We’re proud to announce elitefts columnist Jonathan Mike has earned his PhD in Exercise Science from The University of New Mexico.

Jonathan has been a tremendous asset to our collection of columnists, informing readers of the latest industry trends regarding training and nutrition, their myths and truths.

Through the conversation below, Jonathan shares the 7-year process he has undergone—the intentional and unintentional path— to finally achieving doctoral status. He covers his research interests, delves into the dissertation defense process, and discusses what’s next on his agenda.

Be sure to check out his most recent elitefts publications: The Truth About Energy Systems, A Complete Guide to the Most Misunderstood Macronutrient, Pulp Fiction, and Misconceptions About Lactic Acid.

What research topics are you most interested in?

My research interests deal with aspects of eccentric exercise training, exercise science, and strength training and conditioning. These include examining the impact of eccentric training on various exercise interventions in both the athletic and general populations, examining the effects of overtraining and recovery and its effects on muscle growth, hypertrophy, and performance, and determining the efficacy of various forms of nutritional supplementation.

These of course are on top of my interests, along with training for strongman and incorporating many powerlifting methods of training (i.e. conjugate).

I too have interest in functional movement, mobility, corrective exercise training, and recently with Neurokinetic Therapy, which is a movement system devised to address dysfunctional patterns through muscle testing, facilitation, and inhibition; all of which greatly effect performance and movement.

How long did it take you to earn your PhD?

The entire length of my PhD, from start to finish, was seven years.

Did your original focus/intent maintain throughout the seven years?

After I passed my comprehensive exams in late 2011, I moved back to Louisville in hopes of applying for positions and developing my study. However, after many months of frustration, dead-ends, and working two jobs (one of which was semi-private training which was a great experience), I decided to return to UNM and finish. So, year off and then another two and a half years to complete the degree after I returned.

This time frame was certainly not intended.

Looking back, it provided me with so many opportunities to lecture for numerous classes, present with NSCA, travel, and write for major consumer fitness and bodybuilding magazines while finishing.

We saw many of your FB updates regarding the start and completion of the dissertation defense. What’s the process? What was your study topic?

The dissertation defense is a culmination of all of the work that has been completed from your own dissertation study, in which all PhD’s in all the harder science and social science based fields must complete. It is a requirement across the board. Usually after you complete your study, you spend time doing data analysis, data interpretation, and writing the results and discussion section. These “sections” are actually formatted to be submitted for journal publication, as most newly minted PhD’s submit their study to be published in a journal of their choice related to their field. Once the writing is complete, which usually takes months of additions, deletions, and editing, you then have to fill out mountains of paperwork (both for graduate requirements and departmental requirements) to proceed to the defense. An announcement is made two weeks prior to defense as well as submitting all of your chapters to your committee (which is made many months or years prior).

Here at UNM you have a choice of either a traditional formatted dissertation, which includes a total of seven chapters, or a Hybrid, which includes only four chapters. My choice was a hybrid. These include Chapter 1 (standardized across the board for all) and has nine sections to it:

1). Intro

2). Problem statement

3). Purpose of the study

4). Hypothesis

5). Scope of the study

6). Assumptions

7). Limitations

8). Significance of the study

9). Definition of terms

My Chapter 1 was only 11 pages, which is usually similar length to many other graduates. Chapter 2 is always a review of literature. This can include a very large and in-depth review of the entire review of literature of your chosen area/interest, all relating to your study. In some cases (including mine) the Chapter 2 review of literature can be a published article that was previously published in a journal. This decision however is totally dependent on what you and your chairperson decide, and varies from program to program. For me, my Chapter 2 was previously published in the February 2015 issue of NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal. The Word document submitted to the journal (including 13 figures, and two tables and references) was nearly 30 pages. Chapter 3 constitutes your actual study that you designed, implemented, and completed.

For my dissertation, I did an actual training study titled, “The Effects of Eccentric Contraction Duration of Muscle Strength, Power Production, Vertical Jump, and Soreness”, and had 30 subjects, all previously resistance trained.

When I returned to UNM in January 2013 to finish, it took eight months to further plan in detail, write, and propose my topic to my committee members.

During this time, we went through a tremendous amount of editing, specifics, and details all added over time. So in essence, what you end with, is usually not what you originally had planned. However, this is part of the process.

My Chapter 3 (the study) is now formatted to be submitted to NSCA Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. This decision is also totally dependent of what you and your chairperson decide, and varies from program to program and what your actual study design is based on. I will be submitting my study by early June 2015.

Although there is not a specific length for Chapter 3 that is required, as everyone has different information based on their topic, my Chapter 3 (double spaced and including figures and tables, and references) runs nearly 40 pages, and includes various sections as per the specific journal requirements.

Lastly, Chapter 4 is the summary, recommendations, and future studies. From all the chapters 1-4, this is certainly the least lengthy (five pages).

In all, including all required graduate titles pages, abstract, acknowledgements, chapters, tables, figures, and appendices in came out to be 125 pages and 260,000 words!

What sets you apart from others in the field?

There are very few in the industry that are professors AND that have a long and successful history of practical experience coaching, training and competing. I believe these qualities set high standards and thus encompass a greater outlook for individuals looking to set themselves apart. I’ve done eight previous contests but since the PhD consumed a large part of life, I am looking forward to getting back to contest mode.

Any position leads?

I am currently continuing to apply for assistant professor positions for exercise science.

I did have a phone interview recently for a school in Texas, but unfortunately there are no new developments just yet. I feel there will be in the coming weeks.

What’s next on the agenda before you land a job?

I’ll continue to do what I do, both through teaching, training, and online endeavors, including writing for fitness magazines, and presenting at state, regional, and national conferences.

I really enjoy writing the research meathead column for elitefts, as this column provides readers with a better understanding of current trends and industry topics regarding training and nutrition, debunking myths and dispelling truths. I’ve received excellent feedback from readers and those through elitefts and proud to be involved with such a superior company.