Earlier this month, I announced a new series titled The Athletic Artist: Sparking Creativity Through Training. In this virtual anthology, I’ll be profiling numerous interesting people and digging into how they use training to harness their creative juices and propel them forward in their endeavors, whatever that might be.
I wanted to start the series off with a BANG. If you’ve read any of my fitness articles or IG posts, you’ll know about my obsession with the Anabolic Aliens YouTube channel; this is my number one, go-to resource to learn new exercises and work on my muscular endurance. In fact, these videos make a regular and routine appearance in my workouts every single week.
Founder and creator, Mike Rosa launched his channel back in 2014 and since then, he has amassed an audience of over 1.5 million people. His YouTube channel has acquired over 860,000 subscribers and his videos have accumulated over 100 million views – which is a milestone feat. Since the channel’s inception, Mike has consistently released a new video each week and to-date, he’s produced and published close to 1,000 videos. What’s even more impressive is that he’s never, since the inception of Anabolic Aliens, missed a single week releasing a new video in +7 years.
Mike is only 25 years old, but in his youthful years has accomplished some incredible feats. Not only has Mike created a successful YouTube channel, he’s developed a workout app called Exerprise (which hit the charts as the #1 new fitness app in 2018), has broken two world records and multiple New England records in the RPS powerlifting federation, and won best lifter in Massachusetts in the USAPL powerlifting federation. He also made his first broadcast debut on on Episode 2 of Man Vs Bear the Discovery Channel in 2020.
In addition to Mike’s creative and business endeavours, training is a huge and integral part of his life. I couldn’t think of a better person for the series’ inauguration and I’m excited to share Mike’s creative process and perspective when it comes to training and life with you. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
Mike’s Fitness Journey and the Inception of Anabolic Aliens
Confidence was something Mike struggled with growing up – a common thread that most of us can relate to. His fitness journey started with a program called Insanity back in 2013, developed by fitness trainer and motivational speaker Shaun T (best known for his home workout videos). Mike writes, “Working out changed everything. I saw myself transform [physically and mentally]. I felt amazing and motivated to keep pushing myself to get better.”
Mike’s training helped him not only reach his fitness goals, but more importantly, taught him to believe in himself – a skill that trickled down to many other aspects in his life. His newfound passion for fitness led him to start Anabolic Aliens, which fosters the ethos of “help[ing] people achieve their goals, feel what I felt, and start believing in themselves.”
From day 1, Anabolic Aliens stemmed from a deep, underlying passion to help others. Mike is driven in both his training and business to make a difference. In Mike’s words:
In training I push myself to get to that next level physically. Results motivate me and [make me thrive mentally]. In business, results give me that same drive whether it’s one of the [members of my community] reaching out about how I was able to help or when my company hits a milestone. Hard work pays off and those successes keep fueling the fire for more. Anabolic Aliens has become much larger than myself and every day I am inspired to lead this Invasion. Passion drove me from the start and it’s only become more powerful and larger [in scale].
Fueling Creativity Through Training
Mike’s training is the impetus and behind-the-scenes fuel for his creative endeavours. If yin is his business, yang is his training. Fitness provides that security, balance and “stability” that he seeks.
Mike’s motivation and drive is highest when he’s in a healthy regimen with his diet and training. When Mike falls off the path of consistency or diet slip-ups – which we all inevitably experience at some point because, well, life happens – Mike’s mentality and energy suffers.
There is a direct correlation between his fitness routine and his business and personal endeavors. Mike writes:
Working out is a huge stress reliever for me. A great pump always puts me in a better mood. Fitness fuels my confidence allowing me to explore my creativity with authority. I’m just the best me in every way when I’m training to get better!
The Creative Process
Mike’s main driver behind all his endeavors is to help as many people as possible and that means releasing a variety of videos covering all types of workouts for people of different fitness levels, abilities, preferences, etc. Fitness is a highly individualized experience; everyone has their own personal preference when it comes to the workouts they enjoy, their commitment levels, and how their body reacts to different programs.
Mike writes, “I want to be able to help everyone figure out a type of workout that works best for them and more importantly, that they enjoy.” A few of the different types of workouts Mike releases include at-home bodyweight only workouts, dumbbell workouts, workouts with resistance bands, 30-day challenges (a new video each day of the month), Fat Burning HIIT Cardio, Tempo Toughness, and so many more.
He also “tries hard to eliminate all possible excuses” when it comes to prioritizing fitness. He does this by laying out the most common justifications we use to not exercise, and then applies a creative way to solve these issues. Some common excuses include:
Problem: I can’t workout because I don’t have time.
Solution: Quick timed and intense workouts will fix that. Some of Mike’s videos are only 5-minutes in length. You can’t tell me you don’t have 5 minutes!
*A few of my favourites, by the way, are the Intense 5 Minute Dumbbell Shoulder Workout and Intense 8 Minute Dumbbell Back & Bicep workout)
Problem: I don’t have the equipment so I can’t get results.
Solution: Okay no worries, I have “many different intense equipment specific and bodyweight only routines.”
Problem: “I hate exercising” or “I have no motivation.”
Solution: “This is why I have hundreds of different videos because there is always a way–we just need to find that way for you.”
Mikes realizes that people have a multitude of goals when it comes to fitness. Each individual also has their own unique situation which dictates the extent to which they can integrate fitness commitments into their lives.
He actively listens to his community and “[tries] to provide value where it’s wanted and needed.” By listening to his community, he’s provided with an endless stream of new content ideas to lay the foundation for future videos and develop products that resonate well with the “Aliens” (aka, members of his community).
Creating New Exercises
When I first discovered Anabolic Aliens, I tried a 5-minute forearm workout that required zero equipment. My first thought was, “how is this possible?” The second thought that trailed right after was, “a 5-minute bodyweight only workout can’t be that hard”. Unbeknownst to me, this workout was INTENSE. My forearms were burning, my sweat mustache was pooling, and I was loving every second of it. I knew I found a new little, YouTube golden nugget here…
As I went deeper into the library of videos offered on the channel, trying different workouts targeted towards varying areas of the body, I noticed that many of the exercises were brand new to me. In fact, a lot of the exercises I’ve discovered from Mike’s channel are now an integral part of my training regimen. My genuine curiosity (and awe) led me to ask Mike how he’s able to muster up all these different exercises. His answer amazed me, where he states:
I did actually create a lot of exercises you see in my videos. For some of my intense workouts, I’ve literally had to lay on the floor for hours just moving in different ways to find what motion felt like it hit the targeted muscle best. I use my mind muscle connection–trying all different kinds of movements.
I’ve also had multiple circumstances where I just didn’t know an exercise existed so when I was experimenting with different movements and found one I liked, I’d make up a name for it – only to sometimes later find out it actually already had a name. I, of course, also use many exercises I’ve just seen and learned throughout my years of training.
Mike didn’t mention this, but it’s also important to note that nothing kills workout motivation quite like executing the same, monotonous routines each day. While some of the most common workouts include a catalogue of staple exercises that are highly effective (such as squats, deadlifts, etc.), it’s important to diversify a bit by incorporating new exercises into your routine. Mike not only creates new (and fun!) exercises from scratch, but also takes some pre-existing exercises to “the next level” by applying slight variations.
Day in the Life
Our culture is obsessed with morning routines and “day in the life” rituals from successful people. I’m no different in this capacity. I want to know how these people structure their day and what their routines are to achieve such amazing results in their life. So of course, I had to direct this question at Mike, who graciously decided to share how he typically structures his workdays.
During the week, Mike starts his day fresh at the crack of dawn–he’s up at 5:15am and is at the gym, ready to start his workout by 6:00am. He trains for about 2 hours and gets home around 7:30-8:30am, ready to start his workday around 9.
Mike has two different types of workdays: one focused on content creation and the other focused on business activities. Productivity expert and author of The Productivity Project, Chris Bailey also recommends using “themed days” to help provide more structure, which are particularly helpful if you’re juggling a lot, if you’re self-employed or have a lot of “autonomy and flexibility’ with your days.
Here are Mike’s general themes:
Theme 1: Content Creation Days
On these days, Mike is solely focused on brainstorming and filming new material for YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, his Exerprise fitness app, and/or the Invasion membership on his website.
Theme 2: ‘Behind the Scenes’ Days
The second type of workday Mike describes are more “behind the scenes and behind the screen”. On these days he’s editing content, conducting business calls, doing online coaching sessions, and other types of backend management.
On both days, Mike writes, “there is always work to be done growing a business–I’m nonstop working on weekdays, starting from when I get back home from the gym in the morning to when I go to sleep at night.” He consumes 5 meals over the course of the day and because of his very busy lifestyle, prefers meal prep services (his favourites include: Phinix Grill, HardBody Meals, Clean Eatz, HelloFresh, and Home Chef).
On the days where he’s sitting at the screen for prolonged periods of time, he’ll make sure to mix in some outdoor walks and stretches to “avoid sitting for too many hours in a row.” The days where he’s curating content are usually quite hectic, where he’ll be “all over the place and constantly moving.” In short, Mike has no issues getting in his movement goals each day. *Cue fitbit celebratory vibration*
In an attempt to define Mike’s lifestyle in a single phrase, I’d say “fast-paced” is an understatement. Mike admits that his days are “a lot and also require [significant] energy”, but at the same time claims, “it’s a ton of fun when you love what you do and I sure do!” If you’ve seen any of Mike’s videos, you’ll be in full agreement with that sentiment–it’s easy to see his personality and passion for fitness shine through in his content. He comes across as genuine, authentic, humble, and honest; a very human take on fitness.
Mike does give himself a bit of downtime on weekends to reset and recharge, he isn’t bionic. He takes at least one full day to shut off his brain and do something fun or relaxing that’s non-business related. The rest days for Mike, keeps him motivated to “get back at it and go even harder”
Conclusions & Main Takeaways
Mike Rosa has achieved some monumental success at a young age, but certainly not overnight. He’s put in the hours and behind the scenes work consistently for YEARS to achieve the success he’s had to-date.
To summarize, here’s some takeaways you can use to help you in your creative or professional pursuits:
- Training and a healthy diet give us the energy, confidence and discipline to pursue our creative pursuits.
- Helping others and providing value can be an ongoing source of inner motivation. Impacting lives and evoking emotions in others can help supply us with the fuel to consistently put in the work.
- Find common problems in your area of expertise (lack of knowledge, excuses, etc.) and find creative solutions to address these problems.
- Listen to your community and ask for feedback that you can tap into when creating future content.
- Notice how Mike never mentioned money once – he’s achieved success by doing what he loves and providing as much value to as many people as possible.
I’ll leave off part I of the series from some closing words from Mike:
Don’t be close-minded. There are many methods out there and you may surprise yourself with what might become your new favorite. New shouldn’t be scary, but welcoming. To get to the next level and achieve something great and new, you need to step outside your comfort zone and think outside the box. Have no limits!
Thanks so much for participating in the series Mike and stay tuned for part II of The Athletic Artist coming soon….