Friday, 8 July 2011

Wild Physique Unleashed : My Journey Into Strength PT 6

By Coach Cj Swaby

STEP 6: Get Expert Coaching

So this weeks blog entry is getting expert coaching. In 2011 Along my journey into strength I had the opportunity to coach along side two respected strength coaches. One of them was world record holder Andy Bolton, the other was Mike Mahler. While from completely different back grounds, getting expert advice from a good quality coach is invaluable to your success. From Mike I learned to refocus my energy on stacking the small wins which made a huge impact on my training such as hormone optimisation via sleep and supplementation. Also, training with Mike on the workshop reinforced that to be globally strong you MUST work on your weak areas. I don't just mean, acknowledge that you should, pay them lip service and crack on with what you were doing anyway. I mean to strategically focus and train the things you suck at (coincidently these are the areas with greatest potential for growth).

This week, rather than talk about Mike, I thought it best Mike speak for himself. Ahead of the launch of his new book "What Self Help Guru's SHOULD be telling you" He was gracious enough to grant me an interview, so that you can get an insight to this man and his training methods.

Wild Physique Unleashed : Mike Mahler Interview

CS: Hi Mike, thanks for taking time out to do this interview

MM: My pleasure and thanks for doing the interview.

CS: For those who don’t know you, give a brief overview on who you are, and what you’re about?

MM: I am a fitness information provider based in Las Vegas, NV. I run a fitness information website at I give away tons of free articles, audio information, as well as training and information video clips. I also run an online magazine that goes out to over 20,000 people every month. I am also a kettlebell instructor and I have been teaching kettlebell workshops since 2002. My business is called Mahler's Aggressive Strength and in addition to delivering high quality fitness information I try to show people the benefits of strength training in all facets of life. In other words rather than just being strong and mentally tough in the gym, use those skills to improve other areas of your life.

Another huge interest of mine is hormone optimization. Having an optimal hormonal profile plays such a critical role in quality life and is something that is often over looked. Through proper diet, training, restoration, lifestyle, and nutrition supplements one can improve their hormonal profile dramatically. This will equal a better mood and more zeal for life. In addition better progress with training and physique composition goals as well.

CS: Mike, you’re well known for Kettlebell training, but I know you like to mix it up with dumbells and barbells too. What does your typical training session look like, and how do you mix up the kettlebell training with Barbell and Dumbbell training?

MM: I like to modify training often to keep things interesting. Sometimes I go through periods in which I focus primarily on kettlebell training, sprinting, sledgehammer work etc. Other times I like to combine barbell training, dumbbell training, and some bodyweight training with kettlebell training. Here is what a sample workout week looks for me right now


Double Kb Swing Outside the Knees 5x6 (79lb bells to face level) ( I do this first to fire up the nervous system) Trapbar Deadlift Thick Bar Military Press Barbell Bent Over Row
(For all three a few warm up set and then one all out set in the 85-95% of one rep max range. This is based on Jim Wendler's 5-3-1 program) Circuit Three rounds of Plate Pushes 1x30 Hanging Leg raise 1x10 Glute Ham Raise 1x6


Barbell Squat Bench Press Weighted Pull-up (For all three a few warm up set and then one all out set in the 85-95% of one rep max range) Seated Dumbbell Military Press (few warm-up sets and all out set at 3-5 rep max) Russian Barbell Twist 3x6 each side (torso exercise) One-arm KB Snatch 10x10 each side (55lb bell as fast as possible: sprint style)


Barbell Deadlift Military Press off the pins (no clean to start the first rep) (For all three a few warm up set and then one all out set in the 85-95% of one rep max range) One-arm Barbell Bent over row 1x5x95, 1x5x115, 1x3x135 each side Incline Dumbbell Press, a few warm ups and then 100lbs in each hand for as many reps as possible. Cable rotations 3x10 each side (torso exercise)

One-arm KB Snatch 10x10 each side (55lb bell as fast as possible: sprint style) On Tuesday andThursday I do weight vest walks for 2 miles with 80-100lbs on. I also like to take exercise breaks during the day. For example, knock off pull-ups every hour or so during the day.

I do joint mobility drills every morning and some Indian club work to start the day. When the weather is better I like to do strength-cardio circuits in my backyard gym. One example is 5 rounds of Double KB Snatch 1x10-15 (62lb bells) Battling Rope Overhand Wave 1x30 seconds Sledgehammer Tire Strikes 1x15 each side (20lb hammer) Hanging Leg raise 1x10 Double KB Clean and Press 1x10 (62lb bells)

CS: Where do you get inspiration from for new training ideas?

MM: All over the place. Fortunately I am friends with a lot of great trainers and get excellent ideas all of the time from great coaches such as Jason Dolby, Peter Rouse, Mark Philippi, Dale Hartt, Steve Cotter, Ken Blackburn, Dylan Thomas, Charles Poliquin, and you and Sabina. I like to read a lot of training books and articles and right now I am enjoying some work by Brooks Kubik, Dan John, and Louie Simmons.

CS: Who is your Coach, and how did you go about finding them?

MM: I am not working with anyone right now but last year I worked with Mark Philippi for several months. Mark is a former strongman competitor and outstanding strength coach based in Vegas. His website is I knew about him from seeing him on the Strongest Man contest many times. In 2007, I was looking for a venue to host a big workshop and I came across Mark's gym. I went on to do several workshops there. Each time I spoke with Mark, I was very impressed and knew I wanted to train with him at some point. In 2010 I decided to train with him for several months to learn more about his style for a DVD project. It was a great experience. I produced a DVD with Mark "Mastering The Power exercises" which is available at my site at

Hormone Optimization is a big topic that is steadily growing in prominence, as you see it, what is the importance of hormone optimization in strength training? And what are a few practical things we could do to achieve this?

With regards to strength training hormones such as insulin, growth hormone, and testosterone are critical to workout recovery, physique composition goals, and getting stronger. A man with low levels of testosterone will have a very hard time building muscle and and strength as testosterone plays a tremendous role. If one lacks growth hormone, he or she will have a hard time recovering adequately. Hanging on too muscle and losing fat will also be difficult with poor growth hormone levels. Finally, if one has a condition called insulin resistance, fat loss will be extremely difficult. These are just a few examples. Other hormones such as DHT, Leptin, adrenaline, DHEA, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and pregnenelone are all important as well. A few simple things that people can do to optimize hormones are: 1. Improve quality and length of sleep. No less than seven hours and many will find eight to nine is necessary for optimal functioning. Especially if one is training and working hard or has a lot of stress. We release a lot of growth hormone and testosterone while we sleep so every night of poor sleep is another opportunity missed for a natural hormone boost. If one cannot sleep 8 hours at one shot, try seven hours and then get an hour nap in later in the day. 2. Eat the highest quality food you can afford. Make sure all food is organic and focus on getting high quality protein, low glycemic carbohydrates, and healthy fat at each meal. Take a page from Ori Hofmekler author of the "Warrior Diet", and Byron Richards author of "Mastering Leptin" and take longer stretches between each meal such as 5-8 hours to improve leptin, insulin, and adrenaline sensitivity 3. Reduce stress by meditating, avoiding negative relationships, and going after a career that makes you excited about life. I cannot emphasize the importance of high quality relationships and fulfilling work for creating an optimal hormone profile.

CS: How did you get involved with hormone optimisation?

MM: I got really sick in 2002 and almost died from pneumonia. I lost 30bs of muscle and was also under a lot of financial stress. At one point I only had $7.00 left in my bank account. I was also in a stressful relationship which made matters worse. I felt terrible and while I was only 29 at the time I had no sex drive and had a hard time keeping a positive mood. I wanted to get healthier and feel better. I started doing a lot of research and came across information on the connection between hormones and feeling great. It became an obsession to learn more and it is something that to this day I still enjoy researching heavily and learning more about. You can never learn enough about the topic of hormone optimization. After a few years I learned how to dial my hormones naturally and have never felt better. I have a lot of energy each day and great zeal for life. It is a great feeling and one you want to hold on to when you achieve it.

I know you are often on the road, teaching workshops, lecturing and the like, how do you fit in training, and what kind of strength training would you typically do?

MM: I generally do not train when I am on the road. Usually I am only gone for a few days and I like to come into each workshop as fresh as possible. I do joint mobility work daily and if I stay at a hotel with a pool I like to go swimming to loosen up. Beyond that, teaching the actual workshops is very physically laborious so I get a great workout in at each course.

CS: You’ve made quite a big impact on the fitness industry so far, what legacy would you like to leave behind you?

Thanks a lot and I would like to leave the legacy of provoking thought. It is not important that everyone agrees with me but it is important that I provoke thought and get people thinking about how to improve their lives and the lives of other beings. I would also like people to apply what they learn with productive strength training to other areas of life that they want to improve. Don't just be tough in your workouts, be tough in your life, and use the discipline to thrive in other area. Finally I would like to see people associate strength with compassion. When we are compassionate to others we show great strength and quality of character.

Who would be your top 5 Coaches or people in strength training that you would say to keep an eye open for ?

MM: There are so many but some of the best strength coaches include Mark Philippi, Peter Rouse Charles Poliquin, Louie Simmons, and Brooks Kubik. A great deal of knowledge can be learned from these five masters of the trade. Another great guy that people should check out is Carl Lanore. Carl is the host of the outstanding internet radio show: "Super Human Radio" The show is a wealth of information and people can check it out at

CS: Mike, great information as always, and look forward to seeing you in the UK running seminars later in 2011. Thank you.

Thanks a lot and keep up the great work as well.

Mike Mahler's new book "What Self Help Guru's Should Be Telling You" is out in July, I'll certainly be grabbing a copy, you can check it out HERE

Mike Mahler is also running workshops in the UK in October with the crew at Fitter London. A great opporunity to train and learn from a world renowned strength coach. details are HERE

Mike Mahler Breaking It Down

Agree or disagree with Mike, he is thought provoking.

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