An Interview With Mike Mahler!

Check out this awesome interview with Mike Mahler, one of the top kettlebell instructors on the planet. Find out what he up to, what is next and what he does at his workshops!

Mike Mahler is a legendary strength coach and freelance journalist. His articles have appeared in:

  • Testosterone Magazine
  • Ironman Magazine
  • Stay Fit Magazine
  • Intensity Magazine
  • Vegsource
  • The Code
  • And

He is also a certified Russian Kettlebell Challenge instructor and has been a strength athlete for over ten years. He also does kettlebell and bodyweight conditioning workshops for: athletes, law enforcement, the Military, Firefighters, and anyone else that wants to get in great shape. Right now Mike is focusing on the Mixed Martial Arts community and has worked with several fighters.

The Interview

Jamie Hale: Let us start off by giving the readers some information in regards to your location and services you offer.

Mike Mahler: I recently moved from Washington DC to Santa Monica, CA. I provide Kettlebell workshops, classes, and private instruction in Santa Monica and at the RAW training center in El Segundo. I also offer phone consultations and training programs via email. In addition, I am also available for kettlebell workshops around the world and will be doing some workshops in Washington DC and London in the fall.

JH: The kettlebell craze is running wild in the fitness industry at this time. Do you think this is just a fad or are kettlebells here to stay.

MM: I definitely think that kettlebells are here to stay and serious Coaches and athletes are taking advantage of them. Coach John Davies author of "Renegade Training For Football" is a strong supporter of kettlebell training and incorporates it into all of his programs. In addition, Coach Ethan Reeve, the head strength coach at Wakeforest University has his athletes train with kettlebells and uses kettlebells to measure strength in his athletes. I have also worked with some professional mixed martial arts athletes with kettlebells such as Wallid Ismail. I have done demos at the RAW training center and Beverly Hills Ju-jitsu club that both went over really well.

The difference between kettlebells and products such as the numerous home exercise machines on the market is that kettlebells actually work.

JH: What advantages do kettlebells have over dumbbells? How hard was it to become a certified Russian kettlebell instructor?

MM: There are several advantages that kettlebells have over dumbbells:

    1. The handles are much thicker making every exercise much harder and giving your grip a tremendous workout. I notice that my forearms get pumped even on exercises such as the floor press.

    2. The way the weight hangs to one side makes it much more difficult to control and you have to fight to stabilize it throughout each exercise.

    3. It takes more coordintation to master exercises such as the kettlebell clean and snatch in which the kettlebell flips over your hand. In addition to increasing coordination, you learn how to brace for the shock of the kettlebell flipping over. This is very applicable for combat athletes or anyone else that trains for mental toughness.

    4. Kettlebells have a real "dinosaur" look to them and they scare what Brooks Kubick refers to as the "Chrome and fern" crowd.

    5. Kettlebells are addictive and every time you see one, you want to throw it around, ha ha. Getting certified as an RKC instruction was a grueling three days. Pavel is an outstanding instructor. However, he does not take any prisoners and shows no mercy. You better make sure that you are prepared. He especially took pleasure in drilling me for three days, ha ha.

JH: Talking to various authorities of the field you are recognized as one of the top kettlebell instructors on the planet. Do you incorporate many barbell and db movements along with your kettlebell programs?

MM: Thanks a lot. I do incorporate a few dumbbell and barbell movements into my strength training programs. I like using dumbbells for rotator cuff work, especially with the Shoulderhorn. I also really like the Olympic lifts with Barbells such as cleans, jerks, and snatches. Also, for putting on quality muscle, nothing well work faster then a steady diet of deadlifts and barbell squats. I recommend both of those exercises to my athletes that want to put on size quickly. In addition to barbells and dumbbells, I like to have my clients do a lot of bodyweight exercises such as: One Legged Squats, One arm Pushups, Handstand Pushups, Bridging, headstand leg raises, and chin-ups.

Bodyweight exercises increase body awareness which is critical for any athlete, especially combat athletes.

JH: As we all know commercial gyms often lack the necessary atmosphere and environment to obtain real athletic conditioning. Have you seen the presence of many kettlebells in commercial gyms you have visited? If not do you think we can expect to see them in the future?

MM: I have never seen any kettlebell is any commercial gyms. I sincerely doubt that any of the chain gyms will every be amenable to kettlebell training. Commercial gyms are very concerned about liability and marketing. They know that the average person walking in the gym is in horrible shape and that it will be a lot easier for these people to train with weight machines, cardio machines, and take exercises classes. I am sure that you have noticed that most commercial gyms have less and less free weights and some do not even have any squat racks. That said, I do predict that some of the private gyms that promote serious training will flock to kettlebell training. Kettlebells are a natural fit for any powerlifting gym or any "Old School" facility.

JH: Are there any names that come to mind when thinking of people who have positively influenced your work?

MM: Wow, there are so many. The following people have influenced my training a great deal: Brooks Kubick, Matt Furey, Louie Simmons, Leo Costa, Charles Poliquin, Ori Hofmekler, Pavel Tsatsouline, and Coach John Davies. I have had the honor of working personally with Pavel and Coach Davies and think that they are among the best strength coaches in the world.

JH: I have heard that you might be releasing a new book. Any comment on that?

MM: I am actually working on a video that will go over some bodyweight drills that you can do at home and how to put them together to get a great workout. I might also go over some kettlebell drills and how to combine them with bodyweight exercises and "dinosaur lifts" to design an all around strength program. I do have some ideas for a book, but nothing concrete at this time. I will provide updates at on the video and any other projects.

JH: Mike thanks for your time.

MM: Thanks a lot Jamie and I look forward to working with you in the near future. Keep up the great work.