Today I’m joined by the legendary Olympic weightlifting coach, Mike Bergner, also known as Coach B. Coach B is a Level 5 Senior International Weightlifting coach and now retired head coach for CrossFit Weightlifting Seminar Staff. He is a graduate of Notre Dame, where he played football and obtained his MS degree from the University of Kentucky. He was also a Captain in the United States Marine Corps and a very successful athlete both in football and in weightlifting.

This is a conversation I’ve looked forward to for a while and I really enjoyed getting to chat with Mike about who he is outside the gym. In today’s episode, we dig into the inception of Mike’s Gym, Geezer weightlifting, the development of a community, the evolution of weightlifting, and much more.

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Show Notes:

  • 4:22- The inception of Mike’s gym

  • 7:27- Why not expand the gym?

  • 10:17- Geezer weightlifting and open lifting time

  • 13:48- Community development

  • 16:15- What drew you to playing these different sports?

  • 19:42- The evolution from athlete to coach

  • 22:49- A key piece to success: education

  • 26:10- Mentors

  • 28:42- Always being open-minded and still learning; light bulb moments

  • 32:36- Respect the intensity and passion others have for their craft

  • 33:44- The evolution of weightlifting and the sport

  • 38:48- Where’s the sweet spot in a training cycle?

  • 42:25- What could weightlifting look like in 10, 20, 30 years?

  • 47:27- 10 point scoring system

  • 48:08- managing the silence

  • 52:48- visualization techniques

  • 57:31- how do you view how you’ve set up your life now

  • 1:02:00- How does it feel to have your kids pursuing weightlifting in some way shape or form?

  • 1:06:30- Was there ever a time when you felt as though your back was against the wall and the only way to go was forward?

  • 1:13:31- Learn more about Mike

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Podcast Transcript:

Mike  (00:00):

Hey guys, this is Mike Bergner, and you are listening to the airborne mind show

Misbah Haque  (00:12):

Welcome to the airborne mind show. I am your host Misbah Haque. And in these conversations, I like to explore what mental frameworks drive people to do what they do. I have strong feelings about talking to people who are deeply entrenched in and passionate about their work. I’ve always been drawn to ideas, art, and people that have a perspective that I can learn from. And so along the way, we’re going to share and explore ideas that leave you with more context, you’ll pick up things that might be educational, empowering, inspirational, or simply entertaining. And because you’re listening, I have a free gift only for podcast listeners that you can grab if you head over to Mizhq.com. Again, that’s mizhq.com. 

Today’s episode is brought to you by revive RX. Revive RX is my recovery of choice and this is because it is 100% clean, there’s no BS and it tastes absolutely phenomenal. My favorite is the strawberry recovery, which I also call the Pimp Juice. I take four scoops after my workouts and occasionally I’ll do the rebuild which is pure protein versus the Recover which is a two to one carb to protein ratio. And if you want some educational material around supplementation and just nutrition overall, I recorded some short videos with Marcus Filly that you can get exclusively at airbornemind.com So check that out. And if you’re in the market for supplements, head over to reviverx.com and use the code miz10@checkout 

Today, my guest is Mike Burgener and every time I try to record this intro I start rambling so much because I want to say so much about the sky because to me he’s he’s legendary. And so I’m gonna try one more time. I’m going to keep it brief. There’s a lot on Mike Burgener’s career as a weightlifting coach that you can get out there probably on other podcasts and other articles. He is a level five senior international weightlifting coach. If you’ve ever taken a CrossFit weightlifting seminar, he is the head coach of CrossFit weightlifting. And you may have seen him around and in a variety of places. He had a very successful career as an athlete playing football from Notre Dame, and also as a weightlifter.

But he’s been a strength coach for over 40 years, and he’s now retired and retired up teacher, but still doing coaching to an extent. And so, really what I wanted to get out of this conversation was, yeah, a little background on him growing up.  His career as an athlete and as a coach, but really talking to him about some of the transfers that he’s had from being an athlete, being in the United States Marine Corps. How and a coach, how has that kind of evolved into just the day-to-day life that he kind of lives who is Mike Burgener outside of the gym, what’s important to him and his lifestyle. 

We talk about all that stuff. And then we also talk about how you manage the silence and weightlifting which is such a, I loved that conversation. I love that portion of the conversation. So we do give you some nuts and bolts that you can take back and apply to your weightlifting game. But aside from that, I think this is just a very enjoyable conversation. I hope you enjoy listening in on it as much as I enjoyed having this. And more importantly, hope you do something with it. Mike, welcome to the show.

The inception of Mike’s gym

Misbah Haque  (04:22): 

Yeah, I was just telling you earlier how I remember that when I first kind of came across your work. It was like a video I saw on YouTube of you in people’s faces like it was Dan Bailey Rob Orlando and they’re lifting and you’re really kind of hyping them up and I was like wow, I need to have this guy like in my ear all the time. 

And I heard that was kind of the first time I came across your work and then I started once I got a little bit more immersed into weightlifting and I watched the movie, American weightlifting I saw that your gym was kind of included in that and I’ve kept up with you since then. A lot of what you’ve done for the sport and what you’ve accomplished. I’m just really honored to have you on.

Mike  (05:07):

Thank you. I appreciate those kind words. And thank you for having me on.

Misbah Haque  (05:11):

Yeah, I want to get into what? How do you feel the inception of Mike’s gym kind of came about for you. Because when I look back to that movie, American weightlifting, I remember seeing your gym was in there. And then we see what it looks like today. And it remained so simple but so powerful. There’s such a sense of community and camaraderie there. That doesn’t happen by accident. It takes some intention, it seems like to mold something like that. So I’m curious, when did that kind of first come about for you? And how did it come about?

Mike  (05:54):

Well, my wife and I moved out to Basel, California from Carlsbad in 1985. And we were lucky enough to build a home. And in this home, we had two card rods that I think my wife had planned as a workshop. And so I was a strength coach at Rancho Buena Vista High School. And I have two young sons, Casey, and Bo. And I would go to work at six o’clock in the morning to train athletes. And then I’d come home at six or seven o’clock at night after a long day of teaching and coaching. And my wife didn’t appreciate me not seeing the kids basically. 

So she suggested that we build a gym in the garage. And that took about one second to realize that I had something potential here. So we did, we started building a gym, we started out with one platform, I was asked to speak at various conferences, and I got paid for it. So any bottom money that I made, I put right into the gym. And so I go to work at six o’clock in the morning before my children are up. And then I come home at 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. And then the kids at school and athletes would follow me home and train at my house. That way I’d be able to see my children and make them part of the gym lifestyle. And I’d be able to train the athletes as well. So we conquered, made my wife happy. And we conquered the aspect of training athletes, but we’ve just trained them here at my house rather than the school.

Why not expand the gym?

Misbah Haque  (07:27): 

Yeah, and it seems like you, you’ve stuck to that over the years. Because I’m sure if you really wanted to, you could have grown into a bigger space or gone to a different location and, and done all these things because there’s still a steady flow of people that are kind of coming through your doors and hanging out with you. What made you continue to stay kind of where you are and keep things going there?

Mike  (07:53):

Well, I really believe in fundamentals. And it’s my philosophy that you do drills and skills and you work the fundamentals, you build the foundation from the ground up in order to make it a better and stronger weightlifter and simplicity is in my ballpark. I mean, you lift weights, Your feet are on the ground, you’re doing multiple functional movement patterns you work core to extremity, all the things that CrossFit preaches. I didn’t say it like that back then, it took Coach Glassman to make those definitions there. But I believed in yes to the fourth power, basically, and using free weights, so I could control that environment. And also the most important thing for me, I knew that my children would see me and they would hear me coaching out in the garage. And so when they were young, they would come out and watch. And as they got older, they showed an interest. 

They wanted to lift weights they wanted to do other sports, but they wanted to be protected from injury. And it was my philosophy that weightlifting was one of those sources that could help protect the kids from getting hurt. So we had them lift weights, they didn’t have to become weightlifters, but we wanted them to lift weights for their protection if they were going to play sport. And then they just grew right into the gym. And, the most important thing for me at the time with my wife was that we had the opportunity to control who came to our house, and who my kids hung out with.

As they get older, they want to drive, they want to go pick their friends, they want to go and you basically have the control you think but really you don’t have control. So in this environment, they would invite their friends to come up and lift weights and we got to scrutinize their friends to see what they were like and I can honestly say that not at any time did they bring somebody up that was an aspect that we wouldn’t want them hanging out with so it was, it was, it was just our little gym space, our family, our home, and we invited people in and we still do invite people into our home and train them. It’s been a great adventure for us.

Geezer weightlifting and open lifting time

Misbah Haque  (10:17):

I want to loop back to your kids in a bit, but I would love to get your thoughts on. I mean, I know that I think it’s on Tuesdays you have or maybe it’s Wednesdays, you welcome anybody who’s taken your weightlifting course to come through your doors and train at the gym. And then I’ve also seen a video of you call it geezer weightlifting or geezer’s heads lead, and you invite people who are above the age of what is it 70 or 60? pounds?

Mike  (10:51):

  1. Basically, that’s what a geezer starts is when they’re six,

Misbah Haque  (10:54):

gotcha. Okay, so how did you come up with that concept, and then you’re still It seems like you’re still doing it. And it provides a great sense of joy and fulfillment for you to get to kind of hang around all these guys. And you guys all get to throw down together? It seems like such a fun time. 

Mike  (11:13): 

Iit really is. And it all started by accident. I mean, I had a friend of mine named Howard Steiger, who was a retired doctor. And he would come over to my house on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the two of us would train. And then you had such a good time, and we had a positive environment. We said, well, let’s get some, let’s get some more people in here and see if we can train. So Howard invited his friends, I invited some of my friends and I ended up going to a special meeting and I invited people at that meeting to, hey, you guys ever want to come and train, then come on over to Mike’s gym, we have a geezer workout going, and it’s all scaled to your level of fitness. 

In the beginning, it was very scary for the geezers to come over, they didn’t want to be shown up, so to speak by their peers. But it’s a very nonthreatening environment. And so we got it. Anyone can have anywhere from five to 12 or 13 geezers coming in and training together, and I write the programs and, and I write in basically for me, but we have the scaling options that we put up on the board, and it’s a useful video. So it’s basically a fun time of guys getting together and drawing down and giving each other a hard time and teasing each other and, and then sitting around afterward and just talking. 

And the beauty of what we do is like CrossFit, it’s the camaraderie and the togetherness. And in our age, if somebody didn’t show up for four or five workouts, we get concerned and we’ll actually call him and find out if they’re okay. And so I’ve put it out there to everybody that if you guys are gonna miss a workout I get it. But for us, we do worry about each other. So, let’s just give me a phone call. Let me know you’re okay. So it’s just kind of a mutual protection society. I go by so to speak. And my wife runs a program on Tuesdays and Thursdays called the mamas. And mamas are the same thing as geezers. Except mama stands for Mothers Against making bingo arms. So they work hard too and it’s just it’s same things that serve girlfriends, and they get together and they go through an hour of sweat. And they really enjoy it.

Community development

Misbah Haque  (13:48): 

What do you think about when you think about community and you think about the environment that you’ve kind of molded, and just the general vibe that people get when they’re in your gym? And you guys are hanging out and talking together? How can somebody extract some principles from that, and,  develop or nurture their own community? 

Because there is certainly something to that, right, there’s a way that you can lead a way that you can pay attention to certain details that can really influence and affect how people are relating with each other and how they feel in that environment and all of that. So I’m curious for you, when you’re maybe looking back at it now, from when it first started to now or just your current thoughts on what community development can kind of look like? Does anything come to mind?

Mike  (14:45):

Well, it’s my philosophy and my wife’s philosophy that we want to live our best life, so to speak. First of all, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We don’t charge for anything. You have this stuff, it’s all free. We invite people into our homes because we’re very proud of what we’ve produced here. We want our friends to feel welcome in our home, whether or not they’re coming to lift weights or they’re coming to socialize last night, we had a get-together and, and all the geezers in the Mongols were here meeting my, my son, Bo’s girlfriend and himself. And it was just kind of like a socialization situation. 

But it all came together through fitness and training feeling together and kind of encouraging each other to live their best lives. And part of that is, it just comes up, it’s just part of that is diet, it’s nutrition, it’s, it’s fitness, it’s walking, it’s getting up and breathing. And, and, and my wife, and I’ve always tried to share that lifestyle with others. And we just feel like that helps us live our best life. And if people will buy into it, it helps them live their best life as well. At least that’s the way we feel about it.

What drew you to playing these different sports?

Misbah Haque  (16:15): 

Yeah, I wonder you started off playing football at Notre Dame, and you had an interest in a wide variety of sports. But there seems to be a common thread between, let’s say, football and weightlifting and golf and all these different mediums of physical movement. Is there a thread that stands out to you that you feel kind of attracted you to pursuing those different sports?

Mike  (16:42): 

Well, I think that first of all, you grew up in Southern Illinois in the coal mining community that has four sports in high school for boys only, there were no girls sports. And football was a major attraction. And my dad was a football player in college and did very well. And so it’s just kind of like the evolution I was fast. I was explosive. So I got into football, my freshman year in high school, I also played baseball, basketball, and I ran track. So I got to play for sports, the four sports that were offered, I got to play. So it was a very, I’m a very explosive athlete, I’m very, I’m short, but I could dunk a basketball and in high school,  so I was kind of groomed to become that explosive athlete. 

When I was good enough to get a scholarship at Notre Dame, but while at Notre Dame, I was I went in there with only 168 pounds. And my coach who was Eric’s possession, wanted me to be a little bit heavier, you want to be up to about 180 to 185 pounds. And so he kind of led me down to Father Lang our strength coach at Notre Dame and father legs with his encouragement and his education, he believed in the Olympic lifts so he kind of directed me because I was explosive into the Olympic lifts which are three of them at the time there was the clean and press the SNATCH and the clean and jerk and father Lange was one of these guys that would give encouragement and he felt like the best encouragement was the dollar bill. 

And so if you could clean and press your body weight 10 times He might give you 50 bucks and that was back in 68 or 65 and 66 and he kept me 50 bucks is a lot of money. And so I became highly motivated because I come from a wealthy family and my mom and dad provided for us as best they could but nevertheless any kind of money that I got extra then that was always a benefit so this kind of I became a good clean and press because the father Lang if he would have said we’re going to give you 50 bucks for snatching your bodyweight. Hell I would have worked hard on the snatch in the body way but nevertheless, that’s how it really happened. 

Then in the offseason, I thought I did what we competed for. We had a weightlifting team. And after football season was over with we started competing at various contests throughout the Midwest. We still keep in touch today all of our father Lang Alumni Board, we call ourselves the flappers and we meet every year getting together at Notre Dame or a guy hasn’t has a cottage at Table Rock and Missouri, and we’ll go down and visit there and get together and drink beer and wine and whiskey and just tell war stories and just have a great time.

The evolution from athlete to coach

Misbah Haque  (19:42): 

I love that. What do you feel when you were doing when you were an athlete, and when you are coaching a lot more. There’s certainly a way that you set up your lifestyle to be able to succeed athletically or maybe it’s perfect especially if you’re pursuing coaching, but there are certain elements that need to kind of be in your day and how you structure your time and your environment and all of that. Is that something you thought about in the early days at all? Or did it just kind of happen naturally for you?

Mike  (20:16): 

Well, I thought about it, but it was kind of an amazing evolution of it. I was convinced I was going to be a professional football player, obviously. And that was, that was the path that I was going to move on. I never even thought about teaching or coaching. Although my dad brought it and put it in my head several times, he said you’d be a great teacher and great coach, you should, you should follow that path. You always have a job you may not be rich, but you’ll provide for your family. And I, I kind of laughed at him, I said, Are you kidding me? I would never want to teach or coach somebody like me I mean, I was hard-headed and aggressive. 

But when the professional realm didn’t happen, then I moved on, and I joined the Marine Corps and then from the Marine Corps, I got a job teaching and coaching. And it was like, I was teaching us history, and physical education, and becoming the football coach, but I handled the strength activities within football. And I did that until I was probably 35 34 35. And then I had a school contact me, and they wanted me to only do physical education, and only be the strength coach, no football or anything like that was involved. And it was like, Whoa, this is going to be awesome. So really, when I was 35 years old, that was, that was my time that I kind of said, Okay, I’m really going to get involved in the strength community.

I joined the NSCA. And, and really worked hard on developing myself as a knowledgeable coach, I’ve always been a very motivated individual, I’ve always been able to make make, with the old concept I could, I could convince the Eskimo to buy ice from as one of the design, because, because of the Marine Corps, and I’m very hard-charging. I know what I’m going to say it I know how to get into somebody’s said to make them do what I exactly want them to do, and I hold them accountable. And so it was kind of a natural progression. For me. I just didn’t see it in the initial aspect. But it was a natural progression for me that I believe there was a spiritual body around me guiding me to the direction that I needed to be guided. Right now it’s just outstanding, I’ve been blessed with this outstanding opportunity, opportunity.

A key piece to success: education

Misbah Haque  (22:49): 

Has there been something that now that you’re looking back on this, something that stands out to you, as if there’s someone who wants to excel, performance-wise, or professionally, of course, there’s the training aspect itself, right, but maybe something that’s unrelated that you wouldn’t think of right off the bat that’s like what, this was a key piece that I needed in my lifestyle, in my day to day, in order for me to keep on going keep on moving forward and continue on that path to success. Does anything come to mind for you, when you think of that?

Mike  (23:23): 

Absolutely. And it’s called education, basically, it can be self-education, you could attend workshops, classes, whatever. But I’ll be 72 years old on the 23rd of this month, and I am still learning. I mean,  I would never, when I was 18 19 20, would ever think of myself going to workshops, or letting on YouTube and watching techniques or viewing films over and over again, and coming up with a philosophy of that I built myself. And it’s, it’s the idea of opening yourself up to everybody and every technique, and then formulating your own philosophy on whatever that maybe. So the study is extremely important. And then the next most important thing is, don’t be afraid to reach out and accept somebody or ask somebody to be your mentor. I mean, that was very important in my development. And I just didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t consciously go out and say, I’m going to ask this guy to be my mentor. 

But I would go out and search several people. And I had to, I had one great friend that became a mentor. And then I had a great colleague by the name of Richard Borden, who was my instructor when I was getting my master’s degree. And he just kind of took me under his wing because he saw how motivated and how passionate I was, wanting to develop as an athlete and As a coach, so I tell people, Don’t ever be afraid to ask somebody to help you out or ask questions. And that’s why I give, I give out my email, I give out my phone number, I tell people to contact me. 

People are very kind, but they’re very, they’re afraid that to you, they’re going to be entering into your space, and you may not want that. And, for me, I’ve been blessed by who has helped me and the path that I’ve chosen. And if somebody is very motivated, then I really want to be there for that person as well and help him in any way I can. So study your butt off, come up with your own philosophy based on a multitude of variables. I mean, there are things out there that you’re not going to agree with. But that’s okay, studying anyway, to make you the best that you can be, and live your best life, and then be out there. And don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Because 99% of the people that are there would be glad to help you in any way they could.

Mentors

Misbah Haque  (26:11):

Yeah, it seems like when you study and learn from a variety of resources, and people, you have this ability to connect ideas together, and to you, you may be able to see, like, Oh, I got this bit from Mike Burgener, I got this one from Travis Mash, and I got this one from Cal Strength, like, but then at the end of the day, all of that comes together. And it’s this unique thing that’s kind of driven by your perspective, and your views as well. So I love that concept. And then the same thing with, with mentors, it’s amazing what you can absorb from just being around somebody and being around their day to day, or just how the mentor has an ability to pass down something that could save you months or years of time event it’s like, in coaching, it’s similar, it’s like you could, you could fake try to wrestle with technique yourself, or you could have someone like yourself point out something, and it takes you 45 seconds to do that.

Mike  (27:09): 

Right? Exactly. And that’s, that’s what we kind of pride ourselves on. I mean, if, if you came into my gym, my gym has got so many hook grip posters in it, because I will choose what NEET puts out, and I will put them on my ceiling, I got them on the walls. And it’s all those things that basically, I teach with my philosophy, some athletes will bang the bar against their hips, and they’ll swing the bar out. And, and that’s, that’s all well and fine because they’ve been very successful with it. And I accept that. But based on my philosophy, I believe, I believe that the path to the bar should be maintained close to the body, I believe that the bar needs to go in the least line of resistance.

I believe, so I have all of those thoughts. And I then take the visual aspect of the pictures in the posters to coach and teach so that with the understanding that 90% Of all the people are very visual-oriented, they’re not auditory oriented. So I’ll just say, Look, this is the hips that I’m talking about that vertical hips, that’s, that’s what I’m really talking about on this poll. And they’re going, Oh, I get it and so I don’t ever poopoo the banging off the hips type thing, but I try to show them why I believe that the bar has got to be put in the lease line or resistance, and I give them cues and visual aids to see what I’m talking about.

Always being open-minded and still learning; light bulb moments

Misbah Haque  (28:42):

I think that your ability to still have this curiosity to learn. It’s something that I mean, I can feel it. And I know other people can notice that as well. I remember talking to CJ Martin’s mom, and she was kind of talking about you and how, when you were at the camps just you could tell in your brain, you’re connecting so many things, and you’re still soaking up things and learning even though you might be there, to teach some of what your own philosophies are. And then the other thing I noticed was Julian Pineau, he, he posted something around how he admired your ability to still be so open-minded and hear kind of what he had to say. And I And I’m curious to hear your thoughts around what you got from attending, his workshop and his seminar. Were there any  lightbulb moments for you that you were kind of surprised by?

Mike  (29:40):

The biggest one for me is the external rotation factor of the bar overhead. I mean, I thought that for probably 50 years, that’s always been my philosophy. I attended his workshop and he’s talking about Internal Rotation, and I’ve never ever taught internal rotation. And it was just a matter of perception is all it was. And when he and I spoke because I challenged him on it. And he says, no coach, you’re right, you have external rotation, but you have an internal torque. I’m trying to wrap my head around the external rotation, internal torque, I’m not getting it. And so I guess, about 15 minutes later, one of his interns came over and said, Coach, take this PVC pipe, put it over your head, and he says, I want you to, externally rotate that PVC pipe. Now I want you to try to bend that PVC pipe and half. So I did this, and I bent it in half. 

He says close, that’s an internal tour. And the light bulb went off in my head. It was like, Oh, crap. There’s another way of saying something and there’s a very visual, and a physical cue that I can use to help my athletes when they get the bar overhead. And they’re really punching apart on that bar because Julian put me in a position of external torque. And he says, now go ahead and hold that bar. And I’m holding the bar. And he says, And he pushes it back. And he pushes the back of the bar back. And he says, now hold that bar up and try to break the bar in half, and then he pushes it back. And it doesn’t go anywhere. And there again, that was a physical visual cue that he gave me. 

And in my opinion, hell anybody’s crazy, if they’re so set in their ways, that they’re not willing to make a change, even after 50 years, if it’s for the betterment of the production of the athlete, so Julian was a mind-blower for me. And I respect him so much as a coach and there are guys out there. I’m an Olympic weightlifting coach, Julian Pugno. I mean, the guy Louie Simmons at Westside barbell I believe in Louie Simmons and his passion that he has, just like the passion Julian has. It’s just like the passion I have for Olympic weightlifting. Julian’s got it for his gig, Louie Simmons, go for his gig. And we’re all very, very similar. And I just want to pick up the knowledge and learn from them. So I can pass that on to the athletes that I’m working with.

Respect the intensity and passion others have for their craft

Misbah Haque  (32:36): 

Yeah, it’s like you respect the intensity that these people have and the love that they bring for whatever  it is that they’re kind of pursuing it might be different, but that intensity is very similar.

Mike  (32:48): 

Yeah, the Passion is everything. I mean, you get me talking about weightlifting, my wife just shakes her head. Well, we’re gonna be here for about an hour. It’s because I can talk all day long. I really believe in it. Even though I’m not actively coaching athletes that are USA weightlifting athletes, sage brings her athletes up here. And we just got back from the Nationals  in Kansas City. And it was the first time in 10 years that I actually went to a nationals and helped my daughter coach. So I mean, Sage is now the head coach, I’m the assistant coach, but the two of us together are so entwined in our philosophies. And as the three chip sages, the only one that has pursued the Olympic weightlifting, coaching building and developing athletes to be on that national stage.

The evolution of weightlifting and the sport

Misbah Haque  (33:42): 

I briefly had a chance to meet her just in passing while I was at Invictus. What you just said makes me think about the evolution of this. All right, it’s like when 50 years ago, when you started weightlifting, things were very, very different. Right. And you’ve watched the community, the sport, then there are so many things that you’ve watched kind of evolve over the years just like what you said with Julian kind of bringing this, this concept to the table that changes how athletes can view things and how this could transfer into Olympic weightlifting and how it could benefit athletes like little things like that. There’s a ton of that. I’m sure that’s happened over the span of 50 years. I mean, what’s what has been,  what would you say is the biggest change that you’ve observed just from back when you started to now when you think about evolution?

Mike  (34:40):

Well, I think back in the day, everybody did basically the same workouts, it was like, Okay, if I want to get better in the cleaning, I got to do five sets of five. My first set is going to be 135 pounds. My second set is going to be 145 pounds by thirds. Yeah, just that pyramid of five sets of five and your last set of five should be something that is fairly heavy. And then you just write it down and then the next workout you, but it was always five sets of five, there was never any variance for and there was never any variance for anything other than I’m going to do bench presses for my chest and the squats for my legs. I’m going to do deadlifts where my strength is, then I’m going to do snatch or I’m going to do cleans for my power. And snatches may or may not come in there because there wasn’t a whole lot of construction going on at that time for the snatch. But then the evolution started changing. When I got involved with Olympic style weightlifting, I’m going like, well, I’m coaching this guy’s name’s Kinder so and he’s really great on the snatch. But he sucks on the clean. 

Why would I give him five sets of five on the snatch when he’s good at it? When really these five sets of five on the claim because he’s bad at and then I started playing around with? Well, five sets of five is good. But why not 54321 and lift the heaviest weight as long as he can recover? And do I need? Can I have five days a week of workouts? If I vary the workout and the structure and the intensity? Or do I keep it at three, three days a week, because back in the day, it was only three days a week. So I think for us and for me, at a very young age, I started finding that I’m going to develop my programs based on the needs of the athlete. If the athletes are weak, then I’m going to give him five sets of five because I believe five sets of five is a great program. And if he’s weak in the legs, I’m going to give him five sets of five. And if he’s not weak in the legs, then I might give him five sets of 54321 Whatever. So I would just vary it according to the athlete and what I saw the athlete and what he needed. And I think that’s the biggest evolution that I think that started in the inner city.

I mean and in reality in the 60s, no one lifted weights. I mean, it was one size my dad was a very he was a coal miner he was a dairy farmer and he wanted me I shoveled co you want to get strong boy pick up that shovel and shovel out this coal bed. You don’t want to get strong, what bale this? Hey, you want to get strong  take the horse crap and, and cow crap and throw it into the that’s the way we got strong was through hard work. And it wasn’t until I went to Notre Dame that an Air Force agent took me down to Father’s legs and wanted me to physically lift weights so that I could get my body weight from 168 to 185. That’s when it all started. And I think that happened. Also with Nebraska. What God’s what’s the guy’s name, I forget his name right now. But he was basically known as the father of weightlifting. I’m just having a brain fart. But this guy, it was the first strength coach at the University of Nebraska and he built a Program. But I say that it wasn’t him. It was really father laying that built that program because Father laying in the 50s had a national weightlifting championship team at the University of Notre Dame, they just the lifting was just few and far between. That’s all it was. So it’s to see where this has come from five sets of five doing the bench, the squat, the deadlift, to doing snatch balances, no dip to snatch balances with a dip to rack jumps behind the neck. All of that comes in based on what the athletes weaknesses are and how you can incorporate exercises into their program so that they will be weak in that area.

Where’s the sweet spot in a training cycle?

Misbah Haque  (38:47): 

This is maybe a tough question to just kind of generalize. But at the same time, I’m wondering if you had to give a range for what percentages? An athlete should kind of spend a majority of their time on meaning? Yeah, I under when you’re getting closer to competition, of course, things start to ramp up a bit. And when you’re Deloading things hang out a little bit lower. But when we kind of look at the span of maybe a 12 week cycle, or the majority of someone’s training, what is kind of that sweet spot where people should be getting in those really good reps and refining technique and it is valuable in your eyes.

Mike  (39:29):

 I think it’s like anything else, you start out and you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses of the athletes, and you put them on a 12 to 16 week cycle. In reality, if the athletes a football player, he’s going to be trained. One way if it’s a basketball player, he’s gonna find another way if it’s track an athlete, track and field athletes gonna be trained another way, if it’s a crossfitter it’s gonna be trained another way. So you’ve got to be able to break down what the needs are of that athlete for the sport. that they’re that they’re going to be working on. And for me, the beauty of CrossFit, it’s a very GPP oriented program. I mean, you can, there’s so many things within the CrossFit world that go on now that have developed extremely explosive, Olympic weightlifters that started in CrossFitter, that are now being touted and going to World Championships. These people start there.

I think the idea of being sports specific, but understand the GPP of it. And understanding that when you start a program, you’ve got high volume, basically, low intensity, and then you work this up into the pyramid where you’ve got low volume, high intensity, and that’s timed in with what you’re looking at, as a major contest that it may be, if it’s an Olympic weightlifter, and maybe the national championship, it’s if it’s a football player, then that football player is working up to the beginning of their football season. And then during that 1012 week football season, then that athlete is going to be on a sustainable in season program. So it’s, it’s all geared towards this, and then it kind of goes up, and I’m going to do  medium volume, medium intensity, to sustain what I’ve built up through that time period. And that’s all different for a 10 week athlete in football, or a 12 week athlete in football, to a maybe a 15 or 20 week athlete and basketball track and field. So you have to develop the athlete for the sport with which they’re participating.

The beauty of what I like is what CrossFit is bringing to the table in their GPP oriented pneus. Right, their programming is based on fitness, it’s functional movement patterns done at high intensity, vary movement patterns, constantly varied, functional movements done at high intensity. I mean, there’s so many things that you can wrap your head around that for all the sports, then with football, as you get there, or basketball, you get there, you can bring it down to more specificity for that sport.

What could weightlifting look like in 10, 20, 30 years?

Misbah Haque  (42:26): 

Yeah, that totally makes sense. And I guess this maybe ties into my next question. It’s like, okay, we’ve watched weightlifting evolve to where kind of it is now. And then I often wonder, wow, what do you what could it look like in 10 years, 20 years, I mean, the community aspect really has seemed to have grown within just competitive weightlifting. But then you’re right, aside from that, there’s this whole other group of people that maybe aren’t really even doing it for sport-specific reasons, it’s just a recreational thing. 

Now, I really just love the snatch, I really just love to clean and I want to get stronger at it. And so what I’m wondering is especially for beginners, and maybe a large, right, if people staying at, because when I think of myself when I was weightlifting, and when I was hanging out above, like that 80% mark for me, and I was doing that often and consistently, it was something that was really hard for me to recover from. And I found over time, hanging out, I want to say like 70 75% 80% range, there’s still a ton of value there that I was able to take away. And really progress still can come from that. And you’re right. It does, of course, change throughout a build or cycle. But I often found it’s like, wow, there’s this, there’s this perception that like, we need to be heavy all the time. And in fact, it’s like, actually, the good reps and whatnot are drilled at such a much lighter percentage or weight.

Mike  (44:08):

I agree with you 100%. First of all, if it’s not fun, you shouldn’t be doing it, and you don’t need to be heavy. Unless you’re going to be an Olympic weightlifter. They’re going to compete in the Olympic Games or national championships, a world championship. The beauty of what it’s done, its brand, it’s been able to take people like me, that’s even though I’m a geezer, I can still go to the gym and do CrossFit. And I still snatch, I mean, okay, maybe I’m snatching a seven kilo bar, that doesn’t matter. I’m still snatching, I’m still doing the movement patterns. I’m still taking that bar through a full range of motion. And I’m having fun doing it. The snacks feel good. It feels athletic. It makes me feel good about myself. And it’s fun. It’s a lot different than going in trainin, 15 workouts a week in the Olympic lifts and I’m training three days a week. Wait three times a day, one day, the first workout I’m snatching. I’m sad, some fairly heavy, your body has a hard time with recovering and, and I will tell you I’ve always said this, there’s no such thing as overtraining, but there is under recovery. And that’s the biggest Nemesis that any athlete can have.

So I’m with you, I’m that guy that several years ago, I wrote a paper on grading maximum effort in the correct way. And it was through a point system. And it was like, you and I are competing against each other. I’m your, I’m your competition. And you I weighed 250 pounds, and you weigh 175 pounds. So I snatch 250 pounds, I snatch body weight, you snatch 200 pounds, and I get a score of a six on my 10 point scale. But you get a score of an eight or a nine on the 10 point scale, you win the contest. Even though I lifted more weight, you win the contest, because your technique and everything through that 10 point scale was met. So you win the gold medal. And it was amazing to watch my kids. My students gravitate towards that, because the little guy could compete against the big guy because he had good technique, and the big guy got pissed off because he lifted the most weight. 

But it was ugly, he got a four or five on the techniques still out of a 10. And he learned a lesson too, because oh geez, I better reduce this way. I can keep my score of an eight and go to 10. And I can beat this little turd this little guy over here, right? Because he beat me at 200, I need to back it off and come down with an eight or better to beat him. And they did that. And then eventually, both athletes went up to stay on the 250 guy and ended up getting an eight and the 200 guy ended up getting an eight on 230 or 240. So I mean, everybody wins, doing that. And I believe that that’s the way I run my gym. I do not let people go up in weight, unless, unless the technique is good. And it doesn’t matter what they’re doing. It could be CrossFit, the technique could be ugly, and I wouldn’t let him go up in weight, I’d make him scale back down to that point where they’re getting an eight, nine or 10 other score.

10 point scoring system

Misbah Haque  (47:27):

Yeah, I love that system. And I would love to link that up in our show notes. That article something I’m thinking of is golf. And then also Olympic weightlifting there’s so much focus and silence and precision coordination bounce, like all these different elements of athleticism that go into, a golf swing, a snatch or a clean. There’s these parallels there. And often I think about things like, how do you manage the silence? Right? So whether it is when you go up to lift a heavy weight that makes you nervous, and it’s just in training, it’s something challenging for you, or you’re competing and you’re on the platform? It seems like well, it would be productive if you’re, you’re not thinking about anything during the left, right, and you’re able to just focus on the moment and the sensation of effort and, and go through that. 

But at the same time, I understand that’s easier said than done, right? Just kind of filter out all the noise and focus on the lift. So I’m wondering for you, what do you recommend to people, when it’s like when you’re doing the snatch or you’re doing the cleaning or you’re lifting? From the moment the bar leaves the ground? To finish? How do you manage the silence that’s in your head? Any recommendations on that?

Mike  (48:50):

We train like we trained when it’s chaotic. I want my athletes to be in a situation where music’s blaring, I want people to be walking around. And I want them to be able to focus away from what’s going on. But the visualization process that has to take place prior to the movement pattern is so st you have to dial that in. And you’ve got to just get in your head with that, regardless of the noise that’s coming around you. So we train with noise, I want athletes to be distracted and still be able to focus on what they’re doing. And that’s a challenge. I mean, I’ve always said this, there’s 90% of all miss lifts are attributed to the feet, the standard or the feet, which is just like golf. At the same time, that 90% of the 90% is right here. It’s within the head, you’ve got to be able to control that aspect. And you’ve got to be able to see the lift in a very positive image.

If you see the lift and you have negative self talk You’re going to miss the lift, there’s not a very good chance of you making that 90 plus percent lift, you got to get it in your head, you’ve actually got to be able to see what is taken on. And I always like to tell the story about Dragoness, Roseland before the, I think 1984 Olympics or whatever, that he was, uh, he got injured about a month before the Olympics, and he’s gone, he’s going to the Olympic Games for remote Romania. And he got so severely injured that he was in the hospital for about three weeks. And he came out of the hospital, went to the Olympics, and won a silver or won a bronze medal in the Olympics, it was in Seoul, Korea. And the one thing that he said is that while he was in his hospital bed, he actually put himself mentally inside the Olympic Games, out the platform, smelling the smells, talking his hands up, smelling the chalk, watching this chalk, go out of his hands, walking up to the bar, setting himself up for the bar, and he would see himself do a positive, good, clean 10 Point snatch or clean and jerk. And he did that for three weeks with no training whatsoever.

So mentally, it is a training process that you have to come, you have to deal with, you have to deal with that. And as a coach, it’s up to you to understand which athlete is strong mentally, which athlete is not strong mentally, and you’ve got to give that athlete drills, mental drills, to make them be able to focus on what the hell they are focusing on. Without that outside noise, it just doesn’t happen. There may be somebody out there that can walk into a room and, and just kind of everything is going slow motion and they don’t hear anything. That’s very, very seldom that happens. But you have to take the time to train for that. And in my gym. I mean, I took this after, Tiger Woods is dead, he used to poke him in the butt with a golf club as he’s addressing the bar, or the addressing the ball. And I did the same thing. When my athletes were addressing the bar, I go over and hit him in the butt, hit him in the shins I run in front of them all of a sudden. And that training taught them how to just get in the moment and quiet everything down, regardless of what was going outside of you. And I would say we had probably 70-75% success with doing that. Not everybody’s going to be able to good. But you as a coach, it’s very important for you to be able to see that and work towards the athlete. 

Visualization Techniques

Misbah Haque  (52:48):

I love that. Because this is one of those things that I remember. When I was competing myself thinking about, like, even some of the failed moments, right? Like thinking about what it’s because the bar is gonna feel heavy, right? But associating that feeling in your head, there’s some fear that it might bring up but getting comfortable with the fear before you even go on and you actually hold the bar. It’s like doing it in your head. And then I remember hearing from different people like, well, there’s one way of you visualizing in first person, right, which is, I’m waking up, I’m talking my hands, I’m holding the bar. And then you can also do it in third person where it’s like not from a hook grip is filming you. What would it look like if it was perfect? And all those little nuances seemed very helpful because you’re just like getting reps and reps and reps in before you even touch a bar.

Mike  (53:44): 

Absolutely. It’s a critical aspect of your development. There’s some like, like, Ilya, I mean, he said, 190, kilo snatch me, he goes over and talks, walks and attacks the bar immediately. There is no coming up waving your hands looking at it as everything’s done. He’s going to go lift it right now. And there’s guts just the way he does it. And I know he’s practiced that 1000 times in the gym, he’s practiced wherever it works for him. It can’t work for everybody else. And I’ve got an athlete right now and the stage team that she’s, she’s got potential greatness in our stores, but she can go to a way to think God does. And she hears everything. She hears this person over here. She hears this person over here, and she’s focusing on what they’re saying, are they talking about me? Are they doing this? And we’re working hard to break that from her. 

I will tell you the best job I ever did coaching was I had an athlete at a national championship. And this athlete was very hypersensitive. She was like, looking around at everything and you could tell her breathing started to be short and shallow, and it was like she was very nervous. And I put her in the middle of the warm up platform. And I sat her down and put a white towel over her head, and played classical music for while she was warming up, she had no recollection of what was going on outside, I quieted her mind. And the classical music was quick, it was opera for God’s sake. And it just worked, inclining her down, and she went out and won the national championship. There’s so much negative thought behavior that because you are going to lift weights, you’re going to try wasted or there are too heavy, but it’s up to me to put you in a situation for success. Number one, and that means a training program. If I get an athlete, that’s, that’s mentally challenged with that kind of thought process, then I want to put them in their training in a thought process where I do maybe tempo polls at the deficit, or tempo pause pools at the deficit with five to 1015 kilos more than they’ve snatched and they’ve cleaned. 

So that wait feels, oh, my goodness, that’s, that’s a heavy feeling. But I developed them in those slow tempo, pause, slow tempo, six second to 10 second, lifting through the patterns. And then all of a sudden, when they come into the contest, they’re going, they’re taking 100%, or 100% Plus One kilo. And that weight now because I’ve addressed it to 10 to 15 kilos with good form off of a deficit, they’re going like, Well, hell this feels like, and if it feels light off the ground, plugged in, that automatically makes them feel good through that pattern. Soon as they pick that bar off the ground. You don’t want them saying, Oh, shit, this is heavy. You want them to say, Oh, yeah. And it feels like that microsecond, that little bulb that goes right off between the ears, I got this. That’s what you’re trying to develop in that athlete mentally. So it’s up to you to put them in that situation in the gym. So that they’re lifting heavier weights with good technique, but not the full pattern. But off the ground is, that’s what you’re, but that’s your job. That’s your job as a coach to do that.

How do you view how you’ve set up your life now?

Misbah Haque  (57:31):

I love that this is so valuable to hear from you. I want to switch gears a little bit and get into, I know, we touched on your lifestyle as you were coming up as an athlete as you were developing as a coach. Now that you’re retired, and now that you are getting to spend more time on the things that you want to do, what do you think? How you’ve set up your life now and how does that feel for you?

Mike  (57:59): 

We’ve been very blessed. I mean, honestly, my wife and I both worked come in. We’re both school teachers. So we had to pass the app to get a cold beer honestly it but we were very steadfast in wanting to be debt-free when we retired, and we wanted to be able to travel, we want to be able to spend time with our children, Rick, we didn’t expect any of them to be here in Southern California, we knew that they were all going to be going out to wherever they go. But at that point, we wanted to be able to financially be able to afford to go to their places, or financially be able to afford to bring them back home toward our place as well. So it’s, we’ve been at a very young age, we started investing properly. Even when I was in the Marine Corps, USAA, and the Navy Federal Credit Union, I always took a certain amount of money out of my checks, and then when I got my first teaching job, and we got raises, we always said that we would take half the raise, put it towards our investments. 

Then basically with CrossFit, I mean, again, I was blessed by Glassman coming down and taking a course and I was lucky enough to become the subject matter expert for Olympic-style weightlifting within the CrossFit community. And that just even sort of sets us up better, better, to be able to live the lifestyle that we have, but make no mistake about it you retire from what you’re doing. It’s now not all peaches and cream, because even though you can do things, you still have to go out and do things. You got to get your butt out there. I mean, I get bored very easily. So for me, I mean, we got to geezer workouts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And then I’ll go to the beach and I’ll walk. I’ll go visit CrossFit boxes because I want to keep myself busy. And if I’m back at the house at three or four o’clock in the afternoon, it’s like taking a job right? And my dad Dad, my dad retired at 65. And he get up in the morning and he would go to the golf club and he would have breakfast with his buddies. 

And he’d go out and play nine holes of golf. And then they’d come back in and play cards. And then he would have lunch. And then he’d go out, play another nine holes of golf. And then he would go home and take a nap, and then work in his rose garden, and then he and my mom and go out and have dinner and play nine hours ago. But he did that, like five days a week. And that became his job that kept him busy. And I think that’s the biggest thing that I think that we have available for us is that the geezers. This is our way of going to work every single day this is our work time. So it’s, it’s in the gym three days a week, but it’s walking on the beach two days a week, having breakfast, stopping by a CrossFit community, saying hello, maybe they need help coach you gave that? And then continue on with your day.

Misbah Haque  (1:00:58):

How about your rocking chair? Does that mobilize anything for you?

Mike  (1:01:03):

We’re geezers, we’re getting old, and it’s like, my wife put it out here. And then I know where we’re going to throw it away. And it was like, I don’t know, I might have been a miracle on the hill, kind of had a little documentary on the rocking chair geezers, or whatever was called, but they kind of took pictures of us sitting in the rocking chair. And so rather than throw it away, we just kept it. So it’s like they’re in the oven. Now everybody uses it’s not just the geezers, it’s the young kids who will sit in the rocking chair, because it’s kind of a status now of, of the gym it’s there. It’s a geezer gym. It’s not the Olympic weightlifting gym that it used to be, but it’s still an Olympic weight of the gym. So we’re going to keep it and we’re going to send it in, I don’t know.

How does it feel to have your kids pursuing weightlifting in some way shape or form?

Misbah Haque  (1:01:58):

There you go. How so recently a client that comes to our gym, I he’s been he’s, he himself has been very excited about developing his own Olympic weightlifting. He loves the kind of putting in the reps putting in the work, thinking about it, analyzing it, like he’s enjoying it and soaking it all up. His son who is he grew up kind of as a gymnast, he’s still like a teen, he’s a youth, but he, he himself, started to kind of develop an interest in wanting to go to a local weightlifting gym, and jumping in and just kind of dabbling in it. And as his father was telling me about this, it’s like, he was so excited to hear this, but at the same time, to his son, he’s not like pushing him to go do it, or he’s making it feel like this is your idea, like, go have room to play and grow and have the space to pursue it if you want. And it’s been cool to hear these updated stories from him that’s like, he’s seeing progress within himself. And the training is putting in he’s like what, I want to make it to Nationals, I just got to get my snatch to this number or get my clean to this number. And these possibilities are opening up for him. And he’s enjoying being around a community that,  he gets to watch other lifters and so I’m curious for you, how does it feel now that,  your kids are doing all these different things, and some of them have stuck with continue to pursue weightlifting in some way, shape or form? That must be exciting for you.

Mike  (1:03:37):

It’s extremely exciting for me because every one of them has been a national champion. And it’s, it’s like everyone regardless of the sport, I mean, KC, he dove into it fully. I mean, he was a 2008 Olympian, he was the guy that this is what I want to do. He didn’t play any other sports Boe was a national champion, and he played water polo. He played volleyball. He did all these things that he liked. Cody, who’s a firefighter, still train and coach Crossford. He was a baseball player. That was his sport. He played football once but didn’t find that he liked it. So he selected that but they use the Olympic style weightlifting to help them within the sport. Right. And of course, KC trained specifically for weightlifting sage, she was a national champion, but the same thing took place for her she played water polo field hockey volleyball. She did all these sports until she was a sophomore in high school. 

And then she came over to my school and she concentrated only on weightlifting and she ended up getting a college scholarship up in northern Michigan from USA weightlifting. So it’s very important to understand that you as a father or a parent of a child that has the interest. Then you want to generate that interest and make it available for that child to pursue it. If they don’t like it, then don’t be there pounding them in the head telling them to go work out, you’ve got to be able to support that child, and whatever they want to do. Luckily for us, we had the gym, it became a situation where, look, if you’re going to play baseball, we want you to do the Olympic lifts so that you can become more powerful, more explosive. For baseball. Do you have to compete? No, you don’t have to compete. But you do have to work out to protect yourself and to become more punk. That’s the only thing that we absolutely made our children do. They had to lift weights, if they were going to play sport, if they wanted to play sport, it wasn’t a big deal. 

But they chose to play sport. And that’s what my wife and I, who we worked as a team, to make sure everything out here in the gym, was my responsibility. After the gym was her basic responsibility. I supported her in the house, she supported me in the gym. So when the kids would come and piss and moan about dad being too hard on him, then mom would say, You know what, he’s hard on you because He cares about you. And he wants to make sure that he treats you harder than the person that’s coming up, behind you, because they’re gonna see him treat you hard, then they’re not gonna feel nearly as bad when he yells at them as well. So our gives them positive encouragement.

Was there ever a time when you felt as though your back was against the wall and the only way to go was forward?

Misbah Haque  (1:06:30): 

What I’m thinking of, is you have done a lot of hard and difficult things that require a lot of discipline and grit in your life. You were in the Marine Corps, you played football, you competed in Olympic weightlifting, you were coaching, like, all those things require a certain amount of, there’s a certain characteristic, that go into each of those, those areas. Has there ever been a time where you felt fear, you felt scared, and you felt like your back was kind of against the wall? And there was nowhere to kind of go, but forward? Do you? Did you ever encounter any of those moments? And if you did, does one specifically stick out to you? And how did you kind of handle that?

Mike  (1:07:22): 

You can’t go through life. I don’t think without having that kind of situation would happen to you. Its not what happens to you that counts. But what you do with what happens to you to move on, I was an all-American football player in high school, and I went to Notre Dame and when I walked on the campus at Notre Dame, I was just another Joe. I was just another guy. I had to compete for the position that I was going out for, and it wasn’t, yeah, it wasn’t Mike Bergner the All American for Marion, Illinois. Now, it became Mike Bergner, whoever he is, and he’s trying to make this football team and he’s competing against Tom Shea, Tom O’Leary, Jim Smith. He’s got all these guys He’s competed against. And it was like, Oh, my God, what am I going to do? What if these guys beat me out? I mean, Jesus, and it became, Oh, crud, I’m afraid of failure. 

So I had to work through that. So it was my philosophy that I’m just going to work 10 times harder than anybody else. I’m going to study, I’m going to practice, I’m going to look at my playbook. And I’m going to be right there when things need to happen. And then if I’m not selected for the position that I want to be selected from, then I know that I’ve given it everything that I’ve had to make myself better. So who loses? No one loses it in that situation, you just have to deal with it, egotistically and that was the one thing that I tell people all the time when you walk into my gym, or you walk into a competition, you have to leave your ego at the door. And you have to pay attention to the task at hand. And, and I thank God because of my mom and dad, I am a highly motivated individual. And I’m very passionate about certain things. Now I could give a shit about physics, I could care about anything else other than force times distance over time, the definition of power, I could care less, but those things that I’m very passionate about, then I’m going to give it 1,000%. 

And if I’m going to take it on, then I have to do it to the best of my ability. And if it’s not the best, then I gotta look in the mirror and accept that I hold myself accountable, and then make myself better. And that’s just something that you’ve got to be as good as you can possibly be. And you’ve got to work towards that. If that was Vince Lombardi’s big deal, winning isn’t the only thing. It’s not the preparation to win that was what he was talking about. And if you’ve done everything you can to prepare to make yourself the best coach, the best athlete, the best defensive back the best baseball player that you can be, how can you fail? You can’t, you may not be the guy that’s appeared number one and get winning the Heisman trophy. But you do know that I’ve done everything in my power. And I’ve got the passion to do the best that I can with the abilities that I’ve been given.

Misbah Haque  (1:10:33):

Yeah, that effort. That effort, it sounds like is what gives you like, the mental peace, right? Like I did what I could I went I went 100% of this.

Mike  (1:10:43): 

Absolutely, it absolutely is that. And in high school was a great learning experience. Because I was the best in high school. There was nobody better than me. And when I went to Notre Dame, what a humbling experience that became, because you’re thinking as a high school kid that you’re going to walk on to Notre Dame football team, and you’re going to be an all-American, it was one of those things that soon, and I had to deal with it, and my spirituality rose from being able to sit down in a quiet space and talk to your higher power, so to speak, to be able to quiet your mind, again, to be able to accept the consequences of your behavior, so to speak, of your ego of your actions. And so you can either put your tail between your legs and accept that and you go nowhere, or you can fight on to become the best that you can possibly be. And you hope that the results will be what you want them to be. But you understand that they may not be, however, you’ve done everything in your power to make it happen. So you can’t lose.

Misbah Haque  (1:12:02):

I love that Mike is there. What if people could take away one thing from this episode, one thing you want them to walk away with, and maybe think about and or implement? Does anything stand out to you?

Mike  (1:12:15):

I think that whatever it is that you’re going to attack, whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, track, CrossFit, it makes no difference. Whatever it is that you’re going to do, that you put it in your brain housing group, to be the best that you can possibly be. And if you want to, if you’re a person that right now needs to lose 100 pounds. Well, Frick, put it in your dadgum brain housing group, and come up with a plan, study the plan, and by God lose 100 pounds, what is the best way for me to do that? Well, I’m going to quit eating, that’s baloney.

You need to study what it is that’s going to make you and you can accept to lose that 100 pounds and then go lose 100 pounds. If it’s diet, go through your cupboard and see what’s bad, see what’s good. And that’s what’s bad, throw it out, and what’s good, cheap, and then shop accordingly. But you’d have to make that commitment. And I think that the most important part is knowing and understanding and making a commitment to achieve the goals that you’re putting forth. And if you’re going to set the goals, you’re going to put that goal out there that make the commitment to achieve that particular goal. And study to do it.

Misbah Haque  (1:13:30):

I really appreciate you, of course, for all of the sports specific, and then the knowledge that you bring around training and competing and all of that. But I think more so than that. I appreciate just a lot of what you have given us today that you can take into your lifestyle and day to day life, and there’s a lot of carryover into the way that you can just kind of live on a day to day basis attacking whatever it is that you want to. So thank you for that.

Mike  (1:13:59):

Thank you very much appreciate it.

Misbah Haque  (1:14:01):

Where can we point people to? And how can we support you? Where can people keep up with what you’re doing and learn more?

Learn more about Mike

Mike  (1:14:08):

Well, there are a couple of places. First of all, my email address is  Mike Burgener. mikeburgener@mac.com. You contact me there, I answer all emails. My text is 760-535-1835. That’s my phone as well. You can call me and Hey, Coach, this is John Doe, from Hampton, Virginia and I got a question. can you talk and I’ll say, Well, I can’t talk now or Yeah, I can talk I got a free moment. I’m retired. My wife is kind of like a yard Nazi. I always say that and so she wants me working in the yard when I’m not working with what I do. So don’t hesitate to contact me. We have Bergner strength and CrossFit weightlifting on separate websites and Bergner strength is also a YouTube. But now that my daughter is putting it out there to show, she’ll interview me on technique and stuff like that. And so we have YouTube courses, if you want or YouTube clips of how to correct certain movement patterns, by all means, subscribe to, it will help you out. And don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Misbah Haque  (1:15:26):

Well, thank you so much for being generous with your time. And I really enjoyed this conversation and would love to do it again sometimes

Mike  (1:15:34):

 Anytime you want. Just let me know. 

Misbah Haque  (1:15:37):

Awesome. Well, thanks again, Mike.

Mike  (1:15:37):

Thank you.

Misbah Haque  (1:15:41):

Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you lending me your ears. Before you head out. I wanted to share a free gift with you. It’s only available for podcast listeners at mizhq.com Again, that’s mizhq.com. So go ahead and grab that. If you want to support the show. The best compliment that you can give is by leaving a review with your thoughts. You have no idea how much that helps, and I always love hearing from you guys. So once again, thank you again for tuning in. Until next time

Resources we may have talked about:

  • American Weightlifting: The Film

  • 10 Point Scoring System

How you can connect w/ Mike: