One-On-One With TapouT XT’s Mike Karpenko

Very few sports in our history have seen a rise as fast and as widespread as mixed martial arts (MMA). MMA is a full contact sport that uses striking and grappling techniques from a wide variety of other combat sports like boxing, wrestling, karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, muy thai and basic brawling to name a few. MMA has transformed from a local gym curiosity into a global spectator sport, gaining access to pay-per-view programming, cable and now, network television. MMA was first televised in the United States in 1993, and has since grown into a global phenomenon, primarily through the presence of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC®).

The UFC has brought MMA into the mainstream through a reality television show, and by putting up the most highly regarded fight cards in the world. The UFC acquired Japan-based Pride FC in 2007 to become the top MMA circuit in the world. The UFC also bought World Extreme Cagefighting in 2007 to be a minor league feeder system and showcase lighter weight fighters.

While the sport is growing in the U.S. and North America, it has a long history in Brazil. MMA is also highly popular in Japan, where there is a long tradition of combat sports. Recently, the UFC has made inroads in countries across the globe.

There are many elements that contribute to the popularity of MMA. The spectacle of lights, music, a loud, jam-packed arena, a wide array of fighting styles, and the sheer will of the fighters to win all contribute to the incredible popularity of the sport. But one of the biggest elements that makes MMA so popular boils down to one word: Intensity. Fighters that bring an enormous amount of intensity to the Octagon, like Jon “Bones” Jones, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, Randy “The Natural” Couture, and countless others, are what get fans up out of their seats.

It is no wonder why TapouT® XT, headed up by on air talent and mma conditioning coach Mike Karpenko, is such a fast growing workout program. TapouT XT is an intense 90-day workout program that takes users through twelve mixed martial arts style DVD workouts. Through lots of hard work, determination and intense training sessions, users can lose weight, build lean muscle, and get ripped – all in 90 days.

TapouT XT creator and fitness expert Mike Karpenko attended the State University of New York at Buffalo where he graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration 1999. He gained certification as a (CPT) Certified Personal Trainer from ACE, the American Council of Exercise, in 2003. He is certified as a (CMMACC) Certified MMA Conditioning Coach by the MMA Conditioning Association. Mike also gained certificated as a (PGX) Primary Group Exercise Instructor from the AFFA Aerobics and Fitness Association of America in 2003. In addition to this, he holds a (HKC) HardStyle Kettlebell Certification, and CPR and First Aid certifications from the American Heart Association.

Mike is proficient in a multitude of fitness categories, including strength training, metabolic resistance training (MRT), weight loss, power and speed development, anaerobic and aerobic conditioning, nutrition and meal plan development, indoor and outdoor conditioning, functional and sports specific training, fitness monitoring, teaching and coaching, kettle bells and boot camps.

I recently had a chance to sit down with Mike to learn more about his background, his work with current UFC fighters, highly coveted details about the TapouT XT program and where it is headed in the future.

Please give us a background on your training experience and education in physical fitness. When and how did you become interested in the UFC and MMA? How did you come up with the idea of Tapout XT?

I’d always been into sports and played competitive soccer growing up, but my true love for health and fitness kicked in when I moved to Los Angeles in 1999 to accept the job of Director of Operations for a well-known diet/in-home food delivery company.  Soon after, I was offered a position to run test and development groups for a well-known direct marketing company, and became a certified personal trainer. I started training clients with their fitness and nutrition immediately; individuals- weight loss, performance, maintaining, I was instructing group exercise circuit classes, and really focusing on finding new ways to keep people excited about training, while seeing really amazing results. It was working with athletes that drove me towards MMA and ultimately becoming a certified MMA conditioning coach.

I want everyone I meet to TRAIN and not just ‘work out’. My focus is for people to train with a purpose. Whereas workouts maintain, training drives results. For years I continued to design and lead various user participation and test groups for some of the top-selling workout programs in the world. I could not get enough of changing and affecting someone’s life in a healthy way.

I was originally hired by the producers of TapouT XT to help design their ‘test group’ and to also help in their search for the lead trainer and program developer of TapouT XT. Half way through the test group, one of the producers asked me if I’d personally be interested in developing and leading the actual TapouT XT workouts. I was in shock. I was always a behind the camera guy not an in front of one. It was a very exciting opportunity to help others in a way I never had before and an entire different level and platform. So naturally I jumped on it, and the rest is history.

I see that you’ve trained many great UFC fighters, both veterans and up-and-comers. Can you share any personal (Wow!) stories of those that had major career changing fights that used/gave credit to Tapout XT?  (stuff that we can’t see on the website)

World Champion Jon Bones Jones is one of my favorite fighters to train with. Most think he is just some genetic marvel. I saw him firsthand as focused, dedicated, and committed to do whatever it takes to be the best. He is one of the most superb athletes and people I’ve ever worked with. The first time I trained him, it was a blast! We ended up doing a lot of things that were new and untraditional to him, that he immediately felt would help up his conditioning and preparedness for anyone or situation in the octagon. Helping anyone, especially a world-class athlete like Jon Jones has always been my passion and working with him was a high point for sure. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is another top fighter who’s always fun to train with. You never know what you’re going to get…or what is going to come out of his mouth next.  What you see is what you get! No hidden agendas!  Cowboy is a stand-up guy, comes ready to work and backs down from no workout or person! Just talking about him makes me smile, he has heart like no other, and that reflects in his training and who he is- I love being around him, He’s one of a kind in and out of the octagon!

There are a lot of workout programs out there that promise great results through hard work. What is most important for those seeing an ad or commercial for Tapout XT for the first time to know about the program? What are the biggest differences between Tapout XT and other rigorous workout programs, like P90X, Insanity or GPS Rushfit?

I am not a big fan of comparing myself or TapouT XT to anything for that matter; we are a one of a kind company and training program.  We set out to be different and offer different fitness solutions than any others that are currently being offered and we did it. TapouT XT is a GREAT standalone fitness program and I am excited about how many people’s lives it is helping and has helped change. The most important thing for people to know about TapouT XT is that “to quit does not exist”.  It’s not just some cute marketing saying, if you believe it, you can do anything! I tell people all the time, this workout is not about the destination…it’s about the journey. You need to enjoy it every step, every success. It’s a life changer. Stick with it. Keep pushing. I know this workout burns. That burning is the feeling of results and results are not made in the comfort zone! The more you struggle, the more your body is transforming, the more you will enjoy your success.  I tell people all the time, “if you are giving all you can, you are doing TapouT XT perfectly.”

I’d say one of the great advantages to TapouT XT over most other programs is that we don’t use weights, pull up bars or a lot of equipment. With TapouT XT, everything you need, truly, everything you need, comes in the box.  And that was important to us. We know people like programs that are simple and drive results and are affordable. So we wanted to create a program that would enable everyone no matter who or size of your home workout space to get completely ripped and healthy, all without needing to purchase any weights or anything additional other than what comes in the box.  Trust me… it is working all over the country, in every state, in every size home, male and female. People are definitely getting RIPPED with TapouT XT.

[box type=”important”]You need to check out the success stories and before and after pictures of people who have completed and are doing TapouT XT on our website and our Facebook page at We also wanted to offer in TapouT XT 45 minute workouts, we know time is important to everyone and we knew it was important to keep under an hour to an average of 45 minutes a day to deal with busy schedules, and physical and mental burn out.  It was important to us that we kept the workouts to a length that would enable, motivate, and inspire people to stick with the program, show up each day and get the physical and performance results they wanted.[/box]

The final few minutes of a workout (and fight) are often the toughest. What are the keys to pushing that extra mile? What does the TapouT XT program do specifically that motivates users (and fighters) to go the extra distance?

Every TapouT XT workout ends with what we call the “Killer Move”.  It’s different in each workout, but it’s always brutal, it’s in your face, its one last test for the day. It is more mental than physical. It grabs you and shakes you; it’s a Killer Move or series of moves for 90 to 120 seconds done with 100% all-out effort.  We knew part of a person’s success was testing them at the end of their intense TapouT XT workout.  We knew most people can push through the killer moves without stopping.  The question came down to WILL YOU? We’ll…that’s what fighters deal with in the last parts of the round, and even more so at the end of every fight. The winner is more often than not the fighter who can find inner strength, push through, and claim victory.

There are very few cons listed in the Tapout XT reviews section, attesting to the high quality of Tapout XT. Some of the cons are issues with bands and difficulty in following along. What changes, if any, are you making to the program to increase the quality of the experience?

One of the things we set out to do with these workouts was to combine resistance and cardio training along with mixed martial arts. So that’s a lot going on there all together at the same time!  The bands provide a great form of resistance that enables us to do a lot of great resistance moves at varying intensities and techniques that you could never achieve with weights.  We’ve found that the very first time people do the TapouT XT workouts, a few people get a bit behind following some of the moves, or grabbing their bands in time, and we understand that. For the most part, once an individual gets through each workout the first time, they tend to have the transitions down and can get the most benefit out of each move to maximize results. And trust me, it is not hard to find the burn, burn calories or fat with TapouT XT!

Do you plan to expand the DVD offering in the future? If so, when? What type of workouts will you offer?

I’d love to do more workouts. I know it’s something we’ve talked about, there is a great development team working in a back room, underground, that gets no day light on top-secret things, so who knows:) .For now my focus is changing lives, helping people who have purchased and are doing Tapout XT, and all those considering it. I would like nothing more than to make a difference in EVERYONE’s life especially in their journey to get fit and healthy while living well. IF and WHEN new workouts come out, I’m sure that the people at TapouT XT will make big announcement. So….yeah, definitely. Don’t be surprised to see us step it up and turn up the heat even more on future videos. We really believe we can set the standard and raise the bar in the extreme DVD fitness category.

Is there anything else people should know about Tapout XT, or anything coming down the pipeline in terms of new products/workouts/fighter sponsorships?

One thing that people seem to love is the crazy TapouT XT community and support groups that exist online. I love to mix it up with the people doing TapouT XT on all social media channels and people are always pleasantly surprised how often I comment and reply to people doing the 90 day program.  You don’t always get that kind of first hand support from other DVD programs with “workout celebrities.”  It seems like one of our TapouT XT fighters is on nearly every UFC fight card, so there is always something going on in the world of TapouT XT.  Check us out on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and We have some surprises coming everyone’s way pretty soon:)

[box]Thanks Mike! Stay tuned for exciting new developments from TapouT XT, and be sure to check them out on Facebook at:, Twitter at [email protected], on YouTube at or on the website at[/box]


Susan Wright

I am a certified yoga instructor with 12 years of experience both practicing and teaching. I am highly passionate about health, nutrition, fitness, well-being, muscle building and finding new groundbreaking workout programs.

One thought on “One-On-One With TapouT XT’s Mike Karpenko

  • January 28, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Asking questions are in fact nice thing if you are
    not understanding anything totally, however this post offers good understanding even.


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