I recently had the chance to interview Mike Whitfield, CTT, a trainer who dropped over 100 lbs of his weight and is now helping others do the same. You can learn a lot about motivation, transformation, and success from this interview and Mike’s experience. Enjoy the interview
Interview With Mike Whitfield
Q: I’m here with Mike Whitfield, personal trainer, blogger, and author of Workout Finishers and Ab Finishers. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Mike. How have you been doing these days?
A: I’ve been doing great, certainly loving what I do. Thanks for having me.
Q: You’re not only a fitness expert, but you also have one of the most impressive personal transformation stories I’ve read. You dropped over 100 lbs. What made you take action and change your life?
A: It’s funny you ask that – honestly, I just had an a-ha moment in December of 2002. I threw an interception while playing football on the playstation and got so upset, I threw the controller down. As I looked at myself while bending over to reach for it, I realized I didn’t like the person I had become. I was wearing 46″ pants and wearing XXXL shirts. It’s like a switch went off and I decided to jump on the new year bandwagon that following January. Since then, I’ve lost 105 lbs, but more importantly, I’ve kept it off.
Q: What are the key factors that helped you achieve such a remarkable transformation?
A: Understanding that it was going to take hard work and persistence. It truly does start with the mindset. I would say the biggest factor is to never ever give up because there will always be obstacles and “stuff” that gets in the way. You just have to persevere.
Q: How has your life changed now that you’re not longer overweight? What did you learn about yourself?
A: I can go up and down stairs without being exhausted. That sounds like a small detail to most people, but for me, that was huge. Being able to do the little things like reach up for something or using the steps instead of the elevator without sweating means a lot to me. But I’m more excited that I’m in shape to be able to play with my son, especially as he gets older. It has really opened my eyes and help me understand that anything is possible. Losing that much weight allowed me to shift my mindset… if I can lose 105 lbs, I can certainly share my message across the globe.
Q: What are some tips that you can give to someone who has a lot of weight to lose and feels like there’s no hope of ever losing it?
A: Never give up – always be open to new ideas.
Be consistent – no matter what, always strive to be consistent, even when you think you’re not seeing results. It’s what my mentor, Craig Ballantyne, calls the “whoosh” effect. You could be so close to busting a plateau, and most people give up just before busting it. The next thing you know, you could be 3 lbs lighter in a week… the “whoosh” effect.
Q: Is your personal transformation the reason you decided to be a trainer?
A: No doubt – this was the biggest reason I do what I do. I feel like I can connect with anyone who might be struggling, whether they have 100 lbs or even just 5 lbs to lose. I know how they feel because I’ve been there.
Q: Let’s talk about Workout Finishers. What made you create this program?
A: People love challenges and they love to burn fat. I wanted to combine the two. I wanted give my clients something to look forward to with their workout programs, so instead of monotonous cardio or even intervals, I replaced that with a metabolic workout finisher. The fat just rolled off and I was excited. It was something I thought about doing almost 3 years ago, and finally, it came to life in October of last year.
Q: Why are workout finishers so effective?
A: We all know that intervals are effective for fat loss, so what I like to do is use the principles of intervals and apply them to metabolically demanding exercises like Swings, Burpees, etc., etc. in a unique combination for optimal recovery, intensity, etc., etc. So now, we have intervals done with compound movements, which of course equals lots of calories being burned.
Q: What kind of results do you see with your clients once they begin incorporating workout finishers into their routine?
A: For one thing, their conditioning improves. They notice they can play with their kids at a high level. They can run faster. They can bike faster. Of course, they also lose fat faster using them. But the result that excites me is seeing people bust a plateau by using finishers. I had one guy that was eating well, was on a great program, but just needed a little push. He had dropped 20 lbs already, and all we did was plug in finishers with his favorite workout, and he lost another 11 lbs in 4 weeks after being at a plateau for a few months. I was thrilled for him.
Q: What is the difference between Workout Finishers and the Ab Finishers program? Can you give an example of each?
A: Sure – the Workout Finishers is the original program with 40 finishers that you can plug in with any workout, and there are a few that you can use as stand-alone workouts. What I did with Ab Finishers was combine the principles of a finisher with the best ab exercises so you can work on increasing you core performance, while still getting the conditioning and fat-burning of a finisher.
I usually tell people who are interested in both to get the original program first, then move onto the Ab Finishers. In the Ab Finishers program – all the finishers can be plugged in with any workout. Whereas the original Workout Finishers – there are some that are better suited after an upper workout and vice versa with a lower body workout. I explain that in the manual.
Workout Finisher – one of my favorites is the “Decline of the Bulgarians” Finisher
Do the following superset resting only when needed. In the first superset, you will perform 8 reps. In the next superset, you will perform 7 reps. Continue in this fashion until you complete 1 rep of each exercise:
1A) Bulgarian Squat Jump (8 ea leg, 7 ea leg, etc., etc. down to 1 ea leg
1B) Decline Pushups (8, 7, etc., etc. down to 1)
Ab Finisher – The Heart Thumper (#15 from the manual)
Do the following circuit one time, resting when needed. Time yourself. Try to beat your previous time the next time you perform this finisher:
1A) Burpee (20)
1B) Cross-Body Mountain Climber (15 ea)
1C) Prisoner Jump Squats (15)
1D) Ab Pike (15)
1E) Lunge Jumps (12 ea)
Q: Is it possible to do bodyweight finishers? What sort of exercises can these include?
A: Absolutely – you can do a finisher anywhere. They can include a variety of pushups, planks, squats, lunges, jumps and more. I like to do a heavy resistance training workout followed by a bodyweight finisher sometimes – good times. The idea is to use “calorie-expensive” moves. So, crunches wouldn’t be in any of my finishers.
Q: What are some ways to increase the intensity of finishers?
A: That’s a great question. I get that one quite a bit. The first thing you can do is cut the rest periods. So if a finisher calls for 30 seconds of rest, try resting just 20 seconds. There is a huge difference. The next thing you could do is increase the exercise intensity. So if pushups are way too easy for you, you could do Spiderman pushups or Decline pushups. That raises the intensity right there.
Q: Is there a difference in the finishers you do after a full body workout than on a split training regimen?
A: Not really – most finishers use a total-body approach. However, I have written some split finishers in the original program. For example, the “Leg Exhauster” finisher is designed to be used at the end of a leg workout, but knowing that you have at least 2 days to recover from it before hitting the lower body again. I did the same thing with an upper body finisher called, “The Upper and At’em”. As you can see, I have a lot of fun naming my finishers. The idea of a finisher is get the heart rate up and burn calories, while incorporating just enough rest so you can last through the finisher.
Q: Finally, what are you planning for the future, any new programs in the works?
A: I am actually just finishing up a project with Travis Stoetzel called “Hardcore Finishers”. He’s really fun to work with. I also just put the finishing touches on “Xtreme Fat Loss” Finishers. They are tough and they include some density finishers, timed sets, etc., etc. That was a lot of fun to put together. There are definitely more Finisher projects coming down the pipe (they are too fun to write and not share). My goal is to allow people to bust through a plateau and get faster results without having to abandon their favorite workout programs.