Interview with Mike Fitch
I have been telling many of you about Mike Fitch’s Animal Flow Workout, and this thing is AWESOME. I first found out about Mike when he posted a comment here on the site and it has been good getting to know him ever since.
When I saw his promotional video on YouTube for his new program, I was like, wow, I have to give this stuff a try, especially after enjoying Scott Sonnon’s Flow and TacFit maneuvers and some of my own bodyweight experimentations.
This is some of the most fun I have had training in a while. It makes me feel like I am a kid playing out in the yard, but I also get a kick-ass workout.
I found this stuff so interesting, that I asked him to do an interview with us and he was glad to oblige. Mike has an interesting background and obviously stays in great shape. I love trying new things with my strength training and I plan on using this as my cardio and flexibility training for a while.
Here’s the interview…
Jedd: Hello Mike, thanks for taking time to sit down and tell the Diesel Universe about yourself, and your upcoming DVD, The Animal Flow Workout.
First off, could you please tell us about yourself, including your athletic back ground and how it is you ended up d some of the amazing bodyweight stuff that you do?
Mike: Sure, I’ve been a strength coach, personal trainer and post rehab specialist for a little over 12 years. Even though I had been lifting since a young teen, it wasn’t until I was about 17 that I started learning more and more about anatomy and different training styles. There was no looking back – It was on!
I spent the next ten years obsessively gathering information on as many training styles as I could, from corrective exercise to KB coaching to Olympic lifts to sports-specific and speed-agility training, and attained certifications from about every organization I could find.
But, about two years ago I started feeling unchallenged in my own day-to-day routines. After walking around at fifty pounds heavier than I am now and grinding out countless hours in the gym, I came to the point where I was just done. My joints hurt all the time and I felt like it was time for something new.
I’ve always been interested in non-traditional methods of exercise, but it wasn’t until I started watching the way gymnasts strength train, that something started to click. I began checking out all bodyweight disciplines. Everything from gymnastics, hand balancing, parkour, martial arts to capoeira.
So, getting into to pure bodyweight training started out as a diversion from the lifting routines I’d become bored with, but the more I got into it, the more I wanted to do. There are so many disciplines within bodyweight training that it is a constant learning and progressing process and once you start combining them, the possibilities are endless.
Jedd: Mike, you have a website called, GlobalBodyweightTraining.com – obviously it has to do with bodyweight training, but could you tell us a little bit about what all Global Bodyweight Training entails?
Mike: The idea behind Global Bodyweight Training was simply to create a platform that showcased and increased awareness of all disciplines of bodyweight training. Most importantly though, I wanted to drive the message that no matter where you were, you could get in a killer workout without a single piece of equipment. Allow people to be creative with their programs rather than just getting stuck in the same routine.
On the site you’ll find instructional videos, blog posts, alternative exercise, challenges and rehab techniques. One of the main goals is to provide quality info that’s practical. I’m still learning new styles and exercises all of the time so I feel the content will continue to grow without becoming stale.
The global part was just to create a world-wide project where readers could participate and become part of something. More like a network that everyone can add to and learn from. We encourage people everywhere to send in their photos and videos of their bodyweight training around the globe to inspire each other.
Jedd: Would you say that you specialize in bodyweight training? Is that all that you do? What sorts of weight training exercises do you do?
Mike: My tendency (for better or for worse) is to commit myself 100% to whatever it is I’m focusing on, so once I set down the weights I rarely picked them back up. Also from the experimental side, I wanted to see how far I could push myself going purely BW.
Once I switched over, my workouts became much more of a practice. Each workout was about improving a little bit with each session, but in this case it wasn’t adding more weight but maybe mastering a skill or improving on a bodyweight feat of strength. So I would say that I specialize in bodyweight training but I am still very much a student.
However, with my coaching I’ll never get away from the big lifts or KB’s. It still comes down to whatever is necessary for my clients and students. Of course, if they request to go pure bodyweight, I’m more than happy to oblige – and more and more of them are asking for it as they see how I’ve adopted it myself.
Jedd: What role does the ability to move your body have to do with being strong? Are there any examples of movement patterns that big strong DIESELS might be able to improve upon IF they can move better?
Mike: Hmmm, how about pushing, pulling, dragging, carrying, twisting, bending, lifting, sprinkled with a lot less pain and risk of chronic overuse injuries….haha. Seriously though, movement is everything. I think the importance of mobility and motion is often overlooked by the big guys, when in fact restricted muscles and joints are restricting serious strength potential.
Jedd: Could you go over an example of a bodyweight workout that you like to do that supports the rest of your strength training?
Mike: Sure, that’s one of my favorite parts.
When done properly you can structure your BW exercises to illicit whatever training response you want, whether it be strength, power, endurance, etc. Usually if I’m training for strength, I’ll pick the goal rep range, then pick the exercises that challenge me within those ranges.
So a workout may consist of full range single arm push- ups, chin ups with a single arm negative, unsupported handstand push-ups and super slow tempo pistol squats. Once you’ve adapted to those exercises, you can still change your lever arm or decrease your mechanical advantage to make it more challenging again. I’m still working on that single arm handstand push up (it may be a very long time).
Jedd: When I think of bodyweight training, I think of bodyweight squats and lunges, which to me can be pretty boring. But your dvd goes way beyond those. What made you move past the basic bodyweight stuff and start moving like an quadruped?
Mike: Well that was all part of the quest. With researching and practicing different BW disciplines I started to realize that 1: they all eventually cross over into each other and 2: each one can play a very different role in your program, depending upon how it’s utilized. The animal movements are super versatile in the respect that they are literally good for everything. These types of moves have been used for thousands of years to increase health and vitality.
While I had played with them off and on in my training, it wasn’t until I dedicated a tremendous amount of time to check out different styles of animal movements that I really began to understand their potential for performance. What developed was a program that was highly teachable and highly effective. Once you learn the movements, you can put them together in an endless flow that is unbelievably challenging. And you’re right – it’s a long way away from your basic BW squats/lunges or the dreaded treadmill!
Jedd: Can you point to any examples of movement or strength improvements you have experienced since adapting this type of upper body bodyweight training?
Mike: Absolutely! The positive benefits have been almost overwhelming. Especially considering we spend most of our careers looking for that one thing that’s going to give us an “edge” in our training. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is the end all be all magic pill, but I do know the changes I’ve seen in myself as well as my clients.
As I had mentioned earlier, I rarely pick up a weight these days. However when I do, it’s to assess my strength as compared to my weight training days. The results have been favorable to say the least! I credit this to pure muscle integration and higher neural coordination as a result of this style of bodyweight training. While I’m not the biggest guy around (by a long shot), my body has completely changed in proportion. It’s like Symmetry out of necessity, results I could not achieve while I was weight training.
Jedd: What is something that many people commonly experience once they start adopting these types of skills into their training? Let’s assume that Jedd Johnson is NOT the most limber guy on earth – what might I notice after doing the stuff from your dvd for a couple of weeks?
Mike: Well Jedd, I can say that a lot of the bigger guys or strongmen I’ve seen or worked with have characteristically had tight and locked up hip flexors/deep hip rotators, less than optimal spinal rotation and unbelievably tight and internally rotated shoulders. Usually any mobility or flexibility work is gladly traded in for another couple sets of strength training. Who has the time for everything right?
Well even when using the animal movements at the beginning of a strength workout as a dynamic warm up, can yield some pretty impressive results. Some of the most common responses I hear are “holly s#*t, I feel so opened up!” or “I actually feel lighter.” The animal movements take your through active ranges that will mobilize those tight areas like the shoulders, spine and hips.
Let’s see Jedd, give it a shot for two weeks and then tell me!
Jedd: I plan on it, brother! So, Mike, let’s get down to it. Let’s say some of the DIESELS are interested in your dvd. What is the number one reason to pick it up?
Mike: I really believe it has something for everyone. The beauty of animal movements is that they can be incorporated into almost any workout, whether you are a strongman, a yogi, a traceur, an MMA fighter, and so on. I’ve designed the video so that the information is provided in an easy to follow format, so that anyone can pick it up quickly. That way, a DIESEL can pick up the DVD and almost immediately be able to incorporate the movements into their own workout, at the level they want.
Animal movements can be your whole workout if you want, or can be an added element that you do in addition to your regular routine. Either way, you’ll be using movement in a different way, and It’s an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular performance and endurance. No matter what the sport, athleticism can be rated by ones strength, power, endurance, speed, coordination, flexibility, agility and balance. The Animal Flow Workout will help improve all of these!
Jedd: Mike, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to break off some knowledge for us. I for one am looking forward to trying some of this stuff out. Thanks again!
Mike: Thanks for having me Jedd
Guys, I hope you enjoyed the interview. If you think that you might want to try some bodyweight training in your routine, I suggest you give this a try. As I have said, after just a few rounds of the forward Ape maneuvers, my arms were blown up like I had just worked bi’s and tri’s for an hour.
P.S. Go through the banner above to pick up the program and send me your Clickbank Receipt and I will schedule a half-hour strength training coaching call with you as a bonus!
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Tags: capoeira, gymnastics, hand balancing, martial arts, ninja, parkour