AC Where can people read more about your theories and programs
AC: Mike, Thank you for the interview. Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about your current coaching commitments?
MM: Thanks for doing the interview. Right now I spend a great deal of time doing kettlebell seminars around the country and overseas. In the last 2 1/2 years I have done 43 seminars. These workshops are open to the public and I offer two levels. Level 1 for beginners and intermediate and Level 2 for advanced trainees. In addition to seminars, I offer online personalized training program services. I tailor programs for people based on their goals, lifestyle, stress levels, and what access they have commitment to.
AC: Can you tell the reader your educational or previous career background?
MM: I have a B.A. in religious studies. I have been into strength training for twelve years and got hooked when I was 18. Since then, I have tried dozens of programs, read a ton of material, and realized what works and what does not. The majority of my training knowledge is from experience and I never recommend anything that I have not test driven personally.
AC: And what is your kettlebell background?
MM: I got certified in Kettlebell training by Pavel Tsatsouline back in Feb 2002. In 2003 I earned the status of Senior Kettlebell Instructor and I have taught at the last 7 kettlebell certification courses. I am responsible for re-certifying all KB instructors on the west coast.
AC: Can you describe a typical training day consist of for your clients?
MM: I do not do a lot of private training and mainly work with my clients through my workshops and online services. My clients come from a variety of backgrounds. I work with doctors, house wives, martial artists, members of the military etc
MM: My thoughts on nutrition are very simple. If you want to lose weight, you have to reduce calories and if you want to gain weight you have to increase calories. That said you want the increase in calories to come from good sources of protein, fat and carbs. In other words, do not eat a pint of ice cream to pack on some quality size. Get some EFA's in your diet and get most of your carbs from fruits and veggies. For fat loss, cut out all overly processed food such as most starches, junk food etc. Again, get all carbs from veggies and fruits with an emphasis on veggies especially green leafy vegetables. Increase water intake to 96oz of water per day and drink 2-3 cups of green tea per day to ramp up the metabolism.
I follow a vegan diet which means that I do not consume any animal products. Regardless, I think like a meat eater in the sense that I make sure to get protein and fat in every mealy. Thus, the macronutrient profile in my diet would like similar to a meat eating athlete. Vegetarian athletes need to make sure to get enough healthy fats in their diets as vegetarian diets are naturally low fat. Flaxseed oil, coconut oil or milk, almonds butter, peanut butter, etc are all good sources.
AC: How do you monitor training intensity - how far do you push your athletes?
MM: All of my online clients are required to keep training journals and to send those journals to me once a week for my review. During periods of stress, training intensity and volume is reduced. Otherwise, I like to have people train hard for three weeks and then have one back off week.
AC: I know you study the field a lot. Who do you go to for training advice?
MM: I am a big fan of Pavel Tsatsouline, Louie Simmons, Brooks Kubik, Charles Staley, and Charles Poliquin. I am also a big fan of your work. In addition, I am good friends with some of the best coaches around such as Steve Maxwell and Steve Cotter and talk to them frequently about training.
AC: Who else in the field has influenced or helped you? What are the best tips you learned from them and can pass on to your readers?
MM: Pavel Tsatsouline, John Davies, and Steve Maxwell have all been a great help. The best advice that I can give others is to associate with people that have integrity and are doing what you want to do. Ask yourself what you can do to help them out rather then what they can do for you.
AC: What tips could you add of your own?
MM: Don't just follow others or try to be life someone else. Try thing out on your own, personalize training programs for yourself and be yourself when you teach others rather than being a clone of someone else.
AC: When young athletes come to you for training, what's the first thing you do with them?
MM: Find out what their weaknesses are. Most people tend to gravitate towards their strengths and ignore the weaknesses. If you have a strong upper body and weak legs, then you are weak and will not be strong until you address the imbalance.
AC: What about someone who's goal is primarily aesthetically driven?
MM: Most trainees want to look good whether they admit it or not and there is nothing wrong with that. Proper training and diet should allow someone to get strong and in shape and look good as well. Regardless, the focus should on productive training and factors that measure progress well such as strength and endurance rather than how you look in the mirror.
AC: What are your goals as a coach?
MM: To teach people how to not only get stronger and in better shape physically, but teach them how to transfer that strength and conditioning to other areas of life. Real strength is a combination of mental, spiritual, and physical. Having one to the exclusion of other is not real strength.
AC: You use non-traditional methods in your training such as kettlebells a lot. What can you tell the reader is the extra benefit from these methods as compared to regular strength training?
MM: Kettlebell are a great supplement to training and work the muscles in a different way. The off centered weight forces you to use more stabilizer muscles and you are constantly working to maintain control on KB drills. The thick handles turn just about every exercise into a grip exercise. In addition, the off centered weights help build shoulder flexibility and stability, often weak areas in many trainees. Kettlebell reveal your weaknesses and people are often surprised with how many weaknesses they have after a Kb workout.
AC: Could you list the 3 top tips you could give to an athlete that is just beginning structured training?
MM: 1. Focus on basic compound exercises rather than doing ten different dills for one muscle group. Focus on exercises that you give you the most bang for your buck such as deadlifts, squats, power cleans, overhead presses, rows, dips and pull-ups
2. treat strength training as a practice and focus on getting good at doing the exercises rather than compromising form to lift more.
3. Keep a training journal and know exactly what you are doing at each workout you should never get to a workout and wonder what you are doing that day. Keep track of what works and what does not. It is amazing how many people do not do this and you will find very few people that make progress without some accountability.
AC: What about recovery techniques? Any suggestions?
MM: I am a big fan of cryotherapy. Ice down muscle groups after training for faster recovery. 15 minutes will get the job done. Make sure that you have a protein/carb shape within an hour after training. I am also a big fan of supplements that enhance cognitive function such as Tyrosine, Aceyt l Carnitine and phosphatidylserine. They come in hand especially during periods of stress.
AC.Thanks Mike ! Where can people read more about your theories and programs?
MM: At www.mikemahler.com
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