Interviews / Personal Trainers

Balancing the Grind With Mike Mahler, Aggressive Strength Trainer

For the latest addition to Balance The Grind’s interview series – where we have conversations with a diverse range of people who are all working on balancing their life, work and passions – we have Mike Maher, a strength trainer and hormone optimisation researcher based in Las Vegas, NV.

As one of the leading experts on effective kettlebell training for size, strength, fat loss and conditioning and with over 13 years in the fitness industry, Mike was fantastic to talk to about kettlebells, the Aggressive Strength training style, achieving balance in life and more!

Enjoy the interview and make sure you hit up Mike’s website – – to learn more.

1) You’re well known for your specialisation work in kettlebell training – what was it about kettlebells that made them stand out to you?

From 2002 to 2013 I travelled all over the USA and world teaching kettlebell workshops. I also produced ten kettlebell DVDs and a few eBooks with kettlebell information.

However, these days my focus is my podcast, The Live Life Aggressively Show with my good friend Sincere Hogan. In addition, I have designed the best nutrition supplement line for fitness enthusiasts with a focus on optimizing hormones and training recovery.

I no longer teach kettlebell workshops or produce kettlebell related information. I still train with kettlebells of course.

All of that said, what attracted me to kettlebell training were the ballistic moves such as the snatch, clean and press, and swing for conditioning. I also liked the fact that kettlebells are great for home based training and are also very portable.

I take kettlebells to the park often for some fun workouts and fresh air. Once I started using kettlebells in 2001, I started infusing things I like to do such as heavy weight training which lead to my focus on double kettlebell training for size and strength goals.

2) What are some of the common mistakes you see people make with kettlebells?

Poor technique is the most common mistake I see due to the proliferation of terrible information on mediums such as YouTube.

Once kettlebells started becoming more mainstream, many unscrupulous trainers saw an opportunity to make a buck but didn’t want to put in the time to learn optimal technique.

As a result they have done a real disservice to their clients and followers. Jillian Michaels being a perfect example of what I am referring to. She put out a kettlebell DVD a while back with the arguably the worst kettlebell technique I have ever seen and should be ashamed of herself.

3) Over the years you’ve developed a training style called Aggressive Strength. Can you tell us more about this?

Aggressive Strength is a focus on being strong and powerful and not just physically but as a good person as well in order to have the most positive impact in the world.

Being aggressive is about moving forward with strong purpose not being a bully or oppressing others. If physical training doesn’t make you a better person and an asset to your community then it is a waste of time.

My training style is focused on making people stronger and faster and building strength and conditioning that will carry over to various athletic activities.

4) What’s a typical training routine for you like?

Staples in my routine are barbell exercises such as squats and deadlifts. Bodyweight exercises such as ring pull-ups, hanging leg raises, dragon flags, and glute ham raises.

Finally, I of course use kettlebells as well and mainly incorporate double kettlebell military presses, double kettlebell swings, and one-arm snatches.

I do two full body weight training sessions per week and then two sprinting or kettlebell conditioning workouts per week.

5) At the moment you’re busy co-hosting The Live Life Aggressively Show and building your supplement business, so how do you ensure you find balance in your life?

While I am busy doing the Live Life Aggressively show weekly and promoting my nutrition supplement business, I also have a lot of free time to enjoy life.

I set my own schedule each day, wake up when I want to, sleep as much as I need etc. Restoration is something I am big league into and I get sports massages weekly, go for long walks daily with my dogs which is like a form of meditation.

I also like to spread awareness about causes that I find important such as helping kids in human trafficking and addressing animal suffering. I would like to make all of your followers aware of Project Child Save which is my friend Ty Ritter’s organization.

Ty and his team save kids kidnapped and forced into human trafficking all over the world. This is a cause everyone should be concerned about and moreover support.

What is the point of being strong physically if you are not capable of carrying a good conversation or enjoying life from not being a well rounded human being?

6) If you had to choose one exercise to do for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The ideal focus is on covering what I call the five pillars: upper body press, upper body pull, lower body press, lower body pull, and torso work. Example:

  • Upper Body Press: Double Kettlebell Military Press
  • Upper Body Pull: Weighted Ring Pull-ups
  • Lower Body Press: Barbell Squat
  • Lower Body Pull: Double Kettlebell Swing
  • Torso work: Dragon Flag

The above is just an example and one can use as much variety as he or she wishes within the parameters of the five pillars.

Strength training is so much more than just lifting weights, and what you learn from training can enhance other areas of your life.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.