- "Interview with Men's Health Expert Mike Mejia"
- "Injured? You can Continue Training!"
--Whats New on the Website?


Mike Mejia, CSCS, is a regular contributor to Men's Health magazine and is also a strength and conditioning specialist in Long Island, NY. Getting time for an interview with this successful fitness writer and bodybuilder was not easy, but it was worth it!


CB: Mike, why don't you tell the readers about your personal training business?

MM: I'm currently doing private sessions in New York - lots of personal training with executives, but this hasn't stopped me from continuing with freelance writing assignments. I write a column in Let's Live and I often write feature articles for Physical magazine. And in addition to all of this, I've been working with a youth hockey program as an off-ice conditioning coach.


CB: Mike, you truly meet the definition of an expert. How did you come into a strength and conditioning career?

MM: I received an undergraduate in Exercise Physiology from Adelphi University and a Master's from Queens College (New York) in the same subject. I am also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. That is the top certification for individuals in this field.


CB: It sounds like you are really helping a lot of people. What are your personal achievements as a strength coach?

MM: I am most proud of my work with the Saskatoon Blades (a Junior Hockey team in Canada) and currently with the Syosset Bobcats Minor Hockey Team.


CB: Training hockey players can be an amazingly rewarding experience. Are there any anecdotes you would like to add from working with the Blades?

MM: Hockey players are just like any other athletes: Show them you can help them perform better and they'll listen to anything you say.


CB: Mike, since your clients are often busy executives, do you have any training tips to pass on that will enhance their mental and physical health? Can you suggest any training ideas that can actually help them perform better at work and improve their bottom line?

MM: I've always maintained that starting the day with an intense workout makes everything else you do seem easy by comparison. Hitting a new personal best on a deadlift or a squat, or grinding out some high rep supersets first thing in the morning makes the rest of the day a breeze.


CB: That is an excellent philosophy. Since you are a serious bodybuilder, surely you must have some "insider" tips for building muscle?

MM: It's easy. Feed the machine. Doesn't matter what kind of program you're on, if the caloric (nutritional) support isn't there you won't build a thing. Also, use every trick in your arsenal. Don't buy into only one training style or philosophy exclusively because no one has all the answers. High reps, low reps, fast reps, slow reps (wasn't that a Dr. Suess book?), they all have their place.


CB: And is that your general philosophy?

MM: My philosophy is that "The path of least resistance often leads to nowhere." I love this quote and have adopted it as a sort of a mantra because it applies so well to not only my chosen field but to all aspects of life. You want to get bigger and stronger? It's all about heavy weights and lots of effort. Lean? Eating correctly and performing tough interval work in combination with intensive weight training. No gimmicks, no lying to yourself. It might take a lot of effort to get where you're going, but you'll be very satisfied when you get there.


CB: That's a super philosophy. What are your favorite exercises when it comes time to put philosophy into application?

MM: For the upper body, particularly the upper back that most people neglect, I really love the classic Pull-up. And for the lower body, again an area that people neglect, I recommend the Bent Leg Deadlift.


CB: When you train your clients, you must see a lot of people making a lot of mistakes around you. Is there anything that sticks out?

MM: Most people's programs suffer from lack of planning. Whether it's diet or exercise, a "fly by the seat of your pants" approach just doesn't work.


CB: You make a great point. So what are your goals for 2002 and beyond?

MM: I resolve to become a recognizable author of books on various aspects of conditioning, as well as a champion natural bodybuilder. However, both rank second and third respectively though to being the best father I can possibly be to my two girls.


CB: No doubt you are well on the way to all of those goals. What are the 3 top things you have learned in all of your training experiences?


1. No one has all the answers and no one training style works forever.

2. The more you know in this field, the less you know. Education opens your eyes and mind to the fact that in the strength and conditioning field, nothing is as simple as black and white.

3. There are NO short cuts. Not only as it applies to strength and conditioning but to life in general.




Q: I recently injured my left shoulder. What can I do if I'm injured and am prevented from bench presses and pull-ups? Is all weight training out of the question? I don't want to lose all my muscle mass and strength! Should I just stick with "cardio" sessions?


Before you do anything, talk with your doctor and therapist to see what, if any, activity is allowed. If you are cleared to continue working out, there are several options, but which one is the best?

A) Do nothing. Become completely sedentary until the injury is healed.

B) Perform only lower body exercise and a lot of aerobic/cardiovascular training.

C) Lift weights for every muscle group that you possibly can without aggravating your shoulder injury (including the healthy arm).

Obviously, for anyone who enjoys training, trains for health, or needs to train for competitive reasons, option A is not going to be acceptable. On the other hand, if you are an athlete or bodybuilder that needs some downtime, taking a couple weeks off from all activity may be something you want to pursue. It will not kill you and may make you stronger in the long run.

Option B, while sounding a little better, should be avoided unless you are training specifically for aerobic fitness. But if you are an athlete, or someone that wants to build a muscular body, forget about a regimen that consists entirely of endurance work. This isn't conducive to your goals.

With upper body injuries, many people are tempted to overdo cardiovascular and aerobic training but this is a poor method for maintaining muscle mass. Your training emphasis should remain on resistance training. During this time you can concentrate on other weak areas or rehabilitating other nagging injuries. Any time you have completely rehabilitated an injury, you may want to use the strong-side training technique found in ISSUE #69 (www.cbathletics.com/issues/69.htm).

Finally, option C is the one that most athletes and competitive spirits will choose. If your goal is to keep muscle mass, the best thing to do is train around your injury, doing as much resistance training as possible. Individuals with broken arms, dislocated shoulders, and broken legs have had great success continuing to train. Simple modifications will allow you to at least maintain your strength until you are healthy and recovered for normal training.

By training the healthy limb of the upper body you can still maintain strength in the injured side, and you will be better off than doing no training at all. This is due to a neurological phenomenon, called "cross-education", that has been documented in scientific literature. When subjects trained only one limb, the non-trained limb still had an increase in strength. Thus, one may theorize that by training the healthy side the weak side will maintain more muscle strength.

There are plenty of upper body, single arm (unilateral) training exercises you can use. Check out ISSUE #39 (www.cbathletics.com/issues/39.htm) for some ideas. Just remember, don't aggravate the injury, and ice it anytime there is a hint of inflammation.

Here are some references (kindly provided by Dr. Digby Sale) that have reported on "cross-training" (also known as "cross enervation" or "cross-education").

Zhou, S. Chronic neural adaptations to unilateral exercise: mechanisms of cross education. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews 28: 177-184, 2000.

Hortobagyi, T., et al. Greater cross education following training with muscle lengthening than shortening. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 29: 107-112, 1997.



If you stop by the homepage, you will find some new links to explore. Most importantly, scroll through the testimonial site to hear what amazing changes people are making with their programs: Testimonials. Here is just one example:

I'm an ice hockey player from Turkey. I needed to lose some fat and have been using the "turbulence training" for about 3 weeks. I've added 10 sets of speed and quickness drills to the program and so far I'm getting great results. I've lost 4 pounds of fat without a decrease in strength. I'm faster and have more endurance. I look forward to future CB training programs for hockey. Thank you. Keep up the great work!

Onur Polatoglu


Next, if you are looking to make some improvements to your workouts, CB ATHLETICS is offering a new program option that is based entirely on your goals, strengths, and weaknesses: 8 Week Program.




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