far as finding your passion, it sounds as though you've already done it!
Working with athletes is the greatest job in the world. After you've
completed your dietetic degree and test, look into Masters programs in the
fields of physiology, biomechanics or perhaps a specialized program in
sports nutrition. Make sure to get time in both the lab and practical (e.g.
athletic) settings. Being able to read and comprehend research is a
critical part of any Masters program, but you need to split that time
between the theoretical stuff and the "in-the-trenches" stuff as well.

As far as programs go, I can say without a doubt that UCONN has an excellent
program - I've studied under and worked with many of the staff there, and
they are top-notch. My old alma-mater, Ball State, still has a great lab
but has shifted it's emphasis from strength and power which are my passions.
Finally, the lab at Memphis was very solid a very years ago but I'm not sure
where it's at right now. Those would all be great places to start.

I hope this helps and good luck with your future!


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Meniscus Repair or Partial Meniscectomy

I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed the program Bulletproof Knees. I feel more confident now dealing with the many clients and the ever present knee pain. Of course that's after the MRI and the all clear from their Doctors.

However, I do have a question for you concerning meniscus repair. I have two clients who have had the surgery and were told not only no squatting or step-ups, but not even the basic quad stretch. On page 61 you made it clear about this. I would appreciate any additional comments.

Again thanks for all your work, I also have your shoulder program, great information. Thanks for your help.


The biggest issue here is the terminology, as there’s a huge difference between a MENSICUS REPAIR and a PARTIAL MENISCECTOMY. Here’s a quick anatomy lesson, for those interested.

The meniscus is a hugely important portion of your knee. Not only is it your primary means of shock absorption, but is also aids in distributing force evenly across the knees and aids in proprioception at the knee joint. A few decades ago (before we understood the importance of the meniscus), it was quite common for doctors to yank the whole thing when it was torn! As you can imagine, the post-surgical results were less than optimal and quality of life rapidly declined in most cases.

Now, on to the types of surgery. Only the outer 1/3rd of the meniscus is vascular, or receives blood. Therefore, this is the only portion of the knee which can actually heal itself. Tears that are in the outer 1/3rd of the meniscus, and which are relatively new, are typically the best candidates for a MENISCAL REPAIR. In this case the surgeon will go in and actually suture the torn pieces together, and then cast/stabilize the knee so that it can’t be moved for several weeks. The biggest pro of this procedure is the fact that, if successful, you’ll have all your meniscus in the future. The biggest con here is that the rehabilitation is much more lengthy, often taking up to 6 months to get someone back to full speed.

In contrast, for older injuries or in tears that occur within in the inner 2/3rd’s of the meniscus, a partial meniscectomy is generally performed. In this case the surgeon will go in and remove the torn segments, and then attempt to smooth out the remaining portions of the meniscus. The pro here is that you can typically bounce back very quickly; once you’ve removed swelling/inflammation at the joint you can typically crank up your training pretty quickly. On the down side, you lose some of the shock-absorbing capacity at the joint, leaving you at increased risk of long-term knee issues such as arthritis.

So understanding the type of surgery here is critical – if your surgeon performed a mensical repair, then that client will not be prepared to train for several weeks after surgery. If they only performed a partial meniscectomy, then let swelling, inflammation, and performance dictate what they can/can’t do. Hopefully the physical therapist that worked with them post-surgery has focused on regaining adequate flexion/extension of the knee – if not, that’s a whole ‘nother blog post!

Mike Robertson

The Most Comprehensive Resource Ever Created for Eliminating Knee Pain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Focus on your assistance lifts!

A lot of trainees get so caught up in pushing their core lifts up (squat, bench, deadlift, rows, chins, etc.) that they either neglect, or don’t put in the necessary effort to raise their assistance lifts. In this case, take a step back from your core lifts and really pound your assistance lifts. Quite often you’ll find that you not only have an increased desire to train, but when you go back your core lifts will have gone up to boot!

Mike Robertson

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bulletproof Knees: Reviewed


This manual is seriously awesome. I'm really interested in anatomy of the human body and how you explained the lower body was really easy to understand and interesting. You answered a lot of questions for me regarding ankle mobility because I would always do various searches on google and T-Nation because I noticed the back of my ankles would be a bit painful with certain movements, and your mobility drills helped me a lot.

Not only that, but I always had a slight pain in my lower right knee (below patella it would seem), and your ankle mobility drills have substantially improved this, and I don't get any pain from doing pistols and such. My hip mobility was always on par thanks to MM, so I guess the ankle mobility was the weak link.

Two quick things I also found interesting:

1), I would always feel a bit tight in my hamstrings after an intense resistance workout, so I would always focus static stretching my hams a bit more. This never seemed to make any difference though. Then after focusing on my hip flexors and doing those first 3 static stretches in your manual, and minimizing my hams stretching, my tightness in the hams is really not a problem anymore.

2), the EQI's are awesome! They are very new to me and the first time I could only hold it for 15 seconds (not a surprise after Waterbury's Full Throttle workout haha), but I think the EQI's have also improved my anterior chain streching and tightness of hams.

Again, THANKS! And I know this manual is going to be big help for other rugby players at West Point! Of course, I'll tell them to buy it themselves :P).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Getting my 'A' Game on with the Blog

I have to apologize.

Seriously, I have not given this blog the time and attention it deserves. I could give you a thousand excuses: I'm training hard, working with clients, writing articles, working on several new BIG projects, developing a newsletter, traveling all over the US, etc.

But the bottom line is I haven't been as good with this as I should be, and it's going to change.

In the coming weeks (yes, it will take a few weeks to pull this all together), you're going to see more frequent posting at the very minimum. This could be Q&A's, segments of old articles, or simply portions of e-mail exchanges I have with other coaches. I want this blog to be a solid reflection of what I have going on in my head, just not as messy ;)

So stay tuned: I'm looking for big changes around the 1st of July, and you won't be disappointed!


Thursday, June 7, 2007


In light of my new article coming out at T-Nation soon, I thought I'd give you all an idea of what my training is like right now.

Needless to say, it's quite a bit different than what I'm used to: Shorter rest periods, lighter weights, and really trying to develop some work capacity. Here's what I did on Tuesday's workout:

Magnificent Mobility/Inside-Out combo warm-up

1) Squat, Worked up to 365x5
2A) Pull-ups, 7,6,6
2B) Conventional Deadlifts, 335x5, 385x5 (I suck at these :( )
3A) Green (Average) Band Resisted Push-ups, 3x6
3B) Glute-Hams (Hole #3 first set, #4 second and third), 1x6, 2x8

After the squats everything is done in alternating fashion with a strict 90 second rest period. The weights aren't huge, but the rest period doesn't really allow that right now!

As you can see in the squat clip I've included above, the depth is still dodgy - the first two reps I was "feeling" the weight, versus being aggresive and hitting the hole with confidence. The last three reps are better.

The body is getting stronger and I'm feeling good - can't ask for much more than that!

Stay strong

Monday, June 4, 2007

Can you out-train a bad diet?

A few weeks ago I was reading the "Fat Loss Hierarchy" article written by Alwyn Cosgrove at t-nation.com, and he brings up a great point:

Can you out-train a bad diet? Especially if your primary goal is fat loss?

In fact, Cosgrove goes on to state that proper diet/nutrition is not only THE most important factor in fat loss, it should be the top two most important factors. It's THAT important.

Which brings me to where I am today...

Our company in Indianapolis, Custom Fitness/Custom Athletics, is running a bodyfat challenge for the month of June. The client who loses the greatest amount of body fat over 5 weeks is deemed the winner, and receives a very nice little prize. As part of the challenge, all the coaches are participating as well. My training has been going great, and I've been steadily losing body fat in the process.

But not like I feel like I should.

I've been training hard; cutting rest periods, using big, basic exercises, and I've even doing interval sessions (which totally suck, I might add). So why am I not garnering the body fat loss I think I should?


Quite simply, I haven't had my diet as dialed in as I need to. Had I done better up to this point with cutting starchy carbs to pre-determined times, or doing better with regards to nutrient timing, I could be a lot farther along at this point. And it rings true that the leaner you get, the more dialed in your diet must become - not the opposite! How many times have you seen someone start to get lean, and then they go back to their old ways thinking they've "made it" or something?

Here's the moral of the story - no matter what your goals are, you must emphasize proper diet and nutrition to maximize recovery and/or body fat loss. If you have no clue how to eat properly, when to eat certain foods, or just need a nutrition overhaul, check out John Berardi's Precision Nutrition or Mike Roussell's Naked Nutrition Guide.

I should have an article going up at T-nation later this week with regards to my current training, and when the contest is over I'll be sure to let everyone know how much body fat I lost.

I just hope the calories I take in while vacationing in Vegas this weekened won't count.... ;)

Stay strong