Mahler's Aggressive Strength Q&A!

Twice a month Mike Mahler is going to answer your questions to help you get bigger, stronger and faster! Learn how to get your pull-up numbers up, how to break a plateau, about clubbells and much more...
[ Q ] My Pull-up numbers are horrible. What can I do to get my numbers up fast?

    Try a method that I learned from top strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline called GTG (Greasing the groove). GTG is based on the premise that the more often you do something the faster you will improve. The key is to avoid fatigue and make every practice perfect. Take your max number of chin-ups and cut that number in half. Let's say that the number is four. Do five sets of two spread throughout the day six days a week.

    For example, you could do one set of two in the morning, one in the afternoon, one in the late afternoon, one in the evening, and one in the late evening. After a week, increase that number to three. After four weeks, take a few days off and then do a max set. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised. For more killer bodyweight drill tips, see Pavel's book, 'The Naked Warrior" at

[ Q ] I have been at a plateau for several months now and no matter what I do, I cannot get bigger and stronger. What is wrong with me?

    Boy, this is a really broad question and I really need more details to answer this one adequately.

    However, here are a few things that you should look at:

    1. Are you getting 8 hours of sleep per night?
    2. Are you eating several healthy meals each day and getting enough healthy fat and protein?
    3. Are you drinking enough water and staying hydrated?
    4. Are you experiencing a high level of stress in your personal life? For example, relationship problems, work, family etc.
    5. Do you have a life that you are happy with outside of the gym?
    6. Are you training to failure every set of every workout? If so, you are burning out your CNS (central nervous system)

    The first thing that I would do is to take a week off from training. Get a sports massage, spend some time relaxing, catching up on sleep etc. Next look at your training program and cut out all of the unnecessary isolation work and reduce the volume. When you hit the weights again, start at 80% of what you were doing before and gradually build back up. If you continue to make no progress and you have addressed sleep, diet, training and recovery, then get your blood checked to see if you have any major deficiencies.

[ Q ] I feel like I have my diet and training in order. Is there anything else I can do to make my workouts more productive?

    One thing that few people address is the connection between your workouts and your life outside of your workouts. Top strength coach Charles Poliquin discusses the relationship between success and testosterone levels in his excellent book " Modern Trends in Strength Training." ( Studies show that whenever you achieve success, whether it is a big sale at work, winning a tennis game, or getting an article published, your testosterone rises.

    Whenever your testosterone rises, you will have enhanced recovery, more energy and build muscle and strength faster. On the contrary, if you have a miserable job and are in a draining relationship, your testosterone levels will decline and you will not be at your best during your workouts. Start improving your life outside of the gym and your workouts will improve as well.

[ Q ] I want to get bigger and stronger, but I hate lifting weight and do not want to work too hard. What do you recommend?

    I recommend that you purchase Richard Simmons' aerobic video " Sweating To The Oldies" and accept a life of mediocrity. While you do not have to train to failure and kill yourself in the gym to get stronger, it does require discipline and hard work just as anything in life worth having does.

[ Q ] I heard about some new training tool called Clubbells. What do you think of them?

    Clubbells are an excellent tool and I do clubbell training 2-3 times a week for active recovery, to increase shoulder stability, to increase grip strength, and to work several lateral motions that are difficult to do with other training tools. I really like the leverage factor with clubbells and they address another dimension of strength. For more info on clubbells, check out Coach Scott Sonnon's website at

[ Q ] What is a good book for beginners on productive bodybuilding?

    Check out Stuart McRobert's books " Brawn" and " Beyond Brawn." They are both comprehensive, easy to understand and loaded with quality training regimens and tips. For more info on Stuart, go to

That is all for this week. Do you have a question? Email Mike at

About The Author

Mike Mahler is a strength and conditioning coach based in Santa Monica, Calif. Mike has been a strength athlete for over ten years and is a Senior level certified kettlebell instructor. The Senior level classification means that Mike has assisted in certifying aspiring kettlebell instructors. Mike has done over 25 kettlebell workshops in the past year across the U.S. and overseas in London, England. Mike is considered by many to be the most experienced kettlebell instructor in the U.S.

In addition to working with athletes around the world, Mike has two regular columns in Fightscene Magazine. Also, Mike has written more than 60 articles and is a regular contributor to: Hardcore Muscle Magazine, Testosterone Magazine, Ironman Magazine, Ironman Magazine Japan and Exercise Magazine For Men.

For more information, go to

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