Knowledge vs. Experience with Mike Robertson


     Today I have a special feature with world renowned athletic development coach, personal trainer, and all around results guy – Mike Robertson. Mike is the co-founder of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. His contribution to our field has certainly pushed the envelope and raised the industry standard. I sat down with Mike briefly to get his follow up thoughts on the difference between knowledge and experience. Enjoy!


#1 Coach Mike, you’ve written an insightful piece lately on the difference between Knowledge and Experience

One logical extension of your thoughts is – what ratio of Learning:Doing should coaches and clinicians maintain then? Should the ratio be different for older or younger professionals? Or, should the ratio be the same throughout ones career regardless of age? My opinion is that it doesn’t matter.

If someone gets results by “doing” more than “learning” or vice versa, then who cares? Where does Mike Robertson draw the line for an optimal blend?
I think for most of us we should strive for 50/50 – that may not be on an hour by hour basis, but you should spend a good portion of your time learning stuff, and then another portion of your time learning to apply it and make it work in real-life.

Think of it like a see-saw – if it’s 50/50, the see-saw is balanced. If you’re spend 75% of your time accumulating knowledge, that’s fine, but at some point if you want to be a great coach, you need to flip-flop that ratio and spend 75% of your time coaching.

Beyond that, though, we need to focus on quality learning. I hate to say it because I maintain a blog and take a great deal of time keeping it up, but a blog is very rarely a great place to learn.

Can you take away some quick hit ideas and thoughts? Sure.

But you can’t learn someone’s entire training philosophy or coaching skills from a blog post. Sorry.


#2 I loved your suggestions in the post regarding a hierarchy of continuing education. Many people are reading a zillion blogs and not taking in enough “high yield” information. Specific to the learning portion of the learning:doing ratio, what do you think the hierarchy of education should be? For me it’s research, conferences/seminars, products, webinars/podcasts, articles, lastly blogs.
I think that’s a fantastic way to look at it, although I wouldn’t necessarily place research above conferences/seminars. It could depend on what you need to learn most, or what is most applicable to your line of work.

Overall, though, that hierarchy is perfect. Think of it in this fashion: Try and learn from more all-encompassing resources than quick-hit, instant gratification outlets. A book takes a long time to read, but you’ll get a lot more out of it over the long haul.

Use resources like this and get your scientific knowledge game up!

#3 How should we communicate with those who have both knowledge and experience but suggest things opposite to our knowledge and experience?
This is where critical thinking and true understanding come into play. If you want my .02, here goes.

Let’s use the topic of lumbar rotation for example, as people love to argue incessantly about it. My goal is to know so much about both sides of lumbar rotation (pros and cons) as possible.  That way if someone wants to argue with me as to why they want 20+ degrees of lumbar rotation, I know their side of the argument better than they do!

Along the way if I learn something new, or taking something else away, I’m that much better because of it.

I would highly recommend trying to learn from a bunch of different people, including those you might not agree with. At the end of the day, even if you don’t change your mind, you will have firmed up your resolve and have more ammo for why you train the way you do. 

#4 If my readers are to take you seriously, we need to know something first, how much can you squat or deadlift? 😉
 I’ve squatted 530 pounds and deadlifted 535 at a bodyweight of 198 pounds. That was over 5 years ago now, but I hope to exceed those lifts in the near future.


#5 Congratulations on the birth of your first child, Kendall! A special time for you and your wife I’m sure. I’m looking to get married myself in the near future. Could you give me some insight into just how the married life and now child has affected your career acutely and what you suspect the chronic implications are? 

Sam, “chronic implications?” You make it sound like I have a terminal disease!

In all seriousness, it’s definitely a change. I’m used to having a very routine schedule, and I was always VERY focused on work and my career. Luckily, wife has always been very supportive of that.

Things are definitely different now. Kendall has her schedule, and let’s be honest, it’s all about her! I think I’m learning that it’s ok to slow down a bit. It’s ok to not blog 4x/week, or to be at IFAST every single day. I’ve worked my ass off in an effort to get to this point, and now my big picture has changed a bit.

Career and work are a critical component of who I am, but it’s not everything. I want to be a great husband and father, and that can’t happen without me putting in the time and energy necessary to be just that. You can’t automate spending time with your wife, and you can’t outsource spending time with your child to a VA.

The end-goal career-wise is still world domination, I’m just more ok with the fact that it takes time and I’m going to enjoy the scenery a bit more along the way. I love my wife and little girl more than anything, so they are a more focal point of my life now maybe than before.

And that’s definitely a good thing.

Well said, Coach Mike. Thanks for coming on today and sharing your thoughts with my readers. Keep up the good work and best of luck to you and Bill Hartman at IFAST.


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Essential Continuing Education Resources (Aside from Research)