Mike Whitfield has quite the amazing weight loss story, losing over 115 lbs. In doing that he became a personal trainer and has been named Turbulence Trainer of the Year.
In this episode you’ll discover:
- What it takes to lose 115 lbs.
- Early weight loss vs. those last few pounds
- Interval Training for Diets…a Progression of Cheat Days
- 90% of Eating Better is Psychological
- What is the Diet Free Weekend?
- The Importance of Pushups
- Why you should get up at 4AM
- Self-Control…for those who have none
- And much more
Links and Resources:
- Workout Finishers
- Diet-Free Weekends
- Mike Whitfield’s Facebook page
- Book: The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
- Self-Control App
Click the link below to access the complete transcript.
Logan: Welcome everyone. This is Logan Christopher with the Vital Way podcast and with me on the call today we have Mike Whitfield. We’re going to be talking about some exciting stuff around training and weight loss and all that. I wanted to bring Mike on the call today because he has a pretty fantastic weight loss story and we’re definitely going to dive into that. So first of all, thanks for joining me today, Mike.
Mike: Absolutely. Happy to do it.
Logan: So can you go into some detail on the weight loss? How much did you weigh? How much did you loss? It’s over a hundred pounds, correct?
Mike: Yes. Yup, that’s right. I actually lost 115 pounds. I can’t remember the exact weight I was but I know I was over 300. I didn’t weigh myself until the end of that first week. So that’s actually 115 from that point. Now I know lost a good I’m guessing a good 5 or 6 pounds that first week because I went from just eating junk, absolute junk 24/7, to a much cleaner diet with a cheat day.
Anyway what happened was, I was playing the PlayStation—imagine that, a big guy playing PlayStation—and I was playing football and I threw in an interception. I got so upset about it I threw down the controller and then when I bent over to pick it up, that’s when I had this big epiphany because I realized for one thing, I couldn’t see my feet and then two, I saw just this huge gut. I realized wow, how did this happen? Looking back, it seems like it happened overnight but the truth is it slowly happened over time, over several years. I owe a lot of it to being behind a desk because at that time I was doing a corporate job.
So I decided I’ve got to do something about this. But at the same time, I was also realistic because when that happened, that was in December. So I decided I’m going to enjoy the season. I want to continue having my holiday food and all that kind of stuff but then in January, I’m going to get on the New Year’s bandwagon but I want to stay on it. I’m not going to disappear in early February like everybody else does. I want to set some short term goals and some long term goals. So after that six months, that first six months of going for it, I lost 75 pounds. And then I think it was like a year and a half, maybe two years later, I decided to become a trainer. That’s when I decide to lose another 30 or 35 pounds or close to 40. And the rest is history. I’ve been able to keep it off, which I think is just as much of a battle as it is to lose it, especially with somebody like my genes but that’s pretty much in a nutshell how it happened.
Logan: All right. I definitely want to dive in a little more detail. You said you set some goals, short term and long term. Can you explain a little more of your process of doing that because well I’m a huge a fan of goal setting? I know many other people are but some people aren’t. For me, it’s always been a very powerful thing and it sounds like it worked for you well here.
Mike: Yeah, definitely. Well, short term goal was basically just to stay consistent. I didn’t have any specific like pounds of weight that I wanted to lose in that first month but I wanted to just have some kind of dedicated committed schedule and that was just to work out three times a week, strength training, and then just have one cheat day. So back then, a cheat day diet kind of worked for me. I’d say 90% of the time that was Saturday. But the rest of the time I was committed to just eating clean food such as lean proteins, vegetables and things like that.
I had to tell my friends about it because when we went out to eat, we typically did the McDonalds thing or the Taco Bell thing or whatever so we had to switch gears a little bit. For those times that they still wanted to go out, I actually took the time and packed my lunch the night before or the very least that morning. I would bring the thing of green beans that I could heat up in a microwave or some grilled chicken breast that I grilled the day before. So those were my short term goals as far as just wanting to stay consistent.
Now my long term goal was July – I think it was July 1st is the exact date—anyway, we were heading out to vacation so my goal was to lose 50 pounds by that time we went on vacation. At that point when we went, I actually lost 75. So I totally smoked it out of the water. I did 75 pounds. It was 25 pounds more than what I set my mind to. Then of course after that, I was kind of in maintenance mode for a while. Then once I got to studying to be a trainer, I decided now that I kind of know the insides and outs of losing fat and a good nutrition program, I’m going to go ahead and keep going and then I continued to lose the weight after that point.
Logan: I like that because I think that’s a missing key many people do if they’re trying to set a goal. But you had sort of the longer term outcome goal. You wanted to lose those 50 pounds but equally important, if not more so, is that habitual goals or the process goals, those steps you do every single day or in case work out every other day that are going to get you to that point. I think that’s huge right there so it’s no surprise you were able to get there.
Tell me about what sort of changed up once you were working to become a trainer. How did things change? Usually when people are making a dramatic weight loss transformation, they’re able to get somewhere like 75 pounds doing something but usually those last few pounds that everybody’s looking to lose, that takes a little bit of a different method in order to reach that goal.
Mike: Really what it came down to was a combination of more than anything my diet. I had to tighten up my diet a good bit more than what it was. Before, it was just kind of watching what I’m eating and then behave most of the time. Well now I came to a point where I had to get really serious if I wanted to lose more weight, especially with my genetics. So I really had to focus on making even better decisions with my food. Then the combination I was talking about as far as staying active, I just found a way that outside of my workouts, I wanted to stay active, whether it was just going for a walk or playing some pick-up basketball or whatever it was I could find just to keep myself active. I found ways to do that.
It’s what I call bonus calories and really as far as the bonus calories that you’re burning on these staying active days, it’s more to do with your mindset than it does with the calorie burn because when you just go out for even just a 20-minute walk on your off day, you’re going to come back and just feel refreshed and you’re going to find yourself making better food decisions much easier and there won’t be that struggle of willpower and having to fight stuff in your environment and that kind of thing. It’s just amazing how staying active, what it does for your mind.
Logan: Yeah. That sounds like you sort of built up momentum and I definitely noticed that myself, in myself as well as clients. The more good things that you do, the sort of easier it is to do them. So if you have this mindset that you stay active even on your off days, that just sort of makes it easier to eat the right foods and then do the right training and it sort of just builds like that.
Logan: So tell me about the cheat days. What sort of style that you do? I know it’s a pretty big thing now these days and there are all sorts of different formats to it so what worked well for you?
Mike: Well, when I first started what I traditionally tried to do was just kind of cut back on my starchy card, the potatoes, the breads, the rices, things like that. So I tried to keep those at bay. Then on Saturday, I’m going to be straight up with you, on Saturday my cheat day was just ridiculous. I was ravenous. Basically, my cheat day was every day for me. It’s just the way I ate every single day and so I had to transition into only doing it one day a week.
So just an example of my cheat day, I would wake up and I would have pancakes, which I’m sure we’ll talk about here in a moment—Mikey pancakes—but I love pancakes. But then at lunch, it was a matter of going to a fast food joint and picking up a greasy bacon cheeseburger with fries. And then for dinner, it would be maybe some Mexican food like beef nachos followed by some ice cream. It was just I’d say in a neighborhood of around 6,000 to 8,000 calories. That was traditionally my cheat day.
But here’s the thing though. As I kind of progressed and evolved and discovered how much better I felt during the week, my cheat days became less than a blow up, if you will, on the weekends. All of a sudden, here it is on my cheat day and instead of going out for a pizza, I found myself wanting to go out for say for instance, we’ll have some grilled chicken breasts and some veggies but I’ll treat myself to some bread sticks, something like that. It’s just crazy how my taste buds changed and my mindset changed as I constantly evolved. So that’s how the cheat day really worked well for me.
Logan: That’s very cool. I definitely noticed that effect, too. Especially early on, it’s kind of fun to see just how much you can eat on cheat day. Definitely, like you were saying, that was kind of your background, that’s how it was every day before but that can be—I guess it probably goes with certain personalities more than others but like you said, I think many people would notice that over time that they just start wanting to go with slightly healthier choices but maybe still, because a cheat day has a certain effect on the body, maybe you can go into a little detail about why does a cheat day work for people that may not be familiar with this.
Mike: Sure. The way I look at cheat meals and cheat diets or even a cheat day diet is kind of like intervals. We all know, or at least most of us know, intervals work much better for you to lose fat. So if you were to take 30 to 40 minutes of a treadmill, just kind of jogging for 40 minutes compared to 15 minutes of doing intervals where you go really fast followed by a period of going at a very comfortable pace, we can actually apply that to our diets. So here we are. We’re keeping our calories low during the week but then on the weekends, say Saturday or even Sunday, we bump up those calories.
What that does is it really comes down to hormones. Basically, we’re looking for a way to keep our hormones happy but more importantly psychologically, let’s all face it, when it comes to eating better, 90% of it is psychological. It gives you that mental break that you desire and that your body desires. So for once, you don’t have to rely on willpower, you don’t have to rely on “Okay, I got to be good this weekend” or “I got to be good today.” You can finally give yourself kind of a break from your diet. That way you come back recharged the very next day.
Logan: Yeah. That psychological aspect is pretty huge. Like you said, I think there seems to be more of a success where you have some sort of cheat day built into your diet because it’s sort of delayed ratification, right? “I’m going to eat that on my cheat day.” It’s not, “Oh, I can never have this again” as some diets set people up for failure in that way.
Logan: I’ve even heard of people literally like every time they see or think of a food they want to eat, they’ll make a list and then that way they know what they’re doing on their cheat day.
Mike: I’ve seen that, too, and it works. When you deprive yourself, let’s say somebody that’s crazy about pizza, to go into a diet saying that you’re never going to eat pizza ever again, to me that’s just not a way to live. But when you look at this and say, “I can have some pizza on Saturday and I could still lose weight and I could still feel my best,” it’s just very gratifying and it enables you to stick with something long term.
Logan: Especially when you see that it actually helps you because of the way that it works with the hormones and sort of resetting the metabolism.
Mike: Sure. Absolutely.
Logan: So yeah, going to the pancake thing. What’s up with that? Don’t you know pancakes are bad for you?
Mike: Right! That’s why it’s my favorite cheat meal of all time. Well, it all started with Craig Ballantyne of Turbulence Training. I was writing a guest post for his blog. Basically, it was just some finishers that I’m sure we’ll talk about but I posted some finishers and then I wrote something about being almost offended that Craig said he likes pancakes more than I do. To me, it was just like a slap in the face because I’ve loved pancakes for so many years. So at that point after that blog post, Craig started calling me in his emails, even introducing me to his friends and stuff at conferences as Mikey “Pancakes” Whitfield.
So now, I live up to that expectation because I have pancakes no less than once every two weeks. Somebody might hear that and say, “Once every two weeks? That’s really not liking pancakes” but you should see the stack that I have every two weeks. We’re talking no less than eight pancakes. It is a ridiculous stack. So it’s just one of those very awesome things that I just love to get my hands on. I absolutely love a pile of pancakes and that’s why I try to treat myself at least once every two weeks with it.
Logan: Is there a specific style or way that you do them or?
Mike: Whatever my wife does is how I like them. I don’t know what she does. I’ll tell you what. It used to be IHOP pancakes. That used to be my go-to. Then my wife started making them and I don’t know. I think she uses coconut oil. I think I’ve seen her use that but I’m not 100% sure but either way, just how fluffy they are and everything, they’re amazing. Of course, I am a big fan of chopped pecans. So the pecans have to be in the pancakes. That’s my only requirement. It’s really that the pecans have to be in the batter. But other than that, I’m pretty open but nothing beats my wife’s pancakes for sure.
Logan: Nice. Nice. The last time I talked to you or a little while ago, you were also experimenting with not just the cheat day but sort of the cheat weekend idea. Could you elaborate on that a little bit?
Mike: Yeah. Yeah, it’s how I came up with the Diet Free Weekends. Basically in a nutshell, what we’re looking at is you be even a little more—I want to say strict—but a little more tight Monday through Thursday and then instead of just a cheat day, you actually get the cheat Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So what I’ve done is I’ve basically taken this interval style approach and I kind of did the four days off, three days on as far as an interval approach with your diet. So for four days, we’re going to tighten up a little bit more on our diet, Monday through Thursday, and then for three days, we’re going to actually have a calorie surplus for three days straight. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
Now there are some pretty cool yet simple stuff you could do, too, as far as calorie cycling and carb cycling and stuff like that but basically what we’re doing is we’re tightening up Monday through Thursday and then we’re going to have one cheat meal on Friday night, two on Saturday and one on Sunday. For most people, it’s almost like a breakthrough because let’s face it, on a single cheat day some of us, including myself—I started to struggle with myself a couple years ago with a single cheat day diet—sometimes we’re forcing so much in on that day because we realize I have to get it all in because if I don’t get it in right now, I’m not going to be able to have this food until next week. So we might find ourselves miserably full at dinner. So it could be 7:30, you just had five slices of pizza and you’re stuffed but you didn’t get in your ice cream for the weekend.
Logan: Right. You’re feeling you just have to have more because you’re on your cheat day.
Mike: Right. It’s almost like an obligation. So what I wanted to do was just set people kind of free of that and help people understand I am too full to enjoy my ice cream right now but I know I have a room for it tomorrow and it’s built into my plan. Psychologically and physically, I can indulge in this ice cream and I could still lose weight the following week because I stuck to my diet as shown Monday through Thursday as I planned. So that’s basically what I wanted to do. It’s kind of break free of this cheat day mentality and kind of spread out those cheat meals through the entire weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Logan: Right. For when people mostly want to sort of enjoy their weekend when they have the time off.
Mike: Yeah, exactly. And if you think about it, Monday through Friday, I’d say 90% of us at least, we’re on some kind of a structured day-to-day process. Whether it’s a corporate job or whatever job you have, we’re basically following the same habits and the same things Monday through Friday. So typically it’s easier to stick to a diet because we’re kind of too busy to focus on wanting to cheat on our foods and things like that. We’re so involved with family and our business or our jobs or whatever, it’s kind of easy—well, I don’t want to say easy—but a little easier to stick to our diet.
But then when Friday night hits, Friday and then all the way through Sunday, we have all this extra time. We have this time with our friends, our family. So the opportunity to kind of indulge is much greater. So why not adjust your diet so that you can accommodate that and then still lose weight week after week?
Logan: So does this work well for weight loss? Are people getting good results from it or is this more of sort of a maintenance thing like once you’re at a point, you can pretty well sustain things going with this cheat weekend?
Mike: Yeah, it’s built for weight loss. I’ll be honest with you. It’s not one of those four, five or six pounds per week. It’s definitely a kind of a long term eating plan. So in that first week, yeah, because it’s a brand new diet, some people may lose three or four pounds that first week just because it’s something new. But then after that, we’re looking at the typical one to three pounds of consistent weight loss to kind of do it for the long term. So we’re looking for a more long term consistency approach to this.
Now as far as maintenance, there are some things that you could do. In other words, you can maybe not be as tight Monday through Thursday once you get to a point where you just want to maintain. But then the principles remain the same. You could still enjoy yourself the entire weekend and then just kind of maintain your weight as you go along.
Logan: Yeah. Sounds like a good plan worth experimenting with. Everyone needs to find what works for them but I think one thing natural in us humans is we’re not really meant to do the same thing all the time. There are surpluses of foods and lack of foods so some sort of cycle in eating really should be there in some way. We could sort of regiment it out with a cheat day or cheat meal or a cheat weekend. For me, I know weight loss hasn’t been a big part of me but just finding what works for me, sometimes when I eat more food, sometimes when I eat less and just following that approach has worked well. It sounds like an interesting idea that a lot of people would probably enjoy trying out.
Mike: Sure, absolutely. I’m glad you mentioned about finding something that works for you because there certainly isn’t one diet approach that works for everybody. It’s kind of like a workout approach. Not everybody is designed to work out six days a week. I’m kind of the three days a week but some people want that five to six days-a-week structure so I’m glad you mentioned that because it really comes down to what works for you and your lifestyle.
Logan: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s switch gears a bit and switch to the workouts, the training that you do. Besides being the pancake guy, you’re also known as the workout finishers guy.
Logan: Can you go into some detail on what a workout finisher is and why this was such an important component of your own weight loss?
Mike: Absolutely. A finisher is kind of like taking interval training and condensing that. As you know, most interval training is anywhere between 15 to 25 minutes for most people. You hop on a treadmill, you go really fast and then you go for a recovery period. Of course, you could do this with biking, ellipticals, whatever. What I wanted to do is take interval training and condense it down to 10 minutes or less and then instead of traditional biking, running or whatever, I wanted to take kind of a hybrid of bodyweight movements and maybe even some dumbbell movements, if you have access, and just create these just very intense circuits that you do at the end of your workout.
So traditionally, people what they’ll do is they’ll go into the gym, they’ll do their 5 to 10-minute warm-up, they’ll do their 20 to 45-minute workout and then it’s almost like we’re wired. “Okay, I’m done with my workout. Now I have to go get in my cardio.” So they walk over to the treadmill and they start walking. They go for it for 20, 30 or 40 minutes. What I wanted to do is help people realize that you can actually get in your “cardio” and I’m doing the quote sign here as I’m saying the word “cardio.”
Logan: I could tell. I could hear it in your voice.
Mike: And it’s just basically we’re doing our cardio in a different way, in a much more intense way. So a good example of this is—the cool thing is you get away from the traditional 3 sets of 10 approach. With a finisher, I like to use all kinds of ladders, intensity circuits and one of my favorite finishers is what’s called the decline of the Bulgarian. Here’s an example of hitting your upper and lower body. What we’re going to do is we’re going to go from a Bulgarian split-squat-jump. You basically get your rear foot on a bench and your front leg is out in front. You’re doing a split squat. You’re going to squat down into position. You’re going to jump up and then land in the squat position on that one leg. So you’re going to do eight reps per side on those.
Then you’re going to use that same bench, put your feet on the bench and you’re going to do decline push-ups and you’re going to do 8 reps. Then you go back to the squats to do 7 per side. Back to the push-ups, 7. You’re going to work your way down until you do 1 rep of each. So not only are we getting our heart rate through the roof because of all these explosive movements, but we’re also engaging more muscle than we would be with traditional interval training.
If you think about it, if you’re doing traditional interval training, if you’re cycling on a bike or running on a treadmill, we’re working our legs and that’s it. That’s about it. We’re not engaging our core muscles a whole lot. We’re definitely not engaging our pushing muscles, our pulling muscles and things like that whereas this finisher that I just talked about, we’re engaging our glutes a lot deeper because we’re having to use our explosive movements. Then we’re having to use our push muscles and now we’re engaging the core a lot more. We’re engaging on our core, our arms, our triceps and biceps. So now we have a much deeper calorie burn as well because we’re engaging more muscle. So that’s what a finisher is all about.
Logan: Yeah. You’ve got a few different cool things going on there. That’s something that once I got away from the sort of conventional training world, it made a lot of sense to me. You can get your strength and your “cardio”—and I’m air-quoting as well right here—at the same time in a very much condensed format. And as far as weight loss, like you said, it’s so much better because of the explosiveness. You’re using more muscle mass in the body and really that sort of switching from upper to lower body definitely has some very cool effects. Do all the workout finishers basically following along these lines, these principles?
Mike: Yeah. Basically, I like to use a variety of bodyweight moves and then if you have access to like say kettlebells or dumbbells, that’s even better. A lot of them use just bodyweight movements but that’s really what’s it’s about. It’s about using multiple muscle groups and keeping the intensity very high because remember, this is ten minutes or less. There are some finishers that I’ve written that are just two minutes but it’s amazing how much work you get done in that little bit of time.
Logan: It’s kind of like the cheat meal, right? You can be disciplined for those ten minutes because it’s only ten minutes maximum.
Logan: Then you could go off and do your other thing.
Mike: Exactly. It saves you a lot of time. Yup.
Logan: Cool. Could you give us another example of something a bit different, maybe using some dumbbells or kettlebells?
Mike: Yeah. One of my favorites is somehow incorporating swings. What I’ll do is I’ll just keep something simple such as kettlebell swings. So we’ll do 20 kettlebell swings and then we’ll super set that with our favorite renegade row. With the swings, of course we’re engaging our core, we’re engaging our glutes and our hips. We’re also improving our hit mobility. So we’ll do 20 swings and then we’ll go down and we’ll do say 10 per side on the renegade row. Now for those listening who don’t know what a renegade row is, that’s when you’re in the push-up position with your hands on a pair of dumbbells and then you row the dumbbell up with your left side and then you row the dumbbell up with your right side. That’s a renegade row.
So now we’re going from an explosive movement with the swings, right into the renegade row. Now we’re hitting our lats. We’re hitting our core even harder. We’re hitting our biceps. So we’re hitting all kinds of muscle with just two moves. A good example of that is 20 swings followed by 10 per side on the renegade row and doing like up to 6 sets. The rest periods are simply up to you. When your form is not perfect and it’s not spot on, that’s when you’ve got to pause, take a break, catch a breath and then continue. But that’s just another simple finisher using just a pair of dumbbells and a kettlebell.
Logan: That’s called a workout finisher so this can just be bolted on to any sort of other workout program?
Mike: Absolutely. Because a lot of us are on different programs. There are some that like metabolic workouts. There are some that like splits where you do upper body one day, lower body the next day, that kind of thing. That’s what’s so great about a finisher. I think really we can all benefit using a finisher because even if you don’t need to lose weight, finishers will help you improve outside of a gym. We’re talking carrying groceries up and down some stairs much easier, playing with your kids, little things like that because what we’re doing is we’re also increasing our aerobic capacity, our ability to breathe and take on extra work. That’s why I think we can all benefit from it.
Logan: Yeah, you’re hitting a lot of the different components of athleticism within a relatively short amount of time that certain systems may not necessarily be doing. For instance, yoga is great. It has certain benefits but depending on how you do it, sure, you can get sort of that cardio benefit but having that strength and moving between exercises, generally that’s not how yoga is done. Can it work as a standalone system, just like I’m going to do three finishers by themselves and then move on to something else? Or are there some other ways that you can use it that may be different than just having it as a workout finisher?
Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I would say a couple years ago, I was against stacking two to three of them together. But then I found that just doing some experimentation on my own as well as a couple of my guinea pig clients, they were loving it. So here you are. Let’s say you’re having an average of 5-minute finishers. You take three of them back-to-back, you’re looking at one of the most intense 15-minute workouts that you’ve ever had in your life. So it’s really a great way.
You just have to grin and bear it though. Know that this is not going to be simple because they are designed to be plugged in at the end of your workout as kind of a send-off, if you will, from your workout. When you stack two to three of them together, it’s going to be a mega-awesome workout, no doubt about it. Now I do recommend this though. We kind of toyed around with a couple clients and I recommend if you do stack up to three finishers together, and of course even for the most advanced four is the absolute most you should go, what you want to do is you want to rest for two minutes in between each of those finishers. That’s just going to kind of let your heart rate come down a little bit, kind of get your focus together, catch your breath, make sure you’re not doing things with pitiful form and stuff like that. That’s a way that you can actually have a full workout.
Another way that you can use a finisher is on your off day. So many people are just kind of anxious. They got to do something on their off day. Even though they’re on a program that only requires them to work out three days a week, they want something to do the other four days of the week. So I recommend just simply doing just a fast warm up, get some blood flow going, some jumping jacks and maybe some body-squats and some push-ups. Then you could actually do a finisher on your off day. Granted between the warm-up and the actual finisher, you’re looking at a max 15 minutes, it’s enough to kind of get your endorphins going. It’s enough to get you focused and more importantly, kind of like what I said earlier as far as the activity level, it’s going to help you make better food decisions. That’s another way to use a finisher. It’s just simply doing one on your off day just to increase weight loss, if that’s what you’re wanting to do, speed up fat loss. Then it’s another way just to stay active and stay more conditioned.
Logan: Very cool. So what does the rest of your training look like? What do you do besides finishers?
Mike: Yeah. I was doing an upper body-only twice a week. I was just kind of experimenting with that, the reason being is I play full court basketball for three days a week and the guys that I play with, most of them are in the mid-20s and I’m 40 so I’ve got to keep my legs fairly fresh. So I experimented with I think it was like eight weeks straight where I just did two upper body workouts a week because my legs were getting enough workout with the basketball. I was enjoying that but I kind of missed my full body workouts. I’ve always been a big fan of full body workouts three days a week and I just missed that so I just started that back up about three weeks ago.
Typically, what I do is full body, big compound movements. An example of–I’m trying to think of my workout just yesterday—Bulgarian split-squats and then I did some dumbbell rows. I did some inclined chest presses, calf and chair knee raises and then I think my finisher was swings and stability ball rollouts. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. That’s pretty much me. Right now, it’s three days a week, full body workouts, around 30 minutes. Sometimes, I’ll skip my finisher just because I know that the next day I’m going to be doing two hours of full court basketball so I’m going to be pretty much doing a finisher for two hours so I think I’m set.
Logan: Right. Very cool. So I’m curious. Are your workouts pretty regimented or do you kind of base it on how you feel? You just mentioned that little bit. You’ll skip your finisher. Do you feel that you’re somewhat of an intuitive trainer because you’ve been doing this for a while?
Mike: Definitely. What I do is I actually create my own program and I follow that for four weeks at a time. So if I’m doing three full body workouts a week, I’ll actually have a program to follow on Tuesday, one to follow on Thursday and one to follow on Saturday. And then what I’ll do is in week 2, I try to increase either my reps or my weight on one exercise during every workout. That’s kind of the way I progress and of course, the 4th week I don’t hold anything back. I go for it. And then I’ll look at week 1 of a new program kind of as a deload week, if you will.
But then as far as that goes, if I’m just kind of lethargic or if I’m not feeling the best or if I feel a little beat up from the previous day of basketball, I don’t hesitate at all on cutting back on my intensity. So if I need to cut back on weight on my dumbbell rows or my squats or whatever, I’ll go ahead and do that. And then if I feel like my body’s a little beat up right now, I’m just going to skip my finisher today, I’m definitely listening to my body now more than ever, especially now that I’m 40. I’m definitely doing that, adjusting as needed.
I’m trying to do a little bit more of mobility stuff as well because playing basketball three days a week up to two hours, it could do some wear and tear on your body. So I’m trying to do more mobility stuff, too, as far as that goes.
Logan: Excellent. Well, are there any other things that you do yourself or have done with your clients that you feel most people aren’t doing that have helped contribute to your success in the gym?
Mike: Yeah. I think that some kind of push-up needs to be in every single program. If you’re a beginner then go with inclined push-ups and that’s simply just putting your hands on a bench or even a wall. But I think some kind of push-up needs to be in your program every time. Another movement that I’ve really started to fall in love with I’d say in the last year or so, maybe a year and a half, that’s the kettlebell swing. It’s just so amazing how that one movement has so many benefits. It burns tons of calories. That’s one thing. Then it helps with your hip mobility. It strengthens your glutes. It strengthens your core. It’s just a great conditioning exercise. It helps you breathe easier. There are just so many benefits with just one exercise. So I would say find a way to have those two moves in your program every time.
Logan: Yeah. I imagine with the basketball, one thing I noticed once I started getting into kettlebells is like I could run faster and jump higher so I imagine those are some benefits that are useful in that sport.
Mike: Oh yeah, absolutely. Especially keeping up with those youngsters on the court.
Logan: Right. So what about the push-up? Why is that so important to you?
Mike: It’s kind of like the kettlebell swing where there are just too many benefits to avoid it. A lot of people think doing a push-up, you’re working your chest and triceps, maybe even your shoulders, of course, and that’s about it. But if you do a push-up correctly, you’re engaging way more than that. You’re even working your glutes if you focus on keeping your glutes engaged. So here you are. You’re working your entire body. You’ll even work your lats by just keeping your shoulder blades squeezed together.
So here you are, you’re doing one movement that helps so many muscles and it just helps develop what’s called functional strength. How many of us are in situations where we need to push stuff, whether it’s pushing a stroller, playing with our kids, moving furniture or whatever it is? A push-up translates into that so easily. There are just there’s way too many benefits of a push-up to avoid them in your program.
Logan: Excellent. Do you stick with sort of the basic push-ups? You mentioned the inclined and declined. Obviously, the regular push-ups would be in between there. Do you play with lots of variations?
Mike: Yeah, I do definitely use variations. I want to keep myself from getting bored and then when I write my programs for my online clients, I don’t want them getting bored, too, so I use a variety. I like elevated push-ups. That’s a great way to work your abs a little bit more where you have your hand elevated, one hand elevated and the other one just on the floor. Another one is my favorite all time push-up. It’s just the basic declined push-up. I’ve always been a fan of it. Then there’s the spiderman push-up, which is an advanced push-up but as you go down you bend your leg up to the side so now you’re hitting your core a lot harder. Then there’s the push-up renegade row combo. We talked about renegade row earlier. Well now we’re going to do a renegade now per side and then actually do a push-up. So now you’re working hundreds of muscles with just one motion. So I definitely am a big fan of using a variety of push-ups.
So if I have declined push-ups at some point in my program during the week, one month, then the next month I might do maybe the closed grip, triple stop push-up where you have your hands right at shoulder width and you go down a push-up but you pause halfway down for one second then you pause again for one second at the very bottom and you pause for another second halfway back up. That’s called the triple stop push-up and it will make any push-up a whole lot harder. So if you’re at home and you think push-ups are too easy, try doing the triple stop push-up and you’ll soon discover that you can make any push-up harder.
Logan: Yeah, absolutely. There are some good variations there and the push-up really is something that you can play with in so many different ways. My personal favorite is probably the handstand push-up but then you’re working in a slightly different plane of motion. I think it’s good to really work sort of that vertical plane as well as the horizontal.
Logan: So let’s switch gears in a little bit more. Some people might be interested in business. You dropped tons of weight, you became a personal trainer then you got started with your online business. Do you have like a philosophy around how you are successful in these different areas?
Mike: Yeah, I would say the biggest thing that has made an impact on my business is getting up earlier. I know that sounds a little too easy or too simple but it’s just amazing how much work I get done between the hours of like 4:00 AM until like 7:00 or 7:30 AM.
Logan: Wow, so you get up really early.
Mike: Yeah, I get up super early. And I love it. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I will say it’s much easier to get up that early Monday, Wednesday and Friday because those are the days that I play basketball so I have an incentive to get my writing done before I play ball because we play ball like 6:30 in the morning. So I have to get my writing in before we get going. So there’s an incentive there. But it’s just crazy how before the world wakes up, before my kids get up I get so much done in that little bit of time.
And then another thing is the book, The One Thing. I read that I think it was last year and it just made a good impact on my business as far as just focusing on one thing at a time. In other words, we’re talking about little details here, too, like when it’s time for me to work on my workout of the month for membership site, that is the only thing I’m going to work on for the next hour or so. I’m going to do everything from A to Z, everything from the book cover to how I’m going to structure the workouts to how I’m going to get my assistant to put in the photos and descriptions, to the philosophy of the workout, the intro of the workout, everything. That is the only thing.
I don’t like doing okay, Monday I’m going to write the intro to the program and then the next day I’m going to write the program and then the next day I’m going to go get my graphics guy to put together a cover. I like to just focus on one thing and just go at it hard. Go to it and then move on to another project.
Logan: That’s very cool. So what does your morning routine look like when you get up at 4:00 AM and also what time do you go to sleep?
Mike: Typically in the summer, it’s a lot tougher. I don’t go to bed as early but I’m usually dead to the world by 9:00. During the fall, winter and spring, before the long hours get here, I’m usually in bed by 7:30, 7:45 and I’m gone to the world by like 8:15, 8:30, something like that. So I go to bed like an old man. You know my boys are also early risers. They get up at 6:00 so it’s just kind of how we’re kind of wired. That’s what time I go to bed.
Now my morning routine is I get up and I’m a quiet time. That’s when I open my bible and I’ll do my quiet time. Then I get out my gratitude journal and I’ll write down something that I’m thankful for. Sometimes, it could be something as simple as hanging out with my kids getting some ice cream to I had an amazing workout to maybe it was a connection I made in the online world or something. Whatever it might, I write just a few sentences of just something that I’m thankful for.
And then I go upstairs and I go to my office. Of course, I have a coffee in my hand. That’s when I go my forum and check to see if anybody asked any questions in my membership site as far as the workouts, the food or anything like that. That’s kind of like my way of waking up. After that, I’m kind of focused. I’m in the zone. Then I start writing. So I’ll do my writing for my fitness list and if it’s time for my personal development site, I’ll go ahead and write content for that as well. So I do a bulk of on writing in the early morning. Then after that, it’s either basketball time or maybe it’s a gym day and I’m heading to the gym.
Logan: Nice. Sounds like a pretty good routine.
Logan: Excellent. Is there anything else? You gave some great tips there and I’m thinking about I should probably waking up earlier, too. I know I’m more productive when I wake up earlier. It’s just that I like sleeping in. Maybe I’ll work with that some more. But anything else that you feel helps you to stay productive and get the things done and you want to get done?
Mike: Yeah, I do want to mention an app. Gosh, I wish I could remember the name. Hopefully, it will come to me as we’re talking about it. There’s an app and it’s totally free, you download it and it’ll block you from going to certain sites. So let’s say you get suckered into Facebook very easily or you get suckered into NFL.com or ESPN.com. I know I’ve been guilty of this. There’s an app that will actually block you from going to that site and there’s no way around it, even if you reboot your computer. If you say block me from going to this site for 90 minutes, you have no choice. You have to wait out those 90 minutes before you can get on that site. Man, hopefully it will come to me in the next couple of minutes but it’s called—I want to say it’s got the logo of a skull but I can’t remember what it’s—
Logan: I think I heard of this the other day. We’ll make sure to find out what this is and include it in the show notes.
Logan: Yeah, I know what you’re talking about and there are a couple different things very similar to this as well that have been around.
Mike: Yeah, it’s a really good app. I would say just doing that alone will increase your productivity by far because we live in a world where we just kind of have ADD, you know? We have to focus on a million things at once. It used to be where it was a good thing to be multi-tasking. That used to be a good thing. Well now the more I look at it, the more multi-tasking stuff that you’re doing, the worst you’re going to be and the least productive you’re going to be. It’s just amazing how when we’re not doing a million things at once, we’re only focusing on one thing like for instance when it’s time for me to answer questions in the forum, I don’t have any other tabs open. That’s the only thing I’m looking at. I can answer questions so much faster because that’s the only thing I’m looking at. Oh, you know what? It just hit me. Self-Control, that’s the name of the app. Yup, Self-Control. I knew it would come to me.
Logan: Yeah, that works. That really gets back to the idea what of you’re talking about with The One Thing. I agree, phenomenal book. Also, have you heard of Essentialism” by Greg McKeown?
Logan: I think that’s how you pronounce his name. It’s along the same lines but I found that very impactful as well. Yeah, definitely in today’s age with the internet and distractions and so many things to do, just getting down to that one thing or what is essential I think is a huge lesson that more people could learn and something I’m trying to do more and more of myself.
Mike: Very cool. Absolutely.
Logan: Yeah. All right. Well definitely we’ll include links to some of these things in the show notes but where would you like people to go to find out more about you?
Mike: I’m most active on my Facebook page. So if people want to find me, they can go to www.Facebook.com/WorkoutFinishers. All one word, WorkoutFinishers and that’s where typically every day I’ll post some kind of motivational thing in the morning and sometimes I’ll be silly as well and just paste some nonsense. But I like to have a lot of fun and I think you can actually have fun and have a healthy lifestyle at the same time. That’s kind of where I chime in every once in a while.
Logan: Absolutely. Well, I think we covered some great information on this call from nutrition and cheat days to the workout finishers, how to use those effectively in your training and get a lot of results in a minimal amount of time and also the productivity tips at the end. I think everyone listening should’ve found at least one thing they could take away from this. I know I have. So thanks a whole bunch for joining me today, Mike.
Mike: You’re very welcome. Happy to do it.
Logan: All right, thanks everyone for listening. If you can leave us a review on iTunes or any other place where you’re listening to this, it would be much appreciated. I will be back in a couple of weeks with another episode.
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