What Should I Look for in a Mentor?

What Should I Look for in a Mentor?

I remember starting out as a young coach. I didn’t know anything.

But then I met some people I looked up to. Mentors. They took me under their wing, teaching me the ins and outs of coaching and gym etiquette. I learned how to get strong (and deadlifted 545lbs).

Mike Robertson sumo deadlifting 545lbs.

Eventually, I grew away from them. I became my own coach. I spent time around powerlifting gyms and around rehab gyms. I found a way to mesh the two, forming a newly cohesive type of training. I saw the importance of both and went off on my own.

Robertson Training Systems was born. I wrote articles for T-Nation. Then for my own site. I trained people in gyms. I trained teams. I trained people in their homes.

Then I opened a gym. I’ve worked with professional athletes from all different sports: MLS, NBA, MLB… all kinds of athletes.

None of that would have been possible if I didn’t have the right mentors early on. The people who help you find your Way before you know what your Way is.

I want to help you find your own mentor. Do you know what to look for?

We’ll discuss:

  • The importance of age difference.
  • What wisdom means in a mentorship.
  • How having wisdom is different from having knowledge.
  • The power of telling someone they are wrong (or, at least, uninformed or insufficiently thoughtful)
  • The importance of freedom and why you aren’t supposed to just be a Dolly the Sheep clone of your mentor.
  • Why you BETTER be a better coach than me when you’re my age.

Read More

The Thorax Becomes the Pelvis

docendo disco, scribendo cogito
I learn by teaching, I think by writing

I was feeling fired up, so we decided to go a little long on this month’s Q&A. Hope things aren’t too repetitive or boring for you, and — PLEASE — as always, ask any questions below. If something wasn’t cleared up, I can work on my explanation and try again soon.

Make sure to download the notes to help follow along and, if you get lost, there are some other videos linked below that should help you out.

Also worth noting: I decided to give drawing on screen a shot this month. Did you think it was helpful?

Read More

How to Set New Year Resolutions with Mike Robertson

Set New Year Resolutions

I start every year out by looking back over the last twelve months to see how it went. What happened, where can I improve, etc. The only way you can know where you’re going is by first knowing where you’ve been.

Hopefully you take this video a learn more about me.


I wanted to show you this process so that you can use it for yourself. I’ll walk you through EVERY step I did when evaluating my 2017 goals and setting my 2018 goals.

2017 Year End Reflections

  • Thoughts and reflections about 2017
  • The goals I set for 2017
    • Business goals
    • Finanacial goals
    • Physical goals
    • Mental goals
    • Family goals
    • Spiritual goals
    • Lifestyle goals
    • Relationship goals
  • The wins, losses, and others of 2017
  • A sneak peek into my actual schedule (this was a big issue for me)
  • Most importantly, how I’m going to enact those goals


How do you simplify your life? Leave a comment below.

2018 Plan for World Domination

  • My BIG focus for 2018
  • The strategies and tactics that I will use to stick to my big 2018 focus
  • Outcome goals vs. process goals

How can I maximize my time on my favorite things?


What are your favorite things? How do you maximize your time on these things? Or do you consistently do things you don’t like? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Cutting Biomechanics: How pressures, pelvic position, and performance are related

Cutting Biomechanics

Note: This post has a free quiz below!

Impromptu IFASTU. Let’s talk about the bootydo [30:30].

This was a fun one. Bill and I got to talking the other day about cutting mechanics and pressure moderation in the body. If you want to understand movement, you need to understand how humans manage air.

This post is more advanced. If you find yourself getting lost, you may want to watch Brandon’s intro to biomechanics.

Read More

The Biomechanics of Performance

The Biomechanics of Performance

First questions to ask yourself
  1. What forces are acting?
  2. What direction are those forces being applied?
  3. How big are those forces?

Biomechanics is an essential area of rehab and performance that every coach and clinician should understand, but there is one BIG problem. Ever pick up a biomechanics book? If you’ve so much as peaked at one, you probably saw a ton of technical jargon, physics, mathematics, and endless equations. While the fancy equations might be useful for researchers, coaches need a working knowledge of a few biomechanics principles to really make that knowledge useful in the gym. So, cut out the equations, and grasp the concepts. In this video series, we’ve done just that.

This 4 part video series will go through the core principles every coach should understand to make their training more effective, prevent injuries, and make better decisions when writing programs or adjusting things on the fly.

  1. Biomechanics and Coaching
  2. Essential Concepts for Coaching I
  3. Essential Concepts for Coaching II
  4. Biomechanics for Peak Performance

Anytime I’m working through biomechanics of a movement, the first things I ask myself are:

  1. What forces are acting?
  2. What direction are those forces being applied?
  3. How big are those forces?

Read More

Deadlift vs. Squat - Are you giving your athlete the wrong exercise?

Deadlift vs. Squat

Are you giving your athlete the wrong exercise?

Do you know what changes you get from a deadlift? How about a squat?

These exercises are NOT just for pushing up your lifts: they can create different physiological adaptations in the neuromusculoskeletal system.

Knowing what those adaptations are allows you to choose which is best for each athlete.

See how it impacted an elite volleyball player in this video.

Read More

What to Do After an Internship

What to Do After an Internship

It takes time to study well.

Distraction is a huge barrier to early coaching success. Many of our interns get stuck in “Flavor of the Month” topics and never dive deep enough into one single topic.

One of the biggest barriers for our interns to overcome is also one of our biggest strengths here at IFAST. We have coaches who specialize in their own things: I like to talk about the psychology of coaching, Ty can relate anything to an athlete, Lance does… whatever he does.

This rounds out our business nicely because now we can served different populations at different times of day, maximizing our use of the space we rent.

But for an intern, they spend time with me working on cuing effectively, then Bill mentions something cool about complexity theory and they stop thinking about cuing and start thinking about dynamic systems theory.

…Or they hear Lance say something cool about the neck.

…Or they see Ty structure a drill in a simple, yet ingenious way.

All of these things are interesting and effective, but when you pinball back and forth between them, you never get deep into one topic.

If you hear people on the internet speak in cliches and generalities, they likely fall into this. It’s okay to communicate that way because it connects with certain people. Just make sure that YOU know what you mean EXACTLY.

Listen to the rest of my discussion on this below.

Read More

Final Intern Project: TED Talks

As a final project of their internships, all of our interns are required to put together a 15-minute talk. Why?

  • Public speaking is difficult
  • Public speaking gets easier with practice
  • Forming a lecture is a great way to organize your thoughts
  • Refining something with depth into 15-minutes requires organization and prioritization
  • Most things can be taught in 15-minute chunks
  • Everyone has a unique perspective worth hearing

In this video, I will give you the recap of the three interns talks. Take a peek into what a graduating intern thinks about.

The Science of Big Muscles

The Science of Big Muscles

Part 1 – Occlusion training, drawbacks, and more on hypertrophy

Where’s the beef?

Who cares, were going to build some.

I know what you’re thinking, and no, this isn’t a weird lab experiment I’m running here in Louisville. It’s everything you’d ever want to know about helping your clients pack on lean mass.

Let’s get to the bottom of determining the correct way to breed new muscle children.

In this two part series, we’ll get into who really needs hypertrophy training, what typical hypertrophy work looks like, and the basics of occlusion training. Plus, the science behind it all (because you know I love that s***).

Once we understand all of that jazz, we can determine which clients and athletes need hypertrophy work and how to make it most effective.

Here’s what to expect in part 1:

Read More

Motivating vs. Coaching

Motivating vs Coaching

I don’t know if there’s anything more important than learning to listen to a human being.

Anyone who has worked with a few clients before knows that the highly motivated clients are the most fun.

…But also the most rare.

In this video, we discuss:

  • How even the most excited fat loss clients you have will waver (and how to get them back on the saddle when they fall off)
  • How you CAN’T become a better person without also becoming a better coach (I truly believe this)
  • Are systems important, or is it mostly about your mindset?
  • Why motivating is not the same thing as cheerleading
  • Why motivating is THE crucial skill to develop as a coach, no matter who you’re coaching

Read More

Which Book Is Best?

Members can download the notes to get the short version.

Questions asked this month (the month of how to learn anatomy, physics, and coaching exercises):

  • Thoughts on the Frans Bosch book, Strength Training and Coordination
  • What’s the relationship between infrasternal angle and infrapubic angle?
  • If I’m getting a rib cage coming in (narrowing infrasternal angle), is the pelvis outlet coming in as well?
  • I have a basketball player who’s super tall and has a narrow infrasternal angle. But he’s the best athlete on the team. Never has pain. What would you do to change him?
  • If you have someone with pain while squatting, would you modify with a trap bar deadlift?
  • How do you address someone who thinks they should change their exercises, but you don’t really want to?
  • If someone had pain while front squatting, would you consider re-introducing it a few months down the road?
  • What’s your definition of pain?
  • How do you describe pain to someone? Example: when having pain in a squat.
  • There’s a performance model that drives to drive a polyvagal response through a noxious stimulus. Is it too costly?
  • How do you learn where muscles attach and how physics change when you move?
  • How uphill of a battle is it to address a young athlete (volleyball and dancing) who’s playing a lot?
Filtering Through the BS

Filtering Through the BS

  • Why you don’t need a filter if you have good mentors
  • How to develop your own filter as you become a better coach

If you want to get to the point where you can filter anything you watch, see, hear, or read, then I have some advice for you.

Watch the video to find out what it is.

Read More

Teaching Clients How to Row

What’s the single most difficult exercise to teach someone?

Fundamental movements: squat, bend, push, and pull.

Most problems in the gym can be stated simply. I don’t want your back to move around too much when you squat or bend. I want your shoulder blade to follow your arm when it moves.

“Fixing” a lower body “problem” can be difficult, but usually there’s a simple idea behind it. Get the hips in the right position and maintain balance.

Upper body pushing isn’t too bad; make sure you cue a full reach at the top.

Upper body pulling, however, is a bear. Lead with the shoulder blade, make sure the rib cage moves, don’t compensate with the spine (but still let it move a little), kill momentum, don’t shrug, pause at the top, don’t let the head flop around, where should the eyes look, bring your elbow away from your side (but not too far), count your reps, and try not to think about how many sweaty people have been on this bench since it was last cleaned.

Which brings us to this video.

This post is NOT for people looking to be told what to do. I want to give you a broad vision of rowing, how to coach it, and where it fits into a person’s entire training regimen. I don’t want you to rely on inaccurate, concrete progressions, but instead start to think through and problem solve for your clients (athletes and gen pop alike).

This post is NOT for people who are lost and don’t know what to do. This post is for people looking for a better way to do things.

The agenda:

  • A short talk on how muscles hypertrophy (so we know what we need to do to get gains) [see more below]
  • The variations I like to start with (and how to coach them)
  • The variations I think are easiest to teach (good programming makes you a successful coach in the gym)
  • The variations I think are most prone to error (make your clients earn their stripes before you give these to them)
  • How you can tweak little positioning details to totally change the exercise (and get what you want out of it)
  • Why I would have someone reach while they row (do you think I’d have everyone do it?)
  • Everything you need to understand to keep your clients’ joints healthy (I just want to help you think about scapular movement, glenoid position, rib cage orientation, joint forces, and muscular anatomy at play)
  • How to tell when the latissimus dorsi is taking over (and why that can be such an issue)
  • The two different types of rowing mindsets (one that helps you get jacked and another that helps you feel better)
  • How pull-ups fit into this equation (it’s the same only different)
  • Thoughts on chin-ups vs pull-ups (sometimes I care what grip they use, sometimes I don’t)

I’m an anatomy nerd so take this with a grain of salt: honestly, I’ve found that knowing the anatomy has helped me coach this more than anything else. That and practicing it in my own training. Once you know all the pieces, it’s much easier to focus on just one of them at a time while still keeping the bigger picture in your mind.

Read More

Working on Your Sales Pitch – What do they care about?

Members can download the notes to get the short version.

The theme this month was:

  1. Work on your sales pitch
  2. Don’t expect perfection

And there were a ton of great questions:

  • How do you go about training someone like a punter? W2017-11-13 IFASTU Q&A with Mike Robertsonould you start with bilateral movements or unilateral stuff? [2:00]
  • How often do you mention PRI when training people? [8:35]
  • What’s your wrap up / sales pitch when trying to explain breathing patterns to your athletes? [12:08]
  • What makes some of these college basketball strength coaches some of the best? [14:50]
  • Do you like airborne lunges or skater squats? [21:51]
  • Do you use KB swings with your athletes? [26:15]
  • How do I test during different blocks? [33:38]
  • What warm up exercises do you like using for your Indy 11 soccer guys? [36:42]
  • How do you build in buy-in for the 90-90 breathing positions and quadruped breathing positions? [40:52]
  • If someone has pathology and they do a movement that looks pretty good, do you cue them out of it or just leave it alone? [45:02]
  • I have a golf client. What should I do with him? [49:00]
  • They are asymmetrical because they swing in one direction. How would you address them? [56:59]

There was a question this month on training golfers. If you want a more in-depth breakdown of the golf swing and working with golfers, check out this video from Ty Terrell:

Read More