An Interview with Mike The Machine Bruce

by Chris on February 18, 2010

Recently, I had the great opportunity to interview Mike “the Machine” Bruce. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mike, rest assured his nickname is well earned.

Check out this interview, stop by Mike’s site and be sure to leave some comments!

Hi Mike. Thanks for doing this interview. It’s a privilege to have you here. For those who may not be familiar with you, can you give us a little background about yourself?

Hello Chris, and thanks for having me on your blog. I’ am a Professional Performing Strongman and Motivational Speaker. I’m managed by the world famous Grandmaster Dennis Rogers. I travel all over performing and speaking about the importance of physical culture and building our character, taking responsibility for our actions and choosing what we want in life and how we act. The venues I like to perform at most are schools/prisons and churches.
When I’m not on the road I run my own private training facility The Machine Shop Gym.

How and why did you begin to get involved in health/fitness training?

To answer this question I must give you some background of my early years as it is complicated. I’m originally from Milford MA. It is about 45:00 outside Boston. I come from a very troubled childhood where from the ages of 7-13 spent the majority of my time in and out of Child Development Centers looking at ink spots and speaking with psychiatrists.
Along with the horrors of home I was very skinny and beat up on at school. I often would be found with my nose in a Hulk or Captain America comic book to get away from my true life. The comic books and Professional wrestling made me want to become Big and Strong like the characters I would watch on TV or read about.
Once my wonderful Mother married my Adoptive father, [who I had adopt me] My life began to turn around.
I started boxing/wrestling at 14 and realized I was quite good and strong when it came to hitting the weights and conditioning training.
My journey in to the realm of physical culture started 23 yrs ago and
has been my therapy/addiction ever since.

Has there been anyone in particular who has influenced your training?

Wow, that is a tough question. As far as who I kind of patterned my early training methods from would have to be Jimmy “Iron Bull” Pelechia. He was everything I wanted to be like in regards to being big and powerful. After him would have to be Jack Lalanne. Though he was a little man he was STRONG and he is the man I learned how to Dumbbell swing from. I saw him throwing a 140lb bell over his head. When it comes to strongman performing Bud Jeffries got me started. And was very inspirational to me in my early goings. Also though I was never trained by them, The Diesel Crew’s training methods have had a huge impact on my training to this day.
But Dennis Rogers has been the most inspirational to me not only on the physical side, but on how to act as a man.

Can you give a brief overview of your method of training? What does a typical training week look like?

My method of training has changed quite a bit over the years as I have gotten older. The early days were all about POWER, no reps over 5 and a lot of singles. My mindset was I’m going to come in here and lift as much weight as I can and dominate the weight room.
Today I still have the mindset of making my body ready for all sorts of combat. Being a former Marine I want to be able to “Go” at anytime, meaning if I have to run 3 miles I can, if I want to pull myself up over a wall I can, I try and push my body to it’s maximum potential, never leaving any doubt in mind that I am in top physical condition. So I vary my training depending on my mood. 1 day will be weight training with different elements ie: barbells, kettlebells, bodyweight, etc. The reps vary too: sets of 20 are not uncommon, singles are still worked, one day may be high volume one day may be low volume heavy weights. I vary it all on how I feel.

Could you give us an idea of a typical training week for the Machine?

Monday: Deadlifts 2×20 reps
Leg extensions 2×8
Leg curl 2×8
Seated toe press on leg press machine 2×20

Tuesday: Dumbbell swings 2×20
Dumbbell man-Makers 4×10
Leg raise thrust up with weight held in my feet 3×10
Roman chair sit-up with weight 3×20

Wednesday: 1 arm Dumbbell bench press 5×8
Barbell bench press 3×20
Dumbbell 2 handed pullover 3×20
Seated overhead dumbbell extension 2×40-50

Thursday: Super Sprawls 5-10sets of 20 reps in 60 seconds.
Rope over/unders 5×20 overs, 15 unders
Do tuesdays ab routine

Friday: Chin-ups 4xmax reps
Side laterals 3×20 single arm variation above the head.
Seated wide grip lat pulldowns 4×20,20,10,10
Shrugs [Barbell] 5×8

Saturday: Dumbbell swings 1×20
Super sprawls 1×20
Man-Makers 1×10
Rope over/unders 1 set of 25 overs/15 unders.
That equals 1 round. You should move from 1 exercise right to the other. For 3-5 rounds.

That is what I am currently doing for a routine as I’m trying to get down in weight to about 195 lbs. When I am not cutting weight my routine will vary slightly without so much conditioning work. You can find video of me doing my super sprawls on Youtube or around the net. It is basically an Up/Down like in football but you are jumping on to a big tire or bench to make it harder.

How/why did you get involved in strongman performance?

I got in to strongman performing when I first met Bud Jeffries. He asked me if I had ever tried to bend a spike or nail? I said no and thus he gave one and here we are. I had shared my childhood with him and we got to thinking that I had a message there where I could help younger people that may be going through a similar bad situation. Being a former Marine I had no trouble speaking in front of a large crowd. I then got better at my strength feats, incorporated some of my own unique lifts and put together a speech/sermon to reach the youth. My feats of strength are used to open the door so that I can teach my story and help the youth.

I couldn’t do an interview with you and not mention neck training. You’re well known for having a neck like an oak. How did you get into serious neck training? Any advice for someone looking to incorporate it into their program?

I started working my neck because as a kid I had no confidence and always walked around looking at my feet. I was shy, insecure, not sure of myself and was so scared that I could not look a man in the eyes. Once I started training, and gained some confidence in myself I decided that I will never look down at myself again. So I decided that if I built my neck up so that it looked like someone’s leg it would be too thick for me to ever look down on myself again.
For those in any type of combat sport they should be working their necks. The neck is one of the most neglected areas of the body worked but one of the most important. Those interested in starting a neck program should start with a very light weight maybe 5#-10# and work up to 100 straight reps before moving up in weight again. This is the method and standard I use in my gym. 100 reps is the be all end all before any of my students can increase the weight. Start off with only a few sets of 20 reps as your neck will get very stiff and sore.
Be sure to work it from all angles front [neck curls] back [neck lifts with a harness] sides [side neck raise with a plate]

Sounds like great stuff Mike. I hope this can help others in their own training. Thanks again for doing this interview.

For more information on The Machine and his training visit him @

Interesting in practicing feats of strength like Mike? Check out the Nail Bending and Card Tearing E-Books from the Diesel Crew and get started today!

Nail Bending Book

Card Tearing Book

{ 1 comment }

Kira February 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Good interview, dude!

Cheers :)

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