Who: Mike Robertson
Where is he Normally: Mike’s site is here: http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/ Trust me, you won’t be sorry for clicking this link!
Why should you care about this: I love Mike’s site. I can honestly say that Mike’s site is the first thing I check when I am seeking either a definitive guide for an exercise or a way to improve my performance of the exercise. Mike’s posts are highly detailed, no fluff and really give you an insight into the topic and how to progress from beginner level to elite. Mike’s posts have thousands of words and very instructional videos too. He covers a wide range of topics but thankfully, Mike doesn’t just give you the usual BS training advice. Where others just give the same training programme for anyone, regardless of the level, Mike breaks down the truth. He writes posts not only about how to do exercises but also about why you can’t do something and what you may need to look at and correct. For example his informative post on front squats helped me add 10kg to my lift recently. If you lift weights, play sports or even just want to be a bit healthier, I feel you are doing yourself a disservice by not checking out Mike’s site.
SO WHAT DID HE HAVE TO SAY?
NLG: Can you tell me about your journey from normal dude to Fitness Wizard? What started your journey on being the ultimate performance coach? Was there a defining moment that caused it?
MR: I’m not sure there was one single thing that started it. I was an above average but not great athlete that loved sports. The summer between my sophomore and junior years, I started lifting weights and saw an immediate improvement in my performance.
Fast forward to my senior year of college, and I’m interning in the athletic weight room at Ball State. I got the opportunity to merge my passion for athletics with my love of strength training. It was truly a match made in heaven!
NLG: Recovery is a dirty word for most gym goer’s, who think to get fit, you need to do more in the gym not less. Can you explain what foam rolling is and how to do it? What benefit does foam rolling do to anyone who does it?
MR: Foam rolling is like massage you can do on yourself. Using a big piece of dense foam, you roll over stiff or tight tissues, it hurts like hell, but when you stand up and move around you have an immediate increase in flexibility or mobility.
And keep in mind, using a foam roller is just one piece of equipment you can use. At our gym Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training (or IFAST) for short, we use foam rollers, lacrosse balls, tennis balls, The Stick, and numerous other tools.
As far as benefits go, it doesn’t tear down scar tissue or remodel muscles or anything, but it does send a signal to your brain that says “hey, we’re pretty tight down here – time to loosen up.”
And over time, you body obliges and you improve flexibility and mobility.
NLG: Great way to describe it. I’ve tried it and thankfully the benefits do outway the pain at first! Can you tell me any tips for working out that you have found that shouldn’t work but do, the ones that sound so stupid and absurd that go against what people traditionally think works but it gets results?
MR: The most obvious example I have is that you should spend less time worrying about your workout, and more time focusing on how you recover.
Many of my athletes use what’s called heart rate variability (HRV) to track their recovery. What we find is that we can crush them in the gym, but if they are doing the right things outside the gym, they can recover quite well.
But, if they go out for a big night on the town, or simply have a horrible nights rest, that’s when you see their recovery crash and burn.
Quite simply, people are so focused on training they often forget about how important it is to recover well. Switch the emphasis and I bet you’ll see even better results in and out of the gym.
NLG: For someone just about to start the gym, what tips would you give to ensure they recover efficiently from the gym and prevent injuries? How can they avoid doing the stupid, ego driven moves that all the others do (bad form, mirror muscles only etc)
MR: Well, there’s really two questions here, so I’ll avoid both.
If you’re focused on recovery (which you should be), it doesn’t have to be expensive or high-tech. Foam roll and stretch 4-5 times per week before bed, get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and work on your breathing whenever possible.
Maybe that’s why no one talks about recovery – at a base level, it’s just not that sexy!
As far as preventing injuries and not doing stupid moves, I have a general rule I apply with newbies:
- Perform twice as much work for the upper back as you do the chest. In other words, twice as many sets of rows and chins versus bench or overhead press.
- Perform twice as much work for the posterior chain as you do the anterior chain. In other words, twice as many sets of RDL’s, deadlifts, etc. over squats.
- Last but not least, include anterior core work every day. Contrary to popular belief, it’s rare that I see a “weak” lower back. Instead what you see is a lower back that’s doing all the work, because the anterior core (abs, obliques), can’t do it’s fair share of the work.
NLG: I don’t believe myself a gym newbie but I’ll be installing the above into my normal routine as it is epic advice! A big part of my site is using guys as role models and adopting their techniques as part of your own life. I’m very interested in Who you consider role models in your life? From the entertainment world as well as real life and why they inspire you?
MR: Wow this is a really great question, and it would be really hard to narrow this down. Instead, let me give you a principle that I follow.
On any given day I could be learning in numerous areas (training, marketing, personal development, writing, etc.) and to do this, I make it a goal to find the best of the best in that area and learn everything possible from them.
For instance when it comes to writing, I really like Dan Kennedy’s stuff. So I consume everything possible from him.
For personal development, I like Robin Sharma and Jim Rohn.
Then you can move into training. For energy system development and conditioning, I love Joel Jamieson’s stuff.
For multi-directional speed and agility, I love Lee Taft.
So that’s how I go about learning and assimilating. I go to someone I consider to be best in class, learn everything possible, and then mold and adapt their teachings into my overall philosophy or belief-system.
NLG: We share a lot of common in that respect! What do you think modern day men need to do more of in the gym? Is there 1 – 3 things that you’d recommend all men should incorporate into their training to become fitter, more athletic and just generally healthier?
MR: Another great question. I think there are three things that everyone should focus on at times throughout the year:
1 – Movement
2 – Strength
3 – The Aerobic Base
Movement is literally the base of our pyramid. If you move like crap (poor mobility, poor stability, or an inability to do basic moves like squats, step-ups, lunges, and push-ups) then you’re going to struggling doing just about anything with resistance or athletic looking.
Instead, work to rebuild your foundation first.
From there, strength is another big ticket item. If you get stronger, there’s carryover there to numerous other physical qualities – speed, power, agility, etc. Maximal strength is just so vital, and I think most men would do well to focus on it for at least 3-4 months out of every year.
Last but not least, the aerobic energy system gets a bad rap because most would assume the goal is to look like and train like a marathon runner.
I hate to break it to you, but if you believe this, you’ve been lied to.
Virtually every team sport relies on the aerobic energy system. Furthermore, developing the aerobic energy system can help you chill out, relax and be even more awesome than you are right now.
It’s a huge topic, and one you can learn more about here if you’re interested.
Please link to http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blog/long-duration-low-intensity-cardio/
NLG: I’m a massive fan of your site but there is a lot of great posts fighting for your attention when you first run along the internet pathway to your URL! Which three of your videos/podcasts are you most proud and why? Please send me the URL links and I will include them in the post.
MR: Well let’s use the post above, because I think there are tons of misconceptions about the aerobic energy system, and I want to put those to rest once and for all.
Second, I can’t talk about lifting heavy things and not talk about the deadlift. Here’s an all-encompassing post about the deadlift – how to do it, why it’s important, and a bunch of other ninja tips and tricks to help you move more weight.
Last but not least, as far as products go, my Bulletproof Athlete is by far the most comprehensive resource I’ve ever created. It’s 16-weeks of done for you programming, with three different programs to choose from based on where you’re starting and where you want to go.
Last but not least, I have an extensive video database included as well. Every single exercise is demonstrated with me coaching the lift.
Last but not least, I included weekly nutrition and recovery challenges to help you make long-term lifestyle changes.
You can find all about BPA at BulletproofAthlete.com
NLG: I’m a big fan of your straightforward and thought out advice, so I wonder what you really want to say to all men – if you were to talk to all of men at once, what would you say – what motivation or telling off would you say? If you could give all men a final message what would it be?
MR: Here’s what I’d say…
Don’t sell yourself short. While women tend to be all warm, fuzzy and emphathetic, I see so many men nowadays who are lost.
You have no idea of how powerful you can be, but you must believe in yourself first and have a clear vision as to where you’re going.
If you could be the perfect husband/boyfriend/significant other, how would that change your life?
If you could have your perfect, ideal body how would that change your life?
If you worked a job you were passionate about, something that you would do for free, how would that change your life?
Dare to dream.
Envision what your “perfect reality” is, and then set about to create it.
And last but not least, don’t sell yourself short.
There’s so much untapped potential in all of us, when you start to realize your potential and what you can accomplish, it’s a very powerful and energizing feeling.
NLG: Brilliant. Just a brilliant answer! Thanks Mike, I’ve learnt a lot and hopefully my readers are ready to take their fitness to the Next Level after your words of gold!
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I’m very proud of this interview but let me know what you think of this chat with Mike in the comments below.