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Mahler's Aggressive Strength Q&A - June 2004!

This month you will find out how to get stronger, faster, have better endurance, if kettlebells are superior to dumbbells and barbells, how to improve your sprinting and how to get your lats growing...

[ Q ] I want it all! I want to get super strong, be fast, and have muscular endurance that will not quit. How can I train for all of these goals at the same time?

    The short answer is that you cannot train for all of those goals at the same time; at least not in an effective manner. Here is what I would do. Focus on strength and include some ballistic exercises in your routine such as: cleans, snatches, and swings for full body power. I have found that strength transfers more to muscular endurance rather than the other way around.

    When I worked up to bench-pressing 315lbs for six reps several years ago, I was able to crank out 17 reps with 225lbs. At the time, I was only training in the 1-3 rep range with the bench press and never practiced high rep sets. The heavy sets in the low rep range taught me to recruit more muscle fibers and trained the CNS to a high degree. In addition, there was a confidence factor as well.

    When you can crank out 315bs for reps, which is almost 100lbs more that 225lbs, 225 will feel like nothing. Thus, focus on strength and add a "finisher" to the end of your workouts. One set of high rep pushups and high rep bodyweight squats (25-50) will get the job done. Do some sprints a few times a week as well for speed and you are all set.

[ Q ] What is the deal with kettlebells, do you really think that they are superior to dumbbells and barbells?

    I have never said that kettlebells are superior to dumbbells and barbells. A smart athlete will utilize a variety of training tools to maximize strength and conditioning.

    That said there are several things that I like about kettbells:

    • The thick handles turn every exercise into a grip exercise. My massage therapist was impressed with the thickness of the muscle fibers in my forearms. For a while now I have only been training with kettebells and clubbells and attest the development to those training tools.

    • The off centered weight requires more stabilization especially on one-arm and one-leg exercises.

    • Learning how to absorb the ballistic shock that is involved with exercises such as cleans and snatches is very beneficial for athletes and increases coordination.

    • Kettlebell training is a lot of fun and having fun with training is critical for training longevity.

    • Kettlebells allow you to do exercises in which you pass the kettlebell from hand to hand and do "juggling" type moves. These exercises are incredible for developing the mind body connection and shock absorption.

    • Because of the off centered weight, you can do unique exercises such as the bottom-up clean and the bottom-up press. These exercises take grip training and stabilizer training to a whole new level.

    The key with training is to find what you like and tailor it to your sport or training goal. Kettlebells are just another effective tool to take advantage off.

    If you still need more info on kettlebells, check out Other Kettlebell Articles.

[ Q ] What can I do to improve my sprinting time?

    I recommend that you check out Charlie Francis' website at Pick up his books. Coach Francis worked with Olympic greats such as Ben Francis and is a wealth of information.

    Work on increasing your squatting power and start doing some power cleans.

    Another effective thing that you can do is to incorporate a weighted vest into your training.

    I recommend the X-vest Put 10% of your bodyweight in the vest and try doing sprints with the added resistance.

[ Q ] I have been doing a lot of lat pulldowns and my lats are not growing. What gives?

    Forget about lat pulldowns and start doing pull-ups. I never noticed any lat development either until I started doing pull-ups. When I started doing them over ten years ago, I could barely do three. Once I got up to ten bodyweight pull-ups, I noticed that my lats were developing rapidly.

    Start working on pull-ups and get a weight-belt from so that you can start doing weighted pull-ups. My friend John Allstadt can do weighted pull-ups with 135lbs and his lats are so big that he could probably fly if he tried.

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About The Author

Mike Mahler is a strength coach bases in Santa Monica, Ca. For more info on his personalized programs and services, visit his site at

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