Amna Al Haddad
Sports Pioneer from the Middle East

Events 029

Published on November 8th, 2012 | by Amna Al Haddad


Mike Mahler in Dubai: Hormone Optimization and Kettlebell Course

Last weekend I attended a seminar by Mike Mahler, a visiting vegan strength coach from Las Vegas known for his Hormone Optimization and Kettlebell course in the U.S.

The seminar which was held in the Evolve gym was broken into two parts: A 2-hour workshop on how to achieve fat loss and improve performance through hormone optimization, followed by 4-hour technique work with Kettlebells.

In this post, I will focus on some of the general points covered in the whole event.  ps. The following is solely based on my own understanding and the bit of notes I’ve taken. Feel free to correct any information should it be inaccurate by leaving a comment below.

When it comes to fat loss, performance, or energy production, it is important there is a balance in biochemical messages sent to the brain to achieve optimal results. Generally speaking, training or exercises is considered a source of “stress” to the body, and it’s important to rest and recover, otherwise there will be diminishing returns.  When the body is stressed, the person’s immune system is not at an optimal level;  to improve that and reach your goals – either have more energy, lose body fat, or gain muscle or improve recovery is to create an optimal hormone environment.

Hormone Optimization

When it comes to achieving the physique you want, having energy, or building muscle mass, the five major players are:

1. Leptin

Put simply, leptin plays a big role in regulating your energy intake and expenditure, which includes controlling your appetite and metabolism. If leptin levels are optimal, you will have more energy, higher metabolism and your thyroid will be working well. However, if your leptin levels are not at par, the complete opposite happens. Your body becomes a “fat storing machine,” as no matter how much you eat, your brain cannot process that you’re full, this is called Leptin resistance.  To reduce Leptin resistance:

  • Training
  • Sprints
  • Balanced diet that includes protein, fats, and carbs.

2. Insulin

Insulin, an anabolic hormone, is important for metabolism and utilizing energy from the nutrients you eat, glucose in particular.Insulin plays a role in body composition, bodyfat, and gaining muscle mass.  Both Leptin and insulin interact together and they either thrive together or decline together.

3. Adrenaline

Adrenaline is our “fight or flight” response – the “stress hormone.” Although many use the word “cortisol” adjacent to the stress hormone, cortisol is actually the stress management hormone. Adrenaline creates inflammation and managing your cortisol levels by lowering it, you lower adrenaline. Stress causes us to store fat and it’s mostly present in the hips and stomach. Mike Mahler, from his seminar, is a big fan of herbs and spices to help to regulate or reduce any hormone imbalances.

4. Melatonin

Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep and effects your growth hormones. No matter what you do inside or outside the gym in terms of diet, exercise regime, nothing can hamper you from achieving your goals more than poor sleep. To improve sleep, supplementing with magnesium increases melatonin dramatically and it effects the quality of sleep, in addition to mediation, tai chi…etc.

5. Growth Hormones

When your growth hormones are optimal, you age well and you have a good immune system. However, if your growth hormones are not up to par, you age faster and your workouts suffer. The growth hormones that were covered in the seminar were: DHT (ultimate male hormone), testosterone, progesterone and estrogen.

The combination of all of these five major key players, individuals and athletes alike can optimize or make best use of their time to reach their goals, either fat loss, gain muscle mass, improve sleep, stress less or have more energy. There is a lot that have been said in the seminar and this is just a general idea of what have been talked about and some of what I learned or found interesting.

Ketllebell Course

Before I delve into the details of the course, here is a short video I put together of the event.


The kettlebell course which was about four hour long covered everything from how to do kettlebell deadlifts, to proper swing technique (two arm, one arm, two kettlebells placed inside vs outside, kettlebell), clean and press, snatch, windmill,  the infamous turkish getup, core work, and lower bodyweight exercises.

Some Takeaways:

  • The power in the swing comes from the hips, not the arm, hips first and the arms follows
  • To maximize the use of power and not waste energy, timing the swing is very important in any variation
  • When you clean a kettlebell, elbows must stay tucked next to your hips and you “curl” the kettlebell in
  • Breathing: When you swing back you breath in, when you swing forward you breath out
  • Kettlebell press: Elbows are tucked in, you do a pelvic tilt (which acts like a belt, keeping your lower back safe), arms go straight up (not out) and your breath out and keep your shoulders retracted when finishing the movement
  • There is a lot that can be done with ketllebells to create both strength or endurance
  • Exercises like the windmill and turkish getups should be kept in the lower rep range, as they require concentration and are slow in movement

The above are general points covered in the seminar, although there is a lot more! It was quite fun working with kettlebells, but I am more of a barbell-kinda-person :P. It was a rather educational, informative and enjoyable seminar and hope there will be more of such events in the UAE.


PS. This is review is based on my own personal attendance and participation in the event and was not asked or paid to write it.

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About the Author

Amna Al Haddad , born in 21 Oct 1989, is an Emirati who always had a passion for health and fitness. She made history by being the first Emirati and GCC national to ever to participate in the Reebok Crossfit Games Asia Regionals. Since then she embarked on Olympic Weightlifting with being an IWF Arab and West-Asian Champ -63. A NIKE sponsored athlete, a motivational speaker and published author.

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