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Hi, I’m Mike Matthews, Bestselling Author and Creator of MuscleForLife.com…Ask Me Anything

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Hi, I’m Mike Matthews, Bestselling Author and Creator of MuscleForLife.com…Ask Me Anything

Over the last 11 years, I’ve been on all sides of the health and fitness game.

I was the newbie without a clue, following magazine workouts and buying hundreds of dollars of worthless supplements every month.

I was the guy stuck in a rut, just going through the motions every week. Not getting any bigger, leaner, or stronger, regardless of what I did.

I had no clue how to eat to lose or gain weight, and believed all kinds of broscience myths that made dieting complicated and frustrating.

Although I’ve done a lot wrong, I’ve been lucky enough to to learn from my failures, and discover what actually works. I then used that knowledge to build the body I had always wanted–the reason I stepped foot in a gym in the first place. And fortunately, it turned out to be much simpler and more enjoyable than I ever would’ve believed in the beginning.

I share everything I know in my books, but I want to take it further and relate my knowledge and experience directly to your circumstances so that it helps you succeed in achieving your health and fitness goals.

The way I am going to do this is through a simple question and answer format. All you have to do is leave a comment with a question and I will answer it, either here or in my podcast. Whether it is a question about a problem you are having in your diet or training or just something you want to know about me, feel free to ask me anything.

 

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I’m Mike Matthews and I’ve been training for nearly a decade now. I believe that every person can achieve the body of his or her dreams, and I work hard to give everyone that chance by providing workable, proven advice grounded in science, not a desire to sell phony magazines, workout products, or supplements. More about me.

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2,788 Comments
  • Mario

    Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Dude, too easy. 100 duck-sized horses. A horse-sized duck would terrify me.

    • TrevorL

      Excellent question. Sensible response.

      • Michael Matthews

        Hahah

  • Marty // Sumohax0r

    The Whole UFC League VS 20 450 Pound Silverback Gorillas… Who would win?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      The gorillas would pound the shit out of them are you kidding…

  • JN

    For someone that has had 2 babies, can’t get to a gym but will dedicate working out at home. What would you suggest for a weight work out? Any youtube videos or websites to refer to is great as well.

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      I like the You Are Your Own Gym program, and actually like one of BeachBody’s products for women, which is called ChaLean.

      • Jonas

        “You are your own gym”-program hasnt got low rep range, butmostly 8-12 reps. Why do you still suggest it? Im interested now…

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah but it’s still a decent home program. There’s also this:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-ultimate-bodyweight-workout-routine/

  • James Sarubi

    I can seem to get over this palio. nothing I trying is working.

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Palio? Sorry but I don’t understand.

  • Nanette

    I work out of the home, have some weights and lots of dvds— what is the best CORE workout that will strengthen the abs, back and so forth WITHOUT me having to join a gym?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Honestly my favorite core exercises revolve around weights and the gym (deadlifts, squats, weight ab exercises, hanging leg raises, etc.), but some good exercises you can do at home are as follows:

      1. Air bicycle

      2. Reverse crunch

      3. Plank (front and side)

      4. Crunch on the exercise ball

      5.Torso track or ab roller

      • Nrg

        If you can, check out some Les Mills CX worx sessions on YouTube!

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          Okay I will!

  • Sandy Scott

    Here is an issue that plagues me. I am in great shape, muscular, vascular, perfect weight for height, but I have a bit of a paunch that I can’t seem to rid myself of. Even when I was a national class distance runner at 6′ 143 pounds, I had a midsection as hard as a rock, but only a 4 pack showing. Those bottom two abs are lost somewhere. Although my “paunch” is very unpronounced, (you probably wouldn’t notice even if I had a tight shirt tucked in), a friend of mine is very muscular from years of weight training, has super body shape, incredible vascular, but has a pronounced paunch. Any help for those of us who hate you because of your great 6 pack?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Good question! I’m going to save my answer for my first podcast, as I actually get asked this fairly often.

      And haha in all fairness, my ab genetics annoy me because my bottom two abs are just…not there…period. No matter how lean I get. Lame. But getting rid of the fat, or paunch, is straightforward.

      • Sandy Scott

        Be sure and publicize the program – I want to tune in!

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          Will do! Thanks!

      • Kelley Paul Valentine

        Haha my abs are the same way^
        Born with a four pack. Yay me.

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          I blame my parents.

      • Graeme Fryer

        … and I have a five pack – can’t fight genetics!

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          Haha my abs aren’t symmetrical either. Damn it. :(

          • Sebastian

            I heard that unsymmetrical abs have something to do with our psoture when we were children. For example, I was pretty much laying on my table at school so my abs are sort of unalligned lol

      • http://batman-news.com Steve

        Arnold Schwarzenegger only had a 4 pack and he was a 7 time Mr Olympia!

        • Michael Matthews

          Hah true! Thanks for the confidence boost! :)

  • Dan O’connor

    Hey Matthew, your base book, Bigger, leaner, stronger is good, so good in fact it is going to be weird giving essentially control over my life to another guy for a year. I keep referring to your book along with the bonus report and with calipers it can be simple enough to find your body fat percentage, but is there a formula for the reverse, to know how much body muscle you have? (after all we are not made from just fat and muscle but have all the other squishy bits in between)

    Cheers, and good luck with the podcasts!

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Thanks Dan! Really glad you liked the book and plan on following the plan! Definitely let me know how things go.

      I’ve really only seen calculators for lean body mass, which is everything but fat (organs, blood, muscle, etc.).

  • Leyy

    I was wondering if exercising in the morning helps more is true? and if so eating before or after?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Fasted training definitely has benefits. You can read more about it here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

      I’m going to talk more about this in the podcast though. Thanks! :)

      • Leyy

        Thanks! :)

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          You’re welcome!

  • Jonas Karlsen Åstrøm

    I have two questions: Should guys (girls) use the same formula for their fat/carbs/protein/calorie intake if they DON’T work out? My partner and I had ridiculously fast results, and I start to get questions already (!).

    Also, when do you adjust your diet? As I start losing weight, should I adjust my food intake accordingly, should I stay by the original setup, or should I adjust only by every 5-10 kilos loss?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Good question. The formulas I give in my books assume you will be exercises at least 3x per week. If you wanted to lose weight without exercising, you would reduce them a little (by about 300 calories per day should be fine).

      You shouldn’t have to adjust until you’ve lost or gained 15 lbs or so. Some people never have to adjust because they build muscle while losing fat, which speeds up their metabs.

  • Kelley Paul Valentine

    I would like to know the ins and outs of manipulating water-retenation and carb loading to your advantage. (Pre-show stuff)

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Cool I’ll talk about this in the podcast.

  • Kelley Paul Valentine

    Also, I would like to know more about anatomy. Obviously everyone is born with different shaped muscles. My concern is (let’s use the bicep as an example) can I lengthen my bicep? Or is my tendon/ muscle length ratio stagnant? I know I will be able to increase the peak or width of the muscle,but is it possible to lengthen it? Thanks boss.

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Good question. This is a controversial subject, and from what I’ve experienced and seen, no, you can’t do much to alter the actual shape of your muscles. You can make them bigger or smaller, but your genetics will determine how they ultimately look…

  • Kevin

    If I keep my protein, carbs, fats in good proportion, do the kind of foods I’m eating affect muscle growth, or just energy levels? I’m bulking and sometimes find it a bit hard to get sufficient calories throughout the day without buying the occasional cheeseburger.

    • Iris Johnson-de Graaf

      Eating a variety of nuts helps me with that problem. Quick fat and protein, and I can eat that anywhere. I have several premeasured 20gr protein portions in my drawer at work. I add some dried fruit for a sugar boost :)

      • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

        Good tip. I love almonds and almond butter. I get like 50% of my daily fats from almond butter, hahah.

        • Iris Johnson-de Graaf

          You would love almond bread.The doughhas nuts and dried fruit in it. And a roll of marsepan runs through the middle.

          • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

            I’ll have to try it!

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      In the end, WHAT you eat doesn’t matter nearly as much as HOW MUCH. You can eat plenty of junk food and build muscle, and if you’re able to control your macros, your fat storage should be more or less what it would be if you ate healthily.

      That said, I’m not a believer in dieting that way. I think we need to look out for our long-term health, which is why I recommend focusing on eating healthy proteins, carbs, and fats, and working in the occasional indulgences. So yes, doing a cheeseburger here and there is totally fine. But I don’t recommend hitting 5 Guys every day. :)

  • Bryn Hughes

    Hi mike, great web site, a quick question, you say to take a week off after about 8-10 weeks of heavy lifting, I’ve done this twice now, but by the 7th week, over training has kicked in, badly-weak, tired, grumpy etc…should I persist and finish the 8th week or stop at the 7th?

    Thanks

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Good question. Just take a break if you feel the overtraining set in. I’ve had it kick in earlier as well. Depends on many factors like genetics, nutrition, sleep, workout intensity, etc.

      • Bryn Hughes

        thanks

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          Welcome!

  • James

    I have been trying to cut but I haven’t been counting calories as I don’t have a scale and measuring cups. I try to follow everything else that is stated in the book (no/little carb at night, 5 or 6 meals per day, work out 5x per week). I’ve been having good muscle gains but I’m wondering if I should feel ‘hungry’ while cutting. I rarely feel hungry so I don’t know if I’m overfeeding myself and slowing down my cutting progress. Do you feel hungry while cutting?
    Thanks!

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      That’s great you’re on the program and making gains. If you’re not counting your macros, you’re probably overeating. That said, if your weight is going down every week, you’re doing it right.

      Generally speaking, you should feel a little hungry here and there while cutting, but nothing bordering on starving. It’s more like an “empty” feeling.

      • James

        Thanks Mike. My weight is going down but I was thinking that i could my cutting process faster if I eat less. I will try to count my macros. Your book is amazing, keep up the good work!

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          You’re welcome! Thanks on the book. Really glad you liked it.

          Don’t get into the habit of cutting your calories too much to speed things up. 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week is what you want.

  • Iris Johnson-de Graaf

    Boxers or briefs? :)

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Boxer briefs :)

      • Iris Johnson-de Graaf

        They are the miracle undies! :) You have chosen wisely :)

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          Hahah yup

  • Iris Johnson-de Graaf

    Oh, and to comment on not looking bigger after doing a month or more on your program… I surely don’t look bigger, but I have no doubt I’m stronger. Keeping track of the increase in weights lifted is all the proof I need that I’m making slow progress! Thank you, Mike :)

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      That’s perfect. You really shouldn’t look “bigger,” just more defined as time goes on. Women simply can’t build the bulky muscles that men can without drugs.

      • Iris Johnson-de Graaf

        Thanks, good to know that I shouldn’t expect too much from my before/after shots :)

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          Well, you should expect a very visible change in body composition, but not a big bulky body. :)

  • Chris S

    Big fan of your books Mike. How do you feel about mixing in alternative deadlift alternatives such as sumo stance or snatch grip deadlifts into your BLS routine?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Thanks Chris! That’s totally fine. I actually talk about alternatives here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-deadlift-and-your-lower-back-harmful-or-helpful/

  • Marusa

    I have the celiac disease (a gluten intolerance) and the bread I can eat has a very high GI. The biggest problem is, that every bread that’s gluten-free (and that I’ve seen, of course) has a lot of rice flour in it. I’ve rea the whole chapter about the healthy diet in your book Thinner, leaner, stronger and I loved it, but it makes my life a lot more complicated since I honestly don’t know which flour to use in bread (which I bake myself), sauces etc.. So, in a nutshell, I’d like to know which flour is good but it doesn’t contain rye, barley, oath and wheat and how to make a low or at least medium GI that’s gluten-free (I can’t eat a normal multi-grain bread :( ) and any other advice you might have for me would be amazing. The gluten-free diet is strict. Please, help me. I honestly don’t know what to do.
    Thank you

    • Nrg

      Try coconut flour

      • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

        Didn’t even know this existed!

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Good question! My wife likes millet bread, and I believe there are some brown rice flours that she likes. I know this stuff is good as well:

      http://gluten-free-flour.com/

      That said, an easier way around this issue is just eating less breads and such… Plenty of other healthy, tasty options for carbs.

      • Marusa

        Thank you. May I ask you, if two small slices of bread (they really are small since gluten-free bread doesn’t rise as much) made 1/2 of a flour mix (maize starch, rice flour, lupine protein, glucose, apple fiber, cellulose, salt) and 1/2 of buckwheat flour a day is too much?

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          What matters is how much you’re eating total each day. A couple slices of bread by themselves won’t matter, but if you’re eating too much, that will.

      • Marusa

        I’ve got another one… I promise it’s the last one haha… Which low GI products do you have in mind when it comes to gluten-free diet? I find it hard to find any.

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          Hmm good question. I would just stick to fruits, veggies, and legumes mainly. You could work in some brown rice and quinoa as well.

    • Max

      You could also try some of these recipes:

      http://www.proteinpow.com/search/label/PROTEIN%20BREAD

      • Michael Matthews

        Good call!

  • Momo8oh8

    Hi Mike! Still reading your book Bigger leaner stronger. Got a couple questions. Im Working on losing another 50lbs of fat but I have bad arthritis in both knees will I still benefit from just doing 1/4 or 1/2 squats? And cardio or weights first? I was doing weights first then cardio but the trainer I just fired kept telling me to do weights first and limit it to only 20-30 minutes a day.
    Thank you!!

    • Momo8oh8

      Oops! Wrong book! I’m reading thinner leaner stronger!! My bad!!

      • Michael Matthews

        Haha no problem I figured that. :)

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Hi!

      Thanks for reading BLS and great on your goal of losing 50lbs of fat.

      Hmm I don’t think partial squats will be a good idea as adding weight will probably make the knees worse.

      Have you worked with a PT at all on the knees?

      Weights first and then cardio. Weights can be around 40-45 minutes and cardio 20-30.

      Hope this helps!

      Mike

      • Momo8oh8

        HI!
        Thanks for the reply!

        Yes, I recently had surgery for a torn meniscus in early Feb while the Doctor was in there he said there is a significant amount of arthritis in there. I’ve worked with a personal trainer who “specializes” in injury rehab but it got to expensive so I’m trying it on my own for now.
        I guess I need to work on shifting my focus from cardio to weights. :)

        • Michael Matthews

          You’re welcome!

          Understood on the injury. I would recommend reading up on injury rehab as those protocols can be a bit different than the weightlifting approach I recommend. There are many “strange” little exercises that have a place in rehab that aren’t otherwise done…

  • Ben

    Hey Mike!

    Favourite ‘Clean’ meal & favourite ‘Cheat’ meal?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Hmm it really changes, but currently my favorite clean meal is probably my post-workout shake (2 cups rice milk 1 frozen banana 1 scoop protein 2 TBSP PB2) or bananas and almond butter (soooo good). And I always love a good steak and spinach.

      Favorite cheat is hard to say because I usually just go to a restaurant and eat whatever is sounding good at that time. But if I’m going to make it myself, a homemade cheeseburger! :)

  • Luke

    Hi Mike,

    What do you think about German Volume Training? and question number two: can a person been genetically ill-equipped to gain massive arms, and if so, what can they do? and a cheeky third one: What is the scientific explanation behind me filling out my clothes more but staying around the same weight on the scales?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Oops, double post. :)

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m not a fan of GVT for natural weightlifers. Our bodies just can’t deal with that much damage efficiently. I’ve NEVER met a natural weightlifter with a good physique and foundation of strength that built it with GVT.

      Yes, we all have our genetic weaknesses and some people’s are arms. That said, arms, and biceps especially, grow slowly. :( Shoulders as well. They’re just small muscles. As long as you’re hitting your deadlifts, bench press, and arms day hard every week, and getting stronger, they WILL grow. You’re just going to see faster progress in the bigger muscle groups, that’s all.

      You may be building muscle and losing fat. If you’re looking bigger and leaner, then that’s what’s happening. If you’re not looking leaner, you’re not eating enough. Just increase your caloric intake and you will start gaining weight.

  • Willy

    Hello mike, i have pain in my right knee from some time ago and Doctors can seem to agree what the problem could be. Should I avoid deadlifts and squats? What alternatives could I follow?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Yeah, if your knee is hurting avoid squats and deads until you know what is going on. Have you seen a specialist yet?

      Instead of deads, you can do something like barbell, t-bar, or dumbbell rows, or pullups. For squats, you can do the leg press, hack squats, or lunges, if they don’t hurt.

  • Luke

    Hi Mike

    I posted an hour ago, but the post seems to have vanished. So here goes again: Can a person be genetically ill-equipped to develop big arms, and if so, what can they do? Number two was: What do you think of German Volume Training? and the cheeky third one, what is the scientific reason behind my clothes feeling tighter but my weight staying the same on the scales?

    Cheers,

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Yeah, we all have our genetic strengths and weaknesses, but nobody is doomed to have SMALL anything. Unless you’re trying to look like a hulking bodybuilder, you can build enough muscle anywhere to be happy.

      I’m not a fan of GVT, especially for natural lifters. Your body can’t repair that much damage effectively without drugs.

      If you’re looking bigger but your weight isn’t changing, it’s possible you’re losing fat. Are you looking leaner?

  • TJ

    I’m following your program from the Bigger Leaner Stronger book. Which is a great book by the way. I have two questions. I still have issues building good size in my arms. The rest of my body is filling out nicely, but for some reason I’m just not getting bigger arms. Stronger yes, but not bigger. Also due to my schedule I work from 6am to 4pm almost everyday which doesn’t leave a lot of time for both cardio and strength training, any suggestions since you recommend to space cardio 2 hours apart from strength training?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Thanks TJ! Really glad you liked the book and are on the program.

      Do your cardio after your lifting. It’s not IDEAL but it’s not a huge problem.

      • Ian

        Hi Mike,
        Also read your book and found it awesome. Can you please also answer the question about the arms? Also have the same problem. My arms are not progressing as much as the rest of the body.
        Thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks Ian! Arms, and biceps especially, grow slowly. :( Shoulders as well. They’re just small muscles. That said, as long as you’re hitting your deadlifts, bench press, and arms day hard every week, and getting stronger, they WILL grow. You’re just going to see faster progress in the bigger muscle groups, that’s all.

  • Dean

    Mike, two questions…

    1. Where do you stand on the question of eggs…yes they are a great source of protein but should a person stick to just the whites with your standard eggs or go organic and use the whole egg. I’ve read a lot of material about the nutritional value of organic eggs but if I’m just going to be using the whites I hardly see the reason to pay the extra for organic. Unless perhaps there is extra nutritional value in the whites of organic eggs as well. Am I over thinking this?

    2. I’ve read your Bigger Leaner Stronger book….but has a single parent I find it hard to get to the gym during the day but could workout at home. Is there a plan you would recommend that doesn’t involve a huge expense in money on equipment? I’ve got some dumb bells and a pull up bar.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Dean,

      Whole eggs are awesome. Period. They have healthy fats and other important nutrients. The cholesterol scare is bullshit.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10217054

      http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/2/272

      I talk about this more in my book Muscle Myths.

      For a home program, check out You Are Your Own Gym. It’s a pretty solid body weight program.

      If you have heavy enough dumbbells to do stuff like chest presses, shoulder presses, and one-arm rows, we could incorporate that as well.

      Lemme know!

      Mike

  • Jason B

    For the past 6-8 months, I’ve had a hard time not injuring my self in the gym after a few weeks of training. Usually a pulled muscle in my back or shoulder. Have you ever had any issues with injuries and do you have any tips for injury prevention and/or working around injuries?

    • Jason B

      Forgot to mention, I usually warm up on the treadmill and I only use free weights in my training.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. I’m going to note this down for the podcast.

      The easy ways to prevent injury are to a) warm up your muscles correctly (cardio doesn’t do this), b) be a stickler on form, c) don’t lift more than you can handle, d) make sure you’re getting enough rest (don’t overtrain), and e) make sure you’re eating right (getting enough protein in particular).

  • Elliot Schwartz

    Mike in your custom meal plans how many days are included ?

    • Michael Matthews

      One full day’s worth of food and a 7-day shopping list. I highly recommend eating the same foods every day when dieting–it makes it WAY easier. Unless you have a personal chef/nutritionist. Then variety is easy and fun. Lol.

  • Alfasiena

    Is that ok if I skip my breakfast before exercise?

  • Dom Verity

    Hey Mike. Excluding the obvious bro-kudos, do you think that one-rep-max is a useful metric? If so, and if it’s not too obvious a question, how do you go about keeping track of yours? cheers /dom

    • Michael Matthews

      Kind of. It’s fun to 1RM sometimes but the bottom line is so long as you’re progressively lifting heavier and heavier weights over time, you’re doing it right. Your 1RM is increasing as well, of course, but you don’t really have to track it. I don’t.

  • Brady

    Hey Mike, really enjoyed all your books and your continuing advice on the site. I’ve been working out consistently, every week for about 18 months now. The point I’ve reached is sort of a ‘What am I doing here?’ I know fitness and health is a continual journey, but I guess I’m lacking in motivation, even though my strength PRs have all been pushed through the roof since when I started.

    Especially in regards to cutting as well, as much as I’d like to have a great physique, it really isn’t the be all and end all for me as to why I like training. I’m worried about becoming a bit narcissistic, as a lot of my friends who have developed their physiques have seemed to get a bit full of themselves after a while. As someone whose never had that great self esteem to begin with – how do you maintain a healthy balance between respect for yourself and your body, without getting all narcissistic about it? Seems to be an inherent part of the industry.

    Cheers

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Brady,

      Thanks on my books! I’m really glad you liked them.

      That’s great you’ve been training for 18 months now despite the plateau.

      Regarding getting lean and too obsessed with yourself, honestly some vanity does come with the territory, but as long as you have more to do in your life than work out and stare at yourself in the mirror, you’ll be fine. A confidence boost is healthy, and you’ll get a chance to help others as well because they’ll want to know what you’re doing…

      Mike

  • Nikki

    Hi Mike! Love that I found u! Love your approach!

    The question I would like to ask is: how do you ‘choose your battles’ against additives and chemicals – namely MSG – in fitness supplements? (aspartame secondary, but I’m learning it easier to run from this).

    I found out only recently some information about what MSG actually is (aside from knowing only for years ‘it’s bad’), the names, or ‘guises’ it resides under on food labels and more so that its present in ALL hydrolized / concentrated / isolate (please correct me if I’m mistaken) whey products.

    I’m sure you are as keen as I to lead an as chemical/toxin free life as Possible but are pragmatic in the fact that avoidance of everything is impossible?

    Thanks!
    Nikki

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Nikki!

      Thanks so much! I’m really glad you like my work. :)

      Very good question and something I will not only be addressing in my upcoming podcast but my next book as well.

      The short answer is I avoid artificial sweeteners, MSG, artificial food dyes, etc. as much as possible. While they may not be as harmful as some people claim (they’re not going to immediately spawn cancer cells), studies have shown a cause for concern, and I feel the smartest choice is to leave them out of our diets.

      And getting to supplements, yup it’s tough because most flavored drinks contain at least artificial sweeteners, if not a lot more chemicals that I would prefer to not eat. Honestly that’s one of the big reasons I’m launching my own line of supplements–they will be naturally sweetened and have no artificial fillers or additives (beyond flavoring, which has no known negative health implications).

      For now, I recommend checking out the proteins I recommend here on the site as they are naturally sweetened and pretty clean. The BCAAs I recommend are as well.

      I hope this helps!

      Mike

  • Irishmuch

    Best rep ranges for the big three, squat, bench and deadlift? Should I stick to the 8-12 rep range or use lower ranges for those three exercises?

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m a big proponent of lifting heavy weights. 4-6 reps for all major lifts. I talk more about why here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-hardgainers-guide-to-guaranteed-muscle-growth/

  • STUCK

    Mike,
    I love your books and your website great advice backed up by research!! I was seeing some great changes, eating clean, less bloating, more (not enough) muscle definition. However I felt like my muscles weren’t developing as much and I wasn’t getting that “toned” look I want. I want to drop my body fat percent because I want to be leaner. However this past week and a half I have fallen into the traps of sugar -_- it is just crazy how one taste of sugar can have you go crazy, I have been trying to get back on my routine but I feel like I ruined all the hard work I put in. Also, it would be great if you wrote an article on binge eating, I hope i’m not the only one with this problem like 2 days ago I ate an entire box of cocoa puffs :( I felt like crap but I just couldn’t stop until it was all gone. In my head it was like well if I eat it all now I won’t see it anymore. IDK ! I need to get myself back on track help! just any motivation i’m stuck !

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Really glad you like my work.

      LOL on the cocoa puffs. Well fortunately you haven’t caused any serious “damage”–you’ve just gained some fat at worst, and maybe not–you might just be bloated from the extra carbs.

      The key is to just not get down on yourself and get rolling again. It’s also important when you’re dieting that you take your cheat meal each week and that you plan in some foods you like every day. Being too strict on your diet leads to the fatigue and then bingeing.

      For instance, I have a small 100-calorie dessert every day, and I make sure I have healthy foods I like in my meal plan every day like almond butter, bananas, hot sauces, salsas, and mustards for my chicken, and so forth.

      This will be a good subject to talk about on the podcast as well, so keep an ear out for that. :)

  • Ryan

    Yo mike, simple question, is a carb a carb, does if it fits your macros work just as well on body composition as good carbs only diet, or a ‘ clean’ foods only diet.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup IIFYM works just fine but I don’t like the “eat junk and get shredded” approach because it’s simply not healthy. I don’t see why it’s necessary to eat crap every day.

      • Ryan

        Yeah don’t worry I’m not talking about eating crap all the time! Just that if I have white potatoes it won’t make much difference?

        • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

          Cool and yeah that’s totally fine. White potatoes have quite a bit of nutrition actually.

  • Ed O’Brien

    Mike, I’m looking to get thinner, leaner, and stronger. Do you have a book that you could recommend for men?

    • Joe

      The same book explains how to get leaner (cutting phase)

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Ed check out my book Bigger Leaner Stronger. You can use it to slim down as well.

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Yeah check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/bigger-leaner-stronger/

  • Gabe

    What u think of bcaa supplement ?

    • Michael Matthews

      Only necessary if you’re training in a fasted state:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

  • Sam

    Hey, Mike — I’ve been on your program for 3 months or so. I’m seeing lots of great results and am really building some muscle. I’m pretty lean (6’2, 160 lbs), 28 years old. But I believe losing that last 5 or 10 pounds would really reveal all those muscles that I can feel beneath the layer of fat. I do HIIT 2-4 times a week, separate from weight training. What do you suggest?

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome Sam! I’m really glad to hear it’s going well, and cool on your goal to get lean, and on the HIIT.

      It sounds like all you need to do is tighten your diet up. Take the cutting formula from Bigger Leaner Stronger and use calorieking.com to create a meal plan that fits those macros. Eat those foods every day, and you will lose weight. :)

  • Steve

    Hey Mike. What are your opinions on the studies that possibly show that increased protein intake can shorten your lifespan? If so, is this unused protein or all protein ingested? By that, I mean lifting weights causes our bodies to use protein, rather than being a couch potato and not using it. It’s just another aspect that confuses me! Many thanks :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Can you share these studies?

      • Steve

        Sure.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673798/

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080924151018.htm

        To be honest, I read about this several years ago, but just presumed there would have been more research done on it by now. It seems not. It’s to do with protein intake and the increase it causes in IGF-1 which in animal studies is linked to a reduced lifespan. I’ve read about it occasionally on Body Building forums but it’s just general forum chat. Thanks :)

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah yeah, I’m kind of familiar with this. I’ve read some research on calorie restriction and extending lifespan, but rodent research and epidemiological studies aren’t conclusive human evidence, of course.

          Things also change drastically when you add exercise into the mix. Protein needs change, and the body just works better in many different ways.

          For people that don’t exercise, though, I wouldn’t see any reason to eat a ton of protein every day. Probably nothing more than .5 grams per pound would be plenty.

  • Glen G Harrison

    Hi mike sorry if already asked. Just a question about taking bcaa.
    1. Do you recommend taking this on a bulk/maintain and also cutting program, or don’t at all.
    2. Do I just take it during cardio, or both weights and cardio
    3. If taken how much, and best times to take it.

    I’ve been having scivation xtend (fact attached if needed) during my weights and cardio (one scoop) for each time, just feeling a bit confused with it.

    Thank you

    • Michael Matthews

      I only recommend BCAAs if you’re doing fasted training:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

  • Nathan

    Hi Mike.

    First up, thanks for Bigger, Leaner, Stronger! I bought it a couple of months ago and its become my bible. I’ve been following your program for 8 weeks now and I’m seeing good results and am totally psyched to get up every morning and hit the gym!

    Only problem is every time I deadlift I get a terrible pain in my lower back for about a week after. I’m only 28 so this is worrying me a little. I’ve tried warming up a bunch before I go heavy but I still have the same problem. I also saw a doctor but he just gave me painkillers and told me to see a chiropractor. I’m reluctant to go though as sessions with those guys are expensive!

    I know deadlifts are important for building mass but should I stop doing them? Or is this something that will pass as my back gets stronger? Or are there maybe other lower back exercises you’d recommend that might not leave me in agony for a week after?

    Cheers

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Nathan! Really glad you liked BLS. That’s great you’re on the program and doing well!

      Interesting on the deads. Chiros can be expensive but I recommend going once to see if anything is out of alignment that might be causing the pain.

      If that’s not it, then you should drop the weight and see how your back feels. Work in the 10-12 rep range and let me know if you still get the pain.

      It could just be a weak lower back issue…

      • Ryan

        Try sumo deadlifts. I had this problem and switched to sumo, and everything sorted itself out.

        • Nathan

          Thanks guys. Problem solved! I dropped the weight and went from 6 reps to 10 in the gym yesterday and today my back isn’t nearly sore.

          Thanks again Mike, keep up the good work.

          • Michael Matthews

            Great, glad to hear it!

  • Joe

    Could you please recommend the books that inspired you? I bought yours by the way! I felt yours are on the practical side which it is great but I would like to read as well something more theoretical describing the metabolism from a scientific point of view.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! I’m updating my recommendations to include books soon. For metabolism I recommend you check out the work of Lyle McDonald and Tom Venuto.

  • Joe

    From a scientific point of view and given the way to get muscle grow is by overloading, what is the role of a power booster like Creatine? Wouldn’t that make overloading more difficult?

    For example, would your bicep grow more if it fails in the 7th rep with 50lbs or if it fails in the 7th rep with 40lbs?

    • Steve

      “For example, would your bicep grow more if it fails in the 7th rep with 50lbs or if it fails in the 7th rep with 40lbs?”

      I’m not sure I understand that. I take it lifting the 50lbs you mean with creatine and 40lbs without?

      Interesting question.

      • Joe

        Let me explain it in other words. Imagine three scenarios:

        1) You curl with 40lbs taking NO Creatine or any other supplement to improve power. At the 7th your biceps fail and they are signaled to grow.

        2) You curl with 40lbs taking Creatine. Your biceps DON’T fail at the 7th rep and they don’t get the signal to grow. You will have to do more reps, so:

        3) You curl with 50lbs taking Creatine. Your biceps now fail at the 7th rep and get the signal AS IN scenario 1).

        What I am asking is if the grow you get in the 3rd scenario is the same is in the 1st scenario. If the grow is the same, what’s the point on buying the supplement even if you can lift more weight?

        • Steve

          Thanks for explaining. I kinda figured that was what you meant – but part of me thought it may be something to do with reps, and you wrote 7 reps for the 40lb example by mistake, instead meaning 12 reps or something. You know, if you did the same exercise to fatigue with different weights, do you get the same growth? Ignore me! :)

        • Michael Matthews

          The growth would not be the same. You would grow faster in scenario 3.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. Creatine makes you stronger, and directly aids with muscle growth. You can see the studies on this here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/supplement-recommendations/strength-growth-and-recovery/optimum-nutrition-creatine-powder/

      You use that additional strength to push more weight, which overloads the muscle fibers more, which means faster progress.

  • Audrey

    I’m a 28 yo female and I weigh 100 lbs, 5’4″, 28% body fat (DEXA scan July 2012). For the past year I’ve been trying to significantly increase my muscle mass, but my progress has been slow. I’ve started to convince myself that women can’t really build significant muscle (unless they’re genetically predisposed or taking steroids or other extreme supplementation). I’m not naturally athletic and never have been. I just purchased your books for my kindle- ‘The Shredded Chef’ and ‘Thinner, Leaner, Stronger’, so I’m excited to find out how as a woman I can gain weight via increasing my muscle mass (there are very few books out there for women who want to add pounds!) I weighed about 100 pounds last year and I still weigh 100 lbs today…I can’t get the scale to budge. Not sure what my BF% is now, but I’m sure it has decreased somewhat, but not significantly.

    I do have 2 specific questions for you:

    How much cardio should I be doing if any? I’ve cut back my cardio sessions to 2-3 a week either doing short 20-30 min HIT on the treadmill or 20-30 min. on the stairmaster in the hopes that will build leg muscle. I lift free weights 5 times a week.

    Since I’m thinking I need to increase my caloric intake, how do I do so without having the extra calories be stored as fat? I’m thinking lots more protein and minimal carbs. I don’t have a big appetite as it is, and when I do it’s for carbs, so I really have to consciously eat foods that are high in protein. I’m sure that following your recipes will help.

    Thank you in advance for any tips you can provide!

    • Michael Matthews

      Women can’t gain nearly as much muscle as men, and don’t gain as quickly, but they can gain enough to achieve the look that most women want (definition everywhere, good curves while lean, etc.).

      Thanks for picking up TSC and TLS! I hope you enjoy them. The TLS program will definitely give you the info you need to focus on building muscle. In fact shoot me an email and I can help you modify the program a little in light of your goal (we will incorporate some really heavy stuff, which is what I recommend for guys).

      I’m a fan of cardio for overall health and muscle building purposes:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /cardio-and-muscle-growth-friends-or-foes/

      I say keep it in. 2-3 sessions per week is perfect.

      Before you increase calories, let’s get you lifting weights properly. You may not need to increase food intake.

      Let me know what you think!

  • Shawn Dickenson

    How important is order of exercises when training utilizing the routine you layout in your books? Example, you plan to start with barbell squat, but all the squat racks are taken, so you do hack squat first and move through the plan, leaving squat to last.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. I purposely order the exercises so stick to it if possible, but if not, it’s not a huge deal to start with the 2nd and then do the 1st.

      • Shawn Dickenson

        Thanks !

        • Michael Matthews

          Welcome!

  • Steve

    Heya Mike. I was wondering what injuries you’ve had over the years body building? Have you torn any tendons, ligaments or muscles for example? And as a follow up, what have they taught you about injury prevention? Thanks Mike.

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Good question. I’ve been lucky and haven’t suffered anything major. I’ve aggravated my right shoulder and back, but it doesn’t really get in the way of anything.

      The #1 way to avoid getting injured is to simply keep good form and don’t push more weight than you can actually handle. Properly warming up is important as well. But so long as those things are in, your chances of getting injured are very small…

      • Steve

        Your email has been forwarded. Thank you.

  • Rob

    Hey Mike,

    I’m an avid follower of your program and I’m considering putting together a home gym. I’d love to get your two cents (maybe even an article) on what should be included. Obviously the majority of your plan can be accomplished with an Olympic barbell set, flat/incline bench, power rack, and maybe some of those nested dumbbells. Any other advice?

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rob! That’s awesome you’re on the program.

      And I’m glad you asked this because I’m working on my home gym recommendations haha. I’ll do a blog post on it. But here’s what you want:

      Olympic BB with plates

      Adjustable bench

      Power cage or multi-press (I prefer the former)

      Adjustable DB

      I hope this helps and keep an eye out for my upcoming post!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rob! Cool on your plans for a home gym, and I actually do plan on writing an article on this soon! I’ll give all my equipment recommendations of course.

      But yes, oly barbell, adjustable bench, power cage, adjustable dumbbells is the way to go!

  • Motivated Guy

    I am 39, 5.8 ft, was 117 lbs at 15% body fat last August. As of about two weeks back I was 133 at 20% body fat. I am on a Keto diet right now to bring down body fat %. 2 more days to go! I am 127 right now and see visible changes interms of body fat except mid section. I am yet to take pinch test measurements. I am hoping I kept most of my lean muscle mass.

    I have been working out with my personal trainer since last August 2012. Never touched weights before that in my life. At present, I am able to do sets of bench press 65 lbs, squat 105 lbs, and deadlift 165 lbs.

    I read your book. Benefited greatly from it. Great job on your website too.

    My goal is build strength and get bigger (atleast 145 lbs) and improved strength. Two questions:
    - It might be hard to answer, what do you think of my progress?
    - After the end of this Keto run, I am thinking about following Modified Carb Drop diet but confused about how to go about it. Any suggestions / readings is appreciated?

    Keep up the great work. Thanks.

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      Great job on your weight loss so far! You should have maintained muscle fairly well so long as you’re eating enough protein and lifting.

      Cool on your numbers. Keep up the good work.

      Thanks regarding my work! I’m really glad you like it.

      I think your progress is good. I think it could be better if you were on my program, but you’re moving forward, which is good.

      I’m not a fan of fancy diets to be honest. It’s just not necessary unless you want to get below 7%. You might as well just keep it simple–mild daily deficit, 40/40/20 split.

      What do you think?

      • Motivated Guy

        First of all, appreciate your response. I don’t know of any authors as reachable as you. I do agree, keeping diet simple is good for someone like me. I will try definitely try 40/40/20 and let you know how it works. Thanks again.

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure! I love staying in touch with everyone so it’s a win-win really.

          Okay great let me know!

  • Joe

    How much weight do you use for these exercises?

    1) Deadlift
    2) Bench press

    3) Military press
    4) Squat

    It is just to have a rough idea of how many plates would I need.

    • http://twitter.com/muscleforlife Michael Matthews

      I’ve been cutting so my lifts are a little down, but they are currently:

      1. 385 x 5

      2. Incline 245 x 4/5

      3. 185 x 4

      4. 295-315 x 6-4 (depends on how my back feels from deadlift day and how my carbs are)

  • Pete

    Mike, I got your Shredded Chef book a while ago now, and cooked the first recipe out of it tonight… Indian Curry Chicken. Dude, seriously… possibly THE best curry I’ve ever had, and knowing it’s healthy? Bonus. Had to tell you, lol. Can’t wait to try the others.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Pete! Yeah I get a lot of compliments on that recipe and love it myself. I recommend the stroganoff next–that’s also one of my favorites. If you’re into stroganoff that is. :)

  • Javi Alvarez

    Hi Mike! My question is about The Shredded Chef… a lot of delicious recipes with protein powder, and an important question: how long can you have them in the fridge before eating? I mean, I’ve always heard that you should always drink your protein shakes just after preparing them… does this apply to protein bars, protein puddings… (because you are mixing the protein with milk and thus it gets oxidized). Some light here plz :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! They stay good for at least 5 days. I’ve never heard of the claim that you have to drink protein right after mixing due to oxidation.

      • Javi Alvarez

        Thanks, this is helpful!

  • Peter

    Hi Mike,

    Have you heard of Soylent ( http://soylent.me ) and what do you think about it? It sounds like an interesting way to have a precisely tuned diet.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I have and it seems interesting. I would rather eat tasty, healthy food but that’s me. :)

  • Colin Taylor

    I am suffering from slight forearm and bicep pain when i rotate my wrist, I think its a form of bicep tendonitis, what advise can you give me for recovery. The internet is full of conflicting advise, mainly by people who have gone to doctors who know very little about training.

    • Michael Matthews

      I’ve run into this with heavy barbell bicep training. What has fixed it was simply working with lighter weights on those exercises–8-10 reps or so. Over time it went away, and now I can pound them heavy again.

      Have you tried this?

      • Colin Taylor

        Thanks for the reply Mike. To be honest I havnt tried this yet but surely will. I have been concentrating on legs and stomach since the pain, so maybe not a bad thing in itself.

  • CL

    soy protein isolate??? is it ok?

    p.s. your book “bigger leaner stronger” has changed my life- 4 inches off my waist, went from 4 push ups to 20, eating great no more midday naps.

    your disciple since 01/01/13, CL

    • Michael Matthews

      I recommend staying away from soy. I’ll explain why in full in a future post, but it’s controversial in terms of what it can do to your hormones (decrease test, increase estrogen).

      If you want a whey alternative, try this:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/supplement-recommendations/protein-supplements/healthy-n-fit-100-egg-protein/

      And wow great job on your progress so far! That totally rocks! Keep up the good work and keep me posted.

  • Kevin

    Hi Mike, thanks for answering my last question. Real quick, will taking Adderall while working out (mornings) negatively affect any aspect of my muscle gains, recovery, etc? I’m prescribed and have started taking it while working out and just wanted to know whether it might be hampering my results. Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      My pleasure! Good question, and I’m actually not sure. I wouldn’t think so but could be wrong.

      That said, the other dangers of psychotropics are very real, and very disturbing:

      http://www.drugs.com/pro/adderall.html

  • Engin Burak Anil

    naaah change the title to “the creator of muscle4life”. “the owner” sounds like you are lending me something every time I read one of your posts :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Agreed and done. :)

  • Joe

    A recommendation: you could update your guides to classify exercises based on different types of gyms depending on available equipment (no machine, no barbell, etc).

    • Michael Matthews

      My program really doesn’t require much–a barbell with plates, an adjustable bench, some dumbbells, and a power cage or multi-press rack. If your gym doesn’t have those things, I would recommend just finding another.

      • SteveH

        As an addendum to that. In your new book, is there any plan to include a home workout routine? I’m thinking dumbbells and a pull-up bar (similar to P90X equipment requirements). That’d be so helpful as I have an aversion to gym’s!

        • Michael Matthews

          I’m actually going to write a home training book. It will give body weight routines as well as routines you can do with a simple home weight setup.

          • SteveH

            Yay! Perfecto!

          • Michael Matthews

            :)

          • Joe

            That’s what I was looking for!

            A power-rack in my home is a bit of a problem in my apartment.

          • Michael Matthews

            Yeah I understand. In the meantime I would recommend checking out Your Are Your Own Gym. It’s a good body weight program!

          • Joe

            I opted for a bench and dumbells. With dumbells you can get to failure without worrying.

          • Michael Matthews

            Good choice!

  • Justin

    Mike,

    I enjoy reading your articles as well as BLS. My question relates to how fast one can/should lose weight depending on their current BF percentage. If someone is 22 percent fat could they get away with losing 2 to 3 lbs a week, without sacrificing muscle, whereas a person at 12 percent could not?

    Thanks,

    Justin

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Justin! Really glad you like my work.

      Good question, and yes, the more overweight someone is, the more fat they can lose every week without sacrificing muscle.

      I don’t know of any studies that give definitive evidence of exact numbers, but the general numbers among top trainers and coaches are as follows:

      Men:

      30%+ body fat: ~ 3 pounds of fat loss per week

      20-29%: ~2 pounds of fat loss per week

      10-19%: ~1 pound of fat loss per week

      <10%: ~.5 pounds of fat loss per week

      Keep in mind those numbers are FAT LOSS, not overall weight. Weight loss is greater due to water and glycogen loss.

      For women it looks like this:

      30%+: ~3 pounds of fat loss per week

      25-29%: ~2 pounds of fat loss per week

      20-24%: ~1 pound of fat loss per week

      <20%: ~.5 pounds of fat loss per week

  • Joe

    What’s your opinion about the classic pyramid workout? I.e, 10-8-6 reps increasing the weight each set.

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m not a fan at all. By the time you hit your heavy weights you’re completely fatigued and can’t properly overload the muscles.

      A reverse pyramid is much better–you start really heavy and finish your workout with the higher rep work, focusing on isolation exercises to improve weak points.

      But that’s an advanced style of training. The first 2-3 years should be spent focusing on heavy lifting to build a foundation of muscle and strength, and that’s what I espouse in my book Bigger Leaner Stronger. You train like this to put on about as much muscle as your frame will hold, and can use reverse pyramid training to round out your overall development once you’re basically at the top of your genetic potential.

  • Michele Melvin

    HI Mike, I just bought two of your books and I love your ideas but I am wondering if it is possible to do the workout without joining a gym.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Michele! I hope you like my books. Yes you can do the program at home if you have the right equipment. If you don’t, let me know and I’ll help you based on your goals. A body weight program can always be done, and the dietary information applies no matter what you’re doing.

  • Karl J

    Hi mike

    Just a quick question

    What’s the difference in weight when your using dumbbell in relation to flat and incline bench press. In terms of a great proportion chest. What weight dumbbells do you use on each of these exercises. Thanks mike

    1. Flat dumbbell press ?
    2. Incline dumbbell press?

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m currently incline pressing 245 and flat pressing 110s/115s. I’m at the end of a cut though so my strength is a little lower than normal.

      Most people find that their barbell and dumbbell weights comparable. Whatever they can press on a barbell, they can usually press with dumbbells (50% in each hand).

  • MarkP

    Hi Mike, what’s you thoughts on carb back loading?

    • Michael Matthews

      It’s viable but, like IF, it’s not the diet to end all diets like some claim. I also wouldn’t like saving all my carbs for one meal every day. It’s okay once or twice per week to enjoy a cheat, but every day would annoy me.

  • MarkP

    Mike, what are your thoughts on carb back loading? Hearing good things about it but not sure if its another short term unhealthy option?

    • Michael Matthews

      I know this is a double post but I thought I’d add that I don’t know of any reason to believe it to be unhealthy.

  • Aldississ

    Hi Mike,

    Love Bigger Leaner Stronger, I’ve been training for ten years with good form but only now I’ve addressed my diet have I started to make strength gains again after a plateau that seemed to last for years unless I was eating ridiculous amounts of fatty junk and bloating out along with it. Now I have loads more energy and am making steady strength gains after only 3 weeks on the program, but the thing is I am really struggling to put on weight following the bulking diet!

    I am 170lbs and have put on no weight in those three weeks, weight training 5 times a week as you laid out, but without any cardio yet. On most days now I am consuming nearly 3,500 calories, all worked out precisely using the FitnessPal app and following your dieting plans for timing of meals etc. If anything I have lost some fat from my stomach!!! I want to be seriously bulking up as quickly as possible, and honestly I’m struggling to eat any more food, especially carbs. As it is I am struggling to reach 350g of carbs a day, I dont eat carbs after 6pm, but I am managing to consume around 100g of fat a day and sometimes 250g of protein, from meat, shakes and lots of cottage cheese and greek yoghurt.

    Any suggestions? Do I need more carbs, or can I simply just keep of eating more cottage cheese and make up more calories from protein and fat?

    Thanks! :)

    Mark

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Mark! Really glad you liked BLS and are making gains.

      Hahaha I’m jealous of your metab! You simply need to eat more if you’re not gaining weight. At this point you can increase your calories however you want. Bump it up by another 200 per day and let’s see if that does it…

      • Aldississ

        Thanks Mike, just received The Shredded Chef today after ordering from amazon, to help vary my meals a little!

        I must have a crazy metabolism right? It’s not like I can’t put on fat, and I do have a thin layer around the middle, but that is rapidly disappearing even with all the calories I’m consuming!

        I feel hungry pretty much every hour, at work its very hard to find the time to eat so often as I’m a teacher, but I manage with small regular meals. I eat dinner at 5-6pm and go to bed around 10-11, having a 35g casein shake just before bed, but I’m hungry way before that at around 7-8pm even if I have a huge dinner and a yoghurt for dessert (I train after work at 4-5pm)…. Can I have another meal at 7-8pm, maybe just low fat cottage cheese? I’m a little worried about having too many carbs stopping fat burn near to sleeping?

        Mark

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks for picking up TSC! I hope you enjoy the recipes. :)

          Yeah your metab is clearly on the very high end of the spectrum if you can eat 3,500 cals per day and not gain weight. That’s fine though. Just eat more. :)

          Sure, more protein is always good. Do 200 calories at 8pm every day and let’s see how it goes…

  • Russ

    Great books – thanks for the help!

    My Question: What about alcohol? I’m not talking about drinking in excess – but a glass of wine with dinner or an occasional happy hour is “Gonna Happen”. Aside from the calories/sugar issue – how does it affect your strength gains? Is it better to work out early in the morning the day of the happy hour – or is it ‘ok’ to hit the bar after your recovery shake?

    Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Russ! Good question. Read my post on it:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /does-alcohol-consumption-affect-weight-loss-and-muscle-growth/

  • K

    Hi Mike

    Just curiosity.

    what is your height?
    what is your weight?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hi! I’m 6’2 and 185, at about 6% body fat.

  • amberelise

    Hi Mike,
    I just got your book and I’m so excited to get started. You’ve made everything so straightforward…it really makes it feel like I can do this :)

    Quick question about whey protein- I’m allergic to dairy of all kinds (I’ve tried both whey and casein and it’s not been good for me) so what would you recommend in it’s place that’s fast digesting like the whey protein is? I had been using egg protein on a regular basis but it sounds like that doesn’t have the desired outcome.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Amber! I really appreciate your support!

      This is actually the subject of my next post so keep an eye out for it! Egg is actually a great all-around choice, and rice or soy are good fast-burning alternatives. Get organic soy though–stay away from GMO.

  • Quentin

    Hi Mike. I’ve read your book BLS and was very impressed by it. (I think it should replace the bible in hotel rooms!) I know you use supersets on occasion – I was wondering about warm-up routines when using them. For example, if you’re doing triceps, shoulders and biceps, how would you approach the warm-up? Would you do the warm-up reps as supersets too for instance? TQ

    • Quentin

      As a sneaky follow-up… How many exercises would you recommend per muscle/muscle group in a session?

      I should say I’m interested in supersets because I have limited time to dedicate to workouts – I don’t believe any of the BS that goes with them!

      • Michael Matthews

        Warm up as discussed in BLS and then 9-12 heavy sets per workout.

        Have you checked out the 3- and 4-day routines I give in BLS?

        • Quentin

          Thanks Mike. I just wondered if supersets would mean more or fewer exercises per muscle group than the standard 9-12 sets. Silly question now I think about it! :) The minute break is a helpful idea and sounds a good compromise.

          Probably wise to leave the bible comment, but I definitely think BLS would be of more use! But ssshhh!! ;)

          • Michael Matthews

            You’re welcome! Let me know how things go and mum’s the word on the religious issue. ;)

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Quentin! Really glad you liked BLS. LOL on the Bible comment. I’m not gonna touch that. ;)

      I really only superset abs. When you double up body parts, I don’t recommend a pure superset. I recommend doing an exercise for muscle group 1, resting about 60 seconds, and then hitting the next. And that’s just to save time, really. If you don’t mind being in the gym a little longer, train each group separately and take a full rest in between sets…

  • tracie

    Just started your program and so far so good except lunges. I have MS so I have horrible balance issues. I can’t seem to do a lunge without wobbling or falling to one side or the other. I was too afraid to try them with the oly bar so tried them on the Smith machine. Epic fail. Couldn’t get the mechanics of it right. I have been doing them with dumbbells but not very well and still constantly lose balance. Is there another exercise I can do instead of lunges? More squats? Are lunges that important and extra squats won’t be the same? Want to stay true to the program but not feeling confident with the lunges and probably not getting the benefit from them that I should get. Any suggestions?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing! I’m really glad you’re on the program and no worries on the lunges.

      You can just do more squats! :) For instance:

      Barbell squat: warm up and 3 heavy sets
      Front squat: 3 heavy sets
      Leg press: 3 heavy sets

      What do you think?

      • tracie

        THANK YOU so much for answering!! I was really concerned about this. Looks like more squats it is!!!

        • Sean Lipsitz

          Balance is so so important, especially the older you get. Try a little bit of yoga, or if not, just try standing on one leg with your eyes closed for as long as you can. You’ll fast see improvements in your balance if you do it every couple of days or so.

          • Michael Matthews

            Yes, you can also do things to improve balance!

        • Michael Matthews

          You’re welcome! Let me know how it goes!

  • Mike

    Can you recommend some alternative protein sources for the morning. I’m all “egged out”

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha sure. Have you tried things like protein pancakes or oatmeal before?

  • Marie Lamothe

    Hi Michael I have your thinner leaner stronger for females and I am going to start you workout plane next week. My question is when I do legs I usually do calves and I noticed that you did not include that as a focus in the plan. I like to do standing calves raises and seated what do u recommend? Should I do calves on a shoulder and abs day?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading TLS! I’m excited that you’re going to start the program!

      You can definitely include calf training. The reason I left it out is squatting and deadlifting actually works the calves and the vast majority of women I’ve worked with did NOT want bigger calves.

      Both standing and seated raises are good. I alternate between them. You can do them on any day you want, really.

  • Marie Lamothe

    I really I like the thinner leaner stronger building plan for women what exercises do you recommend for calves?

    • Michael Matthews

      Regarding the cardio, you can do it any day really. I like to include it on legs day though because it helps with soreness.

      • Marie Lamothe

        Thanks I have another question regarding cardio, I have a bad history overtraing and losing mass so now that I am building the right way I am always afraid that I will over do it with cardio and loose mass again so If I do 2 half hour cardio on weight training days and 1 full hour per week is that too much?

        • Michael Matthews

          I understand that. I would recommend ONLY doing 20-30 minutes of HIIT per session. This gives you the fat burning benefits and preserves muscle fairly well. What do you think?

          • Marie Lamothe

            Yes that seems like a good idea but even on an off day of weight training I should do only 30 mins not 45 mins? What kind of HIIT workout would u recommend? if I don’t go to the gym I like to do video cardio max from insanity of running when the weather is nice. So what you think of that?

          • Michael Matthews

            45 would be the max I would recommend in one session. I like to keep mine closer to 30 minutes to preserve muscle.

            Any form of HIIT will work but I like cycling on the recumbent bike best. It lets me really push hard without frying my legs.

            You can just head outside and do sprints though, or hop on a bicycle and do the same. Or do Insanity/tabata inside.

          • Marie Lamothe

            Thanks so much for your immediate response I think that is so cool that you respond to your fans! I appreciate your advice as it puts me at ease on maintaining mass and doing cardio I always told that building and cutting at the same time was impossible! I’ll be sure to contact you if I have more questions which I know I will lol

          • Michael Matthews

            My pleasure! I love staying in touch with everyone so it’s a win-win really. :)

            Yeah the name of the game is PRESERVING lean mass while cutting. Newbies can build while cutting, but once you’re pretty well conditioned, it’s just not possible anymore…

            Definitely let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to help!

  • Marie Lamothe

    Why r my comments disappearing

  • Don Randolph

    I know this is a stupid question, but what is the best protein powder to use to LOSE WEIGHT??

    • Michael Matthews

      Not a stupid question and the simple answer is no protein powder is best for losing weight. To lose weight, you have to feed your body less energy than it burns, and a high-protein diet has various benefits as well.

      I highly recommend you read my book Bigger Leaner Stronger to learn more:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/bigger-leaner-stronger/

  • Tommy H

    Hi Mike
    I’ve heard that one day a week you should have a ‘cheat day’ when trying to build muscle and keep trim. On this day you can eat whatever you like. Apparently it shocks your metabolism into working harder the rest of the week. Is this true?
    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Cheat days are a bad idea. People wind up eating WAY too much on these days.

      Cheat MEALS are what you want, and I recommend 1-2 per week if you’re bulking, and only 1 per week if you’re maintaining or dieting to lose weight.

      The “metabolic shock” isn’t the actual benefit:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-break-through-weight-loss-plateaus/

      • Tommy H

        Thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

  • Quentin

    Sorry, this is about my third question! I promise this will be by last…

    Any opinion on that Shakeology? Have you tried it?

    And lastly, have you ever thought about becoming vegetarian or vegan? I’m currently migrating from vegetarian to vegan. It’s not as hard as I thought – but I’m doing it gradually. It’s a steep learning curve though trying to make sure I get enough vitamins and minerals – especially calcium and B12. Why? For me, partly health and partly my animal/tree hugging side! ;) Plus, it’s great to have a genuine reason to refuse cakes and chocolates! :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha no probably. Shakeology is overpriced. Don’t bother.

      No, vegetarian/vegan wouldn’t work for me. I like meat and animal foods too much. :) While both vegetarianism and veganism can be healthy so long as you keep your micronutrients balanced, the mainstream demonization of meat eating is wildly exaggerated. Yes, if you eat processed garbage red meat every day, you’re harming your health. But if you eat a high-quality steak once per or twice per week, there is no scientific evidence that it will cause you any harm.

      Regarding the moral issue, I love animals and understand the sentiment, but I have to think to nature, in which animals are eating each other all the time. Why is it necessary that we remove ourselves from the natural order of things? (Not being argumentative or criticizing you! Just my opinion.)

      And haha there are vegan cakes and chocolates. ;)

      • Quentin

        It’s certainly very true that eating animals is the natural order. And like you I would never criticise, I was just curious if it had ever appealed to you. I get the feeling with all the genetic diversity, there can’t be a one size fits all way of eating anyhow. Some people may be better suited to meat eating, others to vegetarianism/veganism.

        There seems to be a lot of junk talked about in Vegan circles. For example you get people talking about animals and animal products being acidic and not good for the body which is more neutral. Then they’ll say plant protein/food is more PH neutral and so better for you. It may or may not be true – but it sounds so vague and wishy washy when put in those terms, that it just sounds like bad science to me! I ignore all that side.

        I forgot about vegan cakes and chocolates! I’ll have to say I don’t eat processed food either then! :p

        • Michael Matthews

          I totally agree that different people do better with different styles of eating, and the key is finding what works best for your body.

          I’ve heard of the pH claims but haven’t looked into them enough to know what’s what, really. I eat a ton of animal foods and have a perfectly neutral pH so…?

          Hahah well, you can always work some vegan treats into your meal plan! :)

  • Ryan

    L – glutamine. I know you recommend this mike, I take 15g in my pwo shake but should I take it on non workout days as well?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah no reason to let it drop out. Like creatine, you’re just looking to keep the levels constantly elevated…

  • Sanj

    Hi Mike. i am a complete novice when it comes to weight training and exercising, and I don’t know where to begin. At present, I am probably the least fittest I have ever been. I am going to a naturist beach for the first time in 15 weeks time and and just want to look good without feeling overweight and fat. Please help.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha let’s get you looking good for the nude beach! I like it. I can’t tell by your name (sorry), but if you’re a guy, get on this program:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/bigger-leaner-stronger/

      If you’re a girl, this is it:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/thinner-leaner-stronger/

      You should be able to lose somewhere around 20-25 pounds in 15 weeks. You’ll build muscle too.

      What do you think?

  • Sam L

    Hi Mike, Just discovered your website and ordered your book – a lot of what u say really makes sense to me. My main problem – PLEASE HELP – is trying to gain muscle and lose some fat to get more defined (want to be lean and bit muscular) but on a vegetarian diet (religous reasons veggie). I find I can get enough protein with soya/tofu (but worried about soy having negative effect on testos?) & whey but I feel I might be getting too many carbs and am insulin sensitive…? I’ve even done 60 days of “Insanity”, lost weight (not my aim!) and still body fat only shifted a percent or two! Have regained lost muscle by lifting weights again but how do I get “cut” as a veggie? And as a lowish weight person for my height I’m worried about true cutting as I’ll lose too much weight… confused….(140 pounds, 5 foot 10, male). Thanks, Sam from the UK, PS keep up the good work, so much BS and messed science out there on the internet/books etc, glad to have finally found your work (this comes from a healthcare professional)

    • Sam L

      Forgot to mention re. veggie – as in no meat fish or eggs but I can have dairy.

      • Michael Matthews

        Yeah I figured thanks. :)

        • Sam L

          Brill thanks for the speedy reply – really do appreciate the ability for personalised advice… look forward to reading thru your work

          • Michael Matthews

            You’re welcome! I’m happy to help. :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing! You can do it as a vegetarian, You just have to play with diet a bit. And yeah I wouldn’t eat a bunch of tofu. Instead let’s go for a good variety such as dairy, grains (brown rice, quinoa, etc.), veggies (peas have a bit of protein), and supplements (whey, or vegan options like pea and/or brown rice protein).

      Otherwise it’s all the same really. Lift heavy, get your cardio in, stick to your meal plan. Pretty simple.

      Thanks for the kind words and let me know what you think!

  • Joe

    Stretching. Do you know where this myth is coming from? I am having trouble imaging a Lion stretching before hunting a gazelle…

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! Check out my article on it! :)

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /stretching-before-aerobic-exercise-or-weightlifting-yes-or-no/

  • Jody

    In one of your earlier articles you state “Research has shown that .2 mg per kg of body weight is sufficient for these purposes.” regarding the dosage of Yohimbe. IF I am doing the math right — I weigh 170 lbs, which equals roughly 77KG. 77KG X .2mg per kg = 15.4mg as the amount of Yohimbe I should be taking. Seeing as the capsules are only 2.5mg per capsule I would have to take (a little over) 6 capsules to get this amount. Does that sound right? The directions state to only have 1 or 2 capsules a day. Seems kinda high but like I said, my math could be off.

    Also, when is the first podcast scheduled? What will it be called so I can subscribe?

    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup that’s right! That’s exactly what I do.

      You can start with 1/2 that dose to assess tolerance though. Yohimbine Hcl gives some people the jitters.

      I hope to record the first podcast this week. I wanted to do it last week but am fully buried in prepping the launch of the supplements. Arg. But soon soon! I promise!

  • Sam L

    Hi Mike – what’s your opinion on Beachbody’s BodyBeast? Too many complex types of sets?
    And do you recommend mirrors when working out? Someone once mentioned to me to help as my right side (arm/leg even abdomen!) is slightly more bulky versus my left which is more toned (I am righthanded so maybe to be expected?) Do you specifically try to even out – if so, how? More reps/sets on weaker side? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Like P90X, it’s okay for just doing something relevant to fitness, lol. But it will NOT deliver the results they market. You will NOT get big and strong on that program.

      Right-left imbalances are pretty common and they usually work themselves out with proper training. But there are cases where they don’t, and then yes we target weak sides with extra sets.

  • Joe

    “home-made” protein powder/juice, possible?

    • Michael Matthews

      What do you mean exactly?

      • Quentin

        Maybe he could liquidise a chicken breast or venison or something! It’s a protein juice of sorts… ;)

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh lol. That would be adventurous. :)

  • Jody

    How the hell do you answer EVERYONE’S questions in such a detailed fashion?? How many WPM do you type? You must have a Voice-to-Text software.. haha

    • Michael Matthews

      Hahah I’m around 100 WPM with very good accuracy.

      I’ve tried dictation software but I my typing speed and accuracy beats it. :P

  • Edwin Valentin

    what’s the best supplement out in the form of pill to build muscle and no major side effects

  • Andrew

    Hi Mike just wanted to know what your thoughts are on training to failure as there’s a lot of contradictory information out there. Do you believe in training to a point of failure and really grinding out that last rep or two and having someone help to take the weight slightly, as say the mike mentzer view is. Or do you avoid exhausting the muscles in favour of getting more sets and recovering faster? Thanks again for all the advice!
    Regards
    Andrew

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. This would actually make a good article. But the short answer is you don’t have to go to absolute failure every set to make gains. In fact this is probably a good way to wind up overtraining.

      Call me old school but I really don’t like when people help me push out reps. If I need more than fingers, I just rack the weight and call the set done.

      Remember I focus on heavy compound lifts though. I don’t “burn out” my muscles with a ton of supersets, drop sets, etc. I hit heavy weight, rest 2-3 minutes, hit it again, etc.

  • Eric

    Hi Mike! Once again thanks so much for the support you’ve been given. You give TONS of great tips and they’re incredibly simple. What amazes me is your humility and simplicity with everyone! You are really distinguished from everybody else. Congrats!

    I’ve been following your website and bought your book 2-3 months ago. If I find some time, I’ll share to you my evolution so far.

    I have one question, please. I live in Brazil and I’m really looking foward to buy another of your book, ‘The Shredded Chef’. Do you have plans to bring this one to us?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Eric! My pleasure! I really enjoy staying in touch with everyone so it’s a win-win really. :)

      Thanks a lot for your support. Definitely shoot me an email with how things have been going and any questions you might have. I’m happy to help.

      Yes, my publisher will be releasing my book for women along with TSC next! I think they plan on releasing them later in the year. You have great English though so if you wanted, you could pick up the digital version on Amazon’s Brazilian site?

      Keep up the good work!

  • Joe

    Hi Mike,

    I am following your program and I am getting weaker (less reps with the same weight). I started after finishing two rounds of P90X. I train 5 times a week.

    Do you think 2 days of rest per week is enough or should I increase it day by day until I make a progress?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm it sounds like it’s a diet issue. Can you break down how you’re eating? And how much, if any, alcohol you’re drinking?

      • Joe

        I am eating around 2000 calories. Target is 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat but I usually find easier to eat more protein than the target. My weight is 175 and I am reasonable lean (around 10%-15% BF). No alcohol.

        • Joe

          Hi,

          Just to let you know that I am progressing now. Probably I had a bad day.

          Regards.

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah great! Glad to hear that. Sorry I didn’t reply. I didn’t get a notification. :(

            Anyway, let me know if you run into it again. It’s normal to have a bad day here or there.

        • Michael Matthews

          Sorry on the late reply. If this just happened once or twice, it’s not a reason for concern. If it’s chronic, then it’s most likely diet… Lemme know.

  • Beck

    Hey Mike-
    I was wondering if there is any benefit to using a preacher bench rather than standing while doing barbell curls. It seems like an unnecessary addition but I figured I’d check it out with you since you haven’t led me astray yet!

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. I’m not a fan of preacher curls. It targets a part of the biceps that don’t directly relate to overall strength and size. Standing curls are much more effective.

      Some people’s genetics are suited to preacher curls though and they can do well with it. It’s rare in my experience but it’s out there.

  • Jeannine Flores

    Hello Michael,
    My name is Jeannine I´m 5´2″ and weight 105.13 lb. I just bought your book “Thinner, Leaner, Stronger” and I really want to be able to do all the excercises in your 12 week plan, but I am afraid I will not be able to lift free weight. To be honest it´s been 3 weeks since I started going to the gym with my husband, and I just finished my 2nd week of “weight lifting”. I have never done exercise in my life and the workout plan I am following right now is the one that the Gym trainer designed for me. I would love to loose 4 pounds of weight but mostly I´d like to get toned and gain muscle mass. But I am really afraid not to be able to perform the excercises in your book since I have been doing the long reps no weight system and yet I get exhausted every day. I train 6 days per week and do 30 min cardio 6 days as well. I have no strength in my body so any advice would be highly appreciated. I have a question, Is your workout plan for beginners with no experience whatsoever? By the way, I really liked your book!! Thank you.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing Jeannine!

      Cool on your stats and I hope you liked TLS!

      Honestly you can jump right into the program and you won’t have any issues. Yes, it’s a little awkward at first as you learn form, but you just let your form dictate your weight and you’ll do well.

      Lifting weights in the way I teach in TLS is WAY more effective for building strength and muscle definition than low-weight, high-rep stuff that trainers often recommend.

      If you need any help with learning form, check out the bonus report that comes with the book. It contains links to videos for all of the exercise. As you’ll see, they’re actually quite simple.

      What do you think?

      • Jeannine Flores

        Hello Mike, I´m so glad t say it´s been almost 3 weeks since I started working on your program from TLS. At the beginning I was worried I could not do the exercises since I had no strength but I watched the videos from the bodybuilding.com site you recommend and I am happy to say that even though they were tough at first I was able to finish the first week with awesome results. My husband was on a trip and when he was back home he told me something had changed about my body comparing from the previous weeks when I did high reps low weight routine. I have been loosing 1lb per week and my clothes look better, I am also getting stronger week after week. I am satisfied with the diet you recommend for loosing weight because I feel with energy and not so hungry thanks to the high percentage of protein I now eat. I love the exercises and the program and I love the book. I´m so excited to continue the program and be able to have the body I never dreamed it was possible for me to have. You see, I´m kind of ectomorph with no curves but since I started the program I even have a waist and my but is getting rounder and firmer. My husband is amazed with the results. Thank you very much!!
        I have a question how do I know when to change the diet from loosing weight to maintaining? I am worried I may be loosing body mass (muscle) as well as fat and not being able to tell the difference. I have read your book 3 times already but still I feel anxious about it.
        Thanks again and kind regards.
        Ohh by the way I love RDL and Squats I never thought I could perform even one. I highly recommend your book.

        • Michael Matthews

          Awesome, great job! I love it!

          You can switch to maintenance once you’re happy with your body fat %. There will be a point where you simply don’t need to get any leaner, and then you just increase your calories. Simple! :)

          Yeah I love legs day too! :)

          Keep up the good work and definitely keep me posted on your progress!

  • Marie Lamothe

    Hi Mike

    What do you think of rowing machines? I was thinking of uing it on my lift day of back & biceps (Tuesday) as a 5-10 min warm-up or as a working active rest for 30-60 seconds. Do you think it would be best to use the rowing machine on ny leg day (which is on Saturday) instead? Also I wouldn’t want to sit on that machine on a cardio day which is 45minutes so short period of time to me would be ideal what do you think?

    • Michael Matthews

      Rowing machines are fine for cardio. I prefer the recumbent bike. But rowing can help with upper body soreness so that’s nice. I would do HIIT though, not 45 minutes of steady-state cardio. 20-30 minutes of HIIT is much better.

      I’m not a fan of active rest because it saps your strength. Ideally you would separate your lifting and cardio by at least a few hours. If you can’t do that, then the next best thing is lifting and then doing cardio after.

      What do you think?

      • Marie Lamothe

        Thanks for answering my questions. So you don’t even jump rope in between such as during your cutting phase? I always thought doing jumping jacks or mountain etc. would be good to keep the heart rate up while lifting.
        Another question: So you only do abs once a week? I would like to adjust my plan a bit by add more abs during the week, you mentioned in your book to add it on day 6. I would like to add it to my off day from lifting which is my cardio day (Weds,) How many ab workouts are beneficial per day and how many per week? How many sets and should all the reps be up to failure or 20-25 is effective? Would repeat the same ab workouts on the same week that you have in the book like the ab roller, hanging leg raise, and cable crunch? what are the alternatives to these workouts if I do want to change it up on my cardio day and then do these workouts on my shoulders day (Fridays)? What do you think of the russian twist with a kettlebell? With or without weight on an off day?
        Thanks for all of your advice they are beneficial!! :-)

        • Michael Matthews

          You’re welcome!

          Nope, no cardio whatsoever during my weightlifting. I do it separately.

          Elevating your heart rate will just sap your strength. And when you’re lifting, you want to maintain your strength as much as possible.

          No, I do abs 2-4x per week depending on what workout I’m doing for them. I do repeat the same workouts though.

          For weighted, I like to stick to 10-12 reps. Abs need to be built like any other muscle. For nonweighted, I always go to failure.

          I stick to the exercises given in the book because they’re simply the most effective. No need to get fancy.

          KB work is fine. I think it’s more just for fun, but it won’t hurt. :)

          My pleasure! I’m happy to help!

          • Marie Lamothe

            Hello again
            Now I would like to change this topic to supplements. My primary goal is to look lean and preserve muscle so I want to lose more fat or weight (cutting) but maintain a good muscle mass.

            My questions are how often should an athletic (meaning I workout 5-6 days a week with a combo of HIIT and weight lifting) female like my self should take it?
            Should I take it pre or post-training for a positve effect?
            How much of the supplement is ideal for me?
            Which is better and more effective the pill form or powder?
            Thanks Mike!

          • Michael Matthews

            Cool on your goal. The supplements that can help with that are creatine, green tea extract, CLA, and a fat burner. You can find them in my recommendations here on the site.

            I talk a lot about supplements in my book Thinner Leaner Stronger as well. You should give it a read–I think you’ll really like it.

  • Marc

    Dear Mike,

    first of all thank you very much for the great book you wrote, bigger leaner stronger. It became my bible when training and although I mix up the exercises a bit it is really amazing someone put it all together for once. I recommended it to my friend as well as we were both ‘hard gainers’ but since the low amount of reps, longer breaks for recovery and eating more we are no hard gainers anymore :)))

    So thank you very very much for this.

    I went from 73 kg at 1.85m, (really toned) to 84 kg (maybe a bit less toned) in 10 weeks but still quite happy with the fat percentage and now working to go to 90kg ( a bit chubby by then probably) and then back to 87kg at which I will hoepfully be ripped with more muscles than at 84 kg.

    The first question I have is if it is ok to really cut the carbs and fats once I reach 90kg and base my diet even more on proteins than what you suggest in your book for the cutting diet part. Will this let me maintain my muscles or do I need the carbs at at least 1.2 grams per pound bodyweight per day to not then lose all the hard gained muscles? Basically: will mainly proteins without many carbs or fats in my diet let me maintain my muscles?

    My second question, if I may, is what do you think about stretching? Do you do it? If so, when and how much? Can it help muscles growth? Is it bad to do as a form or recovery in sore muscles a day after the workout or on resting days? Or do you do it as you work out weights?

    I am doing kick-boxing besides weightlifting as my cardio workout on the resting days, is that ok? I am asking because I often still have muscle soreness when I go to the classes, from the previous day’s weight workout. And this makes me wonder each time whether it is good to do kick-boxing with tired, worked out muscles? It usually starts with strechting, doing the actual class, and then more stretching at the end of the class.

    I would be very grateful for your help and shall you bring out another book similar to bigger leaner stronger then let me know please. :) I think I will get thinner leaner stronger for my girlfriend, can’t do any harm. ;)

    anyways all the best and thank you once again!

    Marc

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book! I’m really glad you liked it. That’s great it’s helped you and your friend escape the dreaded “hardgainer” rut.

      Wow, great gains so far. That’s impressive. I agree–let’s get you up to 90kg and then cut some of the fat away.

      I recommend following the dietary formula in BLS. I provides you with plenty of protein to maintain muscle, plenty of carbs to fuel your workouts, and enough fat to maintain overall health.

      Regarding stretching, check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /stretching-before-aerobic-exercise-or-weightlifting-yes-or-no/

      Cool on the kickboxing. That’s great. It sounds like it’s not getting in the way of anything.

      Thanks again for your support and keep me posted on how things go!

  • Joe

    In your book, you make the distinction of the Pre-Sleep and Post-Workout meals. What do you recommend for those, like me, have to lift late in the day?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question!

      I used to train late at night and what I found workable is to cut my normal post-workout carbs in half, and to spread the remaining half throughout the day.

      For instance, if my post-workout was normally 80g of carbs, I’d do 40g, and eat the remaining 40g earlier in the day.

      As I said in the book, this is likely a minor point and I may just be being paranoid, but I’m just sharing what’s worked best for me.

  • Amy

    Mike, I am 41 yrs old and have put on 90 lbs over the last 8 yrs I recently purchased your books thinner leaner stronger for women and the shredded chef. I am excited to get back in shape and better health. I have been working out but not seeing the gains or losses I would like to. I have come to the decision that I need to get back into weightlifting. I use to do it in my 20s so it’s not like I’ve never been in a gym. I’m 5`6″ 230lbs I know don’t say it. Any way because of my weight I am trying to figure out my diet but I don’t know how I can eat that much protein. Should I just do bigger servings at my meals to fit it in? Please Help

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for picking up my books!

      Understood on your stats and that’s great you want to get into shape.

      Lifting is definitely a good idea. Honestly you can just ease into it. Start with very light weights and get a feel for each exercise, and over the course of your first few weeks, settle into the proper rep range.

      Regarding your diet, I just want to make sure you’re at the right numbers:

      ~200 grams protein per day

      ~150 grams carbs per day

      ~60 grams fat per day

      You can just eat larger meals, yes.

      Let me know what you think!

  • Dan

    Could you recommend a book to gain weight and muscle at the same time. would bigger leaner stronger be applicable to me? I’ve always been slim, but i’d like to bulk out and bit and gain some muscle.

    Thanks

    Dan

  • Dan

    Could you recommend a book for gaining weight and muscle. I’m looking to bulk out a bit and gain muscle as I’ve always been thin. Is you book bigger leaner stronger applicable?

    thanks

    dan

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I would definitely recommend checking out BLS. That’s exactly what it’s for! :)

  • Engin Burak Anil

    Hey Mike, as a part of my switching to being a morning person effort I started working out first thing in the morning. I wake up, eat something light and hit the gym. However, I find it difficult to really have intense workouts plus the weights have gone down a little. I also feel dizzy while working out. Do you think it is a normal thing during transitioning? Do you have a suggestion to work around it? Best.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. What are you eating exactly? Taking any supplements too?

      • Engin Burak Anil

        only whey. and generally that is only after workouts. Other than that I try to follow a good diet.

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay. So you’re training on a completely empty stomach? This isn’t a good idea as it accelerates muscle breakdown.

          You want to do 30 grams of protein or 10 grams of BCAAs before your training. And some people just don’t do well without some carbs in them before training….

          • Engin Burak Anil

            Oh no. I have breakfast before the workout. egg whites and oatmeal, on most days. Somehow, I never get bored of oatmeal :) there is generally at least an hour between my breakfast and workout and even on full stomach I never had problems with going heavy. However, this is what I figured: our gym is not air conditioned (crazy right?). meaning that it is as hot inside as it is outside. after reading some scientific articles I realized that actually it is the heat that is killing me. I should have realized this before as I used to do a lot of mountain biking under the sun in the highschool. After a couple of workouts during the daytime I started adapting and it feels much better now. Still not great though :) I should change my gym…

          • Michael Matthews

            Oh okay cool. That’s good.

            Ahhh yeah overheating sucks. I swear if my gyms’ temp is just a few degrees above its normal it saps my strength.

            New gym for sure. No AC, lol.

  • joe

    Hi Mike,

    Are you supposed to get stronger during the cutting phase or maintaining your power is good enough?

    Kind regards.

    • Michael Matthews

      Most people would say you’re supposed to get WEAKER, but I’ve found that if you do it right, you should be able to maintain your strength all the way through. The only exception is when you’re getting really lean and have to gradually reduce your carbs–that will hit your strength a little.

      • Joe

        Just to clarify: I mean during cutting, not at the transition from bulking to cutting. Are you supposed to reduce power week by week down to a minimum?

        • Michael Matthews

          No you want to hit weights heavy and hard, and maintain your strength.

  • spyros

    mike ive read in your book that your favourite pre-and post workoute food is banana and rice milk. I am currently having chicken with sweetpotato or tune with brown rice 1 hour before i hit the gym and after the gym i have a whey shake with a banana. What do you think? what can i change to make the most of my pre and post workout meals?

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s totally fine. Whole food is great. I just like the taste of my post-workout shake. :)

      • spyros

        Yeah but do you believe that im missing out any important ingredients in my post-workout shake? As i believe a banana does not have all the carbs needed. Ofcourse i eat 1 hour after my post workout shake (meal with protein (chicken or tuna) salad or veggies as this is my last solid meal of the day.

        By the way my daily nutrional menu starts like this (im cutting):

        8 egg whites & 1 cup oats (7:30 am)
        1 apple & 1 scoop whey in water (10:30 am)
        chicken or salmon or beef with vegies (1:00pm) (my gym trainer told me to cut the carbs here as i was aiming to remove the stubborn belly fat)
        chicken or tuna with sweetpotato or quinoa (pre workout meal) (4:00pm)
        5:00pm workout
        2 scoops whey in water & a banana (post workout 6:30)
        salad or vegies with tuna or chicken (7:30)
        1 scoop casein before bed (10:00pm)

        The thing is that i feel a bit week these days and got a flu. Im not sure if im missing some important vitamins. What do you think about the nutrional plan am i missing anything?

        By the way im 27 years old, 1.69 height, 57kg now that im cutting (original weight 63kg). I believe ive reached 7% body fat.

        • Michael Matthews

          On the carbs, ah yeah well I recommend you get 30-40% of your daily carbs in your post-workout meal. So you can change that. Otherwise no there’s nothing special needed–just protein and carbs. Low-fat makes sense as well.

          Your meal plan looks good in terms of what you’re eating but it’s the numbers that matter most–how much you eat is what matters, not what or when. Your trainer is wrong. You can eat carbs at any time of the day and lose weight so long as your total numbers are good.

          Sucks on the flu. You may be overtrained or just randomly got sick.

          Great job on your cutting. I think you should start bulking now…

          • spyros

            Thanks for the advice Mike really appriciate it.

            After Summer holidays ill start bulking too early now as all the girls are at the beach. hehe

          • Michael Matthews

            YW! Haha understood. Let me know how it goes!

  • James

    IIFYM or if it fits your macros, what are your thoughts mike? Also that meal timing is irrelevant as long as you hit your macros and micronutrients. If one ate white bread instead of whole meal for eg in the long run body composition would be exactly the same. Is there such a thing as clean and dirty foods anymore?

    • Michael Matthews

      I really don’t like the IIFYM acronym and general message. It’s like the YOLO of lifting.

      But the basic philosophy is correct: HOW much you eat is what matters in terms of body composition, not what. That said, I don’t like the whole “eat junk get shredded” mindset. Health matters too, and that’s where clean and dirty foods come into play. Junk food has very little nutritional value to it.

  • Tony

    Hey Mike, just read your book ‘Bigger Leaner Stronger’ and thought it was great, nothing totally unexpected but reinforces a lot of my own thoughts. I do have a question regarding breathing when lifting. I’ve always breathed in on the exertion then out when returning to the start point, as I read many years ago that this was beneficial as it feeds the body oxygen when it needs it most. Other things i read suggest breathing out on the exertion? Do you have a view on what’s best or does it really not matter as long as you lift the weight correctly?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book! I’m really glad you liked it.

      Good question. Honestly I haven’t heard any science behind breathing other than holding your breath on squats to keep your core tight, haha.

      But I know that powerlifters that breath IN at the top of a rep, hold your breath through the rep, and exhale on the way to the top. I tend to do that.

  • Joe

    How about having a calorie deficit on normal days but a calorie surplus the days you have to train the muscles needing more improvement? What would happen?

    I think there is no literature about this approach on the Net.

    • Michael Matthews

      This is a standard re-composition approach a la Leangains, and it has its merits. It would help reduce fat storage to some degree. But I’ve yet to see/talk with a natural weightlifter that has been able to accomplish what some people claim about this style of dieting–huge increases in lean mass with little-to-no fat storage.

  • Sam L

    If you only had ONE exercise you could do – what would it be? I’m assuming you won’t say tricep kickbacks… ;)

    • Michael Matthews

      Lol. Hyperextensions! :P

      Hmm I would go with deadlifts. They work everything but your chest…

  • ross byrne

    ive purchased all your books ive read 2 of your books so far muscle myths and cardio sucks and there the 2 best books ive ever read and gave my brother the bigger leaner stronger to read and hes in love with it :D would highly recommend these books ! and the meals in the shredded chef are great looks the snacks !

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Ross! I really appreciate it! You rock! :)

      Let me know if I can answer any questions for you.

  • Christi

    Does the Kindle version of Thinner Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Female Body (The Women’s Fitness Series) have the same info as the hard copy? Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup exactly the same!

  • Bruno Chio

    Dear Mike
    I read your book “Bigger Leaner Stronger” and I love it. But I have one question for you.
    Is it possible to achieve the results of your book without many suplements? I mean only use whey protein?
    Best

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Bruno! I’m glad you liked it.

      Yes absolutely. Supplements do NOT make great physiques–proper training and diet do. You don’t even need to use whey if you don’t want to. Whole food is totally fine.

      I only recommend the supplements IF you want to spend the money on them. The right ones DO help, but they are not a make-break point.

      • Bruno Chio

        Thanks Mike for the answer! I really appreciate it!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

  • Joe

    I don’t have a very straight back because I was very fat when I was a kid. I fear to go very heavy on deadlifts and I am considering doing them with lighter weights but in slow motion. What’s your opinion on this approach? Would I be wasting my time?

    • Michael Matthews

      You can definitely deadlift lighter. It’s a great exercise. Try the 8-10 rep range and see how it feels. If it’s completely comfortable, you can then move into the 6-8 rep range, etc.

      • Joe

        I’ve noticed my problem was the largest plate was not large in diameter enough. I’ve put some yoga blocks raising the bar to 450mm/2 and it is much easier now!

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh cool! Great fix!

  • Kate

    Hi Mike, Need advice on how to tone up, I know I can’t spot reduce fat but what exercises can you suggest that I do to loose the ‘wobbly’ areas, thighs, buttocks, hips and upper arms. Really want to tone up and loose a stone/stone and a half. I do regular 1 hour or so gym work outs but I’m not seeing the results I want as quickly as I’d like. I am also a vegetarian so would appreciate any tips you can offer with regard to a healthy diet. I sometimes feel pretty tired. Thank you, Kate.

    • Michael Matthews

      Cool on your workouts and goal. That’s very doable.

      There aren’t particular exercises that will do it, but achieving the look you want requires that you follow a proper diet plan that helps you lose weight, and a proper exercise program that has you lifting weights to build muscle (which is what gives you that toned, defined look), and doing cardio as needed to keep the weight loss moving.

      I hate to just recommend you read a book, but you should REALLY read my book Thinner Leaner Stronger as it goes over everything you need to know to do all of this. And it’s very simple once you put all the pieces together.

      Here’s the book:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/thinner-leaner-stronger/

      What do you think?

  • Cindy

    My husband and I have 3 of your books, but were disappointed when we went to download your free one year diet and workout guides to find that the site is not there! Help!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Arg sorry about that! Shoot me an email and I’ll send the files to you! Not sure what’s going on…

  • Cindy

    Mike, my husband and I have 3 of your books, but were disappointed when we went to download the FREE supplemental info that provides a diet plan and workout plan for a year. The site was not there!! Help!

  • Doug

    Hi Mike,

    I really enjoyed Bigger Stronger Leaner! I have a problem with either my right knee or my squatting technique; I’m not sure which. I practice my squatting technique without any weights and my knee doesn’t hurt; but as soon as I try with even 20kg, I get a pain in my right knee on the way up. My muscles don’t hurt at all, and my left knee is fine. I’ve never injured my right knee to the best of my knowledge. Have you ever heard of anything like this before?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Doug!

      Hmm that’s strange. I would immediately assume it’s a form issue. Is your knee moving past your toes?

      • Doug

        Yes. Is that bad?

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah, puts stress on the knees. Your knees should break, move about to your toes or stop a little before, and then you sit straight down onto your heels.

          • Doug

            Thanks, I hadn’t heard that before. I’ll give it a shot.

          • Michael Matthews

            Cool lemme know how it goes. BTW I talk about proper squat form in a lot of detail in my book:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/bigger-leaner-stronger/

          • Doug

            Thanks Michael, your advice worked a treat. No pain in my right knee whatsoever now! I’ll be sure to buy your book.

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah perfect, I’m glad to hear that! Lemme know what you think of the book!

  • Richard

    I have a question about fasted state training. There is no way I can exercise in the morning. If I typically exercise when I get home from work…which would either be 6 hours after lunch…or 3 hours after a mid-afternoon snack, would that be considered fasted training? Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, your insulin levels should be at baseline after 3 hours.

  • Chad

    Hi Mike, regarding pre- and post-workout meals, is it generally advisable to eat mid- to high-GI carbs? Is this the same whether you’re cutting or bulking? And if you’re doing intermittent fasting, will your pre-workout “meal” consist of only BCAAs, or will you include a protein shake as well?

    Thanks,
    Chad

    P.S. — I think my buddies are finally going to get BLS. I put on 15 lbs of lean muscle the last 6 months, while they’re running around in circles by the cable crossover machine.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, med/high-GI is good for pre- and post-workout regardless of what you’re doing with your diet.

      If you’re training fasted, you want to have 10 grams of BCAAs before training and nothing else. You want to preserve that fasted state.

      Hahahah awesome on your gains. Keep up the good work and I hope your friend see the light. ;)

  • Joe

    I know this one is challenging: Would you post a series of posts reviewing the competence to your method as you did with crossfit? For example: P90X, 531, 5×5, pyramid, etc? It would be great.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good suggestion! I think this would be better address in the podcast. I’ll make a note!

  • Luke Saintignan

    Hey Mike, I have a question about Kyphosis. I’ve been lifting now for almost 5 months and I’ve noticed gains in almost everything EXCEPT my benching/chest. Now, I am very tall, 6 foot 5, so I think leverage comes into factor somewhat, but with my kyphosis, my upper back/shoulder area is rounded, and my chest sticks out quite a bit.

    I’ve been to therapy and a back specialist, and they’ve told me specific stretches, exercises to do, and I’ve been doing those, and I can definitely see the definition starting in my back. I’ve also received compliments that my posture is getting better. But, I’ve been stuck, it seems, with my bench presses, specifically flat bench press. If I go heavier, I mainly feel it in my arms and subsequently, my joints…which I don’t think is good. One of the weirder things is, I can decline bench without some of these issues.

    So, do you think this could be relative to my kyphosis or is this just in my head and I need to “bust” through the plateau. Sorry for the length but I’m curious to what you think!

    • Michael Matthews

      Slow chest growth is probably the issue I’m most often emailed about, haha. This is definitely the most common genetic weak point, and really just takes time and hard work to get through. The kyphosis may be further emphasizing this weak point (I can’t say for sure though–I’ve actually never run across this before!).

      In my opinion, it takes 1-2 years to build what we would consider a solid chest, and 3-4 to build an awesome chest.

      Don’t be discouraged by that though. As long as your diet is right and you’re getting stronger each month, your chest WILL grow. It just grows slower than most people prefer.

      Here’s one little trick you can do:

      On the 3rd day after chest day, start your workout with a chest warm-up and 3 heavy sets of incline barbell press. Then move on to your normal workout. This won’t be enough to interfere with your next chest day, and can give you a little boost.

      What do you think?

      • Luke Saintignan

        Thanks for the quick reply! My chest day was yesterday, and I can definitely say that I am progressing. While my numbers aren’t anything to brag about, I couldn’t even get 155 lbs up once last month. Yesterday, I was able to get 4 unassisted reps!

        I also did some drop sets with my benching, really burned my chest/arms out…and I’m feeling it this morning!

        I do like your idea of hitting my chest maybe twice a week and I may give it a go and see if it gives me a boost! Thanks for the advice!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Great on your progress! Just keep it up and your chest will grow. It takes time.

          Let me know how things go!

  • Sebastian David

    Mike, can you send me the year plan please as it doesnt seem to be working. just finished bigger, leaner stronger. ive now read 4 body building books and this is by far the best. Some others are very lazy.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book! I’m really glad you liked it. Sure just shoot me an email and I’ll send you a link so you can get the bonus report.

  • Matt Jenkins

    Hi Mike,

    I just finished a very enjoyable Bigger Leaner Stronger and have a fairly basic question. I am a bit of a home strength calisthenics convert the last 18 months, from being a complete non-exerciser and fancy a 12 month push to really strengthen and muscle up before I hit 40. I do have a set of dumbbells but do everything on rings at moment. Is there any way at all I can get away with not going to the gym and not having to splash out on barbells/benches/racks (not that I have the room for them anyway)?

    Cheers

    Matt

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading BLS and writing!

      Cool on what you’re currently doing.

      Working out with only dumbbells is a bit tough because you can’t squat, deadlift, bench press, or military press (and these are the most important exercises in any program, really).

      My first standard recommendation is to get a proper home setup (a power cage or multi-press rack with an Olympic bar and plates), or work out in a gym instead. Here are the products I like:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/equipment/home-gym/

      That said, if neither are possible, you can focus on the dumbbell exercises given in the “approved exercises” section of the book. For instance, a chest day would look like this:

      Incline dumbbell press: warm up and 6 sets 4-6 reps

      Flat dumbbell press: 3-6 sets of 4-6 reps

      While that might seem redundant and inefficient, it’s actually a great chest workout. I did that for nearly 6 months a couple years ago and was amazed by the gains I was able to make.

      You can also add a couple exercises to make your legs day more challenging:

      Goblet squats are decent, albeit limited.

      One-legged squats are challenging even without weight.

      I hope this helps and let me know what you think!

  • Kim

    My workout buddy wants to take MMA classes as well as do the weight training listed in your book. Should we do the classes in place of doing cardio?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup that should work fine. If the classes run longer than 30 minutes, have some protein before though.

      • Kim

        Thank you :)
        Another question. The weeks we do 3 days of weight training, (chest with triceps, back with biceps, etc) Should we complete all chest exercises then do all triceps exercises or should mix them up? Or does it matter as long as we complete all recommended exercieses

        • Michael Matthews

          YW. :) It depends on how much time you have. Ideally you would do them separately, but if you need to stagger them, that’s okay. You would do it like this:

          Chest set
          Rest 60 seconds
          Triceps set
          Rest 60 seconds
          Chest
          Rest
          Tris
          Etc.

          • Kim

            TY :)

          • Michael Matthews

            YW :)

  • Pod

    Im feeling really motivated and training hard, Im adressing my diet all is good with the world, but, is it possible for a woman to get that gap at the top of the leg we all soo want from diet and training?? Can every one achieve it and if so, how??

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah of course! All it takes is being lean and having a good amount of muscle in your legs. What you’re seeing is the inner thigh coming out a bit.

      Hit them squats girl! :)

  • Rob

    Hey Mike, what are your thoughts on juicing to cut weight?

    I tried juicing for breakfast only (kale, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, an apple and an orange) and went from 168 to 162 in 2 weeks at 5’10. Didn’t seem to lose any energy either. That being said I’ve read conflicting things about how healthy this may be, so wanted to get your opinion.
    Thanks, Rob

    • Michael Matthews

      Bad idea. All you’re doing is putting yourself into a heavy caloric deficit, which causes quite a bit of muscle loss along with the fat.

      It’s much healthier to put yourself into a mild deficit and exercise regularly. This way you can preserve, or even build muscle, while losing fat.

      • Rob

        Thanks Mike. I’ve already invested in the juicer and it’s my way of getting some veggies into my system (I pretty much hate most of them otherwise), so I may stick with it but will add some healthy protein/calories as well to my breakfasts. Thanks again, loved your bigger/leaner/stronger book– I hope to add 10 lbs of muscle in the next year and continue to check your site and podcasts/emails. Keep up the great work, it’s very informative and inspiring!

        -Regards, Rob

        • Michael Matthews

          YW and juicing is VERY healthy, you just don’t want to only drink juices to lose weight, that’s all. So juice away, but don’t starve yourself. :)

          Thanks for reading BLS I’m glad you liked it. Lemme know how everything goes!

  • MotivatedGuy

    Can you please write about connection between Coffee and Cortisol, how it may / may-not help body building. How to consume (timing) it such that it doesn’t impair muscle development.

    I love coffee. I work out 4x times a week at the gym and ride 12 – 16 miles everyday commuting to/from work. I drink a cup (8oz) of plain black coffee when I wake up at 5am, head out to gym and/or hop on the bike at about 6:30 am. I am unsure about drinking coffee during the day so I just avoid it most of the time. The literature on the internet is very confusing about elevated cortisol levels and how it can promote fat gain. On the other hand, people use coffee in a fasted state to do cardio to help with fat loss. All of this is very confusing.

    You really do a good job of demystifying thing just like the recent one about Protein intake.

    Thanks and appreciate all the hard work you put into educating us.

    • Michael Matthews

      While the body produces cortisol when you drink coffee (it’s the caffeine), this effect diminishes with regular consumption (tolerance):

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2257922/

      Cortisol does not cause you to gain weight. I address this myth in my book Muscle Myths. Exercise spikes your cortisol, and this acute spike is actually good (it burns fat and breaks down muscle fibers, which can then be repaired afterward).

      Chronically elevated cortisol levels are bad, but that’s another issue.

      Caffeine is great for a pre-workout energy boost, and it also does speed up the fat loss process. Check out this article on fasted training:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

      So enjoy your coffee before your training! :) And thanks for your support!

      • MotivatedGuy

        Thanks for your response. You are the best!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! :)

  • Ryan

    Hi Mike, I’ve just finished Bigger Leaner Stronger and it was class, can’t wait to get stuck in to the workout on Monday. But I wasn’t able to get the bonus material at the end of my kindle, is there any other way i can view it? I tried putting the link in on my laptop but it was no use, cheers.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book! I’m really glad you liked it.

      Sorry about that. Shoot me an email and I’ll hook you up!

  • Steve

    What are your thoughts on Synthol? I thought it was a joke until I read up on it!

    • Michael Matthews

      It’s for professional bodybuilders that need to look as freakishly huge as possible…

  • Joe

    I’ve been passing on doing cardio for 3 months. I did heavy weights on the legs instead. I did yesterday P90X Plyometrics instead of legs and I feared I would lose my breath. Surprise surprise: it was easier than ever! Another hint cardio does not worth it…

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha lifting definitely improves your cardio but I AM a fan of doing HIIT cardio, especially when you’re cutting.

      • Joe

        Plyo is some kind of HIIT? You get your legs burning up to almost failure up to 30″ and you have to recover in 20″ or so.

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah, it can be. What matters most is your heart rate though. You need it to spike and come down, spike and come down, etc.

  • Joe

    I’ve seen in YT some guys doing some kind of partial reps, where the muscle is always under tension but never fully extended nor fully contracted. What do you think of this technique? I fully extend and fully contract my muscles in each rep.

    • Joe

      Oh s***t. Be careful what you say:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWACCWBzAmc

      LOL.

      • Michael Matthews

        Lol guy is funny.

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m not a fan because reducing range of motion reduces the amount of work a muscle has to do. Don’t see the point in it…

      • Joe

        Maybe the benefit is that your fibers don’t rest at all during the set as there is usually a brief rest in the fully extended and fully contracted positions as the angular momentum is minimal when the weight vector direction is near the joint.

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah that’s known as time under tension and some people misconstrue research on it to conclude that the longer your reps take, the better. Several studies have shown that super-slow reps have no benefit, though.

          Studies have also shown that reduced range of motion means less gains in strength and size.

  • Sebastian

    I have quite a few questions about HIIT. Whats the best way to start? What should I eat before or after? Anything a beginner has to watch out for? How many times per week? Can I do it everyday like weight lifting or is that too much?

  • Aécio Levy

    Hi Mike. I’m from Brazil sorry me about my english. I read you book BIGGER, LEANER, STRONGER.

    1) I workout at night around 7p.m, i take the supplementation right after the workout, How long should i have to wait to dinner?

    2) The supplementation routine that you recommend, can i take right after the meal (Ex.: Multi-vitamin, CLA, fish oil and green tea extract), all this?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading BLS! You can have dinner right after your training. Enjoy it. :)

      Yes, that’s totally fine. I like to split my supplements into two doses per day, one that I take after breakfast or lunch, and one after dinner. Otherwise it’s just a lot of pills at once…

      Hope this helps!

  • AgeUke

    Hi Mike, I thought I would take up the challenge and see what your view was. There has recently been a spate of newspaper reports in the UK, I am aware in the worldwide press too, of articles suggesting that Omega 3 supplementation can be detrimental and contribute towards the onset of prostate cancer in men. I know that the media are constantly skipping to the conclusion in any academic paper causing all kinds of tenuous stories and misunderstanding but i was curious what you make of it given yours and many others’ recommendation.

    Great books by the way

  • Ryan

    Mike, I’ve been doing pendley rows instead of bent over rows without realising. The only real difference is the weight starts from dead for each rep. Shall I switch or over the long run it won’t really matter?

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s exactly how I do it.

      • Ryan

        Niceeee, good to know big man.

        • Michael Matthews

          :)

  • GOTHAM

    Hey Michael I had an anal fissure surgery I feel better but now I got a weak spot, I cant do squats or deadlifts or any AB/core exercises due to putting to much pressure in that area, I have tried but I get spasms, so what beneficial exercises would you recommend for a strong lean body, bought your book by the way I do low reps with heavy weight 4-6 reps and I see a huge difference thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book and writing! While there aren’t any direct replacements for the deadlift, you can simply do another exercise like barbell or dumbbell rows.

      Instead of squats, can you use the leg press machine?

      I hope your recovery goes well!

  • kendub

    Hey Mike – the supplementation program you have up online (for cutting) talks about taking a scoop of protein post workout but the cutting meal plan example online – 235 protein, 206 carbs & 53 fats – details at least three meals where protein supplementation should be used. I’m confused. I’ve bought the supplements – should I be combining the meal plan with the supplementation program so the protein now jumps another 30 or so? thanks, Ken

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m not sure if I understand your question, but does this help?

      You always want to have protein after your lifting, and it can be powder or whole food. I do a few shakes per day for convenience purposes, but you can do less.

      The key is hitting your overall numbers every day, not having a set number of shakes…

      • kendub

        perfect. thanks Mike

        • Michael Matthews

          YW :)

  • Chris

    Michael,

    I purchases your book bigger leaner stronger – so far so good, and I am looking through your one year challenge article as well, and I noticed that your sample diet for cutting didn’t include the total calories, but your maintain diet did. Can you tell me what the calories on the cut diet are?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks on BLS! Ah sorry on the cals. To calculate them multiply the protein and carbs by 4 and fat by 9.

  • Lee Tyrrell

    Hi Mike, I’m 46yr old and in very good shape (for my age) I do a lot of training against my own body weight i.e dips, pull-ups etc and just wondered what your feelings are regarding TRX?
    I recently downloaded your ‘Muscle Myths’ book to my iPad and it has opened my eyes a bit and I’ve also started buying ON’s gold standard whey as my preferred protein supplement on your recommendation and I love it!
    Cheers
    Lee

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for picking up Muscle Myths! I’m glad you’re liking it.

      I the the TRX product is good for spicing up a body weight routine, and is particularly useful for when you’re traveling and can’t hit a gym.

      It won’t build strength and size like weightlifting though. So it really just depends on your goals.

      Glad you’re liking the protein too! :)

  • Mikkel

    Hi Mike.

    I recently bought your book ‘Bigger Leaner stronger’, and also the Shredded chef.

    I just turned 23, and I’ve been working out since I was 18. I was serious in the beginning, but thats a long time since.

    My fat percentage is around 20%, but I do have a muscular body, but with belly fat.

    Now, I want to gain more muscles, so my plan is to bulk now and not cut.

    Is this a bad idea? Do you think cutting would be better?

    Most of my fat is around the belly, and not that much else where.

    I
    would like to start bulking, starting tommorrow. I have already planned
    diet and workout for it, but do you think a cut is better?

    Best regards

    Mikkel

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Mikkel! I think you should cut down to 13% or so and then bulk from there. You’ll be happiest with that in the long run.

      What do you think?

  • Marcio

    hey michael, can you speak more about supplements for mind like 5 htp,and is better take supplements that contains huperzine a like higer mind(source naturals)brain elevate (now foods) ageless mind(source naturals) or take huperzine solo?

    • Michael Matthews

      5HTP has some science on its side and I’m actually trying it out currently. Can’t say I really notice anything yet though.

      Here are the nootropics I use and like:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/supplement-recommendations/brain-boosters/

  • Gretzski

    I have Cerebral Palsy (CP). I am lucky enough to be very physically able.
    My one limitation involves the muscle tone in my legs and knees. I can
    walk, run, bend etc., but am limited in the strength and flexibility in my legs
    and particularly my knees. .That said, what would you recommend as a
    replacement exercise for dead-lifts and squats? I would like to find
    something to provide a similar compound experience while limiting the impact on my lower extremities (if possible). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Gretzski

    “Commit, Command & Conquer”

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! Can you perform leg extensions and leg curls? And for your back, I would focus on barbell and dumbbell rows, and weighted pull-ups.

  • Richard Bulthuis

    What are your thoughts on energy drinks like Monster Rehab??

    • Michael Matthews

      Not a fan. I have some caffeine before training and that’s it as far as stimulants. Abusing them really drains your system and can cause big issues as time goes on…

  • Sam L

    Will your supplement range be available in the UK? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Initially we will have to ship to the UK, which isn’t a huge deal, but the real issue might be ingredients as the EU has REALLY strict rules on how what you can use and in what dosages.

  • Steph

    Hey Mike – I’m finally getting back into the swing of things after becoming a mom. Since baby prevents me from going to the gym regularly, I’m working out with a squat rack, bench, and full line of dumbbells at home. I can’t do pull downs because I don’t have the equipment, and it’s annoying me because I feel like I can take care of the middle/lower back but I’m not really hitting my lats. Should I spend the $250 and get the squat rack add-on so I can do pulldowns? Or do you think there are other things I can do and still see results?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great Steph! I’m excited for you. That’s awesome you have a nice home setup.

      Instead of the PDs you can simply do barbell and/or dumbbell rows, or pull-ups. What do you think?

  • marcio

    hey michae , can you speak about science on supplements to build strong dense bones ?

    • Michael Matthews

      I haven’t looked much into it beyond getting enough calcium and lifting heavy weights… I’ll have to check it out.

  • Doug

    Hi Mike,

    I just found some unopened Muscletech Mass-Tech right in the back of my cupboard. I’ve used it before and was pleased with the results – but this stuff is 18 months past its ‘best before’ date. Do you think its still ok to use it? I’m sure I can still get lots of calories from it, but what about the creatine and protein content?

    Hope you can help!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm not sure but I would toss it…

  • Ryan

    Hey mike, how old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?? :-P and have you ever considered competing in any competitions? Or is it purely a lifestyle choice only?

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m 29 and yeah I’ve thought about competing in Physique but haven’t decided if I’m going to yet. It’s just been a lifestyle thing, and now a work thing. :)

  • Glen G Harrison

    Hi, just a question about eating back calories on a bulk. Im currently on a bulk but im still doing 5 days cardio, on a treadmill. I know i proberly should do less but its just something i prefer to do. Now of course that means im burning more calories. Now i guess i need to eat back those calories in order to get me into a surplus, to gain those muscles. HOw do i go about eating those back and still follow my macro numbers. Do i just consume those calories burned in protein or carbs, or just a mix of all. Im just confused with this. Thanks you in advance.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! One thing you should know is that that much cardio is going to impair your strength and muscle gains regardless of how much extra you eat.

      That said, yes I would just add the calories burned back in and watch my body weight. Once you’re gaining about 1lb per week, you’re doing it right…

      • Glen G Harrison

        Thank you for the reply. Ill try and cut back on cardio. I use to be extremely overweight and i get paranoid if i stop i will go back to where i was. I stop it for a week and see how my body reacts. ON days i do, do it the calories i do add back in does it matter what i choose to add them back with.? Carbs, Protein etc.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! I would definitely cut back on the cardio, and do HIIT only.

          You won’t have a weight problem so long as you regulate your food intake.

          If you keep your cardio to 2-3x per week you may not have to add anything back in. Let’s see how your body responds. If you can gain weight every week without adding in, you’re good to go.

          • Glen G Harrison

            Will do. Ill try the HIIT 2/3x a week and go from there. Once again thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to help others, like myself. Can’t thank you enough on how much you and your books have help to open my eyes much more, to training.

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay cool lemme know how it goes. And you’re very welcome! I’m happy to help.

  • Erin Harris

    So I bought Shakeology a while back, and I’m wondering if you can suggest the best time of day for me to have one of those shakes. Not sure if it would be the same time as you might suggest for a whey shake or something like that.

    • Michael Matthews

      Beyond pre- and post-workout protein, timing for shakes doesn’t matter at all.

  • Jason

    Hi Mike. I have been on “the program” since Feb 2013 and truly delighted with the results. Really starting to pack solid muscle on now and I really do put this down to lifting as heavy as I safely can and not rep counting but always going for the “extra” rep and through up weighting staying in that 4-6 rep range. Trouble is (and it is not a bad one to have) but I’m really “frontin” on the shoulders. I have managed to build the rear delts up a bit but I am not getting a full and balanced shoulder shape at all with the middle head really lagging. Any help appreciated as always. Keep up the great work & thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jason! I’m really glad you’re doing well on the program.

      Yeah the middle delt is a pain in the ass. Gotta hit those side raises heavy and with good form. You can even train shoulders twice per week if you’d like. That’s what I’m currently doing. I train them on Weds, and then again on Sat. Workout 1 is a full BLS workout, workout 2 is 6 heavy sets (front raises and side raises).

      Hope this helps!

  • Matthew

    Hi Mike, I am 67kg & 13.5% BF (175cm) & I am attempting my first cut before my first proper bulk. I have reduced calories to 1500 & keeping 100g protein. For the past 2-3 months I have been hovering/slowly loosing weight & BF (started at 68kg & 14%) but I haven’t been able to dip below 12.5%, and I was planning on bulking once I was <10% (I have been doing a basic all-body weight workout 3 times a week to try & maintain muscle). My forearms have gotten quite skinny & I still have decent BF around my midsection. I think my metabolism may have slowed, so I am thinking about including some cardio – does this seem right, or any other ideas?

    • Michael Matthews

      I think this got double posted?

  • Matthew

    Hi Mike, I am 175cm & currently 67kg & 13.5% BF. I have been cutting for the first time, before my first proper bulk. I have dropped to 1500 cal & keeping 100g protein (I have been doing a basic all-body weight workout 3 days a week to try & maintain muscle). For 2-3 months I have been hovering/slowly losing (I started at 68kg/14%) but I haven’t been able to dip below 12.5% & I was planning on starting my bulk once I was <10%. My forearms are quite skinny & I have decent BF around my midsection. I think my metabolism may have slowed & so I am thinking about incorporating cardio – does this seem right, any other ideas? Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing! Cool on your stats and cut. I wouldn’t drop cals more–I would definitely add HIIT in at this point. Start with 3x per week.

      If that doesn’t get your weight moving, you can either do more bodyweight training each week, or we have to drop your cals…

      And starting a bulk under 10% is great. Not entirely NECESSARY, but it makes the post-bulk cut faster…

      • Matthew

        Thanks Mike!

  • Sam

    Just read your book bigger, leaner, stronger and I’m confused about one aspect. You suggest following 30-30-30 for a preworkout meal but also taking a preworkout on an empty stomach. I’m guessing both work, but which works better in your experience? Also, if I workout in the mornings should I follow 30-30-30 (because I don’t want to workout out on an empty stomach) and take the preworkout with it?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. The pre-workout hit harder on an empty stomach but that requires fasted training, which means you have to also supplement with BCAAs or leucine.

      You’ll feel the pre-w/o with protein and carbs, and in my experience, you’ll probably be stronger and have more energy overall.

      • Sam

        Thanks! That makes sense.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW.

  • Balu Prakash

    Hey there Mike, got a little question about food. Thing is, I’m a student and I’m from a place where, due to traditional ways, I don’t always get my hands on most of the protein rich food, except for fish, but it’s mostly carb stuff everyday(with one meal everyday that involves fish). I still try to eat healthy and enough about 4-5 times a day, I also take whey protein to balance it out. I’ve been working out for over a year now(first 3-4 months was me messing around so technically 8 months or so), and I follow a full body routine 3 times a week. I do see gains, and I did lose a lot of the unneeded fat(managed to lose about 13kg), but the gains part, that’s been very slow. I’ve seen people get more in 3 months than what I’ve got. I can guess that it’s because of the diet, but I don’t really mind if the “slow and steady wins the race” concept works here, does it? Or am I just wasting hard work? :P

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on your progress so far and if you’re not able to get at least .8 grams of protein per pound, it will affect your muscle gains.

      That said training protocol is equally important. What type of full-body routine are you doing?

      • Balu Prakash

        Haha thanks,and I’m doing a 5×5 one, the first routine from here:
        http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/forget-steroids-5-fullbody-workouts-for-serious-gains.html

        Also I was calculating the amount of protein based on 1 gram of protein per pound. Since it’s .8, and my weight being 66kg, that makes it about 116gm of protein per day. Not getting that much, but I am getting around 70-80gm on workout days, since I take 2 whey shakes. Most probably lesser than that on rest days since I only take 1 shake.

        Generally, since you said that it will affect the muscle gains, I can see where this is going, I’m gonna have to ramp up the diet, right?

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah cool. This is a good full-body routine.

          1 gram per pound is good. Let’s bring it up to that. Just eat more protein in your meals, you don’t have to add more shakes.

  • Raj

    What are your thoughts about Stronglifts 5×5 (http://stronglifts.com/free-stronglifts-5×5-report/)? Any substance, all hype, or both?

    • Raj
    • Michael Matthews

      Programs like Stronglifts and Starting Strength are good. Much better than a lot of the crap out there. They will get you bigger and stronger, no doubt about it.

      That said, they have one big drawback: certain parts of your physique lag in terms of development. The look you often see in guys that only do SL or SS is a really big lower body, and a disproportionately small upper body. This is often seen very clearly in the arms, shoulders, lats, and chest. Middle back development is usually decent due to all the deadlifting.

      I’ve had many guys come from SL/SS to BLS and really like how their upper body began to fill out and match their lower body development. This is because BLS is kind of a hybrid between the SL/SS approach, and the traditional bodybuilding approach.

      So in short, you can’t go wrong doing SL or SS, but there will be a point when you’ll want to focus more on lagging body parts to balance out your physique.

  • Kim

    I introduced the workout routine in “thinner, leaner, stronger” to my workout partner, who is male. He was a bit skeptical since the book was for building the ultimate body for women. Since I have not read the “bigger, leaner, stronger” book, is there a big difference as far as the routine? Or is it okay for him to follow my routine?
    thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! The routine for men is similar but not the same. It involves heavier lifting (4-6 rep range) and some slight variations in the routines.

      • Kim

        Thank you!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

  • Pedro Rugeles

    Mike, few question.

    While cutting, If I do a free/cheat meal on saturday night, do I skip the weekly carb refeed on sunday or I still have to refeed?

    Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Nope make that your refeed. Go high-protein and high-carb. Best not to have a ton of fats.

  • Bryan Nino

    Hey Mike,
    In your book Max Muscle you said chest machines aren’t the best road to follow. Now i use a chest thing but doesn’t use a pulley system or anything just free weights on it just pushing it directly. Can this still work because i work out alone?

    • Michael Matthews

      You’re probably using the Smith Machine, which is okay but not ideal.

      Regarding the spotting issue, what you want to do is end your bench, squat, and military press sets (the only exercises where you need a spot) with one rep still in the tank–that is, end your sets when you struggle for a rep and aren’t sure you can get another. You shouldn’t need a spot for any other exercises.

      Or you can always ask for someone else in the gym to give you a spot. I do it all the time.

      • Bryan Nino

        Thank you i appreciate it but i think i positive its not the smith not to sound like a know it all in any way the thing i use are isolated so each arm pretty much pushes it own weight. On another note i def will take your advice, i used it today for my morning workout on arms i feel fantastic. I’m going to purchase your books pretty soon! I appreciate your time to respond.

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh okay, yeah that sounds like something else. I’m not a fan of machines because they’re just not as effective as free weights.

          Great on the arms workout and thanks for your support! Write anytime if you have any other questions–I’m happy to help.

  • Sergio

    Hi Mike! I bought the book and so far I liked it. There’s only one thing that bothers; since I follow the “you-can-always-do-one-more” mentality when doing a set, I usually ended up doing 6 reps. And, if I would want to make the set more intense, I would ended up lifting so high weights that will not allow me to exercise correctly. Personally I believe it’s better focus on technique rather than intensity.

    Do you have any comments on this?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Really glad you liked the book.

      Form>weight always, but all you have to do is increase the weight once you hit 6 reps and if you keep your form strict and you won’t be able to do 6. Then work with that until you can get 6 again, and so forth…

  • George

    Hi Mike,

    In your bulking and maintaining routine you us creatine. There also seems to be use of creatine in your cutting routine too, or am I reading this wrong?
    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Nope, I’m always using creatine. No reason not to–it makes you stronger and you don’t have to cycle it.

  • David Furnival

    Mike, Ive bought and read Bigger Leaner Stronger and have bought and scanned The Shredded Chef. Firstly, thanks, awesome books and I will be starting on the programme in a couple of weeks time once I have digested the info. As a newbie, I’m left a little confused about building the right meals for myself. The lovely looking meals in the Shredded Chef are well explained but I would need to do a fair bit of clever juggling to get a the right daily calories and macro nutrients for my weight and plan (e.g. 216g Protein, 180g Carb and 36g of Fat). Any suggestions? Thanks, David

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! Really glad you like the books so far.

      On the meal planning, what most people do is cook up big batches of food once per week and then just use those portions for 1-2 meals per day. Then you fill in the rest of your numbers with individual foods that you can easily control like protein shakes, yogurt, fruit, nuts, etc.

      Does that help?

      • David Furnival

        Perfect, thanks Mike. I guess it takes a bit of practice then becomes quite easy

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah exactly. Start simple at first so you can get the hang of it then get fancier.

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah exactly. As you get more familiar with it, you learn how to be more flexible too.

  • Anon

    Hey Mike great site, whats your opinion on the HodgeTwins, CT Fletcher and Kali Muscle? I think they’re all amusing, some definite BroScience going on and maybe something not quite natural about CT & Kali Muscle??? I mean how can “normal” people overtrain like that with half reps and 100s of reps on a set???

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I think all are entertaining and are genuinely trying to help people, so that’s cool. Some broscience yes, and CT and Kali are most definitely NOT natty.

      Lol exactly on the training. Hodge could be natty based on their training and look.

  • Gabe

    Hi Mike! Insulin management seems to be all the rage these days and there seems to be some sound logic from a metabolic syndrome/fat reduction standpoint.
    What are your thoughts on things like the meat and nut breakfast and generally keeping carbs sandwiched around workouts?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah everything carb related is pretty trendy these days. I’ll be writing an article on carb backloading soon but the summary is it’s just not necessary if you have good insulin response and sensitivity.

      Insulin is your FRIEND. It’s an ANABOLIC hormone. A healthy person will not gain anything by getting fancy with carb timing…

      • Gabe

        Interesting, I look forward to this article. I definitely haven’t figured out the best macro ratio for myself, at least from a muscle building standpoint so the more info the better. Thanks, man!

        • Michael Matthews

          Maximizing muscle growth with diet really boils down to a few things:

          1. Eat enough protein every day.

          2. Get 15-20% of your daily calories from good fats.

          3. Fill in the rest of your daily calories with carbs to fuel your workouts.

          4. Eat enough calories every day to keep your body in a positive energy balance.

          Meal timing is more or less irrelevant. The only exceptions is:

          Have protein and carbs before and after training (or BCAAs before if you’re training fasted).

          • Gabe

            Thanks for the breakdown, I appreciate that.
            I’ve been taking a BCAA supp before and during training and then usually eating a whole food meal within an hour PWO, usually with a whey shake.

            Should I limit fat intake pre and immediately post workout to maximize insulin or am I really over thinking it here?

          • Michael Matthews

            YW. Cool on the BCAAs and post-workout shake. I recommend you load carbs into this meal for glycogen resynthesis purposes. I recommend 30-40% of your daily carbs in this meal.

            Fat intake doesn’t BLUNT insulin response as far as I know–it just doesn’t trigger it like protein and carb intake do. It also doesn’t do anything for you in terms of protein or glycogen synthesis, so in a sense, it’s just a “useless” post-workout macronutrient.

          • Gabe

            Hey thanks for the response. All good stuff to know :)

          • Michael Matthews

            YW! :)

  • Eric Farto

    Hi Mike! How are you?

    I’ve started to bulk 1 month ago, around 13-14%BF at that time (I think I’m still at 14-15%BF).. I have 75.5kg or 165lbs. (I was weighting 73kg), 1,79m right now. As you suggested, I’m doing the following daily intake:

    Carb: 330g
    Prot: 165g
    Fat: 66g
    Cal: 2574 kcal/day

    Once I reach 85kg (I’m planning to achieve it in 5 months), I’ll get to the cut… I don’t know exacly much and where to cut.. Can you help me with the proportions? I’ll also include Hit x3 a week, fasted training (with BCAA ;-) )and planning to take fish oil as well (along with Creatine and protein powder, Legion, of course!). Is that alright?

    Thank you, our almighty preacher!!! :-)

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m good thanks!

      Great on your progress. About 1 pound of weight gain per week is perfect.

      For your cut, you’ll simply reduce your calories and add the cardio in. It’s very simple really.

      Thanks again for all your support! Lemme know how things go!

      • Eric Farto

        Thanks for the tips!!! When you’re cutting, what’s your total daily calories and the proportions of carb, prot, and fat?

        Thanks! I’ll keep you posted for sure!!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! I just use the formula given in BLS and tweak as necessary. I prefer to keep it simple. :)

          • Eric.Farto

            Nice! The key is planning and persistence! And keeping it simple is easier and brings a LOT of results as well! Thanks to you!!! :-)

          • Michael Matthews

            Yup, that’s all it takes!

  • Adam

    Hi Mike,
    I’m loving “bigger leaner stronger” and cant wait to see the results (I just started the program). I would like to know you thoughts on creatine and test boosters
    I look forward to your reply

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Adam! Definitely let me know how it goes.

      Creatine is good and worthwhile, test boosters are not. :)

      Simple enough…

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Adam! Definitely let me know how it goes.

      Creatine is good and worthwhile, test boosters are not. :)

      Simple enough…

  • Paul

    What is your thought on taking a pre-workout AND an additional NO supplement? Good pump or just a waste?

    • Michael Matthews

      Adding something like citrulline malate could be a good idea, not for the pump but for its other ergogenic benefits…

      • Paul

        Thanks for the quick response Mike! I just want to say how much I appreciate your work! I am fairly new to body building and after reading “Bigger Leaner Stronger” I have been able to see some quick gains! I did have one question for you however. I have been on a 3 month bulk so far and plan to do the one year bulk as recommended in “Bigger Leaner Stronger”, I’ve been gaining about 0.5-1lb per week if that. However It seems that any fat I gain goes straight to my stomach, a bit annoying but expected I guess? Also for my post workout carb source I have been using Vitargo S2 by GENR8 (about 70g of carbs). it has seemed to work fairly well for me, just wanted to see your thoughts on it or if you recommend whole foods as a post workout carb source instead. Thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Thanks so much! Really glad you’re doing well on the program.

          .5-1lb per week is perfect and unfortunately some of us are genetically predisposed to storing a lot of fat in our midsections. But don’t worry–it goes away easily.

          I’m not a big fan of carb powders because they have no nutritive value. I would prefer a food like instant oatmeal, white potato, banana, or even rice milk.

          • Paul

            I usually have a protein shake and a large banana as a pre-workout meal. Would the same be okay for a post meal (with more bananas!!)? I don’t mind whole foods just that it usually takes me about 30-35 mins to get home after the gym and I guess I worry about the “small window” for my body to suck up those carbs and protein which is why Vitargo has been convenient.

          • Michael Matthews

            That’s good for pre- and for post-, I would include something starchy with the banana as fructose is good for glycogen resynthesis in the liver, but not so great for intramuscular.

            And the “window” lasts a bit longer than people think–studies have shown accelerated glycogen resynthesis for up to 2 hours or so after training. You can just drive home and make some oatmeal or whatever.

          • Paul

            Thanks a bunch!

          • Michael Matthews

            YW!

  • Marco

    Hi Mike, when following your Bigger-Leaner-Stronger-program, should one
    train to failure or stop before failure? And how do you define failure?

    • Michael Matthews

      You don’t have to go to absolute failure every set (which is the point where you can’t finish your rep and need a spotter to take some of the load off).

      Generally speaking you want to go to the point where you struggle to finish a rep and won’t be able to get the next on your own. You end your set there, rest, and do it again. :)

      • Marco

        Does “struggling to finish” the last rep imply that perfect form is dispensable for that last rep?

        So, when I feel like “this is probably my last rep”, I stop after this rep?

        • Michael Matthews

          Not exactly. If your form gets a LITTLE loose, that’s okay, but it shouldn’t be completely sacrificed.

          Yup, stop there and rest.

          • Marco

            Thanks!
            And how bad is it when I under- or overestimate my power, i.e., if I stop before the last possible complete rep or fail finishing the last rep? Is it OK if that happens occasionally? (I’m not talking about dangerous situations like being crushed by the barbell while bench pressing.)

          • Michael Matthews

            YW! Yeah that’s okay. It happens to me sometimes too because I’m just not sure if I’ll get stuck or not, haha.

            I also ask people for spots here and there. They’re cool about it.

  • Sam L

    Hey Mike, thanks for BLS. Great program, been on it for two months now. As always your advice is spot on. I gave a query about using really heavy weights. Being on the lighter side I’ve never lifted heavy until now…is there evidence that very heavy weights affects your joints etc when older? And how realistic is it to be able to add 5lbs or more per week on your lifts? I’ve got my working sets to way more than body weight for deads and squats but for a other lifts I can’t always increase the weight much before my form suffers (I’m bulking and eating lots carbs!). Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Sam! Glad you’re rolling on the program.

      I’ve never seen any published research on heavy lifting and age and joints, but anecdotally speaking, I’ve only seen problems in the cases of powerlifters as they age. Especially those that were on drugs at one point in their life, hitting some seriously heavy weights.

      Remember that while we lift heavy, pure powerlifting gives a new meaning to heavy lifting. What we’re doing isn’t anything compared to the loads they lift once they get to an advanced+ level.

      The “add weight every week” is fun but definitely dies off, and then you just push for extra REPS every week. So if you use the same weight but get 5-5-5 instead of 4-4-4, that’s great. Next week you push for 6, and then move up.

      Hope this helps!

      • Sam L

        Thanks for speedy and useful reply, as always. Are you definite about the whole clones thing? Because if I had one, I’d get him to do leg day for me! ;)
        Final ques – in BLS u mention chest day + abs “supersetting” chest exerecise + 3 abs exercise, BREAK, then re-do – but say if u get up to 5-6 supersets… I’m not sure if I misunderstood but I thought we only do 3 rounds of abs exercises when we train abs – r u suggesting we increase no. abs sets as we go on? Thanks

        • Michael Matthews

          YW. :)

          Hahah call me masochistic but legs day is my favorite.

          Regarding the abs training, well you do those 3 exercises back-to-back as one “circuit” I suppose you could call it. If you can do that circuit 3 times (resting in between each), that’s good. If you can work up to 6 circuits, you’re a rock star.

          • Sam L

            Great thanks Mike that clears it up

          • Michael Matthews

            YW. :)

  • Adam Reid

    First of all…I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your work. I’ve only just discovered you and your site through your appearance on the Road to Ripped Podcast. I love the no nonsense approach you take to training and nutrition. I’ve worked hard for the past 8 or 9 years with virtually nothing to show for my diligence in the weight room and kitchen. I’ve tried intermittent fasting, carb backloading, 6 meals per day, 2 meals per day, and everything inbetween. It’s incredibly frustrating looking back on all the hard work and still seeing a skinny fat dude in the mirror. Oh well…live and learn I suppose. I hope to use the information I learn from you and make all the gains I’ve missed in the next few years. Better late than never I suppose. I’m only 27 so I guess I still have some growing to do. Thanks again. Keep up the great work.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Adam! I really appreciate it.

      I’m sorry to hear about your struggles, but the good news is you can absolutely make gains going forward. All you have to do is train and eat properly.

      I would HIGHLY recommend you give Bigger Leaner Stronger a read–I would love to get you rolling on the program. Your body WILL respond…

  • Josey

    Hey Mike! I’ve been really enjoying the diet portion of your book TLS. However, the example meal plan confused me a bit. I followed your example meal plan but I noticed if I subtracted the
    number of calories burned in my workout, I’d be way under for calories
    for the day. Therefore, I’d have to eat more but if I did that I’d go
    over for my daily protein, carb and fat intake. I was using MyFitnessPal for a few weeks and they would subtract the number of calories burned from a workout. Should I be subtracting my workout calories from my daily calorie intake? Could you please clarify?

    Thanks!
    Josey

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Josey!

      You don’t want to subtract calories from workouts–the formulas in the book assume that you will be exercising 3-5 hours per week.

      Hope this helps!

  • Max

    Hi i’m Max 5.10 165 lbs with about 31.5 inch waist so i’m about 11 percent bodyfat.
    If i can do 4 reps on my fiirst set and the next 2 sets i get reps of 3-2 due to fatigue ( i wait about 3 minutes between sets) is the weight too heavy or it’s fine?
    Thank’s.
    Ps.Sorry for my english but i’m italian ;)

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing!

      Hmm yeah if you go 4-3-3 or 4-3-2, I would drop the weight and shoot for 5-5-5 or 5-4-4.

  • Marko

    Hey Mike, I have all your books but I have a serious question about bulking. You see I am very lean in the legs… while all the fat is gained from my face down… im around 22% BF… I do want to get stronger… but at the same time I am really afraid of bulking… I don’t want my face and body to get even fatter… I know you address this In your book and you say if you do it right you wont gain that much fat… but im still worried about doing that… would it be smart to cut… drop down to 10% bf and then bulk? I weight 145lbs right now…22% BF… what do you think I should do? When you say in your book to take a picture of a celeb or someone with a nice body to visualize what we the reader can be… I think id be happy if I had your body :) Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Marko!

      You should start with cutting. Let’s get you down to the 12% range and then let you bulk.

      Haha thanks for the compliment. :)

  • Lukas

    Hi Mike, awesome site and love B-L-S. Can you advise on other leg mass building exercises apart form those in B-L-S? Reason is I can only workout at home (free weights) so I squat/hack squat, RDL but can’t do presses/extensions. What about lunges/Bulgarian squat/Split leg EZ bar squat any good to mix things up every 8-10 weeks?
    And for rest week or de-load week you mention options – is it ok to totally stop weights for a week or ok to just do a de-load? Should we change nutrition/less calories that week or not matter?

    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Lukas!

      Fortunately you can squat, so you’re going to build legs. Personally I would work with a few exercises.

      Parallel squats
      Full squats
      Front squats (parallel and full)
      Barbell lunges

      That’s all you need really…

      Yup you can full rest or de-load. You really have to try both and see which your body does best with. I tend to do better with a de-load.

      If you’re cutting, you can keep your cals the same. If you’re bulking, you can lower them to a maintenance level.

      • Lukas

        Thanks great advice will do

        • Michael Matthews

          YW. Lemme know how it goes.

  • Tina

    Hello Mike. Thank you for Thinner, Leaner, Stronger – great book. I’ve recently been on this prog for a few weeks and am finding the heavy weights quite difficult. I getting to about 8 reps on most exercises, my goals are improve strength and lose a bit of fat. Have you any opinion on say using lighter weights and making it a bit more of a cardio + weights workout? Or can I go a bit lighter and say do more sets and go to e.g. 10-12 reps per set? Or am I wasting my effort and time doing that? Any advice would be great, thank you.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Tina! Really glad you liked the book and that’s great you’ve started.

      Yup the lifting is going to be tough. Honestly I think you should stick to the 8-10 range. So long as you get stronger, even if it’s slow progress, you’re doing it right…

      Let me know what you think!

  • Sam L

    Not sure if u thought about this (or want to!) Mike but have u considered doing like a Mike Matthews timeline of photos – earlier years (seen the ones u put up already) going on to more recent photos of u at quite (amazingly) low bodyfat and the changes through time?

    Also any new books on the horizon from u or ur clone (Sean) or is Legion taking more of your time?
    Thanks Sam

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I could definitely do that. I have all kinds of progress pictures shared on social media and such but a transformation timeline would be cool. Thanks for the idea. :)

      Yup I have a new cookbook coming out very soon, and haha for my clone I’m actually working on a fiction project. I REALLY want to write fiction as well so I’ve been studying a ton of stuff on it and working on my first story.

      I’m going to get a short story done to test the concept, and then bang out my next health/fitness book, which will go over a wide variety of things we can do to optimize our overall health, well-being, and longevity.

      Oh and yeah Legion too lol.

      • Sam L

        Fantastic like the sound of all that! Brill can;t wait. PS just a big thanks (sorry this is sounding like a real Mike Matthews love in now!) but a big thanks for BLS etc AND the fact u cater for your UK and worldwide audience too (u always have amazon uk links etc when u can) thanks so much! If u take off on fiction pls don;t leave the fitness world, we need people like u out there preaching the TRUTH! ok i’ll stop before my wife gets worried about my relationship with u… ;)

        • Sam L

          PS re. new cookbook can u possibly give us some more vegan/veggie options or alternatives to ingredients in some dishes if practical? thank u

  • wildmon

    I’ve purchased bigger leaner stronger and shredded chef, i’m looking forward to starting these programs, but my wife is also looking for a change, I suspect there isn’t a whole lot of difference in the thinner program for women, do I really need to purchase that for her, or would she be fine following the same program that I will be doing? She likes to go hard in the gym, but tends to the higher rep ranges. thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! She could read BLS and shoot me an email and I’ll send her the bonus report for TLS, which will give her all the workouts. They’re a little different.

  • Kim

    How often should I increase the weight on exercises? I was thinking once the 10 rep is not a struggle, the I should add weight? My gym buddy thinks I should increase weekly even if its just 2.5 lbs added to the barbell.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, once you can hit 10 reps, add weight. Go up 10 lbs total (5lb increase if dumbbell, 5lbs on each side of bar if barbell).

      Don’t go for set weekly increases.

  • Gabe

    Hey Mike, I’m wondering if there’s any real advantage to taking BCAA’s pre and intra-workout if I’ve eaten say 90 minutes before the session and then soon after?

    • Michael Matthews

      Only reason to take them pre-workout is if you’re going to be training fasted. You don’t need them intra-, and after you would either have more BCAAs and eat within a couple hours, or you break the fast with a meal.

      • Gabe

        Thanks, Mike! Just good to know where best to allocate my “workout fund”.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Yeah exactly–I’m all for saving wherever possible.

  • Isaiah OCDS

    Mike–Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience! At age 65, I’ve finally decided to get in shape. Skinny legs and arms most of my life; paunch, butt, and breast fat for last 8-10 yrs. Need to build up all parts, esp. arms/legs. Need to lose fat in middle. Trainer tells me concentrate on cardio for fat loss, but from my (beginning) reading of your LTS book, strength training will do better. Please advise?
    Also: creatine–how much and when (before/after, non-workout days, etc.)?
    Thanks and Bless you.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Isaiah! Great on your decision to get in shape.

      You definitely want to start with resistance training. You could start with a body weight routine, for instance:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-ultimate-bodyweight-workout-routine/

      Creatine: 5 g per day, have with post-workout meal.

      Hope this helps!

  • Piotr

    Hey Mike! I wanna ask you what is the most reliable and wallet-friendly way of measuring one’s body fat percentage?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey!

      Get one of these:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/equipment/accumeasure-fitness-3000-personal-body-fat-tester-kit/

      • Piotr

        Thanks Mike

        • Michael Matthews

          YW

  • Diego

    Hello Michael, i have been started your program now, and i have one doubt..
    On the exercices of the chest the book says:
    0 – Warm up routine (barbell bench press) (12,10,4,1)rep, with (50%,50%,70% 90%) weight max
    1 – barbell bench press 3x (4-6)rep
    2 – barbell incline bench press 3x(4-6)rep
    3 – paralell bar dips with weight
    4 – ABS series

    so..this sequence of chest is the “only” of my tranning or i shoud repeat that again in the same session? (like 1,2,3,4 – 1,2,3,4 – 1,2,3,4)

    I bought the book in portuguese, sorry my bad english… your book is great!

    Diego from Brazil

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing!

      Good question. You want to do one exercise at a time, and you work your abs after a chest set.

      For example:

      Chest exercise 1, set 1

      Abs circuit

      Rest 60-90 sec

      Chest exercise 1, set 2

      Abs circuit

      Rest 60-90 sec

      And so forth.

      Does that make sense?

      • Diego

        Thanks for the answer :)
        yes i understood.. but have another doubt…

        the sequence is like:

        1 – barbell bench press set 1, ABS ,set 2 ABS, set 3 ABS
        2 – barbell incline bench press set 1, ABS ,set 2 ABS, set 3 ABS
        3 – paralell bar dips with weight set 1, ABS ,set 2 ABS, set 3 ABS

        ?

        if yes… it is a lot of ABS :)

        • Michael Matthews

          That would be a lot of abs yes. If you could do that, great, but let’s start with abs during exercises 2 and 3.

  • Quan Tung Duong

    Hi Mike, in the BLS book you mentioned we can get stronger after the rest week by eating right. Do you eat to bulk, cut or maintain ?
    I have been training for 8 weeks now. I have decided to take week 9 off and start with the BLS routine from week 10. I’m afraid of losing the progress I have made thus far during this week.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. If I’m bulking, I reduce my cals to a maintenance level. If I’m cutting, I keep them the same.

      Great job on your first 8 weeks and don’t worry, you will NOT lose anything during your off week so long as you keep your diet in.

  • Pedro

    Hey Mike. I went from 14% to 11% bf on my last cut, so I am now bulking for the first time in my whole life. I will do it for 8 weeks and then cut again. So, knowing that the best person to solve all my doubts are you, my quesions are.

    1. Should I take yohimbine and VPX while cutting? Everyday, never o just on cardio days?

    2. May I hit my fats with cheese, yolks and animal sources instead of olive oil and nuts? It’s such a preference.

    3. Why just 1 gram of protein per pound? I feel more confortable raising my protein and decreasing my fat a little bit.

    Wait for your answers. I’m excited to bulk!

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice on your cut!

      1. I think you meant while bulking? And no, don’t take these while bulking.

      2. Yep this is fine. I do like to include some unsaturated fats in my diet though.

      3. Your body really doesn’t need more than this for muscle-building purposes, although you can eat more if you’d like. I wouldn’t recommend dropping your fats too.

      Hope this helps! Enjoy the bulk!

  • James

    Im 213lbs at 6’1 and a collegiate athlete. I was using your Bigger Leaner Stronger guidelines for trying to figure out my basic diet. I figured out my fat, protein, and carbs needs but it didn’t say how to calculate my caloric total. Do you know what it should be around since I’m trying to get leaner while hopefully still getting a little bit heavier?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for commenting! To calculate your cals, simply multiply your protein and carbs by 4 and fats by 9. And yeah it’s very possible to lose fat and build muscle at the same time:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /build-muscle-lose-fat/

  • Kyle Swanson

    I here you talking about bulking and cutting in a lot of your articles, but don’t have one specifically on it. Can you make one? thx

  • JS

    Hi Michael!I have been struggling on the following: To squat with the bar in a full range and really heavy I need some help, but as I train alone often I need to diminish the weights so I can perform full range squats. So what would you advice? How can i find a commitment here to do squats? is it better to perform heavy weights with less range of motion, less weight and increase the range of motion or perform it in the Smith for instance? thanks for help!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hi!

      Yeah I understand. What I do is squat my heaviest way in the squat rack (don’t need a spotter) and do parallel squats. I then squat lighter weight for full squats, but still am in the 4-6 rep range. I don’t find this a problem.

      Form over weight always, and the Smith Machine sucks for squatting.

      What you want to do is just end your sets at the point where you struggle for a rep and aren’t sure if you can get another. If you have a spotter, you can go for it, but if you don’t, it’s better to rack the weight.

      You don’t have to go to failure every set to make gains.

      Hope this helps!

      Mike

  • Quan Tung Duong

    Hi Mike, will taking some of the fat burning supplement before exercising reduce the amount of fat gain while bulking ?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, to some degree. If you wanted to try one, I would go with green tea extract.

  • Athmane Kecir

    Hi Mike,

    I am reading your excellent book ” The shredded chef” after reading BLS, and I am about to embark on a cutting phase. Excellent recipes but I’ve got a question: what cup should I use for the cup measurements in the recipes? I’ve had a look on amazon and they sell these US measuring cups ( I am in the UK). They are 250 ml. Are these the ones I am supposed to use to follow the recipes in the book?
    Thanks for your help.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! Really glad you like my work.

      If you bought the paperback off Amazon.co.uk, it’s actually been Anglicized. If you have the digital version, then yes it’s a US cup (approximately 240 ml).

      Hope that helps!

  • Osher Barda

    Mike what’s up I got your book from audible for free and loved it so much that bought the book itself and an following everything you say I also want to get the rest of your books Im working out for 4 yrs and I’ve had a great trainer in the past followed great programs but you explain the base the route and everything I need to know. You really inspired me to want to learn more and more about it so I would like to ask you what do you think about going to learn about training in school?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Osher! Really glad you like my work an dI appreciate your support.

      If you’re thinking higher education, yes there’s definitely value in that. If you’re thinking a personal training license, you won’t learn too much that you don’t already know…

      • Osher Barda

        Ty man I appreciate it

        • Michael Matthews

          YW :)

  • Osher Barda

    One more question lol I’m Jewish and I keep kosher which in short means I can only eat and drink stuff that have a stamp that its kosher so I’m very limited on whey protein supplement choice but here’s a link to something I found you don’t need to do this but if you could just check it out for a sec and let me know if its a good product
    This is the link http://www.nutrabio.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=SRCH&Search=Whey+protein tyvm man

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey! Yeah Nutrabio is a good company–I’d trust anything they make.

  • George

    Hi Mike, I have a question relating to macros.

    Im 5ft 11 inches and 16% body fat. I weigh 155 pounds. I want to drop the fat down to 8-10% but i also want to put on muscle mass. How can i work out macros and should i do HIIT as well as weights?

    Thanks
    George

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey George! Good question. Check out this article of mine:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /build-muscle-lose-fat/

      Hope this helps!

  • Reef

    Hey Mike, I just started working out and have a belly I dont know any work out routines or how to lose the fat, please help me thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing!

      The first thing you should do is read my book Bigger Leaner Stronger:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/bigger-leaner-stronger/

      It lays out EVERYTHING you need to know about diet and training to build muscle and lose fat effectively…

      What do you think?

  • Armando Cortez

    Hey Mike, I’m at a bit of a cross-roads right now as I’m not sure what kind of diet I should be on right now. Over the last year I’ve lost +60 lbs while cutting my calories the recommended 500 cal/week and lifting heavy and doing cardio. I’ve been doing this for pretty much a year now. I’m currently at 200 lbs but still at about 25% body fat. My question is since I’ve been cutting so long should I go on a maintenance or even bulking diet since I’ve been cutting so long? I began to read some articles and believe I’ve heard you say not to cut too long to avoid messing up your metabolism. I’m not where I want to be body fat wise but don’t want to continue cutting without taking a little bit of a break from the caloric deficit diet, especially if it’s messing up my metabolism.

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow great job on your weight loss so far! That rocks.

      Hmm you might not need to go on maintenance yet, because the more body fat you have, the longer you can remain in a deficit without adverse effects.

      What are your daily calories like right now?

      • Armando Cortez

        If I stay in the deficit I’d be at 2100 or so. I’ve had them as low as 1900 when I got to 190 lbs but that may be due to a calculation from MyFitness pal. I typically had ~200g of protein and carbs and the remainder were fats. Thanks for everything you do! I’m a big fan. I’ve got like 3 of your books, listen to your podcast and even bought my friend you Thinner, Leaner Stronger book and she’s getting in better shape herself!

        • Michael Matthews

          2100 is actually a good number. If you can lose weight with that, roll with it. I would want to address metab if you got down to the 1800/1900 range without losing weight…

          Thanks man! I really appreciate your support! Definitely let me know how it goes. :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Weird, Disqus isn’t showing my replies here. Let me know if you got them…

  • Michal Urban

    Hey Mike. Thanks for all the valuable work! One question, what mobile apps do you reccomend for counting callories in UK?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Michal! Is MyFitnessPal available there?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Mike! Do you have My Fitness Pal there?

  • joana

    Hello Mike! Im a 28 y old woman and Im trying to build muscle without gaining too much fat. actually, I d love to lose fat and gain muscle. Do you recommend how many cardio (HIIT or steady state) per week, and how many calories a day? currently, I am training weights 6 days/week and im already paying atention to macronutrients ratio…. Thanks for your help!!!!

  • Quan Tung Duong

    Hey Mike, I have some questions about the bulking process. If I screw up my diet and gain to much fat during bulking should I switch to cutting for a few weeks or should I keep bulking ? Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      I would play this by your body fat %. I don’t recommend that people go above the 15-17% range when bulking. Ideally you bulk between 11-15% (bulk up to 15%, cut to 10-11%, bulk up, etc. until you have your desired physique).

  • Kat

    Hi, Mike — I need some help “modifying” exercises…I had surgery for carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome in my right arm and I have the symptoms in my left, although I haven’t had surgery, yet. That being said, I cannot handle more than probably 10-20 pounds of weight on my wrists or elbows, so no pushups and no lifting anything of more weight…
    I use resistance bands, which seem to be much easier on me. Do you have any suggestions on how to modify exercises with these limitations?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm good question! Is this only affecting your push exercises or your pulls as well?

  • Octonaut

    Hi Mike! In your book you talk about muscles divided into 5 groups and every muscle group is trained only once a week. But I did not find any mention how with compound lifts there are also secondary muscles involved, for example when you train chest with bench press there are triceps involved, with pull-ups there are biceps etc. So every muscle is actually trained twice a week, aren’t they? I think this is worth mentioning.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, that’s intentionally built into the program. But every muscle group gets one day focused just on it. Your tris get hit on chest day, then have a few days to recover before arms day, etc.

  • Paul

    Hey Mike! I was going over the 1 year plan from BLS and saw that you show creatine is taken post workout. Im taking CON-CRET which says to take up to two scoops (1500mg creatine HCL total) serving before workout. Do you recommend taking additional for post workout?

    • Michael Matthews

      You should actually take it all after, not before:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23919405

      Hope this helps!

      • Paul

        That helps a lot, thanks Mike! One more question, I was thinking of trying the Optimum Nutrition creatine. I know that one requires a short 4-5 day loading. The one Im currently taking has no loading and therefore I have never done a loading period. So would it be safe to switch over to the ON creatine and do loading or skip it altogether?

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          You can skip the loading period if you’re already taking creatine.

  • Hector Hernandez

    I’m currently on Hyper Fx and am about to cycle off of it as it recommends for 2 weeks. What would you recommend to take preworkout in the meanwhile?

    • Michael Matthews

      The only reason not to would be because of the caffeine. I like to take a 1-week break from caffeine every month or so.

      • Hector Hernandez

        Okay sounds good I’ll do the same

  • NG25

    I just finished the thinner, leaner, stronger book and want to access the one year challenge, BUT I CANNOT!! The link doesn’t work for me!!! Please help asap!!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading! Sorry about that! Shoot me an email and I’ll send it to you!

  • Bill Bennett

    Mike I am 45 years old male. I am five foot seven inches tall. I started a eating and lifting program and at the time I weighed 275 I am down to 244 now. I started working your program Monday 9-30-13. I am watching my calories and doing your workout 5 days a week and already feel a difference from what I was doing. My question is I am doing the cutting routine of my diet .8 protein.7 carbs.3 fats for a calorie total of 2150. I havenet benn making these numbers my calorie intake has been 1722 and 1534 do I need to reach the 2100 hundred calorie mark or is falling short ok since I am trying to loose weight I am looking to see what I look like at 180 thanks you Bill

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing! And great job on your weight loss so far!

      Awesome on starting the program. I’m glad you’re liking it.

      Let’s definitely keep you around the 2k mark. You don’t want to eat too little or your metab will crash and you’ll find it very hard to continue losing weight…

      Hope this helps! Keep me posted on your progress!

      • Bill Bennett

        will do thanks for the feed back. it is funny when I wasn’t dieting and exercising 2k calories wasn’t nothing now it seems to be so much funny how exercise and diet changes so much. I also have two of my 5 sons on your program with me looking forward to see their growth and get them started young.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          Haha yeah 2k calories of clean foods is just a lot more STUFF than 2k calories of average American diet foods.

          That’s awesome with your kids! Great job!

          Lemme know how everything goes!!

  • Hector Hernandez

    What’s your take on supplementing with digestive enzymes? I was thinking about supplementing with it closer to the ending of my IF feeding window to see if it would help with the digestion and absorption of all my calories/nutrients consumed within the feeding window.

    • Michael Matthews

      I don’t take them myself but if I had any digestive issues I definitely would. And yes it probably would help digest large meals.

      • Hector Hernandez

        After your feedback I decided to incorporate some enzymes into my routine and i decided to go with UDO’s Choice Blend of 10 Vegetarian Enzymes (I decided for this brand after also consuming Udo’s Oil based on your recommendation as well) and I have to say, breaking my fast with one huge meal of all sorts of foods equating to more than 2000 calories has been made much easier…thanks again for the feedback

        • Michael Matthews

          Great, thanks for sharing! I’m going to try this myself…

          • Hector Hernandez

            No problem!

          • Michael Matthews

            :)

  • Pedro

    Hey Mike.

    The last days Ive been suffering of constitpation, lack of motivation, intense food cravings and too many binges at night. I think Im tired of cutting and my metabolism is suffering the consecuences. I have a healthy weight and a decent amount of muscle and body fat (about 12 bf),

    Im always thinking abouf food, macros and that is driving me crazy because besides that I want to break for a while, Im not losing anymore fat. So I decided to go maintenance the rest of the year and start a super cut on January.

    1. Is that a good decision?
    2. Will I gain a little bit of muscle and still lose a little bit of fat working out heavy and eating at maintenance?
    3. 40 grams of fat sounds like too much to me at maintenace. What’s your advice? Just relax and hit the macros?

    Thanks bro.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha I totally understand. Good call on starting maintenance. This is definitely a good decision.

      Generally speaking, if someone is under 15%, I don’t recommend that they cut for longer than 10-12 weeks at a time because it just gets really shitty from that point on.

      If you do your maintenance right you’ll gain weight but little-to-no fat. You may build some muscle too. You’ll feel good in your workouts.

      40 grams fat isn’t a lot. I’m doing 70 per day on my maintenance. Yup just hit the macros and you’ll be fine. Your metab will rebound very quickly.

      Lemme know how it goes!

  • Marco

    Hi Mike,

    in BLS, you write that every muscle group should only
    be trained once a week, except abs. However, in the 5-split, other
    muscles are also trained multiple times per week, though not directly.
    To me, the triceps in particular seems to get a lot of training:

    Day 1: 3 sets bench press, 3 sets incline bench press, 3 sets dips
    Day 3: 3 sets military press

    Day 5: 3 sets triceps pushdowns, 3 sets triceps press

    I
    can only make sense of this if on the day 1 and 3 exercises, other
    muscles are the limiting factor, i.e., if the triceps is far from
    getting exhausted. However, I think I read somewhere that in the bench
    press, the triceps IS the limiting factor. Can you clear this up,
    please?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing!

      Sorry for the confusion. What I meant is that each major muscle group should get one DIRECT workout, but yes muscles get hit again in other workouts.

      This is intentional, actually, because the body can take it. While you wouldn’t be able to do two full BLS legs workouts per week (without drugs that is), you CAN deadlift on one day, which hits the hamstrings, and then do a full legs workout a few days later.

      Similarly, you can train your triceps indirectly via your chest workout, and then several days later train them directly on arms day.

      Trust me, you won’t overtrain on this program unless you start doing too much cardio and/or undereat.

  • Marco

    Hi Mike,

    in BLS you suggest 2-1-2 rep timing. This means that the 1 second pause occurs on the hardest section of some exercises (e.g. squats and bench press), but on the easiest section of other exercises (e.g. leg press). What do you think of 2-1-2-1 rep timing to overcome this issue?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm the bottom of the leg press is the hardest part of the lift because it’s tough to get out of. When your legs are fully extended, this is the easiest part…

      • Marco

        Yes. To avoid confusion: At the leg press I am using, I have to start with bent legs, so I would pause with legs extended (easy part), while in the squat, I would start with legs extended and pause at the bottom (hard part).

        • Michael Matthews

          Is it a standard 45-degree leg press? If so, then you don’t count the first half/quarter rep it takes to get to the top of the rep. The rep starts with your legs fully extended, the mid-point pause is with your knees close to your chest, and the rep then ends back at extended…

          Or am I still just not getting it? Haha.

          • Marco

            It is this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mY8dIGDneE

            So, would you say that the pause should always occur at the hardest part of the movement, regardless at which part the movement starts?

          • Michael Matthews

            Ohh I hate those machines. Does your gym have one of these:

            http://www.criticalbench.com/exercises/pics/leg-press2.jpg

          • Marco

            No.

          • Michael Matthews

            Oh okay let’s just drop the leg press then and substitute it for something else.

            What do you think about barbell lunges instead?

          • Marco

            I had problems with my back, and I want to re-integrate the potentially causative exercises into my training bit by bit. Currently, I am working on the deadlift. So, no barbell lunges for now. And I actually like that leg press.

            Anyway, the leg press was just an example in context of a more general question about rep timing. Do you think 2-1-2-1 is OK?

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay cool, understood. If you like the leg press then let’s just stick with it. Don’t worry about the pause point–just 2 seconds down, and explode up.

  • Kim

    I’m on phase 2 of the one year challenge of TLS and I have a question, since our sets increased on the dead-lifts (and the incline dumbbell press) , should I not aim to do 10 reps for each set? The last week of phase one I was able to do 10 reps, so when I started phase two, I decided not to increase the weight but still do the 10 reps for each set. I was pretty tired after the 6 sets, is that normal ? Should I take longer rests in between the exercises that require 6 sets than 3? Right now I rest a minute in between sets.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on making it to Phase 2! I hope it’s going well so far.

      Good question. Once you hit 10 reps, you should actually go up in weight.

      If you feel you need more rest in between your deadlift or squat sets, that’s totally fine–take 2 minutes.

  • Brandon

    Hey Mike, big fan of your books. I have a question about squats. In your book Bigger Leaner Stronger you state not to do squats on a Smith Machine. Unfortunately the gym I work out at does not have a squat rack. Is there a specific technique or variation that I should use with Smith Machine squats or should I avoid them altogether?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Brandon!

      Yes there is. You can move your feet 12 – 16 in in front of you and it’s easier on the knees. It’s not as good as the free squat, and I would actually recommend switching gyms if possible, but it’s better than not squatting at all…

  • Sam L

    Hey Mike thank you so much for Eat Green Get Lean! Just received it and it’s great! So good that someone finally gives us a decent veggie friendly book for us sporty types. Also thanks so much for making a UK friendly version – really thoughtful of you! Hope Legion is going well.. any news on UK shipping?
    I have a quick ques re. post de-load week (my first de-load) I cant seem to get back to the weights I was working at pre-de-load… is that normal… the first couple workouts I felt like I’d come off creatine or something! Assume I can work my way up again quickly? Any tips? Thanks
    Sam

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Sam! I’m really glad you like it!

      Legion is CLOSE to launching. I know I keep saying that but it seems every day something pops up that takes another day to sort out, lol.

      But we’re really close now. We should be able to start take preorders this week.

      Yes that’s normal. Just work with whatever you can get your 4 – 6 with and your strength will quickly come back.

      Hope this helps! Lemme know how it goes!

    • Quentin

      I pre-ordered the book on Amazon too – but haven’t received it yet. Hopefully it will come soon!

      • Michael Matthews

        Thanks Quentin. Lemme know if there are any problems here. Amazon’s system is a little wonky in that it tends to under-order books (they run out of stock quickly). You have to have a really established sales record for them to actually place good orders, so new books have to “prove” themselves before AZ keeps them properly in stock, heh.

        • Quentin

          Cheers Mike – appreciate that. Apparently the book has been shipped, so it’s just down to our fantastic postal service!

          It must be great being a published author and selling enough to be able do deal with Amazon. I’d love to write something one day. It’s just deciding the subject matter!

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha okay well I hope it arrives soon.

            Yeah it’s nice to finally have some connections at AZ.

            Now’s a great time to write. You can do very well as a self-published author…

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much Sam! Really glad you’re liking it!

      Yup we will be shipping to the UK! Cheaply too! :)

      That can happen with a de-load. Don’t sweat it. You’ll be back to normal within a week or two.

      Hope this helps! Keep me posted!

  • Paul

    Hey Mike! Quick question that pondered me the other day. I always take my water gallon to the gym with me and take a couple gulps between almost every set. I know its important to stay hydrated during workouts as well, but is there a “too much” during workout? I only ask since I see maybe one or two other people with their own water and thats about it. Most just seem to get throughout the workout with no water!

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question and I’m actually not sure. I don’t drink much during a workout personally, but I would think that “too much” would just be enough to make you physically uncomfortable…

  • Hugh

    Hey

    Just started reading into your book BLS, It gave me great motivation to work out :).
    I will sign up for gym soon, I am familiar with all the workouts with dumbbells and machines. However I am not familiar with doing the compound exercises such as squats and deadlift (I know shame on me!) so I will need a help, so do you recommence me getting a personal trainer to teach me how do it or just ask the gym staff member for help? Any infos will be great too.

    Thanks
    Jack

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jack! I’m glad you’re liking BLS.

      You could do that, yes, or just watch the videos in the bonus report and start with light weight and just move up. Up to you!

      Lemme know how it goes!

  • Quentin

    P90X3 is coming out! I love Tony Horton, but the moves just get more ridiculous and comical as they go on. P90X4 will have people spinning on their noses with a dumbbell lodged in their posterior…

    http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/39419212

    • Michael Matthews

      LOL he’s gotta keep it fresh I guess…

  • Carlos

    Mike, I just read your ” cardio sucks! ” book and I found it to be very interesting and meaningful, but I would like to know, how many workouts should I perform in a week?

    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Carlos!

      It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Give me a little more info and I’ll help!

  • Mike

    Hi Mike!

    I started following your BLS concepts over a year ago, and I must say it was one of the best decisions I made in my life!

    Quick question – I know before and after lifting, we want to consume a pre and post “meal” containing specific amounts of protein and carbs. Of course like most people who train pretty seriously, this pre and post lift meal is typically a protein shake.

    I most likely missed something after reading your other books and articles, but what are your thoughts on pre/post cardio meals? I typically do cardio first thing in the morning after I have my morning protein shake, and then I have another protein shake after I finish. Is having a post cardio meal/shake necessary? I am aware that you never want to try and run on an empty stomach, so if I’m running first thing in the morning it’s best to get calories in.

    Thoughts?

    Cheers!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey! Really glad to hear you’ve been rocking on BLS for a year now! Great job. :)

      Good question. You actually can train on an empty stomach, but it requires you take BCAAs before:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

      But if you don’t want to do that, just have some protein before, and you don’t have to eat after if you don’t want to. If the cardio is quite extensive (45+ min), I would personally have 40-50 grams carbs for glycogen replenishment.

      Hope this helps! Lemme know!

  • Brandon

    Hey Michael,
    My name is Brandon. I am 22 yrs. old, 6’2 and 180 lbs. A friend of mine just loaned me your book Bigger Leaner Stronger because he said your workouts are the best. I just started today with chest and I think it was a great workout. I really want to bulk up but clean. I am on a budget when it comes to getting food, so is there any advice I could get about getting a great Diet to gain mass? I am a very hard gainer.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey! I’m glad you liked the first workout!

      Honestly if you just follow my bulking instructions in the book you’ll do fine. There really isn’t any more to it than that.

      And regarding eating well on a budget, check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-eat-healthy-foods-on-a-budget/

      Hope this helps! Keep me posted on how it goes!

  • Manish Arya

    Dear Matthews, i would appreciate if u could help me, i m 34 years and have been lifting weights since 10 years, after all these years i can say that i do 99% things right as far as my training and diet is concerned, still i m not able to see and changes in my physique and unable to lose fat at all. i would appreciate if u could guide me

    Thanx

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for commenting! That’s great you have 10 years experience.

      Honestly, if you were doing 99% of things correctly in terms of diet and training, you would be able to change your physique.

      What exactly are you doing right now?

  • Brandon

    Hey Mike, I wrote on here yesterday about the Diet to gain mass, actually its a couple of comments down from this one. Just wanted to let you know, I did your chest workout from the book BLS yesterday and my chest is KILLING me today. Great Workout man. I was always told to work my muscles until I couldn’t stand the burn anymore, but after reading some of your book so far, and then only working it like you wrote, I have realized that all I was doing was really over working my muscles. Great advice in the book man.

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha awesome, glad to hear the workout went well.

      Yup, training exclusively in the 10 – 12 rep range is just extremely ineffective unless you’re on a ton of steroids, heh.

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Sam L

    Thanks for the answer below re. de-loads. Quickie questions been playing on my mind recently: a) close-grip bench press -> false grip best? b) hammer curl, shoulder DB press, front raise etc -> seated best to help form or standing better to help incoporate core? Thanks again, Sam

    • Michael Matthews

      YW.

      I don ‘t like false gripping. It freaks me out…

      I stand for hammers, sit for DB press, and stand for front raises, side raises, and rear raises.

      We squat and deadlift–our cores are good. :)

      • Sam L

        Brill thanks i wondered whats the point a of false grip for close grip and why would make any difference anyhow?! It’s surely the closeness of your hands that puts more emphasis on the tris?
        Yeah i find the false grip frightening and unnatural. Thanks again
        Sam

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! False gripping is a powerlifting thing I think. Those are the only people that I’ve seen that do it that actually know how to lift.

          I would think it hits the tris more. Never even done a false grip set, haha…

  • Jay

    Hey Mike. In bls you are big advocate on 9 heavy sets max. Cheeky question. Do you personally do more than 9 sets per muscle group. ?

    • Michael Matthews

      I currently do 9 – 12 sets per workout. I practice what I preach! :)

      • Jay

        What are you currently doing 12 sets for mike?
        Are arms still 6?

        • Michael Matthews

          12 sets for each major muscle group BUT biceps/triceps. I still do 6 sets for each there. I find that more is just unnecessary when I’m hitting chest and back hard.

  • Quan Tung Duong

    Hey Mike, I have been following the BLS protocol for 4 weeks now. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have access to a dip station so I’m doing a Dumbbell bench press instead. Should I add a Decline Press exercise too ? I’m afraid my chest would not develop that full shape without it.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great on starting! No worries on the lack of a dip station. Decline presses suck. Do this instead:

      Incline barbell press: 3-4 sets
      Incline dumbbell press: 3-4 sets
      Flat DB or barbell press (your choice: 3-4 sets

      Upper chest is the hardest to grow, so just focus on it.

  • Hector Hernandez

    What’s your take on knee straps and weightlifting shoes for squatting?

    • Michael Matthews

      I really like good lifting shoes and have never wrapped my knees but I don’t go heavy enough to warrant it (I’m only repping in the 330s range).

      I’m also not sure how much wrapping actually helps and, if it IS worth, when. I would have to look into it…

      • Hector Hernandez

        I decided to give the shoes a try and has made squatting a lot more comfortable and fluid without compromising strength so thanks for the tip

        • Michael Matthews

          Nice, glad to hear it!

  • wasik

    hello mike i am wasik from bangladehs, bangladesh is a country in south east asia..so much interested in body building, my weight is 65 kg and height is 6 feet. I am hitting gym since a year, but still no change on my body, wat i noticed is , my biceps and triceps grow fast…but doesn’t sustain for long…i mean such as i worked out jus worked out yesterday n today the biceps are just same as before…it pumps just for 5-6 hours thn again its jus the same …….. I am from middle class family and not being able to get proper nutritions..please help me how can i make my body with nice shape and muscles on which i will look good….i dont want big muscles arnold….i just wanna make body like models, which is suitable for photo shoots and for ramp….as I am involved with modeling and ramp..help me

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing!

      I totally understand. I used to have the same problem before I changed my training and eating habits.

      Start with this article:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-hardgainers-guide-to-guaranteed-muscle-growth/

  • Mark Rogers

    Hey Mike
    I’ve got The Shredded Chef and Bigger Leaner stronger, both are great reads. I do have a couple of questions for you though after my first week. Loving it so far!
    Q1. I’m doing the workout split over 7 days, with rest on day 6 as suggested. Would you take any other rest days after day 7, or start the cycle over again?
    Q2. On a cut, am I able to have stuff like your twice roasted garlic baked potato if it fits with my daily macronutrient requirements? if so, would it have to be part of my post workout meal due to the GI value of the potato?
    Q3. If I’m splitting my workouts and doing lifts in the morning and cardio in the evenings, would I need a second pre-workout, or will my energy levels through the day be sufficient to keep me going?

    Cheers

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my books! I’m glad you liked it.

      Perfect on your schedule. That should be totally fine. Play it by ear though–if you begin feeling a bit run down after 4-5 weeks, it’s just too much stress on the body. Being a cut can do this (some people need to reduce exercise frequency to 3-4x per week when cutting).

      I always put one day in between my abs days. Back-to-back doesn’t work for me (still sore/weak).

      Yes you can have the potato twice per day. I’m actually going to revise my statement on the potato specifically as it’s very micronutrient dense. And it’s normally eaten as a part of a whole meal, thus reducing the effective GI.

      I would do some protein before the cardio, or do it fasted:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

      No need for food after unless you just want some.

      Hope this helps! Lemme know how it goes!

  • Luke

    Hi Mike,

    I have been lifting for a few years and looking for something new. I have read “Bigger Leaner Stronger” and have also taken a look at “The Year One Challenge”. I am about to start the program with the 3 sets per exercise but you mention in your book potentially increasing this to 5/6 sets. Is this something I should look into after the first 8 weeks if I am feeling strong and energetic? I ask because “Year One” persists with the 3 sets, I was wondering when to introduce or not at all?

    Look forward to coming back with some results!

    Thanks,

    Luke

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Luke! I hope you liked the book.

      Good question. I should clarify this point, probably in the Y1C file.

      You can increase your total workout sets to 12 if you’re feeling up to it, really. Many guys feel pretty rocked by 9 heavy sets for the first 6 months or so, but some adapt well and feel they could do more, in which case I recommend then just add one last exercise.

      Hope that helps! Lemme know how it goes on the program!

  • Angela

    Hi MIke,

    I love your books and your site. My question is about creatine. In one of your books you mention that it isn’t bad for the kidneys. I have been afraid to take creatine, not because of the worry about kidney damage, but because I’ve heard reports of seizures from creatine use. Also, sudden death from heart attacks (presumably because of electrolyte imbalances). Do you have any thoughts on this? I’d really like to take creatine, but I’m afraid something bad may happen if I take it.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Angela!

      I’ve never heard of creatine causing seizures or heart attacks. It’s been used for decades now and is probably the most studied molecule in the world of sport supplements.

      It’s 100% safe if you’re healthy and don’t do something REALLY stupid.

      You might like my article on it:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /which-form-of-creatine-is-most-effective/

  • Mark Rogers

    Hey man, I just love asking you questions!
    When you use your bodyweight to calculate the calorie intake for the cutting plan, do I use my full bodyweight, or my lean body mass?

    Cheers

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha yo!

      My formulas use body weight, not lean body mass, as I don’t want to make it more complicated for people (have them find out their body fat % and then calculate LBM).

  • Ben Hunt

    Ok, I have started your program and spend time in the book daily. I record everything, diet and exercise and have found that the only difficulty is hitting my bulking calories without shooting more than I am comfortable with on the fat side, even though most of that comes from nuts and natural peanut butter. I feel good overall but I am starting to pay close attention to my eating time before workout. I usually get up at 11:30 am, hit the gym by 2:15 PM work from 4 to 1 AM. But that is all kinda history to what is my real question.

    My gut. I have a gut, but its not a surface fat gut. Right now I am about 15% bf at 210lbs maybe more since I am bulking but not far off. It just feels like my intestines and stomach are pushing out. Very noticeable after I eat. I will be cutting and I know I will have abs because I can feel them under the thin layer of external BF right below the skin, but I have that bloated feeling and look. You may or may not remember the pics I sent you on FB, but i added it to this thread.

    How do I change that? I kill it on the abs workout and actually added a day to the two days of abs because I feel that works for me. Is it salt? Would more fiber help?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for commenting Ben!

      Yeah the bloat is normal. It just comes with eating a lot of food. You may also be eating foods that your body doesn’t do well with (dairy and wheat are common issues for many).

      It could be a sodium issue as well. Shoot for about 1.5 grams of sodium per day and 3 grams of potassium per day. This will help keep your cellular fluids balanced.

      It may also be a bit of visceral fat, which sits under the ab muscles and makes your stomach protrude.

      And last but not least, you should just start cutting soon. Maybe go up 1-2% more and then cut to the 10-11% range?

      Check out this article:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

  • Joseph

    Mike, I’ve started on cross fit training since May 2013 and have been working out 45min a day 6 times a week. I’ve lost about 15 pounds so far and have dropped two sizes 36 to 34 and 42R to 40R. Feel strong, great and amazingly confident but one thing that is moving very slow is the abdominal circumference. I’ve been taking supplement and changed my diet completely but getting disappointed to see belly shrinking slowly rather than the same speed as the entire body. What am I doing wrong? Why am i losing weight all over and gaining muscles but abdominal fat are sticking around and going away extremely slow?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for commenting Joe! Great job on your gains. That’s awesome.

      What you’re dealing with is stubborn fat. You can read about it here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

  • Santiago Ojeda

    Mike, How can i adapt the Bigger, Leaner, Stronger Program to a home exercises?, do you have any suggestions?

    • Michael Matthews

      Definitely! Start with this article. It will give you ideas.

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-ultimate-bodyweight-workout-routine/

      And what kind of equipment do you have?

      • Santiago Ojeda

        Hi Mike, I really like the article…. my equipment 2 dumbbells & 1 barbell with 40 Kilos, push up bars, pull up bar and Bands

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks!

          Okay that’s great, you have plenty! You can do at least half of BLS and the exercises you can’t do, you can use the body weight training for.

          What do you think?

  • sunny

    hey mike,.. i’m pretty lean(5’10, 132lbs),22 years old can u suggest any muscle growing workouk outs & diet……. i am going to gym from last 5months there is no better result so, what would you sugesst?

  • Pel

    Hi Mike, its awesome that you actually answer the questions asked, keep ip up!

    My problem is that for schedule reasons it would be better for me to lift in the early morning. I enter work at 9 am and I was training at lunch time (3 times a week), but I cant do it 5 times a week at lunch time, so I want to switch to 5 times a week in the morning.
    What are your thoughts about morning lifting and how to do it to gain and not to lose muscle?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Pel! It’s my pleasure!

      I train early in the morning (7 AM) and really enjoy it. Nothing special is needed beyond some caffeine and a pre-workout shake or BCAAs if you want to train fasted.

      Check out this article of mine:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /best-workout-schedule-build-muscle/

      • Pel

        Thank you for your answer Mike! I bought BLS on my kindle, cant wait to get home to continue reading.

        Do you recomend fasted training? Im bulking (complete novice).

        Were do you get caffeine from aside from cofee? (it gives me stomach aches)

        sorry for all the questions and my english

  • Megan

    Hi Mike, I was reading your book and I noticed that women over 25% need less protein, and carbs, but more fat than women below that amount. Why is that?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! Couple reasons:

      1. Most women have a tough time eating a ton of protein, and it’s really not necessary to jam it way up there.

      2. Most overweight people have insulin response and sensitivity issues, and a lower carb approach can work better for them.

      Then, as they lose weight, these insulin dynamics improve, and carb intake can go up without any adverse effects.

      Hope this helps!

  • Josh

    Can I do 4 sets of 3 workouts and not over train?

    • Michael Matthews

      Nope, 12 sets per workout is a good number so long as your reps aren’t out the roof.

  • John

    Mike, I must be missing something. I’m trying to add stuff to my cart on the Legion website but I can’t seem to find my shopping cart to check out. What am I doing wrong? I want my legion supplements!

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry about that John there was a funky error causing this only on certain browsers with certain products (oh the joys of launching an ecommerce site).

      It should be fully fixed now. Can you try again?

  • Sam L

    All hail Mike Matthews, speaker of truth…, wise beyond his years…, medically approved:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24625808

    Now if u could just let me know the (UK) lottery results for this coming week I’m sorted… ;)

    • Michael Matthews

      Hahah thanks Sam. Yeah the saturated fat demonization really is old hat.

      Lol let me consult the spirits on that one. ;)

  • mark

    Reading your book, a lot of good info,
    I filter everything I read and so far your book is right on in every respect.
    I’m 53 and have been working out for about 5 years, still getting rid of twenty years of body neglect and abuse.
    I run 2 miles before I lift, bad habit I guess but will be hard to break out of moving to your program, but after reading your book, it is probably why I havn’t seen the muscle growth I would like.
    I am stronger and healthier than I have ever been but need to get rid of that last amount of body fat that likes to hang out in the midsection and cover up my abs
    I way 163 as of this morning and I am waiting for the calipers to more accurately check my body fat but am guessing it to be around 15% testing with a hand held omron device ( it does seem to be consistent.)
    I was reading in the cutting phase that according to your calculations my daily calories should be around 1450 based on my current weight
    Is this too few? and I was of slender build and was 120-130 lbs when I was younger and skinny
    what would be a good goal weight, daily calorie goal, and based on my current weight how much will I need to shed to reach 10% body fat
    thanks in advance for your help

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Mark! Really glad you like the book.

      I would recommend running after lifting. Ideally after at least a few hours of rest.

      Cool on your stats and goal. Hmm your cals come out a little higher:

      1.2g pro=190
      1g carb=160
      .2g fat=35 (we’ll round up because we dropped a few carbs)

      That’s 1700 cals.

      Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes!

  • Michel

    I’ve heard some guys talking about the coffee or caffeine negating the effects of the creatine. Is that right? Because I was taking lots of coffee to increase my metabolism.

    • Michael Matthews

      There is one study I’ve seen that indicates that caffeine may interfere with creatine’s effects, but this pretty speculative at the moment. We’ll need to see more research to know for sure…

  • Nicola Six

    Hello. I’m very interested in your opinion on the program Chalean Extreme. I’m a 30 year old female who has never exercised and developed any muscle mass. It’s coming back to bite me in my (flabby) ass now that I’m out of my 20s… I did one round of. Chalean and got decent results, but I was still so, so, flabby ( I started out with like 34% body fat and ended up with 30% which is still a lot).

    As you can see from the picture I posted ( I hope I don’t get ridiculed for it, I’m very sensitive about my body, but I feel I must show you so you get the idea of my problem), I’m overall flabby, but my thighs, in particular, look obese. I have so much fat stored there, and on top of my knees, my legs…that people always comment I have 2 different halves. I’m 5’4 and have ballooned to 136 lbs ( I was 130 in the pic) but I don’t care about weight. I care about building muscle and looking leaner.

    Do you think Chalean can help my type of body or should I try another strength training program? Also, any help with my diet? I try to do low carb and keep my cals to about 1300 by recommendation of some beach body coach, but it zaps my energy to do my workouts.

    Thank you so much in advance.

    • Nicola Six

      Sorry, this is the link for the photo: http://i646.photobucket.com/albums/uu190/murasaki/image.jpg

      • Michael Matthews

        Cool thanks for sharing. :)

      • Lord Whorfin

        First, Nicola, you are a beautiful and sexy young lady now- Our bodies can always be made better, but dont obsess over yours. Good luck with your goals in the future.
        Phil

    • Michael Matthews

      Chalean’s stuff isn’t bad. The combination of HIIT with weights is definitely workable for losing weight and at least maintaining muscle.

      You definitely don’t look obese–your body fat % is only slightly higher than “normal,” and your body is just like many women’s: it tends to store fat in the thighs and hips. You don’t have to do anything special to get rid of this though–you just want to focus on getting leaner.

      You could do Chalean’s program to lose weight. If you like training at home, this is a good choice.

      If you are okay training in a gym, however, I would recommend going that route. By following a proper weight training program, you will be able to build more muscle, which will mean you’ll look better when you reach your target body fat % (you won’t look skinny fat).

      1,300 calories per day is too low, and the macronutrient ratios matter as well (how many grams of protein, carbs, and fats you’re eating every day).

      Start with these articles of mine:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /build-muscle-lose-fat/

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-lose-weight-fast/

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-quickest-way-to-lose-weight/

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /what-is-if-it-fits-your-macros-and-does-it-work/

      If you like those, then you should really check out my book Thinner Leaner Stronger:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/thinner-leaner-stronger/

      It lays out EVERYTHING you need to know about diet and training to build muscle and lose fat effectively…

      What do you think?

  • Sam L

    Hey Mike, hope Legion is taking off well. Because I work out at home and don’t have a pulldown machine so can’t do cable crunches, I’m looking to add variety to my ab workout (I’m a few months into BLS, bulking). I have been doing combos of the decline crunch, lying & hanging leg raise, air bikes and the ab wheel. Anything else for “upper abs”? Or is that enough variety? I cant seem to replicate a cable crunch at home…! Do u recommend (weighted) Roman Chairs? Thx, Sam

    • Michael Matthews

      Legion is rolling along nicely! Over 1,000 units pre-ordered so far, so I’m happy.

      Hmm honestly that’s all you’ll need for abs. They just take time and low body fat % to really pop.

      Roman Chairs are fine for strengthening the lower back if you need that…

      • Sam L

        cool thanks Mike (since bulking had to get into that mindset that abs will be a while away yet…!)

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha yeah I understand!

  • Eugene

    Hey Mike…Quick quick question from your book. You say the program you yourself follow has you training mon-fri, full rest saturday, then cardio sun-tues/wed.

    Does this mean you’re doing only cardio on Sunday/Monday and then starting weight training again on Tuesday (along with cardio tuesday)? Or do you start weight training again on monday but you’re also doing cardio monday and tuesday as well? I know you said 5-7 days rest between muscle groups, and last week I I didn’t start strength training again until tuesday, after starting the monday before (so 8 days rest from doing chest the first time). A bit confused about that…

    Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry for the confusion.

      I lift and do cardio together on the same day. I lift early in the morning and do some cardio later in the night before bed.

      Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes!

      • Eugene

        Hey Mike, thanks. So just to make sure I fully understand, your routine is : Monday-Friday (strength training only), Saturday (Full Rest), Sunday (Only Cardio), Mon-Tues/Wed (Strength Training + Cardio) on the same day.

        So does that mean your lifting days stay the same at Mon-Fri each week, but your cardio days always start after your one full day rest?

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          Yup, you got it.

  • Julie

    Hi Mike I am very obese and want to change my ways I’ve bought 3 of your books. I know you don’t give medical advise but my shoulder is in a really bad way I don’t have much movement in it so weights are not possible for me to do will I get good results just doing the cardio workouts you advise in your cardio book? Is it necessary to workout with weights to get good results?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing Julie!

      Yes, you can definitely start with just cardio, and maybe some lunges or body weight squats as well?

  • Gisele

    Hi Mike. I am a 38 year old female and I have been training for 4 years now. My training is very similar to what you advocate and I have had great results. The only think that really bothers me is bloating….especially since I have started taking Creatine Monohydrate (about 2 weeks now). I started with a 5 day loading phase and am now taking 5grams per day.

    I have noticed some improvement in the gym with my lifting and general endurance. But the bloat is just ruining what I feel is a really important result of good training and good nutrition – a defined and slim tummy. The muscle is all there under a puffy layer. I do not like!!

    Is there anything I can do to improve this? Or is there another type of Creatine that is less likely to cause bloating?

    Thanks G

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing! That’s great you’re already doing a lot right.

      Some bloat can occur when you load but it shouldn’t stay on a maintenance dose. Let’s give it another 2 weeks or so and see?

      Unfortunately the type of creatine won’t affect water retention…

  • Jonny Whyte

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve just begun reading your books and listening to your podcasts (the shredded chef is like my bible at the moment)! I have been weight training (4-5 days a week) and hitting my macros (40/40/20) for a few months now and I’m seeing considerable gains. My goal is too keep getting bigger but also burn my last bit of body fat around my mid section. Should I go into a caloric deficit to focus on losing the body fat or should i continue to eat enough to gain muscle? Or would HIIT solve all my problems?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jonny! That’s great you’re rolling and making gains.

      Hmm use this article to guide your bulking and cutting:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      Lemme know what you think!

      • Jonny Whyte

        Thanks Mike, this article backs up my initial thoughts about cutting first :)! my goals are a lot clearer now! Thanks

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Lemme know how it goes!

  • Ryan

    Hey mike. Tell you what would make a great next article or topic to talk about in a video!! The training to failure debate!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Good idea! i’ll make a note!

  • Quan Tung Duong

    Hey Mike, I want to buy some supplement for cutting but I can only buy one product at a time. What should I buy first ? Creatine, casein or fat burner ? I already have fish oil, CLA and green tea extract.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm I would start with this fat burner:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/supplement-recommendations/fat-loss/vpx-meltdown/

      • Quan Tung Duong

        yeah, I wanted to try that too but they can’t ship it to my country (czech republic). Some other product that you can recommend ?

  • Tommy

    Hi.
    I just discovered your website and…. man it’s great.
    have a quick question. Is it true if I overdo abs workout, it might answer reverse or doesn’t answer well?

  • Tommy

    Hi. just found your website, man its’ great.
    got a quick question: is it true if I overdo abs workout it might answer reverse or might not answers well?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Tommy! If you overtrain any muscle in the body it will respond negatively.

      That said abs are quite hard to overtrain because they recover VERY quickly. The core muscles are some of the most important in the body because they hold the torso upright.

      If you’re following my abs routine in BLS, you should be able to do it 3x per week without issue.

  • George T.

    Hey Mike, one of my thighs is lagging a bit (about 1/2 inch smaller than the other). I am actively trying to make sure both legs do the same amount of work on the squats and leg press, but it’s hard to ensure that by rep 6…

    What’s the most effective way to get this imbalance corrected? I was thinking of adding a 4-6 rep set of heavy Bulgarian split squats for the lagging leg only after I’m done with the squat and leg press. Thoughts?

    • Michael Matthews

      I totally understand. My left wants to take over sometimes as well.

      Yes you can do that to target the weak point, although 1/2 in is a VERY small difference that will likely correct in time without any special help.

      Up to you…

  • Kevin

    Hey Mike – long time! Couple questions that have been on my mind lately…

    I’ve heard you get denser muscle from performing heavier sets and lower reps vs getting larger albeit puffy- water-infused muscle (right?) using lighter weights with more reps. Is there any validity here?

    Also, I’m on a 300-400 cal bulk at the moment and wasn’t sure whether I was putting on more fat that normal for that cal surplus if I consumed, say, 40 grams of protein over my given macro for protein that day. I usually have around 170 g so we’d be talking about 210g protein. same question for carbs and fats as well.

    Thanks in advance Mike – keep up the excellent work.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey!

      Yes, that relates to myofibrillar vs. sarcoplasmic growth, something I’ll be talking about in a soon-to-come post. There is definitely truth in it.

      Overshooting your daily intake by ~200 cals per day when bulking will definitely speed up the fat storage…

      • Kevin

        Hey thanks for the answers. I might not have explained my second question clearly enough. Imagine two scenarios – (1) 3000 cal 60g fat 180g protein 320g carbs (2) 3000 cal 60g fat 240g protein 250g carbs.

        Will I be gaining more fat in the second scenario? Possibly eating more protein than my body can utilize per day? Same question for fats and carbs?

        Thanks MIke

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah sorry I misunderstood/read too quickly.

          No, you wouldn’t. This has been shown in various overfeeding studies–when you’re in a caloric surplus, what you eat to get there doesn’t significantly affect the resulting fat storage.

  • TrevorL

    Hi Mike.

    When you talk about a rest day how seriously should one take the word “rest”. For instance, yesterday was my rest day but I went for my regular ten mile walk in the country. I do it because it chills me out and I enjoy it, rather than for the exercise. Does it still work as a rest day?

    BTW – 3 weeks into the routine and I’ve got a lifetime PB on my bench press today. Still lightweight compared with most but good for me.

    • Michael Matthews

      A ten-mile walk is pretty long. Personally I wouldn’t consider that a “full rest” day, which I do recommend one of per week. That said, if you’re doing it and your body is feeling totally fine, just keep it up.

      Awesome on the PB! Congrats! Keep up the good work. :)

  • Eugene

    Hey Mike I just bought a couple of your books and your website is pretty cool. Just wanted to know, are you a personal trainer or a fitness coach. Whats your background?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Eugene! Nope, I don’t train or coach people in person. I help a lot of people via email and here on the website though.

      I don’t have a formal education in this field, but at this point I’ve probably studied more literature than your average CSCS. And I know what it takes to get people into great shape. :)

      Let me know what you think of the books!

  • Illysa Hamlin

    Hi Mike – I feel like if anyone will know the answer to this, you will. I just got a cast today with the instructions I cannot pick up any sort of weight with my dominant hand (broke my wrist falling from a damn box jump). Is there any possible way to not loose all my upper body toning when I can’t use my hand? And, if its impossible, should I go full-on Nemo and keep working out my cast-free arm or just let them both shrivel down and start fresh 8 weeks from now?

    • Michael Matthews

      Funny you ask. I fractured my wrist playing football years ago and tried to work around it. Didn’t go so well. I trained legs but my cast got so smelly from the sweat I couldn’t take it and stopped, lol.

      I wouldn’t train one arm. When the cast comes off that arm is going to be TINY, so no need to exaggerate it with the other being even larger than it currently is.

      Unfortunately I would just recommend waiting it out and getting back at it when you’re healed up.

  • SD

    hey bro, i’m currently in Afghanistan. I read your book, “Bigger, Stronger, Leaner” and loved it. It was very motivating. One thing I need to work on more is taking a day off of working out which is difficult to do here because working out is such a great stress reliever and helps make the time go by. Having said that, I took a day off training yesterday and hit the gym hard today and felt great! I will absolutely take a day off each cyle/week from now on.
    Your diet advice was also spot-on for me. It’s hard to eat right here, but I do what I can.
    Thanks so much for a great book and great advice!
    SD

    • SD

      I meant “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger” sorry!

      • Michael Matthews

        Haha yeah no worries. :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! Really glad you liked it.

      Yeah I used to never take days off either and would wind up really overtrained. Stick to the rest schedule laid out in the book and you’ll do great.

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Abhijit

    Hey Mike – I was doing the high rep stuff prior to reading your book. But now I have switched to heavier weights and feel a sea of difference. I am happy with all the exercises in my routine except for the dumbbell lateral raises. I do like lateral raises but for some reason I cant seem to go beyond the 15lb dumbbells. I tried increasing the weight but I could barely complete a single rep. I have been stuck with the 15s for about 3 months now. What do you recommend I should do? Perhaps, increase my volume?

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome! I’m really glad to hear it.

      Lat raises are a bitch. Yes, let’s have you work in the 6-8 rep range for a bit and get your strength up, and then you should be able to move to the 4-6 (or stay in the 6-8 if you really like it more).

      • Abhijit

        haha, they are indeed….okay, thanks for the tip! I have been trying to do them seated too, just to isolate the lateral head even more and focussing on slow negatives, that way the muscle has to do more work. I will let you know how it goes.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Cool let me know!

  • Living dead doll

    Hi mike
    I have a bad back but still want to weight train what should I be avoiding or lifting?

    • Michael Matthews

      No deadlifting for sure, and probably no squatting, or at least no heavy squatting.

      Hyperextensions may actually help BTW.

  • noah

    i am 16 years old 6’1 and about 175 pounds. i have been following your program for about 8 weeks now and i want to supplement my workouts with creatine. i was wondering if the fact that i am only 16 puts my body at risk of being harmed by creatine.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing Noah! That’s great you’re on the program. I hope it’s going well.

      I don’t know of any reason why you couldn’t supplement with creatine. Just make sure you’re drinking enough water.

  • Kelly

    Hello! I recently downloaded your book Thinner Leaner Stronger and I had a question about which diet plan to follow. I am not sure if I need to follow the weight loss or the maintenance. I’m trying to gain more lean muscle mass and I am at a good weight. I don’t have any weight to lose.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Kelly! I hope you liked the book.

      It sounds like a maintenance plan would be perfect for you, as this will allow you to build muscle without gaining fat.

      What do you think?

      • Kelly

        I think that sounds great! I had my body fat percentage checked at my gym, but I’m not sure how accurate it is because they made me use the handheld and you even specified to not trust those. But I am 5’2″, 110 lbs, and just from estimating about 20% body fat.

  • Dylan

    Hi Michael, I am 20 years old, 6’4 180 pounds and I have an extremely fast metabolism. I have been Lifting seriously for the last few months now. I eat around 6 meals a day consisting of 1 (oats and whey) protein shake. I’m having a tough time gaining weight and am considering taking like the extreme mass gaining protein powders (2000 calories a serving) to put on a few extra pounds. Do you know of any health concerns associated with doing so? Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Dylan,

      I’m not a fan of gainers because of all the junk calories in them. I much prefer calorie-dense foods. Here are my favorites:

      Red meat

      Grains like brown rice and quinoa

      Oils like coconut oil and olive oil

      Avocado

      Whole-fat dairy

      Multi-grain pasta and bread

      Almonds and almond butter

      Bananas

      White and sweet potatoes

      And gaining weight is going to require that you train properly and eat enough. This article of mine can help:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-hardgainers-guide-to-guaranteed-muscle-growth/

  • Dylan

    Hey Michael, I have another question. If I am lifting in a three day circuit, Lower body, upper body, cardio-core, should I take a day break after or just restart?

    • Michael Matthews

      Definitely take at least one rest day per week. Two might be necessary.

  • Matthew

    Hi Mike,

    I have recently finished my first cut & am 3 weeks into my first bulk, but feeling somewhat unsure about what gains I should be expecting. I am 175cm, lifting weights 4 days a week, averaging 200-220g of daily protein & currently 66.5kg (12.3%BF).

    I have included my weekly readings for the last 10 weeks, showing my cut-to-bulk transition in orange. My cut was going well & I was hoping to get under 10%BF before beginning my bulk, however, I didn’t realise there was a maximum time window for cutting. My lowest BF reading represents 13 weeks on a 20% calorie deficit, which I continued for 3 more weeks only to *gain* 0.5kg of fat & record some weird muscle changes during this time.

    After reading an article on your website, I realised the cut had continued for too long & I immediately began a bulk. I initially aimed for a 10% calorie surplus, as you advise, but found myself to be quite hungry & settled for a 20% daily surplus. As my chart shows, I put on over 1kg of muscle (it seems) in my first week. My creatine arrived the following week, which became a loading week, during which I put on another 1kg (total weight, though I don’t know how much of this is water retention).

    My most recent reading shows a 0.5kg fat increase over the last week, with no muscle gain. I had dropped to 5g creatine per day, but was & am lifting the most I’ve been able to. I feel that I am eating too much & I look flabbier, which I know is to be expected on a bulk. Aside from ensuring proper lifting form in the gym, am I missing anything else that might be preventing consistent muscle gains? Do I look on track for the next several weeks? I really don’t want my BF% to sky rocket & undo the hard work of my previous cut.

    Thanks so much, Mike!

    Matt

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on your progress so far. You didn’t gain fat at the end–maybe water. I assume you’re measuring with a BIA device as well, which can be very inaccurate:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioelectrical_impedance_analysis#Accuracy

      Again you’re not gaining fat without muscle so long as you’re training properly and making strength gains.

      Let me know how you’re measuring things and we’ll go from there…

      • Matthew

        Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, you’re spot on: I am using a BIA weight scale. Do you think I should buy a pair of fat callipers to get a better reading?

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          Yeah get calipers:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/equipment/accumeasure-fitness-3000-personal-body-fat-tester-kit/

  • Joe

    Hi Mike, thank you for the great articles…I, like yourself at one point, are currently in a rut. I work out 5 days a week for several hours. This includes cardio 3-4 times a wk with one short, timed run, (3 miles under 20 min as a goal) and two longer runs of 10 miles as I am training for a marathon. I lift seperating body parts into groups such as chest/tris, back/bis, shoulders, legs, etc. I feel I am over training but not getting the results I want. First question, I have read you work out for a shorter time than you used to and ovbiously saw huge results…what did you change about your lifting workouta? Second question, I am starting IF and lift later in the day, usually running around 8 PM and lifting at 9:30 PM…when do you suggest I start and finish my window of wating in order to train “fasted”? Thank you very much for any help in advance, you do a tremendous job.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Joe!

      Honestly you should read my book Bigger Leaner Stronger:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/bigger-leaner-stronger/

      It lays out EVERYTHING you need to know about diet and training to build muscle and lose fat effectively. I practice what I preach.

      Hmm that schedule isn’t well suited to IF but I would do this:

      12 PM: Meal 1, small

      2 PM: Meal 2, small

      4 PM: Meal 3, small

      Pre-run: 10 g BCAA

      Post-run/pre-lifting: 10 g BCAA

      Post-lifting: Meal 4, large

      Hope this helps!

      • Joe

        Thank you Mike…after writing my original post I figured the question would be better answered by reading the book! Ordered it this morning…looking forward to reading it and becoming more efficient in the gym. I appreciate the time.

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha thanks Joe! Let me know what you think and if you have any other questions.

          • Joe

            Mike what do you suggest for sore joints….fish oil…flax seed? Something else? Thanks!

          • Michael Matthews

            Fish oil and spirulina help reduce systemic inflammation, and this applies to joints as well.

  • Matt

    Hey mike, I would like to know if it is safe for teenagers to be in caloric deficits. Is it safe or will it stunt their growth?

    • Michael Matthews

      Very good question.

      Teens shouldn’t be restricting their calories because it can impair the various growth/development processes that are vital to long-term health.

      The exception would be in the case of a severely overweight teen, where it’s healthiest to get weight to a normal range.

  • Chris

    Hey Mike, I see there’s no articles on German volume training on your site. What’s your views on this type of training for putting on lots of muscle fast?

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m not a fan of GVT for natural weightlifters. The only people I’ve known that did well with it were on a lot of drugs, heh.

  • scott nightengale

    question.. im 49 years old. need to drop 20-25 pounds. diebetic.. high blood pressure.. what is the fastest, safest way to drop the 20 pounds?

  • Ryan

    Hi Mike, are you familiar or have you read any of Stuart McRoberts work? Just read beyond the brawn today and was wondering what you thought of it.

    • Michael Matthews

      I know of him but haven’t read any of his work, no. What did you think of BB?

      • Ryan

        I found the book very interesting I’ll admit. Basically he advocates an abbreviated style to training. A ‘lynchpin’ exercise squats and deads but 1 set of 20 reps followed by 3 or 4 more compounds. Similar to the full body routines you see today, push pull but only 2 workouts per week. So each body part is getting trained twice a week. He’s a big believer in not overtraining so getting plenty of rest and hitting hard on those 2 workouts. Progressive overload etc, he says this is how the best bodybuilder of the 40′s and 50′s trained before any steroids. He also drives home the point numerous times that this is the best way to pack muscle on if your a natural and not on steroids.
        I enjoy BLS too much to actually try this type of approach and think I’d want to get in the gym more than twice a week but it was interesting read. Suggest you check it out when you get some spare time.

        • Michael Matthews

          Interesting. Training twice per week is okay for maintaining strength, and you can actually make some gains, but more frequent training is going to work better.

          I talk about this here:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com /maintain-muscle-and-strength/

  • Steven Talley

    Hey Mike, I have been following your blog and teachings for a long time and love your articles. Great Job!! I just came across this article today and it seems to go against your thoughts/research on Fasted Cardio. What do you think? http://www.liftbigeatbig.com/2013/11/fasted-cardio.html

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much Steven!

      I would have to actually read the paper to assess the quality of the study itself, but yes it’s true that fat oxidation rates matter, not just lipolysis.

      I’ll look into this more. Thanks again for sharing!

  • Dan

    Hey man, read Bigger Leaner Stronger over the weekend and loved it! Your book compiled every truth I’ve found through hours and hours of online research and I’ve recommended it to a lot of my friends already as “everything I’ve been telling them but all in one easy-to-understand place”.

    Quick question: Your calculations for calorie intake while on a cut, do I subtract exercise calories on cardio days? I’ve been using MyFittnessPal for a long time and they use the “Net Calories” idea. As 180lbs, M, 28 I was limiting myself to 1600 calories a day and simply eating more if I logged any exercise. With your calculations, even on a cut I should be eating 1900 calories, do I just not log exercise? Thoughts?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Dan! I really appreciate it!

      No, don’t subtract calories. The formulas assume that you will be exercising 4-5 hours per week.

      Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes!

  • Leonardo

    Hi Mike! It’s almost 3 months I’m following the routine of “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger” and I’m pretty satisfied. I’ve gained something like 6 pounds, and the results are clearly visible. My problem is that I was fat 9 months ago (I’ve lost 20 pounds from January to August) and I still see a disgusting belly. I mean, I can see the higher abs, but no way for the low one (actually I stil have few fat in this area). Do you think that doing more cardio could help (Now I do maximum twice a week)? or should I simply go on calorie deficit?

    PS: I’m sorry if there’s some mistakes, but actually, I’m italian :D

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome on your gains so far! That’s great.

      If you want to reduce body fat, you should simply cut, adjusting your diet as explained in the book and adding cardio if/when it’s needed.

      Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes!

  • Haley

    Hi Mike, I’m not sure if you’re still running this comment thread, but I had a question regarding muscle groups and how often to train them. I recently purchased your book, Thinner, Leaner, Stronger, which suggests training each major muscle group once per week. Why do you recommend this as opposed to training major muscle groups twice, or even three times per week? Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, I am! :)

      Like “ideal” rep ranges, optimal training frequency is a hotly debated subject. The bottom line is it boils down to workout intensity and volume. The lighter the weights and fewer the sets, the more often you can train the muscle group.

      In the case of BLS/TLS, you hit your muscles hard, with about 50-60 reps per workout, with all reps recruiting maximum muscle fibers (due to the load). The reality is unless you have superhuman recovery, you just won’t be able to do these workouts more than once per 5 days. Once per 7 days is probably a LITTLE more rest than some people need, but I think it’s better to err on that side than the side of overtraining.

      The bottom line is EVERYONE that follows the program makes rapid strength and size gains. Even long-time lifters.

  • Mark Rogers

    Hey Mike

    In The Shredded Chef, the chocolate peanut butter protein bar recipe says it serves 6, but at the end you advise to cut into 8

    Which is it?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah sorry that’s been fixed in the next print run. 8 is correct.

  • Mark Rogers

    Hello again
    Just about to start bulking as per BLS. I’m really looking forward to it because I’m sick of being hungry, but quite daunted by the amount of food I’m going to have to consume. hey ho, it’ll be worth it in the long run.

    Just wondering if you have any tips for Endomorphs planning on doing a bulk? I’ve always been big and struggled with my weight, dropping from 322lbs down to 159lbs over the last few years through diet and exercise. I put on pounds by looking at cake, and obviously the idea of running at a caloric surplus is a difficult pill to swallow.

    I’ll be following the diet and training plans laid out in BLS, and taking some meals from the shredded chef.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I understand. It’s fun at first but gets old.

      Yeah check out this article of mine, it will help you:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      Let me know what you think, and how things go!

  • Pedro

    Hey Mike. I have a lot of problems scheduling my HIIT sessions and that is bodering my head all the time, because it’s easier for me to split weights and HIIT on the MON-FRI than on weekends for family and social reasons, but I feel like sometimes overtraining my self doing HIIT 3 days on a row, for example.

    My training is like this

    Monday Arms and Abs AM – HIIT at night
    Tuesday – REST
    Wednesday Legs AM – HIIT at night
    Thursday HIIT at morning
    Friday – Back and Abs & REFEED
    Saturday – Chest and Calves
    Sunday – Shoulders and Abs (currently training my abs 3 days beacuse I need for development as you told me).

    So, what’s your opinion on this routine? Would to put HIIT days different? Where would you add the fourth day?

    Thanks for your time as always and Im glad to tell you that I will order your supps to Colombia (SA).

    Pedro.

    • Michael Matthews

      This looks totally fine. Personally I would drop the Thurs HIIT to let my legs chill for back day. I would move that to Friday, Sat, or Sun. Same with the 4th day (Fri, Sat, or Sun). Hope this helps! Thanks for your support!

  • Julie

    Hi Mike I am 90lbs over weight and am following your program. Do I
    follow the diet (amt of macronutrients for someone my size) as you have
    laid out in your book Thinner leaner stronger. Even though my size at
    the minute prevents me to do a lot of the exercises due to joint pains. I
    am attending the gym 5 times a week. I don’t whether I should adjust
    the diet as I’m not lifting weights as you suggest at least until I’ve
    enough weight down to free me from joint pain.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! I’d recommend you do this:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-lose-weight-fast/

      It will work out better on the food.

      Great on the exercise. Do what you can do, even if it’s only walking at first. Once you’ve dropped enough weight, you’ll be able to kick your exercise up a notch…

      Hope this helps! Let me know!

  • Randall Sullivan

    Does post workout soreness indicate a workout that is the type to cause hypertrophy? If you are doing heavy weight in the 4-6 rep range but are not sore did you do something wrong? If you are sore did you do something right?

    • Michael Matthews

      Soreness isn’t necessarily an indicator of a good workout. Genetics, nutrition, and conditioning all play a role.

      For example, I don’t get too sore anymore regardless of what I do. My back will be a little sore after going up in deadlifts, my legs get a little sore after legs day, and sometimes my triceps get a little sore (random), but that’s it. I continue to make gains all around though.

      As long as you’re getting in your 9-12 heavy sets per workout with good form, you’re doing it right. And you should see results to prove it–your strength should go up and you should gain muscle. That said, if you’ve been training for quite some time, I recommend bumping the workouts up to 12 heavy sets. Add one extra exercise, and do 3 sets of it.

  • Ryan

    Bent over cable tricep extension mike?

    I really enjoy this exercise ( and not for lack of effort!!!)

    Can it be used in BLS for. Tricep exercise or is it not very good!!?

    • Michael Matthews

      Not a bad exercise! It’s similar to pushdowns.

  • Joe Z.

    Hi Mike,
    What is your take on soy foods for men? I love tofu and other soy pressed foods as they are great for protein, easy on my stomach as compared to red meat, and keep me from feeling bloated. I only eat tofu or any other soy based food at lunch and in moderation, but am I doing myself a disfavor with the possibility of creating havoc on my hormones with estrogen? Thanks!

  • Tom F

    Mike,
    Just bought “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger,” and an delving into the nutrition chapters. My main concern is that I am a type 2 diabetic on insulin who needs to lose @ 30-40 lbs and when I read “Eat 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day,” I see my blood sugar skyrocketing. What do I do?
    Tom

    • Michael Matthews

      Not sure if Disqus double posted this but I replied to the other one. :)

  • Tom

    Mike,
    Just getting into nutrition chapter(s) in “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger,” I am a type 2 diabetic on insulin who needs to lose @ 40 lbs and when I read “Eat 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day,” I see my blood sugar skyrocketing. What do I do?

    Thanks,
    Tom

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing!

      No worries, let’s have you follow this weight loss formula:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-lose-weight-fast/

      What do you think?

  • Pedro

    Hey Mike, couple of questions about refeeds and cheat meals.

    On your second podcast you said it wasn’t neccesary to refeed until you are below 10%bf. Despite that I have done two refeed days on my 5 weeks cutting and today I am ike 11% trying to reach the 9-10. Is it better to drop the refeeds and just do a psycological cheat meal that puts me over my macros?

    Now, about cheat meals, does it have to put one over the macros, calories, fats and carbs? Or just carbs or what? Because If I save my carbs and fats for a meal, it technically won’t be a cheat meal.

    So, what do I do? Cheat or not, refeed or not, and HOW?

    Thanks bro.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I wouldn’t refeed twice per week at 11%. I would just enjoy a cheat meal and keep it reasonable–don’t go and slam down 3,000 calories, haha.

      You can also “save up” calories for the meal if you’d like, reducing your intake earlier in the day to make room. I like to do that once I get around 7-8% and need to get leaner. You can do it now though.

      I always keep my water and fiber intake in the right ranges. Just good for the body. :)

      • Pedro

        At 11% you wouldnt refeed neither once per week?

        So, if I just save the calories as I like to do it too, no need to get over macros just to raise leptin and etc?

        • Michael Matthews

          I mean you CAN do one per week but it’s mainly for the psychological benefit, which is fine.

          You can end your day in a slight surplus–within 500 calories or so.

          • Pedro

            I don’t know, because this week I gained 4 pounds after the refeed and that is not confortable. I think that maybe I could stay on the deficit and on the weekend have a meal that puts me on surplus basically from carbs, but I don’t want my leptin to drop and my fat loss to stall. It won’t happen by now, right?

            By the way, at the end of the fifth week I ve noticed that I have lost the size of my waistline, hips and neck; I look leaner off course and the cut has worked, but the weight still the same the last two weeks and know after a friday refeed and a fatty lasagna on saturday night, the weight is the same I had 5 weeks again! haha!

          • Michael Matthews

            If you weighed yourself the day after the refeed, that’s not going to be accurate because you’ll be holding a lot of water.

            If you end your refeed day in a 200 – 500 calories surplus, you’ll be totally fine.

            If you’re refeeding, you shouldn’t be cheating as well. That’s your “cheat”…

          • Pedro

            I did not cheat, just save all the fat on saturday for having a lasagna at night, but that’s a lot of sodium as well and I have had the refeed the day before, so I lot of bloating of course.

            I will do something: I will continue the cut until with no refeeds until reach a plateau on the fat loss (measurements) and just have a nice cheat meal on weekend, but just with excess of carbs and saving the fat. Then, when I reach the 10% in two or three weeks, I will start to build muscle. I will send you pics when I reach the 10 off course, to be sure.

            What do you think buddy?

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay cool. Yeah high sodium and high carbs = rapid weight gain due to water storage.

            Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. Let’s do it. Keep me posted.

  • George

    I just started HRT. My levels were 162 & 4.2 total and free. On 11/18/2013 I had my first 600 mg injection. What should I expect to see and feel over the next 1 to 3 months? When will I see a significant weight loss and muscle build? Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow that was quite low. I’m sure you’re going to feel a big difference–more energy, sex drive, and strength in the gym.

  • George

    I have a question; I just started HRT on 11/18/13 with a 600 mg testosterone injection. My levels, at my last blood test, were 162 total and 4.2 free. I know, they are very low. What I want to know is, when will I start to feel and see a difference in my body fat mass & muscle mass? My Urologist wants to see me get to a total test level of 600 from 162. Any information? Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey George. I answered your other comment on this. Check it out! :)

      • George

        Hey Mike,

        I don’t see where you replied to my question. I am new to your site so maybe I’m just missing it. Could you please post your response here? Thanks.

        George

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah okay well yeah you’ll feel the difference for sure. You should see more gains in the gym too.

  • Carlos Rodriguez

    Hey Mike, ? need your professional Opinion..Abs..everyday or every other day? I know you should give your muscles a day or two of rest in-between workouts, but Im told a thousand different things from friends, what I read on internet. Steroid junkies, you tube videos.. Your opinion please. And that tapered V cut formation.. more oblique exercises? Im 39 hitting the big 40 next Sept, single divorced dad of 3 boys. Started working out again a couple months ago.Feeling really great, eating alot better, more energy, super hyper.. I wanna look my best ever at 40! Booking a Caribbean get away for the big date. Wanna turn heads and be able to tell my ex, eat your heart out toots! I figured not to be cocky but since I’ve worked out so hard to get the body and shape I want, might as well flaunt it. lol..Ordered your book Bigger leaner stronger, GREAT READ.. and I just bought the Shredded chef. Havent cooked anything yet but I do have it! Dont worry, Im sure to dirty it up cooking since I am a certified chef, thats a good thing trust me,:-) We have chatted before via FB. I know you get back to your fans whenever you can. Thank you in advance for your time. I know your time is money. Much respect Mike. Spreading the Mike Mathews love for work outs in New Jersey. take care Mike.
    Carlos

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey!

      I train abs 3x per week at the moment, doing 6-9 sets per session. And I always start with 3 sets of weighted work, 10-12 rep range.

      Building your obliques is fine, but you HAVE to be lean or it just makes you look fatter. Keep that in mind. (And that’s also the key to having a narrow waist, beyond genetics–you just gotta get under 10% body fat.)

      Great on what you’re doing so far! That rocks.

      Thanks on the books too! Definitely let me know how you do on the program and how you like the recipes. Would love to hear from a pro. :)

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • john carter

    hi mike, I am now following your workout and diet style after reading some of your books, i wondered what workout is best to add deadlift in? i already do bench press, squat and pullups but unsure what workout to add deadlift into? shall i add it onto the end of a leg day? thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome John, I’m glad to hear it.

      Do deadlifts on your back day. They’re primarily a back exercise.

      • john carter

        thanks :) i did wonder that, but i did think would it not put to much stress on my spine, and supporting muscles after a full back workout?? would you warm up with 4 working sets before like you suggest or just add 5 sets on at the end?

        • Michael Matthews

          I actually recommend you make it the first exercise you do on back day. Warm up on deads, get 3 heavy sets, and move on to the next exercise.

  • Nikki

    Hello Michael,
    I just finished reading Thinner Leaner Stronger. I am struggling with getting the amount of protein it states I need and still staying within my calorie range. According to my calculations I need 132 grams of protein daily on 1166 calories. I am 5’3″ and 110 lbs. I am trying to build muscle but also feel I have some fat stored in stubborn areas (abs). I am not new to lifting but new to heavy lifting and really want to change my body composition and build muscle.
    Thanks :)
    Enjoyed the book!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading the book!

      Most women have a bit of trouble with the protein at first, but the key is eating protein with each meal, and using a supplement can really help. You could easily do 30-50 grams per day with a supplement, and then you’re just a couple chicken breasts away from your target.

      Cool on your goal. The program can do this!

      Let me know what you think on the protein intake.

  • Tobias

    Which is the best monohydrate creatine? I’ve taken Kre-Alkalyn by biorhythm in the past, and I have
    seen amazing gains in size, strength, endurance, and recovery time. But I am
    wanting to find a mono hydrate that goes further. I’ve heard so much about
    Decacor, and I have recently heard quite a bit about Creatine+ by Legion;
    moreover, they are both Creatine blends, and have the suggested types of
    Creatine in them. What I’m ultimately trying to figure out is: which one is
    better? I have searched at Bodybuilding.com, and all I ever seem to find is a
    bunch of people who talk and argue about everything but the main topic/question.
    Furthermore, if there is a creatine product that truly surpasses Decacor or
    Creatine+, could you please include it in the answer?

    • Michael Matthews

      Micronized mono is good because it’s more water soluble, which means less upset stomachs.

      Kre-Alk is overpriced for what you’re getting–buffered mono is again just easier on the stomach.

      Creatine blends are just unnecessary as the fancy forms aren’t any better than mono:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /which-form-of-creatine-is-most-effective/

      Instead of trying to impress people with 18 different forms of creatine, I decided to use micronized mono and fenugreek extract in my CREATINE+. The fenugreek extract comes with a few good synergistic benefits that you can read about here:

      http://www.legionsupplements.com/products/supplements/creatine/

      • Tobias

        Are there any good whey protein supplements you suggest? I’ve tried progenex in the past, and it was fine, but not really what I’m looking for. Next year is my last year in highschool, also my last year to get a chance to play ball on the next level, last year to run track, last year to do powerlifting; that is if I don’t show out and turn the heads of scouts. I really have to make something happen. And thank you so much for replying so quickly to my last question

        • Michael Matthews

          Definitely! Have you checked out mine?

          https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/supplement-recommendations/protein-supplements/

          Great on your plans to give it your all. What type of lifting program are you following?

          • Tobias

            Honestly I’m not on one. I’ll do what the coaches have planned, and then I’ll lift after that. I do a lot of decline bench, weighted dips, flip grip pull ups and chin ups, preacher curls, slow bench, prison pull ups, diamond push ups (rarely), and I do burn out dumbbell bench (3 sets of 45, no rest, decreasing on weight every 15 reps). I rarely do squats, they kill my knees and I would rather work specifically the hamstrings by doing glutehams. As for speed and agility, I’ll do 40 yard sprints on air, or parachute, and a full bleacher workout (sprints, hops, single leg hops, and high knees). I do the weight workout each and everyday; not changing workouts (I don’t get sore, I just build more). And I will definitely try yours, I like how I’m able to communicate with you, opposed to other companies: they promise all these gains, and say “Clinically proven,” and you’re never able to contact them, and you don’t notice a difference. I know this is out of no where, but recently I lost a lot of mass, and definition. I had a migraine that lasted for two weeks, and I ended up in the hospital. They did all kinds of test and they couldn’t figure out what it was, what was causing it, nor did they know how to stop it. They gave me a magnesium drip in my IV, and it slowly went away; however, I wasn’t cleared to lift, or play for months. I still haven’t gained near as much back, but it is more than a goal to become stronger and faster than what I once was. I have a whole offseason to become more than what I was, and prove myself in everyway I can. I believe, and I know that through Christ I can do this. Sorry for the randomness of that.

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah I replied to your other comment on your program.

            Yeah the supplement industry is horrible. You will like this article of mine:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /lets-bring-change-to-the-workout-supplement-industry/

            Wow that’s really strange on the hospital trip. The docs had no idea what is going on??

          • Tobias

            No sir, they didn’t. They ended up saying it was a cluster headache

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay. My friend’s mom gets those and for her, it was a nutrition issue. She was eating too much junk food, drinking too much soda, and not exercising.

          • Tobias

            That was the odd thing with mine. I lift everyday after practice, stay hydrated, well rested, and well fed; I’m good to my body, and my body is great to me. I drink a lot of juices, milk (love milk), and a ton of water (absolutely love water). I don’t drink any carbonated drinks, or beverages with caffeine. I eat right, southern cooked meals every night. I can’t stand bagged chips, fast food (5 guys burgers and fries is exceptional), or school lunches. I’m a young athletic 16 year old boy, and it was my first headache; and that’s what confused them the most; the severity of my first headache.

          • Michael Matthews

            Wow well hopefully it was just a fluke. It sounds like you’re doing everything right so just keep it up.

          • Tobias

            And what would be the best way to take Creatine+?

          • Michael Matthews

            You can take it anytime actually as the fenugreek has the same absorption effect as carbs (without the carbs).

          • Tobias

            Could you please resend your comment? The one about my program. I don’t believe I ever got it

          • Michael Matthews

            No way for me to find it but basically what I was saying is you should check out my Bigger Leaner Stronger program–I email with quite a few athletes that are on it and loving it (rugby, soccer, and American football players mostly).

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/bigger-leaner-stronger/

          • Tobias

            Honestly, I’m not on a lifting program. I do what the coaches have planned, and then after practice I’ll lift on my own. I do a lot of decline bench, weighted dips, flip grip pull ups to chin ups, prison pull ups, shoulder complex, burn out dumbbell bench (3 sets of 45, decreasing in weight every 15 reps), dumbbell triceps, preacher curls, decline diamond pushups (rarely), regular bench, and reverse bent over row. I don’t like to do squat to often, it kills my knees; moreover, I would rather work my hams and glutes specifically by doing glute-hams. As for speed and agility, I do a lot of cone drills, ladder drills, hurdles, 40 yard sprints on air and parachute, plyometrics, bleachers (sprints, hops, single leg hops, and distance hops). I love to compete, no matter what it is. And I will definitely look into your protein supplements. And are there any programs you suggest? I have months until next season, and I need to use everyday of it to my full advantage.

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay, well if you want to focus on building muscle and strength, you should definitely check out my Bigger Leaner Stronger program:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/bigger-leaner-stronger/

            I have quite a few athletes that are on it and they love it (rugby, soccer, and football players mainly).

            Let me know what you think!

  • Seth

    Hey Mike, I started the Bigger Leaner Stronger regiment this year and have really enjoyed it. I’ve been lifting since high school – I’m 39 now. I developed tendinitis in my elbow and haven’t been lifting for the past couple months because I cant grip anything without pain and rest is its’ repair. I’m missing having workouts as part of my daily activity. Any recommendations as to what I can do why I wait for this to heal?

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome Seth! I’m really glad to hear you’ve started the program and are enjoying it.

      I’m sorry to hear about the tendonitis. :( Are there some body weight exercises that you can do that don’t aggravate it?

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-ultimate-bodyweight-workout-routine/

  • gab

    Hi Mike
    I am a fan of yours for many months and am proud owner for Thinner Leaner Stronger and the Shredded Chef (great recipes that work every time!).
    I have been going to the gym seriously for 10 months working on the split as designed by you. But also working with a PT who has mixed it up and put together different routines.
    I noticed this year that I am unable to loose any fat. I have gain a bit of muscle but I am unable to loose any fat. In contrary – I have gained.
    I am a typical female skinny fat person with a pear shaped. 160cm tall and I weigh 62kilos holding most of my fat around my hips and legs. I had a DEXA scan and overal Body fat is 32% (legs hips are 43% and upper body like 27 or 28%).
    My diet started off as your macro breakdown from TLS Book. When i was getting no where I tried a Keto diet. Still getting no where i track calories and cheat everynow and again when i feel a bit hopeless about it.I eat very healthy, lots of protein and good fats, I have completely limited carbs and live most days on about 1400 calories which is slightly under what is recommened.
    I lift about 4 times a week and cardio 3-4times a week. I should be getting somewhere!
    I recently had some tests because i was convinced it may have been a gut issue, hormones or something else. Everything came back normal except I have ZERO testosterone. My doctor has me on a plan to get this up. Which is going well. but it hasnt helped me loose weight.
    I know im not obese – but I work my butt off (no pun intended!) and I deserve some progress. Last year while just doing a couple boot camp classes i was able to control calories and get to 56kilos.
    I have a couple questions:
    Is it possible someone is not “suited” to weight training?
    Do you believe its calories in vs calories out even when taking female hormones into account?
    How important is testosterone in loosing weight?
    Would you still recommend the same training split?
    You look amazing – congratulations on your success!
    Cheers
    Gab

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Gab! I really appreciate your support!

      Hormones can mess with weight loss with women but mainly due to water retention (you tend to hold a lot more water than us guys).

      So long as your metabolism is healthy, you can lose weight.

      Few questions:

      What is your workout schedule like?

      Are you weighing and measuring all food, or eyeballing portions?

      Are you following your meal plan 100% or introducing little extras here and there?

      How often do you cheat and what do you have?

      Do you drink alcohol? If so, how often?

  • Tach

    Hey Mike!
    I saw your book on the market and instantly loved it!I have a problem.Well, i am a skinny dude. 43 kg and 1.6m in height.I really want to put on more muscle mass but i am restricted to my home only.I have 20 kg dumbbells and push up bar and also a pull up kinda place.Could you tell me what i should do to put on more Muscle mass?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man! I really appreciate it!

      Yeah check out this article of mine:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-ultimate-bodyweight-workout-routine/

  • Michael

    Mike, just finishing up week 1. Lots of lessons learned. 1) I’m way stronger than I realized after years of lifting without losing much fat, so that’s a positive. It does feel weird to only be in the gym for 35-45 minutes. But, I’ve lost weight, almost 4 pounds and no cardio! Could be due the fact of starting after thanksgiving. Should I leave my macros alone? I’m going to start cardio, short runs for about 30 minutes three times a week. Thoughts on this. I’m not overly hungry, but that’s a lot of weight loss for five days in….

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome, thanks for the update Mike! Great on your progress!

      Yeah let’s leave your macros where they’re at and see how your body responds. We only need to adjust if your weight loss stalls. Or we will add in cardio first (my preference).

  • Joel

    Hey Mike I had a thought to go on a cleansing routine. What if I had nothing but smoothies filled with all greens, cucumber, veggies etc. With some whey protein just to maintain protein levels without going over my maximum calorie counter for the day. I would like to try this for 4-5 days in a row. What do you think of the effects on fat loss will be? What will the effects be on muscle gain or loss? Thanks Mike.

    • Michael Matthews

      You could do this but I don’t recommend cleanses for weight loss. It’s much better to just follow a proper diet. It won’t help you build muscle, and eating that much protein powder every day will likely upset your stomach.

  • Shannon

    Hi Mike, I just finished reading Thinner Leaner Stronger (great book by the way) and I started browsing through Muscle Myths. Is there a physiological reason that you recommend that women do 8-10 reps during heavy lifting but that men should do 5-6?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Shannon! I really appreciate it.

      The reason why I recommend 8-10 reps for women is simply because the majority I’ve worked with were already quite intimidated by the weight necessary to work in the 8-10 rep range. The 4-6 rep range was REALLY uncomfortable for them (generally speaking).

      The reality is 4-6 reps does work fine for women, but they can do great with the 8-10 rep range as well. There’s also the issue of overtraining to consider–women’s bodies can’t repair nearly as much muscular damage as guys’.

      So, if you’d like to work in some 4-6 training, I recommend doing no more than 3 sets in the 4-6 rep range, and using it on the following exercises:

      Squats

      Military Press

      Bench Press

      Deadlift

  • Maria

    Hi Mike! I am currently reading Thinner, Leaner, Stronger and I follow you on Pinterest. I’m pretty small/thin (5’2”, ~96 lbs) and my goal is to gain some weight by putting on muscle. In the book you mention doing cardio at least 3X per week even if you don’t want to lose weight. I’m a little worried that I’m going to “waste away” with all that cardio… Am I crazy? Curious to know what you think :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Maria!

      Cool on your goal. Cardio is great for overall health and staying lean, but no, you don’t HAVE to do it if you don’t want to.

      That said, when done properly, it isn’t as harmful to muscle growth as most people think:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /cardio-and-muscle-growth-friends-or-foes/

      Hope this helps! Let me know!

  • driller77

    What is the best weight lifting workout/program to burn fat while building muscle

  • Marcelo

    Teu livro é show em duas semanas apesar das dores agudas o resultado foi excelente e o melhor esta por vir vamos ficar gigante. OBS: não encontrei os treinos para todo o ano poderia me informar onde está ?

    • Michael Matthews

      Obrigado! Estou muito feliz que você gostou do livro e está fazendo bem no programa. Envie-me e eu vos enviarei o relatório de bônus.

  • Sarah

    I really like a lot of the recipes in the Shredded Chef but I was surprised about the number of “fat-free”, “low-fat” ingredients. I always use the ‘real’ stuff because I believe in the whole foods mentality – our bodies are meant to break down real food and not the fillers that are used in the low fat/fat free stuff to give the food flavor. So I was just curious about your views on eating whole foods. I don’t have a problem staying lean and fit eating whole foods with all their real fat – and I don’t have to work out ALL the time either. Albeit, I do have mad portion control!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Sarah!

      Fat-free foods are still whole foods, they’re just more processed to remove fats. They don’t necessarily have fillers to enhance taste.

      Generally speaking, whole-fat products are totally fine but they just add a lot of calories. Low-fat options are worthwhile when you need to limit your calorie intake.

      Feel free to substitute low-fat for whole-fat wherever you want!

  • Sam L

    Hey Mike
    Hope you are well and Legion is going strong. So when are you doing a tour of Europe and the UK, signing autographs for your new book? ;)
    Quick question – I’ve been on BLS now for a few months, initial cut done and now reaching end of 1st bulk (I cut to 130 pounds at 12%bf, 5 foot 10, now bulked to 155 pounds approx 17% bf). Last cut was so hard near the end (6-7 weeks) as i was feeling weak tired and kept getting ill by the 6th week. This time is there any problem re. say cut for 4-5 weeks then have a couple weeks of slightly more carbs/maintenance calories, get my energy back and cut again until i get down to 12% bf? I was having cheat meals 1-2 a week last cut (thank you really needed them!) and think i have a fast-ish metabolism as i need to eat 2-300 calories more than ur book’s calculations to even maintain weight on the heavy workouts! I even cut cardio down to 1-2 a week this bulk as found initially hard to put weight on.
    Thanks as always and look forward to beyond BLS…
    Sam

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Sam!

      All is well and Legion is rolling despite the FIASCO with Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Fortunately my peeps are really cool and have been VERY understanding. It’s finally all sorted out though.

      Anyway, haha I wish I could do a UK tour! I’ve never been. Would love to visit.

      Awesome on your progress so far. That rocks.

      Yup, cutting can get tough around 6-7 weeks. That’s normal. You can definitely cut for 4-5 weeks and then maintain, and then cut again.

      Understood on your metab. That’s pretty common too–some guys just have faster-than-average metabs. Part of the game is finding your sweet spot, of course.

      Hope this helps! Keep me posted and thanks for your support!

      • Sam L

        Cool thanks as always. We’re freezing our butts off at the moment in the UK!
        Às an aside through your work have you found any research on racial or other differences? Reason I ask is being a doctor I’m aware of medical differences due to ethnicity and I’m from an Indian ethnicity and found many Indians are very carb sensitive, myself included, and of course heart disease and diabetes is high in our population. I wondered if therethere were differences in lifting/eating you knew of? thanks

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Yeah I bet you are. I won’t share with you the weather here in Flordia. ;)

          No I haven’t actually, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were such differences…

  • tomwaldnz

    Hey Mike, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the 5:2 diet (aka the fast diet”, fast as in fasting) as part of a cutting strategy. The idea is you eat 500 (girls)/600 (guys) calories two days a week, but other days you eat normally. It’s meant to be good for all sorts of things, blood chemistry stuff like cholesterol and growth factors, reduces heart problems and cancers, etc, and of course weight loss. There’s a good BBC/PBC documentary, and a few books on the subject. I’m interested in your thoughts generally and how it relates to muscle gain/loss.

    • Michael Matthews

      There’s good science behind the health benefits of fasting:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-definitive-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/

      That said, I don’t recommend 5:2 if you’re just looking to lose weight as there are easier ways to do it. For most people, eating 500-600 calories in a day is going to be quite uncomfortable.

      • tomwaldnz

        Thanks Mike, and thanks for the link to your article. Fasting for 24 hours turns out to be easier than I expected – I’m actually less hungry at midday after fasting since dinner the previous day than I am if I had breakfast.

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure! Yeah fasting becomes harder once you start eating (eating a breakfast and fasting for 8 hours is harder than fasting all night and continuing it for 8 hours upon waking).

        • tomwaldnz

          A quick update… I’m finding fasting a quick, easy way to lose weight. I’ve been doing it around a month, with a moderate amount of cardio exercise and unfortunately no significant weight exercises other than body weight exercises once or twice a week. I’ve lost 3kg in the month, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but given I’m only 6-10kg over my ideal weight it’s surprisingly rapid. I don’t get particularly hungry on fasting days, and I eat less than I used to on normal days – though I have an occasional binge day. I’m about to start a trial of fasting alternate days, basically eating normal one day then skipping breakfast and lunch the next day.

          I suggest this is worth further investigation, for both the weight loss and other benefits that fasting’s meant to provide. I’ve tried all the diets and this one seems simple. Fasted moderate cardio training also seems like a good way to lose weight more quickly.

          • Michael Matthews

            Great job! Yes, fasting is an easy way to reduce calorie intake because you get to eat more calories per meal.

          • tomwaldnz

            I suspect there’s something more than just calorie restriction going on. I’ve lost around 6kg in 6 weeks by reducing the number of meals from 21 to 17 per week, which is partially offset by eating a little more on other days. Ideally though you shouldn’t eat more calories on other days to make up for it, but you do a little and it doesn’t seem to hurt much.

            IMHO it’s definitely worth looking into for people who have trouble losing weight on other diets. I haven’t eaten in 14 hours and I feel fine, going to do a couple of runs today too.

          • Michael Matthews

            That’s awesome, keep it up. I talk about it here:
            https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-definitive-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/

  • Dwalker26

    Hello!! Quick question! My husband and I have just recently come across your books and love them. We have been working out (heavy lifting, hiit) for several years now. My question is, can women take your supps in the cutting stack you have (maybe in modified doses)? I just had our 3rd baby 5 months ago and want a boost to help cut down my body fat %. Thanks in advance!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hi!

      Thanks for your support! :)

      Yes, you can definitely use the supplements I recommend. You’ll just adjust to your size/tolerance in some cases (yohimbine, caffeine).

      Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes!

  • Pejman

    Hi Mike… Thanks for the great job… I’m suffering from Swayback (Lordosis) and want to have your advice on couple of useful exercises to do in the gym. I practice 3 days a week and using your great scientific instructions I’m getting closer to what I expect from my body.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I’m glad to hear things are going well.

      Unfortunately I’m not familiar with your condition. Which exercises are you unable to do?

  • Dwalker26

    Hello! Me again :) what is your take on women taking the creatine in your cutting stack? What would be the benefit for a woman to take it? My goal (after having our 3rd babe) is to lean out- read as losing body fat (skinny fat is not the goal) and fitting back into my size 2′s. thoughts? Thanks!!

    • Michael Matthews

      I think women should definitely use creatine while cutting if they’re lifting. It helps you preserve strength and thus lean mass. Most people don’t have any water retention issues.

  • Mark

    Hi Michael, I have just discovered you. Ok, I am 45, pretty healthy, avid cyclist and have just completed a successful balanced weight loss program, I am now 15% BF and fairly decent build. Now I want to add muscle to my body and look healthy and athletic like you do not lean like a cyclist but I dont want to be a bodybuilder (too much muscle for me). Which one or two of your books do I read first to explain how I go about building good strong lean muscle without piling the fat back on? You have too many choices for me :-). Please advise. Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Mark!

      Great job on what you’ve accomplished so far. You should definitely read Bigger Leaner Stronger first. I’d love to get you going on the program…

      Lemme know what you think!

      Mike

      • Mark

        Awesome I will begin there. I have been reading your articles and I see that people do a bulking phase then a leaning phase. I have worked so hard to be this lean the idea of bulking (gaining muscle but also fat) is really hard for me. Is it possible to increase muscle mass without the fat part even if it is less muscle added for the same workout time?

        • Michael Matthews

          Great let me know how you like the book.

          Yeah I know what you mean, but the good news is losing fat is really easy when you know what you’re doing. So you’re able to enjoy the bulk.

          Honestly you can’t gain much muscle if you’re not in a calorie surplus, which is what also causes fat gain. The surplus doesn’t have to be LARGE, but it needs to be there…

  • Nick

    Hey Mike. You said that men should be in the 4 – 6 rep range. Is this similar training style to Jeff Willet and his Max-OT trainig? What is your opinion on his physique he claims to be natural.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I did Max OT for a bit and liked some of its principles, but didn’t like a lot of the workouts (suboptimal exercise choice, volume too low).

      I would be shocked if he were truly natural.

  • rich

    hello michael — enjoyed your book and have been hitting the gym harder than ever following your workout routine. my paranoia is with the heavy lifting. have you heard anything about it causing brain aneurysms or the like? i know that while lifting heavy weights the blood pressure can get pretty high. anything in any of the literature that you’ve read or have come across in the weight lifting world? thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rich! Really glad to hear it.

      No, I’ve NEVER heard of anything like that, even anecdotally. Weightlifting actually improves your blood pressure:

      http://www.precisionnutrition.com/weights-for-hbp

      Research has shown that weightlifting, even heavy weightlifting, actually doesn’t increase blood pressure in the heart.

  • Timst

    I have a gym where I work and due to safety concerns we do not have an Olympic bar or squat rack but we do have a smith machine. I also do not like our leg press since it is a weight stack machine and not the traditional leg press where you can put plates on it. We also have most every other type of equipment you could want or ask for. I cannot afford a membership anywhere else and wanted to know your opinion on 1) with my inability to go to another gym, what would you do for quads? 2) We do have a leg extension machine and notice you say to do them. How do you feel about the advice by everyone who says not to use this machine? There is a video on Scoobys Workshop where he engineers and demonstrates the stress placed on the knee cap from doing leg extensions. Now I’m weirded out by doing extensions. However, I have always gotten a good feel from doing them but at 6 reps that would be a lot of weight. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      No worries, you can still do well.

      For quads, I would front squat and do lunges on the Smith.

      Leg extensions are fine to include now and then. Yes, they place a bit of stress on the knee. I wouldn’t recommend doing them every week. You could also do them in the 8-10 rep range if you’d like.

  • Tommaso

    Hi Mike, recently came across your website and some of your videos on youtube, and found what you had to say very interesting, particularly the approach to rep-ranges. Up until recently i had been stuck in the quagmire of the traditional (8-12) rep ranges with a view to gaining more size.

    I’ve been training consistently (4-5 days per week de minimis) for a little over 3 years now and have seen some ok gains, but recently the gains have been slow-coming.

    After being inspired by your articles i’m going to drop down to the 4-6 & 5-8 rep range. I’ve recently switched to a total body routine (mon/wed/fri) with some isolation exercises on the remaining days (traps, forearms, calves etc…), from the “bro split” to test the theory that frequency will result in better protein synthesis than volume.

    My question in a nutshell is whether the style of training you advocate would still work ideally within a total body, or whether it’s better to return to muscle group splits?

    Apologies if you’ve already dealt with this.

    Thanks, and Merry Xmas!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey, thanks for the comment!

      Like “ideal” rep ranges, optimal training frequency is a hotly debated subject. The bottom line is it boils down to workout intensity and volume. The lighter the weights and fewer the sets, the more often you can train the muscle group.

      In the case of BLS, you hit your muscles hard, with about 50-60 reps per workout, with all reps recruiting maximum muscle fibers (due to the load). The reality is unless you have superhuman recovery, you just won’t be able to do these workouts more than once per 5 days. Once per 7 days is probably a LITTLE more rest than some people need, but I think it’s better to err on that side than the side of overtraining.

      The bottom line is EVERYONE that follows the program makes rapid strength and size gains. Even long-time lifters.

      Hope this helps! Let me know!

      • Tommaso

        Hey Mike, thanks for getting back to me.

        Sorry i may have obfuscated the point i was trying to make about frequency vs volume – i wasn’t suggesting that i try to beast myself with 50-60 reps per muscle group 3 times a week – im not hardcore enough for that! ;) The trade-off would be that in stead of doing (for example) 1 arm day once a week comprised of 3sets of 3 different exercises for bis & the same for tris (so 18 sets in total) i split that up and do 3 sets of bis/tris on monday, 3 on wednesday and so on… and do the same for all major muscle groups (legs, delts, back, chest) So the “volume” remains the same across the week it’s just that every muscle group is being worked every 2 days.

        Anyways, i’ll give it a whirl and see. Looking forward to going heavy with the lower reps.

        This really is a great site. Thanks again.

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure.

          Haha yeah I understood. Sorry if my reply wasn’t adequate.

          The bottom line is that is a very workable way of training. You will make gains. You just need to set up your training a bit differently–push, pull, legs. Or hit the gym twice per day.

          • Tommaso

            haha, not at all mate, it’s probably just me being a dumb arse – I think my brain is already on hiatus for the festive season.

            I did my first “heavy” 4-6 rep session today using my usual routine; definitely a very different feel. There’s certainly less of a “pump” per se but my muscles feel fatigued at a deeper level. Maybe that’s just psychological.

            All the best!

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha no worries.

            Awesome, glad to hear you’ve started. Yeah, it’s quite different but I think you’re going to be very happy with how your body responds to the program.

  • Sam L

    Hey Mike, I want to make my hanging leg raises harder but have bowflex dumbbells so cant snatch them between legs. I read that hanging weight off your waist with a dip belt works by adding stress to your core during leg raises? Your take / experiences on it?
    Thanks and have a great Christmas and new year. Hope you can spend plenty of time with your family. You deserve it! I’ve got a long way to go ahead of me still but your advice books and website have been the best present I’ve had all year, take care
    Sam

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm I’ve actually never tried that. I don’t really see how it’s going to make the exercise harder on your core though. If you picked up a 15 or 20 lb DB, that’s all you would need.

      Thanks so much and I hope you have a great Xmas and NY too! Keep me posted on your progress! I’m excited for you!

  • Hector Hernandez

    Do you recommend cycling yohimbine and green tea extract supplements? and if so for how long?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yohimbine yes because the body builds up a tolerance. I like to use it for 6-8 weeks (and my cuts never go longer than this anyway).

      GTE no, I don’t know of any reason why you would have to cycle.

      • Hector Hernandez

        Okay great, good to know. I’ll definitely do it this way as well.

        • Michael Matthews

          Great! Lemme know how it goes.

  • Gabriel

    Mike, the thermogenic ”Oxyelite Pro” it’s good to lose fat?

    • Michael Matthews

      I didn’t like it personally.

  • Hector Hernandez

    I was reading your description on fish oil intake and I had a question in regards to that. I’m currently supplementing on Udo’s Oil 3 6 9 blend based on your recommendation and was wondering if one tbsp of Udo’s Oil would be enough to meet the requirements of Omega’s or would adding a fish oil supplementing still be a good choice?

    • Michael Matthews

      Unfortunately the body doesn’t absorb plant-based omega-3 oils as well as fish and krill oil, so if you’re only looking for omega-3s, then I would drop the Udo’s (use what you have of course) and replace with fish oil.

      But if you like getting some of your daily fat from Udo’s Oil, then you can keep it in and add fish oil.

      • Jonas

        Which exact fish oil from which brand do you recommend/ are you using?

        • Michael Matthews

          https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/supplement-recommendations/general-health-supplements/nordic-naturals-ultimate-omega/

  • Scotty

    Hi Mike, I have been dieting now for three weeks and losing weight, but I heard somewhere that if you break your diet routine during the holiday, just one day and kinda pig out so to speak, that it might just help start kick your metabolism to help you lose more weight. Is this true?

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great you’re rolling and yes eating a surplus of calories can boost leptin levels, which is good for your metab.

  • Lukas

    Hello Mike, great site great books! Re. bulking – do you know how much approx/average fat vs muscle ratio you put for say every 1kg or pound or weight you gain? Say if you were clean(ish) bulking. My problem you see is I seem to need more calories than the calculations in the book to gain any weight, so I’ve stopped directly counting calories/day but just keeping a check on my rough macros and to ensure I gain about 0.5kg / week weight. I’m def getting stronger. Thanks for all the help! Happy new year!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Lukas!

      Good question. If you can gain 1-2 pounds of muscle per pound of fat, you’re doing great.

      Some people do need more than the formulas indicate in my books. Some people’s metabs are just really fast!

      Counting/tracking macros is easier, so just keep doing that and yup, you increase until you find your body’s sweet spot of about 1 lb/week.

      Keep up the good work!

  • Ang

    what would you suggest for getting rid of that awful lower belly fat??

  • Ang

    just wondering about ridding yourself of that lower belly fat….im having trouble getting it to go away with the upper stomach. its leaving as i exercise but the lower belly is wanting to stay

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m actually going to write an article on belly fat this week! Keep an eye out for it–it will show you how to get rid of it. :)

  • Jennifer

    I already am what they call fit but why do i feel so unhealthy on the inside? i don’t work out, in fact i was just blessed with these genes. I hate the gyms and i don’t live in an area where its safe for me to just go on a run or walk alone. What can i do at home to ensure that i am healthy and i’m being safe doing it?

    • Michael Matthews

      It could be various things: the food you eat, how much sleep you get, how stressful your life is, etc.

      What do you think about doing a bodyweight program?

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-ultimate-bodyweight-workout-routine/

  • fuzegraphics

    Hi Mike, just bought your BLS book, looking forward to reading it.
    2 Questions:

    1) Do you know of a trustworthy calculator to work out recommended calorie intake?

    2) Since this calculation is based on weight, how often or at what weight loss intervals do I need to recalculate?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for picking up the book!

      1. I recommend using the formula I give in BLS. It’s simple and it works.

      2. That’s in the book too. :)

      • fuzegraphics

        Thank you, I guess I should have checked that first. On page 60 of the book so far and its really a great read…well done!

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha no worries, thanks! Let me know how everything goes!

  • Marco

    Hi Mike,

    I am starting a program very similar to the BLS-4-split (I cannot to it verbatim due to health and equipment restrictions). I have two related questions about it:

    1. You recommend 2 – 3 minutes rest between working sets. How do I know which duration to pick?

    2. Is it OK to reduce the weight after a working set? I cannot see how I could do another 4 reps in the second set if I have already struggled to do 4 reps in the first set.

    Regards,
    Marco

    • Michael Matthews

      Hi Marco!

      1. I kind of play it by how I feel. If, after 2 minutes, my heart rate is back to normal and I’m ready to go, I go. If I still feel a bit fatigued, I wait.

      2. Yes, if you have to that is okay. In time you won’t have to, though. You’ll be able to get 4-4-4.

      Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes!

      • Marco

        Thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

  • Ryan

    Mike,

    I was researching effective ingredients for pre-workouts since I have zero trust in any of the pre-made options out there. Long story short, I found your article on the same topic during my search. I was reading it and thought to myself “this guy gets it.” My dream is to start my own supplement company founded on 100% transparency instead of the smoke and mirrors that EVERY other company operates. Then I checked out your brand. “Backed by science, proven by you” …holy s**t! That is what is in my head! Basically your company is what I had dreamed up and I would love to be a part of what you are doing. I know this may sound a bit odd having someone lobby for a job on a public forum but, I can see you have been active on this page recently and figured this would be a good place to plant the initial seed. If there is a more appropriate place to inquire about job opportunities then please let me know. And yes, I know this is strange and I can’t believe i am going to click the post button but passion supersedes reluctance.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much for the comment Ryan! I’m really glad you like what I’m doing with Legion. :)

      Shoot me an email and we can talk further! Mike@muscleforlife.com.

  • Jonas

    What i got now is that you recommend low rep-training, 4-6 reps a 3 sets. im doing this, but what i actually feel is like my back just doesnt really fires hard, theres not this neuromuscular response anymore that i was used to back when doing higher reps on my back. And everytime i do back training, i just feel like it would feel good to pump some more reps out.
    Now you will say: Use more weight. But the problem is, with more weight, i couldnt ( actually, cant) keep form, my row for example will not have full ROM, and i will leave this set with some pumped biceps, but my back will not have done any siginificant work, because i just wont be able to pull through the full range of motion.

    Now, thats really a problem for me, because i earlier last year had shoulder issues, according to my physiotherapist it was due to an shoulder imbalance ( anterior delts + pecs pulling shoulder forward) , i fixed it by ditching all pushing work, it worked and pain went away.
    Still im aware of this pushing-pulling ratio and hence i am only doing dips once a week, overhead presses twice per week ( Im thinking that overhead presses is less worse for posture than horizontal pressing like benching/ pushups, because your obviously opening up your anterior muscular chain, aint you? is this actually true ?the question inside the question : :D is overhead pressing better for “shoulder posture”? )

    So now im experiencing some slight pain again due to this imbalance, i just think my back isnt getting enough work.
    ( Due to the fact that im Pulling every session, in one session even twice ( bent over row AND one arm- inverted rows), doing deadlifts as well and that im doing some rotator cuff work as well.

    Now i came across this article ( http://jt9797.wordpress.com/tag/shoulder-health/), which suggests doing pushing work like a powerlifter, back work like a bodybuilder( higher reps, 5-12, just read it). i kind of like that idea because i seroulsy need some back work.
    what do you think?

    __Generally, i cant really even see why this whole thing is even making my shoulders problems. i mean, even from an evolutionally sight pushing would be required much more than pulling, it seems like a stronger anterior chain compared tothe posterior chain should be bearable. do you have any ideas why its still causing some problems?

    -> sorry for this long question and all those hidden questions within, i hope you still manage to get the cue and also to get an answer to every question.

    thank you, jonas :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry for the brief reply but I have a LOT of emails and messages to go through every day.

      I’m going to write a full back training article soon so keep an eye out for that. It will answer your questions.

      Yes pulling heavy weight is important but exercise choice is very important too. Frequency is vital too.

      • Jonas

        no problems man, i find it anyhow INCREDIBLE that youre answering every single question! Hats off, you must be extremely busy!

        I bet that is some part of your marketing strategy,haha! ;)

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha yeah I think it’s time well spent for sure, I just have to watch it or I’ll sit on email and social media for 7 hours per day and get nothing done.

  • Alfie

    Hi Mike!
    I can make time for five workouts a week, but it really can only be one session per day. How should I do my cardio? At the end of a workout, at the beginning, or does it really HAVE to be separate to my weight workouts for it to actually work?

    • Michael Matthews

      Totally fine! You can do your cardio after your lifting. It’s not IDEAL but not a huge problem.

      • Alfie

        Thanks for the reply, that makes me feel better :) Regarding supplemantation/nutrition, should I take my post-workout shake and jelly babies/gummy bears (instant carbs) directly after workout and before cardio, or do cardio immediately after weights and then have my post-workout supps? It’s a confusing world out there regarding the ‘when should I take my supplements’, ha.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! :)

          You can have your post-workout meal after your cardio. No big deal.

  • Alejandro

    Hey Mike,
    I was trying to devise a meal plan in accordance with the macronutrients recommended in the cutting section of your book, but am finding it very difficult to get a full 240 grams of protein in every day, in spite of supplementing with over 4 scoops of whey each day. Do you think using the katch mcardle formula with a 20% caloric deficit and 40/40/20 or 40/30/30
    P/C/F ratio would hinder my fat loss and or muscle gain, provided that I am relatively new to weight training? If so, any recommendations on how to get all that protein in? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question! You can drop your protein to 1g/lb and be okay (200g/day). This should be easier. And this article might give you ideas:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-eat-healthy-foods-on-a-budget/

      Hope this helps! Let me know!

      • Alejandro

        Great. I think I’m going to start at 40/40/20 and if that doesn’t work out after a few weeks I’ll switch to 40/30/30 and see if less carbs works better.

        • Michael Matthews

          Great let me know how it goes.

  • Jonas

    Its me again, sorry! Haha

    Hi Mike,

    I started really getting into your book now, generally get the point what youre meaning and am sure that this has the ability to work, unless ive noticed by now that there is no magic formula and this may not be the only way to get results at all, at the end it all comes down to patience and hard work, as everything in life..

    However, ive got some questions and am hoping youve got the right answers for me :

    At first, by now i have get to know the importance of compound lifting, told by nearly every natural weightlifter. However, they in the same manner, dissuaded from doing isolation movement, as the barbell curl or tricep isolation work.
    I myself have also found the importance of doing functional movements, that have a reality-connection, a use.

    Now that youre implementing arm isolation movements to this program confuses me, also the fact that you workout 5 times a week( yeah i know, other options are 3/4 times) , but for example the guy from one of your recommended websites, kino fitness, is splitting his training into only 2(!) days , and states that hence the whole cyclus will be shorter, hence more often repeatable in a month and also so growth in strength in mass will be greater, because of instead 4 times doing a back workout in a month, you will do it maybe 6 times with this cyclus. I dont know if hes doing then less sets….also, this seems to be a whole body workout

    So why are you implementing extra isolation exercises.? Also , on my opinion putting such a big force on such a small muscle like the biceps ( only 5 reps must mean big weight) seems to be critical..
    —–

    And then theres one completely different question: Its about calisthenics. While i by now see and accept that calisthenics wont make gains in the long run and cant provide gradual tenaion overload, im never getting over the state of not admiring the skills that are often practiced, such as the freesatnding handstand, the front and back lever, the muscle-up and so on..
    While weight lifting with free weights will bring results with no doubt, i dont think i can get happy with just that.
    The feeling to control your own body is on my opinion something that every fitness practitioner should be striving for. And thats one thing that im striving for as well.
    Also, other than the exercises with weights in the gym, those bodyweight exercises implement “all those small stabilization muscles” as well as they are training balance, body awareness and the ability to actually MOVE freely through the environment. Also for overall core strength they will do a great job.
    All sounding so good, its just this:
    I just have no idea how this could fit into my training schedule, i hope you know what i mean…maybe youve come in touch with this problem as well, let me now what to do about it..

    Im sorry about this long question, since i know how busy you are, so just relax, dont hurry, i will be patiently waiting for your answer :) .
    so for your personal enjoyment ( but anyway im very sincere) i just wanted to let you know how much i am enjoying your book. You were right, it really lays EVERYTHING down, even your take of the technique of the big compound lifts, which was very pleasent and helpful. Also the structure of your book, as well as its real-life appliance with its training plans are absolutely amazing!
    Again, thank you!

    Yours,
    Jonas :)

    • Michael Matthews

      While every good program is built on compound movements, certain isolation movements definitely have value. Programs that ONLY use the big compounds build disproportionate physiques over time.

      Like “ideal” rep ranges, optimal training frequency is a hotly debated subject. The bottom line is it boils down to workout intensity and volume. The lighter the weights and fewer the sets, the more often you can train the muscle group.

      In the case of BLS, you hit your muscles hard, with about 50-60 reps per workout, with all reps recruiting maximum muscle fibers (due to the load). The reality is unless you have superhuman recovery, you just won’t be able to do these workouts more than once per 5 days. Once per 7 days is probably a LITTLE more rest than some people need, but I think it’s better to err on that side than the side of overtraining.

      The bottom line is EVERYONE that follows the program makes rapid strength and size gains. Even long-time lifters.

      Calisthenics are definite worthwhile and can be worked into the BLS workouts. They just don’t build muscle and strength like proper weightlifting does, that’s all.

      • Jonas

        Thanks for the rirst parts of your answer- as with the calisthenics- yes sure they wont let me grow but how i just said for me those are valuable for me for the listed reasons… But i still didnt get how one could implement his skill development without sacrificing recovery or then getting into overtraining….who can this be solved?

        - some regarding the technical stuff:
        Is it really safe to to heavy barbell curls with a straight bar? Ive heard about wrist or elbow injuries ( however, i dont have any access to a SZ-bar.

        Then- ive trouble finding an appropriate second leg exercise- first for sure will be back squat ;), the third one (for hamstrings) the also recommended romanian DL.
        Now your recommendations were hack-squat or leg presses. However, due to some knee issues ive not the ability to perform this exercise safely, nor have i access to a leg press machine. Suggestions?
        (Despite this issue, everything should be covered up now, thanks :)

        • Jonas

          Oh theres one last thing- do you theoretically have to do two different bicep exercises or tricep exercises following the 9-set-heavy back/ chest workout on the 4day split or could you also do 6 sets of the same exercise?
          I mean with bicep exercises is that they all work the same, they all are a curl.

          • Michael Matthews

            You can do 6 sets of the same.

          • Jonas

            Man thank you so much, i really appreciate your help!

          • Michael Matthews

            YW!

          • Jonas

            maybe you just overhead this part of my questions, so for here again :)

            ->Thought about lunges too ( functional movement as well, like that, CHECK!;) ) , but then thought it would be quite awkward performing them with such heavy load, since also quite a bit of balance is required and on leg day after squat, this might be a problem. is it?

            Also, at some point i saw you dissuading one guy from this exercise, and told him to rather do leg presse, but i couldnt explain myself why you did that….
            My first thought was actually the Sumo DL, since this variation of the deadlift works primarily quads and generally more legs and littler back… Thoughts about my thoughts? ^^

            Is it also good to just do 6 sets of back squats?

          • Michael Matthews

            Barbell lunges are great. They are not a problem.

            Not sure why LP over lunge it was probably something specific to the guy.

            Sumo deads are okay but I wouldn’t do them on legs day. They’re a back exercise.

            6 sets isn’t enough for a workout unless you’re going to do it again in 3-4 days.

          • Jonas

            No i meant 6 sets of just barbell squats, then 3 sets of romanian Dl..
            But i tried this one out:
            3 sets of barbell back squats
            3 sets of zercher squats
            3 sets of RDLs

            I liked the zercher squats, whats your opinion on this?

            Anyway i didnt felt anything in my glutes/hams on the Deads… I did the exercise the first time and upped the weight every set because i just didnt feel anything’ and at the end still not….

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay. I don’t do Zerchers but they’re okay. I prefer more traditional legs exercises.

            If you didn’t feel anything on the RDLs your form is probably off…

        • Michael Matthews

          You can work in calisthenics a few days after lifting. You’ll have to see how your body responds as overtraining may or may not occur.

          Heavy BB curls are fine. I don’t go heavier than 4-6 reps tho.

          How about lunges?

          • Jonas

            Thought about lunges too ( functional movement as well, like that, CHECK!;) ) , but then thought it would be quite awkward performing them with such heavy load, since also quite a bit of balance is required and on leg day after squat, this might be a problem.

            Also, at some point i saw you dissuading one guy from this exercise, and told him to rather do leg presse, but i couldnt explain myself why you did that….
            My first thought was actually the Sumo DL, since this variation of the deadlift works primarily quads and generally more legs and littler back… Thoughts about my thoughts? ^^

  • Philip

    Just finished “Bigger Leaner Stronger” and it was GREAT! Loved it and have seen real results. Question: Should i take the same amount of supplements on days I don’t work out as the days I do work out?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man! Really appreciate it. Yeah, I like to take creatine and glutamine on off days, but not preworkout, haha.

  • Alex

    Hey Mike,
    I’m about to start a 4-day split like the one outlined in BLS. Should I stagger the exercises like you did for the 3 day split? The only reason I ask is because I am worried that putting sets of curls on back and bis day and Tricep work on chest and tris day in between my large muscle group sets will tire me out and prevent me from going as heavy on the more important compound movements. Is it okay if I do them after? Like I would do my 9 sets of chest then my 6 sets of triceps

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup totally fine you can just train the major and minor groups separately. Work the major first and then do your minor sets.

  • Sam

    Hi Mike
    Sorry a hypothetical exercise here. A friend and I were discussing what’s more important and we couldn’t agree – we wondered what you thought… basically in order of most important to least important (or most effect to least effect) on training and physique I thought:

    1. Calories in vs calories out / nutrition
    2. The training/lifting itself
    3. Getting your macros right (or should this go with number 1?)
    4. Creatine
    5. Sleep / rest
    6. Pre-workout supplement
    7. Post-workout supplement
    8. Other supplements

    He thinks training should be number 1? We’d include whey as part of overall nutrition. Your thoughts? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Great list Sam. Mine is very similar:

      1. Energy balance
      2. Training
      3. Macro ratios
      4. Rest/recovery
      5. Creatine
      6. Other supplements (a good pre- helps you push more weight, whey is useful, a good recovery supplement helps with #4, etc. I’d also include a couple others like fish oil, vitamin D, and spirulina).

  • Climma

    Hey Mike, I am 40 and just started lifting a few months ago and have been wondering whether still is possible for me to get in shape like having nice pecs, abs and overall physique. I am aware that this is difficult at my age, but would you say it is still possible? If so, how long until I can really look at the mirror and feel good? I am 5,5 inches tall and weigh around 150 lbs currently. Any supplements you’d suggest? What about routines?

  • rizwan

    Hi Mike ,

    I Have three questions

    1) How to combine Cardio with Weight Training if i can go to gym only once in a day and five time a week (arms , back , chest , legs and shoulders) . Is it ok to do Cardio (walking plus jogging) 15 min after weight training 3 times a week

    2) How to make use of dropset and superset in our weight training , Any article wherein you have mentioned details about both ?

    3) Since last 3 month i am stuck at lifting same weight and not progressing . How to overcome this

    Regards,

    Rizwan

    • Michael Matthews

      Do your cardio after your lifting.

      Don’t do drop sets or supersets. They suck.

      You’re not training and/or eating correctly. Are you on my program or?

  • Peter

    About the Shrugs on shoulder day? Not that sure about them, i think they could lead to problems for many as those upper traps are usually overworked ( i myself experience tense and burning traps from time to time, now again after trying this exercise on base of your recommendstion from your book) because of shitty western style sitting (in front of a computer) all day long, why should we then worsen our posture even more by pulling our shoulder to our ears(-> getting used to bad movement patterns, as pur shoulder should be sitting down and back in its joint socket) with a heavy load in our internally(!, bad position) rotated hands(arms).
    As i know it would probably be much more important to work our lower traps.

    Dom you think as well that this is a really bad exercise?

    • Michael Matthews

      You can leave the shrugs out. They’re not a bad exercise but if they bother you, you don’t have to do them. Your traps will get worked on back day…

  • Jonas

    What do you think about this? Your recommending abs exercises that require great flexion of the spine…
    http://bonytobeastly.com/crunches-are-not-cool-man/

    Now that youve written the article about ba k workouts, i domt have much questions left, thank you! :)
    However, one thing requiresnto be asked regarding posture:

    Your BLS-program offers same amounts of pulling(back) and pushing(chest) work.
    However, my Physiotherapist and also many other trustworthy people said its important to have an 2:1 ratioin pulling and oushing work ( double amount of pulling), as those posterior chain muscles are the ones that basically are stabilizing our joints, also its important for posture and hence for performance, a healthy body, and being free of injuries.

    I personally probably need this specifically as i had sgoulder issues several times due to pushing too much (actually, the same amount as pulling, still wasnt enough!) so this ratio brought by your program pribably wouldnt work for me… What would you suggest? Doing only two chest exercises rathed than three? Working in a higher rep range?:

    Thank you! :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Honestly you’re making things way more complicated than they need to be.

      So long as your pull and push are balanced you’ll be totally fine.

      Do overhead presses or millitary presses for shoulders and barbell curls and close-grip bench for arms.

  • Type 2x Fiber

    What would you consider yourself as?
    A Bodybuilder? A strength-athlete?
    idk, tell me :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha not sure. A guy that likes to work out and help others get into shape. ;)

  • Martinyxe

    What d’ya think about carbloading in this context:

    Eating fats and protein for breakfast and lunch, maybe also get some, but only little carbs with lunch ( that all basically for staying at a constant energy level wirh no “energy level drops/ getting tired ” , then training afternoon, after training eating all carbs to refill depleted glycogrn stores) (well, then they stay refillef over night and the next day until training, also this havin excessive carbs in the evening will male tired and hence care for a goof nights sleep) thoughts?

    • Pedro

      Dude, meal and macros timing doesn’t matter if yoy fit your macros at the end of the day. Don’t make thinks harder, just hit your macros, train hard making progress, eat 80-90% of your food from whole and healthy food and make some room for treats. Trust me and trust Mike, doing that types of stuff will make NO huge difference.

      Pedro.

      • Jonas

        I think it makes a difference because it helps me to come through my day without beintired..

        • Jonas

          Martin, are you primal/paleo?

        • Michael Matthews

          If it helps with energy levels that’s fine, work it.

      • Michael Matthews

        Yup, simple but true. There is something to be said for post-workout protein, but again it’s a minor point.

        • Jonas

          but somehow it makes no sense to say that everything that you consume exactly in the time-window of 24 hours just matters in calorie/ macro breakdown…
          i mean theres no chance that your body sets something like a “reset to zero” button every night…

          • Michael Matthews

            You can look at intake on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis of course. It’s just easiest to deal with daily.

    • Michael Matthews

      This is fine if you want to time your meals like this. It won’t do anything special, but so long as your daily numbers are right, your body will do fine.

  • Kristin

    Hi Mike, I actually downloaded one of your myth books on my kindle for a free fitness read. I love fitness and got really into it after I had my first baby. I use a lot of beach body workouts because I have two small kids and can rarely get to a gym. However, I have a bad back with a few herniated discs. It drives me crazy because I am only 25. It’s at the point now where I have to cut a lot of the high impact stuff out. Do you have any recommendation for me as far as lifting weights go? I have always been nervous about it because I get scared of further injuring myself.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Kristin!

      Cool on what you’re doing. Arg I’m sorry to hear about the back.

      You should be able to do plenty of lifting, you’ll just have to avoid certain things like heavy squats and deadlifts.

      Have you done any rehab for your back? Seen a chiropractor?

  • fuzegraphics

    Some questions about your custom meal plans:

    1) If I am not happy with the meal plan can it be revised to suit my tastes, food availability etc.?

    The one thing I am afraid of is that we don’t get all the brands and types of foods in South Africa that other countries do such as the US.

    2) I want something super simple because I hate having to cook from recipe books. I am happy to eat grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables for supper, that’s how simple I want it to be. Will it be possible to create this type of custom meal plan?

    • Michael Matthews

      1. Yes absolutely, we fully customize it so everyone is happy with it.

      2. No problem. We will do it as simple or intricate as you’d like!

  • Jonas

    Mike you suggest to have a ratio like this:
    300 g carbs
    150 g protein
    60 g fat
    (For 150 pound male, thats exactly what i am )

    Now my ratio looks more like this ( photo attached), because i eat very natural, a bit primal infused… Is your suggestion the only way to go?
    Why do you need that much carbs, and why do you suggest so little fat… I thought fats were good…

    • Jonas

      ( ive been doing a fairly strict paleolish diet since august,been adding more and more carbs and thought it vould be alright now…:/ )

    • Michael Matthews

      Good questions. I address them in my article on meal planning check it out.

  • james

    Hi Mike,
    Looked up a website dedicated to Eugene Sandow, the founder of all things bodybuilding and discoverd that his Grecian Ideal for creating the ideal physique based on your personal measurements did not include back and shoulder for some reason. Any thoughts?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey James!

      Search for “ideal” on my site and you’ll find my article on this subject!

  • Lukas

    Hi Mike
    U advise casein at night time (be it cottage cheese/supp etc) for slow release aminos but won’t it affect insulin levels during the fasting state ie if ur doing intermittent fasting? Also stupid question but does blender whey protein cause any denaturing? Or warming it up in microwave/cooking with it? And what about mixing in creatine with post workout whey/carbs in shake any issues with that?
    Thanks for the help and wish you continued success with the great website and Legion.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yes protein will raise insulin levels above baseline, breaking the fasted state.

      No, I’ve never seen any evidence that blending or heating up protein denatures it.

      No issues mixing creatine in.

      Thanks for your support man!

  • Rick

    Hi Mike I am new to your site and books, but really like what I have read upto now! I have fallen hook line and sinker for the suppliments trap, and the broscience! But one thing that has taunted me over the years are my legs! They never seem to change! Do you have any ideas as a good way to shock them and hit them hard? The last workout that I did was Beachbody’s Body Beast, sure it hurt them but they never seemed to grow!! I am now 35 and beginning to think I will have chicken legs for life! Haha

    • Sam L

      Rick – welcome to the club I am also 35, and am tall (skinny fat!) vegetarian who also did BodyBeast! Just to give u some moral support, I noticed my legs getting stronger (always my weak point) and thicker having been on Bigger Leaner Stronger for nearly 6 months now. Heavy squats are definitely way to go. Problem with BodyBeast Legs is there are a bazillion reps so weight too light to use = more cardio then muscle building.
      PS I would HIGHLY recommend the article Mike wrote about how to squat properly and hip flexibility – I realised for 3 months I wasn’t doing it right! Good luck. Sam

      • Michael Matthews

        Thanks Sam! Keep up the good work!

      • Rick

        Cheers for that! I have now found that I just had jo go in the newest drop down box! I did Insanity first and lost a bucket load of weight! Which I did not want to do! Then Body Beast I gained a little, Just over half a stone. Makes sense what you say about BB! Today is my 1st day of BLS! I will check out the article, Cheers for that! Thicker and stronger legs sounds good to me!!! :)

        • Michael Matthews

          Keep me posted Rick!

      • Michael Matthews

        Thanks Sam! Really glad to hear you’re doing well.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rick! I really appreciate it.

      Absolutely with your legs. Growing them is very simple: focus on heavy compound movements like the squat, lunge, leg press, and hack squat, and they grow.

      If you check out my Bigger Leaner Stronger program, I think you’ll really like it…

      • Rick

        Cheers for that! I now have my copy of BLS plus 8 months till my holiday!! Hopfully with new legs!! I will keep you posted! Oh a lot of the workouts I will do at home, I have a squat rack, pull up bar, dip station, lat tower, but no leg press! Would switching the leg press for any other exercises in you book still do? Like the Romainian deadlift? I have to do a lot of improvising! As i dont live near a gym to get to it! Cheers

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha nice, please do keep me posted! No worries on the LP. I would do barbell lunges instead…

          • Rick

            Spot on thanks for that! :)

          • Michael Matthews

            YW!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rick! Just wanna let you know I replied to your other comment about this!

  • Pingback: MFL Podcast #1: Cutting tips, losing stubborn fat, fasted training, and more… | Muscle For Life

  • Anon

    When can we see more Mike Matthews workout videos please? I mean watching Ronnie Coleman doing back is one thing but he ain’t no Mike Matthews!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hahaha Ronnie was suuuuuch a tank. I’m looking at doing a video product this year though!

    • Rick

      I would buy those! Defo!!

      • Michael Matthews

        Thanks brother! :)

  • Cody

    Read your book Bigger Leaner Stronger and am using your workouts and really focusing on contraction and form rather than trying to push a lot of weight with poor form. I live on a college campus and struggle to hit my macros and am trying to lose body fat while building muscle for an overall leaner build. I’m 6′ 210 right now but have always had an athletic build but i want my six pack back. How can i find a way to get good quality and healthy food from the available options on my campus.

  • Jonas

    So in your program also calve raises for strengthening the calves is included..
    You always speak of having balance, like to work the back same as the front of the body… so why are there no exercises for the front muscles of the tibialis included… ( like toe raises)??

  • Lord Whorfin

    Hi Mike- started your workout program 6 weeks ago, and seeing differences in strength and appearance. My goal is to lose 100 lbs, and build muscle at same time.I am 60 y/o male, using Bowflex, concept 2 rower and stationary bike. Workout plan is easy to follow. Only doing cardio 2-3 times a week, and Tabatas included in cardio.

    Now for my question- I just got your Legion Whey, and tried it. I do not care for chocolate shakes any ways, but your formulation just does not taste good to me. So, when is a vanilla version coming out, and is it possible to return/exchange what I have. I purchased thru Amazon.
    Thanks for a great book, and help me if you can.

    Phil Winsor

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome Phil, I like it! Keep me posted on how everything goes.

      With the whey, yes that’s no problem shoot an email to contact@legionsupplements.com. It turns out some people are more sensitive to leucine than others, that’s all. We already have it fixed for the next batch.

  • Rory Malan

    Hi Mike, recently purchased an edition of your Bigger, Leaner, Stronger and have a question around the “Bulking” and “Cutting” stages. I am predominately wanting to add size in terms of muscle mass however would still like to shed some excess fat specifically around the waist area. How much fat do you lose through the “Bulking” stage and how much muscle mass do you gain on the “Cutting” stage. Confused as to which one to start with?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rory!

      Check out this article, it will answer your questions:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

  • GMoney

    Hi Mike: I am a 54 yr old female weighing about 153 lbs, 5’7″ tall. I recently lost about 20 lbs. cutting out sugars and most carbs. so nowI want to tone and build muscle weight. I’m working out 2 days a week with a trainer and a couple of days on my own lifting weights. What kind of protein powder would you suggest for me to help add muscle quicker? I do not want to lose anymore weight since I’m tall and don’t want to lose all my curves. thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice on the weight loss! Great on what you’re doing.

      Search my site for “protein” and you’ll find an article just for you!

  • GMoney

    I also forgot to mention I’m a little insulin sensitive….no meds or problems.

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry but I’m not sure what this is in reference to.

  • willie

    hey matt i have a inj of trorn mas bic pec conect to the chest what to do to make it strong

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry but rehab isn’t my specialty…

  • Andy

    Hey Mike!

    I started Jim Stoppani’s ‘Shortcut to Shred’ before I found your website. I’m one to try and finish what I start, so I’m currently a week into his 6 week plan. I’m just wondering what you think of the S2S, as it is very different to what you do for cutting (it involves cardioacceleration in-between weight sets). Do you like this program or do you think it’s a bit gimmicky? If so, once I’ve finished, I’d love to start any of your cutting programs. I’m currently 24% bf and am aiming for 10% in 2014.

    Could you point me in the direction of your shredding tips/articles? Cheers :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Cool on what you’re doing. I’m not familiar with it but don’t like combining cardio and lifting.

      If you check out the “losing weight” and “weight loss” article categories, you’ll find all kinds of good stuff. :)

  • Aaron Hooper

    When creating a programme what’s the best way to break down the muscle groups for workouts? i.e working back and biceps a good idea or just working back/arms/legs/shoulders/chest as individual session?

    • Michael Matthews

      There are different ways to going about it but the best programs have you train everything 1 – 2 times per week.

      If you’re training everything twice per week, you’re doing 3 types of workouts: push, pull, and legs. If you’re training everything once per week, you’re training one major muscle group per workout.

      Like “ideal” rep ranges, optimal training frequency is a hotly debated subject. The bottom line is it boils down to workout intensity and volume. The lighter the weights and fewer the sets, the more often you can train the muscle group.

      In the case of BLS, you hit your muscles hard, with about 50-60 reps per workout, with all reps recruiting maximum muscle fibers (due to the load). The reality is unless you have superhuman recovery, you just won’t be able to do these workouts more than once per 5 days. Once per 7 days is probably a LITTLE more rest than some people need, but I think it’s better to err on that side than the side of overtraining.

      The bottom line is EVERYONE that follows the program makes rapid strength and size gains. Even long-time lifters.

  • GarethM

    Hi Mike,

    i’ve just started your Bigger Leaner Stronger programme and I’m enjoying it, but I’m not sure if I have perfectly figured out how to adjust it for four times a week. I’m especially struggling to figure out when I fit cardio into my week.

    I have included my 4 day routine below, what do you think?

    Tuesday – Chest and Triceps
    Bench Press
    Incline Bench Press
    Dips
    Triceps Push Down
    Seated Tricep Press

    Thursday – Back and Biceps

    Barbell Deadlift
    One-Arm Dumbbell Row
    Close-Grip Lat Pulldown
    Alternating Dumbbell Curl
    Barbell Curl

    Saturday – Back and Abs
    Seated Barbell Military Press
    Side Lateral Rise
    Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise
    Barbell Shrugs
    Cable Crunch
    Captains Chair Leg Raise
    Air Bicycles

    Sunday – Legs
    Barbell Squat
    Leg Press
    Romanian Deadlift

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for commenting Gareth! I believe you emailed me on this? I replied!

  • Andy Patton

    So I am doing the year one challenge after reading BLS (thanks for doing an audiobook BTW) I am coming from Starting Strength- Anyhow here is the question.
    My deadlift is at 200 my squat is at 250 is that wrong? Everytime I look at others numbers their deadlift is always better than the squat.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Andy! Deads are usually ahead of squat but that’s okay–just work at it and both will improve…

  • Rick

    Hi Mike thanks for your reply! My copy of BLS has arrived on Saturday so I am starting today! Sam L my comp said that you replied but I cant seem to find it! Still navigating my way through! I will keep you posted on my progress! Heres to bigger legs! Everything else is a bonus! Haha

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! Let me know how it goes! Yeah sometimes this comment plugin goes wonky. I do reply to everything though!

    • Sam L

      I think this was the reply: Rick – welcome to the club I am also 35, and am tall (skinny fat!) vegetarian who also did BodyBeast! Just to give u some moral support, I noticed my legs getting stronger (always my weak point) and thicker having been on Bigger Leaner Stronger for nearly 6 months now. Heavy squats are definitely way to go. Problem with BodyBeast Legs is there are a bazillion reps so weight too light to use = more cardio then muscle building.
      PS I would HIGHLY recommend the article Mike wrote about how to squat properly and hip flexibility – I realised for 3 months I wasn’t doing it right! Good luck. Sam

      • Rick

        That sounds like mine! Altough I aint used a guest as I registered right off! All sorted though! Sorry for the confusion!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Is this sorted yet? Sorry I’m getting confused across the various threads haha.

  • Pedro G.

    Hi Mike,

    I found your website by chance, quickly became a fan and recently purchased Bigger Leaner Stronger and The Shredded Chef. So thank you for all of that!
    My question is in regards to adapting most of the information in BLS (and the website) to Crossfit, especially when it comes to nutrition and supplementation in what seems like the Holy Grail pursuit of fitness in modern times: fat-loss/muscle-gain. Now, I’ve read your article about Crossfit, which is really interesting, but I find it’s really working for me personally. It has been motivating, effective, and, maybe most importantly, I just really enjoy it. Do you think most of the guidelines in BLS and TSChef make a good combination with Crossfit for most of the same results? My goal is going from 22% (currently) to 10-8% body fat and around 10 kilograms more of muscle mass, in about 6 months. I understand this is maybe not your specialty, but what are your thoughts on the possibility of that on a 4-5 times a week WOD plan for a 25-year-old?
    Cheers from Brazil,
    Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Pedro! I really appreciate it!

      Cool on the CrossFit. Keep it up if you’re liking it. We can work around it but we have to watch out for overtraining.

      If you’re Xfitting 4-5x per week I wouldn’t add any lifting on top of that. Maybe we could add some cardio but that’s it…

  • Andrew Heskett

    Mike, I’m following the BLS routine, but for some exercises, I’m at 6,6,6 but find the next weight up too difficult to manage a 4,4,4. Should I do the 3×6 much slower, temporarily increase my reps to 3×8 for those particular problem exercises or add another set (4×6)? My gym has dumbbells that go up in 5 lb increments. This leads me to my next question: my gym’s dumbbells max out at 50lb and I’ve maxed out a few of the exercises (and the cable crunch at 250lb). My form is correct and timing is slow, which I’m assuming is a good thing. Should I increase the reps to 8 or add another set?
    I should probably look for another gym but my wife loves it for the beach and pool side of things. Happy wife, happy life.
    Also, I can’t get the thought of fighting a horse sized duck out of my head.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm if you can hit 6-6-6 you should definitely be able to do 4-4-4 on your next workout. That said, if you really can’t, hit 7-8 reps for one set and then try to move up right away (next set).

      You don’t want to go too slow. 2-1-2 is a good rhythm.

      You can also increase to the 6-8 rep range to get more life out of the DBs but once you’ve defeated that, it’s time to switch exercises and go back to 4-6.

      LOL would be terrifying, no?

  • Jonas

    Hey Mike,

    i dont get the “technique” of your BLS programm fully:
    the 4-6 rep range, does that mean that i have to do 4 reps in every 3 set s of a particular exercise in Week 1, then do 5 reps in every set in week 2, and 6 reps in all 3 sets in week 4, than up the weight in week 5 so that only 4 reps can be performed again, and repeat?
    or is it like that, that you should try very hard to do 6 reps in every set you perform, until you are able to perform those 6 reps, and then up the weight in the very next set, even if its in the same workout?
    could you explain this to some better way, i read the paragraph where its described in your book several times, but i dont get it..

    and what is if you are not that strong for any reason that day and neither get the reps you usually do nor are able to progress?

    or what if i can do 6 reps, up the weight so i can only do 4 reps with that weight, but am unable to do ; reps again or even more( as it should be aimed to perform more every set) in the next sets?

    • Michael Matthews

      Nope, you push it as hard as you can each set and once you hit 6 reps, you move up in weight for your next set. That way you make gains over time…

  • Sam L

    Hey Mike, do you know of any time limit re. caffeine intake vs creatine so not to effect absorption of creatine? IE I take preworkout 6am, train approx 615, take post workout shake with creatine+ mixed in at say 8-830 is that long enough?
    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      I wouldn’t worry about that at the moment. The one study that has gone around on this hasn’t been replicated and the mechanism isn’t understood. It might have been a fluke…

  • Jason Hunton

    Hi Mike

    With regards to the chest routine in bigger, leaner, stronger, would it be acceptable to mix it up and use bench press, incline dumbells and dips, rather than strictly either barbell or dumbells and see the same results?

    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Yes, definitely, although I don’t recommend switching it up every week. Stick with the same routine for at least 4 weeks so you can make progress on the lifts….

      • Jason Hunton

        Cheers Mike, Ill stick to that for the 8-12 week mark, I think, just becomes less monotonous for me that way.

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay cool that sounds good.

  • Jonas

    Do you have to choose between either 4-6 reps with all exercise OR 5-7 with every exercise or can i also adjust particular exercise(s) to that 5-7 rep range?
    i kind of feel like i’d need that adjustement for the barbell row since i find it hard to kerp perfect form and never really feel like ive actually worked my back with that heavy weight

    • Michael Matthews

      Yes that’s totally fine. 5-7 still works well.

  • Jonas

    Im worried about doing those isolation exercises that heavy to be able to stay in the 4-6 rep range. Now some days ago you revealed that it is also legit to do those lateral and rear delt raises within the 6-8 rep range to make sure to have perfect form.
    can i do my bicep curls and trizep extensions also in that 6-8 rep range?
    also i find it VERY hard, mostly impossible to do the exercise for that required rep range after upping the weight by 2.5 lbs. Should i increase the weight for barbell exercises hence by only 1.5 or 1 lbs?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah you can but I would recommend trying to stick to 4-6. My arms and shoulders have grown a lot since I made this shift…

      If you can’t move up 5 lbs, then you can shoot for two sets of 6 or 8 reps, then try. If that doesn’t work, 3 sets.

  • pete

    Should you lock out your elbows during bench press/ weighted pushups or dips or overhead press?

    • Michael Matthews

      I reach the top of every rep yes.

  • Ryan Millar

    Thanks for the meal plan its very well suited to me.

    For lack of a place on your website to contact you about the meal plan you created for me, I would like to ask a question or 2:

    The calories seem very high for a cutting cycle (2365). Is this because of the exercise that I mentioned that I am currently doing?

    There was not a place on the questionnaire to specify what exercise I would like to do and since I will be moving to your 1 year plan does this affect the recommended calorie intake?

    Ryan Millar

    BTW I am logged in on your website but I get this: “The e-mail address you specified is already in use. (Do you already have an account?)” No idea how to answer that…?

    • Michael Matthews

      Oops sorry about that. I will have one of my staff contact on these points!

  • Dino

    Hi Mike,

    I love for what you stand for. I just ordered your creatine product off amazon yesterday and it got here today, even though I did 2 day shipping! I live in Kansas City, so I was thinking you must ship out close to here? I’m getting ready to order more to definitely support you.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Dino! I really appreciate it! And Amazon just dominates shipping–I’m warehoused with them.

      Let me know how you like the product and thanks again for your support!

    • Rick

      I agree! Its really refreshing to have an honest no bs not attempting to fleece people, and seems to have a genuine want to help and advise people! Wish I knew about this years ago!!!

      • Michael Matthews

        Thanks Rick! :)

  • Sherlock

    Hi Mike
    Any news on when/if Amazon UK will be able to supply Legion?
    Thank you

    • Michael Matthews

      We can currently ship to the UK but we don’t have proper distribution set up just yet mainly because we are waiting on our next batch of products (we are running low) and are setting aside the $ it will cost in lawyer fees and such as we have to get everything reviewed by both lawyers and food regulators…

  • Stephen

    Mike,

    I love your books. I have bigger, leaner, stronger, the one year challenge journal and the shredded chef. I am following all of them religiously. I am on week 4 and haven’t cheated or skipped a beat and loving it along the way.

    I am going to start adding cardio into my daily routine. I currently workout at 5 a.m. every day (M-F). I am going to start doing cardio at night 4 days a week as I need to lose some belly fat and it’s not coming off although I am seeing major improvements with my muscle mass and strength. (I’m doing the ‘lean meals’ and keeping my calories, protein, carbs and fats right
    inline with your formulas)

    My question. Instead of doing HIIT, would it hurt me to do the new T 25 program 4 nights a week? I know it’s mostly a HIIT type program with cardio and heart rate as the key thing but I don’t want to hinder my muscle recovery / growth by doing this instead of HIIT on a bike or stairmaster.

    Let me know your thoughts. Thank you in advance!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Stephen, I really appreciate it!

      Cool on your plan and the T25 program is totally fine. It’s 25 minutes of HIIT, right?

      • sstephenstephen

        It’s basically an 8 disc workout video program made by the same people as insanity. 25 minutes of craziness but no weights…. I just don’t want to hurt my muscle growth….

        • Michael Matthews

          Nice, sounds fun. 25 min of cardio is perfect.

      • Stephen

        It’s a workout video series that just came out. Same as insanity and those other series. No weights but defiitely intense. I just don’t want it to hinder my muscle recovery since it is technically a ‘body workout’ but seems more like a cardio workout to me….

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay cool. Yeah I checked it out and that looks like good cardio.

  • Angel

    Mike,
    So I got your book BLS and read about proper warm up reps. I never actually lifted as a warm up before and I was wondering how much it affects what you can actually lift. My friend helped me start a lift program and my first week of lifting killed me, this is before I read about a lift warm up. This week I do your warm up and I am not dying today. Did I not lift enough?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Angel! The warmup routine really does help quite a bit. And don’t worry muscle soreness isn’t really indicative of progress:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/reduce-muscle-soreness/

      • Angel

        Just got to that chapter. Guess I should have read a little bit longer. I’m used to the OMG i think I am dead feeling, and this way of training is new to me. The only other question I think I can ask at the moment is what do you think of TRX?

        • Rick

          I am the same as you! It feels alien not burning or being in pain the next few days!!

          • Michael Matthews

            I know. I used to destroy myself in the gym every day but made crappy gains.

          • Angel

            Thanks Mike. TRX just feels like masked Cardio to me. I ordered the food plan too. Hopefully you guys come up with something hotel travel friendly. Sucks only having a microwave.Look forward to learning and getting BLS

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha yeah it kind of is. Check out this article:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-stay-in-shape-when-youre-traveling/

          • Rick

            Its great I am now approching my 3rd week! I am now lifting heavier and have now reached 100kgs on the chest press. I never really bothered with it before as I did body weight exercises or body beast or lots of reps, basically everything you said inyour book!! So i am kinda a newbie to all things compound! But really enjoying it! Thank you!

          • Michael Matthews

            Wow, awesome! Keep it up!

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha yeah it will be a bit of an adjustment but you’ll do fine.

          TRX is fine for bodyweight training, but it’s not nearly as effective as weightlifting…

  • Lucas Nóbrega

    Hello Michael, i’m Lucas from Brazil and have to say that your book is very interesting. I learned things that I had no idea that could work, the gym’s instructors these days are fulled of bad work out plans that don’t give the best to your body.
    Now im following your diet and work out schedule and in just a few days I feel different related to my body, I get less tired after work outs but still felling that my muscle get pulled.
    Thanks for your book! I hope get the body I want.
    Congrats!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Lucas! Let me know how everything goes!

  • Timst

    Mike, I am liking the low rep workouts but have a problem training quads. In a previous post I mentioned I was restricted in my gym to a smith machine, a machine leg press (not plate loaded), and a leg extension machine. WIth that said, going heavy in the low range reps is really aggrivating my knees to the point where they are sore for up to a week. I’m careful to make sure my knees do not pass my toes and try to be very good on form. Quads and calves are such a weak point for me that I hate to not train them heavy but the knees are the problem here. Any suggestions? Move to higher reps and medium weight? I’ve done a 5 minute warm up and even some light leg extensions plus the warmups you recommend.

    • Michael Matthews

      Arg that’s not the best gym setup but yes we should reduce the weight on the Smith Squats at least. Try 6-8 reps. You can do barbell lunges on the Smith too–those are good for the quads. The leg press is as well.

  • Joey P

    Hey Mike, I’m a big fan of your work. I’m currently working on gaining some mass but I am going to be starting a cutting phase soon. Your protocol suggests 3-4 days of HIT cardio. I currently ride my bike every day to get to school and work. Usually it takes me about 20 minutes. Should I do HIT training on top of this during the cut or should I try to just make HIT cardio out of the commute? One other question, when transitioning from a bulk to a cut how drastically should I reduce my calories? Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Joey!

      Your bike riding will be perfect. You could just turn that into HIIT if you’d like, or not, and you’ll do fine.

      It depends on your metab, but you can start by eating 300 cals less than you currently are and see how far that takes you. Then continue to reduce as your weight loss stalls.

      • Joey P

        Awesome sounds good, thanks Mike!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

  • Angel

    Hey Mike,
    I have a question about Ab’s and time mangement. In BLS you try and keep a person in the gym for about an hour. If time was not an issue would you anything else to your workout? Also the thing with Ab’s, I was always told that was something you could train everyday. Is that true?

    • Michael Matthews

      No, not really. You can do your abs after your major muscle group if you’d like. Some people like that.

      You can train abs every day but you have to keep the volume low. I’ve found that 3-4 weighted sets every day can work.

  • Chelsey

    I bought your book, Thinner Leaner Stronger, and since I’m a complete newbie to lifting, I have a question about barbell rows…. In chapter 20 for the day 2 back exercises, you include “barbell rows”. In the alternate exercises for back, you list “bent over barbell rows”. What is the difference between the two? I searched youtube and I couldn’t find plain old “barbell rows”, there were bent-over rows or upright rows. Please help. Thank you

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Chelsey!

      Ah sorry that’s the same thing. If you watch the video I link, that’s the correct form.

  • Jonas

    Mike, what do you think about carb cycling? (High carb on intense training days( legs,chest, back) and low carb on rest and less intense training days ( shoulders)?

    Then, what should, on your opinion, the macro composition be like on each of the two different days? Detailed advise would be really helpful!

    PS.: Already seeing first improvements,your program is working, haha! :D

  • john

    I just bought your book ‘bigger leaner stronger’ it didnt arrive yet but i wanted to ask you is it just the basic information about muscle gain and fat loss or would it be more advanced ? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks John! Yes it will teach you all of the basics. My book for advanced lifters will be out in a month or so.

  • Jonas

    well, but one advantage with carb cycling is that you dont have carbs when you dont need them on your rest days, while, on “your” diet, the carbs dont really get used by the body..or?

    • Michael Matthews

      Your body can always use carbs. It doesn’t ever “not need them.” It just has a higher demand for energy on days you train.

      This might help:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-lose-weight-without-counting-calories/

      • Jonas

        but why then dont we eat more on training days?

        also, how necessary is it do do that cardio? i dont have access to such a bycicle, and running might not be the best idea for me because of some nasty tendonitis stuff..

        • Michael Matthews

          I will talk about that in my next book but I prefer it for maintaining as any days you’re in a deficit do negatively impact your muscle growth, and your body is repairing muscles for anywhere from 3 – 5 days after you train.

          Cardio only becomes necessary when you want to get really lean.

  • BMAC

    Hi Mike, new to your site, have read your books, and followed as best I can..but have a question. Im 42, 5’9 179. Eating no more than 1800 calories per day. Been doing this for 2 months. Been lifting weights, but very little cardio….usually kettle bell swings 3x a week. Problem is Im not losing any weight. Stay between 178-181. Thought I was eating to little, but when I add more calories I gain. Do I need to go below 1800? Seems very low. I hate the way I look, lean all over except for stomach and love handles….. Skinny fat! Thoughts?

  • BMAC

    Mike, great site. Have read your books and try to follow along. My problem, been lifting weights for two months, and diet has been no more than 1800 calories a day. Problem..I don’t lose weight. I stay around 179-181. Im 42, 5’9 179 lbs. Don’t do a lot of cardio, but will start to do that. I thought I wasn’t eating enough, but when I up the calories I do gain weight. Do I need to go lower? Thought 1800 calories is pretty low. Hate the way I look, lean and muscular but stomach is fat as well as love handles…..shinny fat. Thoughts?

  • Sam

    Hi Mike can I use a tricep bar (hammer close grip) as a T bar row equivalent? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup! You can rig up a t-bar with that and a barbell.

  • Ahmed

    Hi Mike

    I need your help .Year ago I was weight 86 kg high 172 cm . I trained hard and I
    did a lot of cardio, now my weight becomes 70 kg , but my body becomes ( skinny fat ). I read your article about skinny fat solution and I found it interesting . I have started doing your steps about heavy weightlifting , cardio and nutrition . I want to ask you about cardio. I do ( Tabata HIIT )
    cardio for 20 minutes ( 3-4 sessions ) per week first thing in the morning on
    empty stomach because I do not have time in the evening to do cardio , but my
    friend of mine told me that when you do cardio on empty stomach you will lose
    muscles. Is it true or not can you explain please?

    Ahmed

  • theoldbeerbelly

    Mike, First off I’m a long time fan! Now that we got that out of the way. I’ve been dealing with dull pain in my lower back, left side from a deadlift injury nearly 8 weeks ago. The pain comes and goes and is very inconsistent. (sometimes it hurts while stretching while other times I can feel it no matter what I do) I’ve tried seeing a chiropractor, doing rehab exercises and stretches, foam rolling, etc. It’s a very slight pain, more annoying than anything. I can still lift, sometimes without pain, but I’m afraid if I ignore it it won’t go away. I don’t have insurance so seeing a regular doctor just to get a referral to a physio wold be extremely costly. Should I quit lifting all together for a while? Continue stretching and foam rolling? Your advice would mean a lot.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much!

      Damn I’m sorry to hear that. Let’s stay away from any exercises that aggravate it. You don’t have to stop lifting, but no deadlifting for now or anything else that pisses it off.

      Stretching and foam rolling is a good idea, yes.

      Let’s do that for 4-6 weeks and see how it is…

  • Ahmed

    Hi Mike

    I need your help .Year ago I was weight 86 kg high 172 cm . I trained hard and I
    did a lot of cardio, now my weight becomes 70 kg , but my body becomes (skinny fat).I read your article about skinny fat solution and I found it interesting . I have started doing your steps about heavy weightlifting , cardio and nutrition . I want to ask you about cardio. I do ( Tabata HIIT ) cardio for 20 minutes ( 3-4 sessions ) per week first thing in the morning on empty stomach because I do not have time in the evening to do cardio , but my friend of mine told me that when you do cardio on empty stomach you will lose muscles. Is it true or not can you explain please?

    Ahmed

  • sorearms

    I have been following the bigger leaner stronger workout for almost a year now. On arm days I seem to be getting a sharp pain in my forearms when I curl using a bar. It feels kind of like shin splints but in the forearms or as if the muscle is pulling away from the bone or something. The pain typically is the worst when I set the weight down and release my grip. I originally thought that I was doing too much weight but after decreasing the weight the pain is still present (not as bad but still there). I spoke to a Dr. and he took an xray and said nothings there but a little inflammation and told me to take some ibuprofen. He also recommended that I use some sort of a support. Ive used KT tape, athletic tape and wraps. They seem to help but I still cant lift heavy. I talked to a couple of guys around the gym who approached me when they saw the tape on my forearm and it turns out that they had the same problem. Their solution was to stop using the bar. Any experience with this problem or suggested exercises? In the meantime my arm routine consists of dumbbell curls, triceps push downs, hammer curls, triceps extensions.

    • Michael Matthews

      The forearm ache can happen, it’s being caused by the heavy arms training. The solution is simple: let’s cut the weight back to the 6-8 rep range on your arms training and it should be fine.

      Give that a try and let me know!

  • Angel

    Mike,
    So I have been at it for a while now. A friend helped me start up BLS before I got the book and I have seen gains in every area but one. Arms. I used to attack arms like no other, with tons of sets, slow reps negtives and Super sets. Though I never saw a lot of size gains I still saw some improvement in what I could lift. I have been in a stalemate with my arm lifts. Someone reccommended doing “Fat Grips” arm workout into BLS. So whats the deal with Thick bars, how do I use them to my advantage and help my arms grow. I know in your equipment recommend page you show titan grips.In any case advice would be great

    • Michael Matthews

      Arms can be a real pain but if you keep moving up on your big lifts and arms day, they WILL grow. Guaranteed.

      Fat Grips will help with forearm strength but not with arm size.

  • Andre

    Hello, my name is Andre and I’m from Brazil. I was about to start your Bigger, Leaner, Stronger program, when a little problem came up… here in Brazil, supplements are very expensive, I mean… very, very expensive! Just for an example, the smallest bottle that I saw is the equivalent to U$160,00 in brazilian money, and the bottle was realy tiny, it wouldn’t last a weak… so my question is: there is a way to make a good nutrition without supplements?

  • Richard B. Dum

    Hello Michael, I have just finished reading your Bigger Leaner Stronger book and today (Monday) I hit the gym with your 5 day plan mapped out. For my body weight I’ll need 170g of protein per day, but how do I count that? Do only complete proteins count, or if my whole grain rye bread says 4g per slice, and my almonds say 4g per serving, does that add up to 8g towards my daily total? Or does only the complete protein grams of my meat/eggs/dairy/whey count?

  • Rick

    I have been so into my BLS workouts! I have now ordered Thinner Leaner Stronger for my girlfriend!! Happy Valentines day!! Haha

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rick! Haha I hope she takes it the right way! ;)

  • Sealtobe

    Hey Mike, so I’m 17 years old, 6′ 165lbs with about 10% body fat, and I have a very limited background in weight lifting, however, I am extremely athletic. I am a competitive runner and swimmer and I do calisthenics based workouts(often weighted) like you will see from the bar brothers or adam raw. My question to you is what would you recommend in terms of a training program? I plan on serving in the military starting in about two years, so my running, swimming and calisthenics are important, however they are not resulting in the body I desire(this is also due to a lack of consistency on my part) and I am looking for a way to incorporate weight lifting into my regime without overtraining and limiting my ability for growth. Thanks a bunch man and sorry for the long question(as a final note what is you height and weight, I’m trying to gauge my ideal weight)

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey!

      Great on your stats and athletics.

      You’re in an awesome place to start hitting heavy weights. You’ll make incredible gains.

      What’s your exercise schedule currently like?

      • Sealtobe

        I do chest/shoulders on mondays and thursdays(mostly pushups pull-ups, and muscle ups) legs and core on tuesdays and fridays. My running and swimming are kinda inconsistent due to injuries, and junior year. Also note, I do have you book

        • Sealtobe

          I also have a weekend commitment(saturdays) to a group called F3; its a morning workout consisting of an hour of running, pushups, squats, and other similar exercises, this is not something i can skip, however I am slightly worried that it may hinder some muscle gains

          • Sealtobe

            Finally I also forgot to mention that I’m struggling over choosing a workout time. I would like to do 5;45 every morning which would be great, I would get up every day at the same time and would never skip a workout. The downside is that I wouldn’t be able to have a pre workout meal, and I would have to run to and from gym (1.5 miles total) I can possibly increase this time to 6:45 or later in the day but any time after 7 and my school schedule would make my times inconsistent. Just wanted your opinion on what would result in the best gains

          • Michael Matthews

            Why couldn’t you have a preworkout meal? And the run isn’t a good idea. A leisurely bike ride would be better. Possible?

          • Sealtobe

            My parents are still asleep at 5 and they would kill me if i woke them up lol. Yup thats what ill do. Thanks a bunch for taking the time out of your day to answer all my questions it has certainly added taken my opinion of you though the roof! I will definitely invest in any of your future products! Means a lot man, thanks!

          • Michael Matthews

            Just mix some protein powder into a cup or two of rice milk! Easy. :) My pleasure brother! Thanks for your support!

          • Michael Matthews

            That’s totally fine. It won’t cause problems.

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah okay. That’s not an ideal approach. You’d do much better with my Bigger Leaner Stronger program, which will have you in the gym 3-5x per week focusing on heavy compound lifting.

          You can work cardio in as you desire.

  • Josh

    Hey, Mike. I’m new to the site and just bought BLS and am looking forward to starting. I have a couple of question for you:

    1.) Training: The #1 principle in BLS is progressive overloading. I live in a very small town that does not have a gym. Now, I do have intermittent access to the local high school where I can get some heavy lifting in but it has otherwise limited equipment. I’m not new to resistance training and, if I understand the concept correctly, those with experience need more stimulus than beginners. How would suggest accomplishing progression if one had to work out at home more times than not?

    2.) Nutrition: – Using the BLS formula for calorie needs, I end up with a slightly higher number than when I use the calculations in your ” The Definitive Guide to Effective Meal Planning” article. Given that my primary goal is fatloss (I’m currently 210 lbs. & ~18-20% bf @ 5’10″), and what you said in BLS about how much more fine-tuned calories need to be, which one should I go with?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Josh! Let me know how you like the book.

      1. All you really need to follow the program is a power cage or multi-press rack for squatting and benching, a barbell with plates, a set of dumbbells (I prefer adjustables), and an adjustable bench. If you want, you can get a utility bench for your Military Press.

      Really the only limitation you have is not being able to do a few things like lat pulldowns, triceps pushdowns, and captain’s chair leg raises. All can just be substituted for other “approved” exercises, though.

      For instance, barbell rows instead of lat pulldowns, skullcrushers instead of tris pushdowns, more dumbbell or barbell pressing instead of dips, more squats or barbell lunges instead of leg press, and flat bench lying leg raises instead of cap’s chair raises. You can definitely do the program with only free weights.

      You also have the option of including bodyweight exercises as talked about here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-ultimate-bodyweight-workout-routine/

      2. I addressed this in your other comment.

  • Josh

    Mike, I’ve been hanging out here for a couple of weeks now and just bought your BLS book yesterday. I’m really looking forward to following what you prescribe for the new few months. I do have one question for you: You state, for obvious reasons, that when one is seeking fat loss, accurately setting kcals needs and sticking with them is a bit more important than when weight/mucle gain is the goal. The calculations in BLS give me a higher number than those in your “The Definitive Guide to Effective Meal Planning” article. I have a decent base (5’10″ – 210 – 18-20%) so fat loss is my primary goal. Which number do you recommend I abide by? Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Josh! Let me know how you like it.

      Start with the BLS numbers and you can adjust as needed. Honestly no system is 100% spot-on for all people as metabolic rates vary and such.

  • RenatoB

    Hi Michael. I have recently bought some of your books and i have found them quite interesting. Actually I’m 42, 183cm 86kg and 25.5% body fat (measured with a caliper). My target is obviously to reduce the percentage of body fat say to around 13% (which would bring me back to the 75kg) but at the same time i wanted to moderately put on some muscular mass. I was therefore trying to figure out whether for this target, is more efficient to apply your cutting program starting from my ACTUAL weight or to go with a maintenance program referenced to a TARGET weight of say 78-80kg. Many Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Renato!

      Cool on your stats and goal. I like it.

      Start with cutting and you’ll build muscle as well. I talk about it here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/build-muscle-lose-fat/

      • RenatoB

        Cheers mate. i’ll go with that and let you know the progresses

        • Michael Matthews

          Perfect.

  • Sealtobe

    Hey mike, so I’m reading your book and I have a little confusion on the workout sets. When you have a list of workouts and next to it three set does this mean you do all three sets before the next exercise or you go through three rotations of all the exercises e.g. Would you do 3 sets of bench press then 3 sets of dips or do a set of bench a set of dips and then repeat 3 times??

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for checking out the book!

      Yup, one exercise a time. One set, rest, next set, rest, etc.

  • fuzegraphics

    This is not a question…There is a spelling mistake in your podcast title “Healhty”. And the latest one’s sound is really all over the place, the intro music is really loud and the important part, the interview is really low. Just a bit of constructive criticism. First week into the 1 year challenge and custom meal plan. Really enjoying both. Thank you.

    • Michael Matthews

      LOL my damn Web guy’s spelling errors kill me. He updates the podcast. Thanks for bringing it up.

      Yeah the Skype call recorder didn’t work too well. I’m going to find a better one. Thanks.

  • Stephen Laplante

    Hey Mike, I play hockey 3 times a week and I’ve always had a difficult time scheduling my workout /cardio as to not over train. Any suggestions?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm I used to play hockey and we could really just count it as cardio. Have protein and carbs before and after. You should be able to lift at least 3x per week with 3x hockey. What do you think?

  • Fyonna

    Hey Michael, I’m totally interested in buying your Shredded Chef custom menu thingy but don’t have a credit card. Is there some other way of payment please?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I will be adding Paypal soon!

  • SammyJo

    Hi Mike
    The link http://bit.ly/leangreen-bonus seems to be broken – where can I find the spreadsheet mentioned in your book?

    SammyJo

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry about that! Shoot me an email and I’ll send it to you.

  • Jonas

    Mike-
    Not sure about the shoulder workout:

    This is what mine looks like based in your exercise reccommendations:

    1. Military Press
    2.Lateral Raises, 3x 5-7 reps
    3. rear delt raises, 3x 5-7 reps
    4. rear delt rows , 3×6-8 reps ( that high reps because i thought i mean im doing rows on back day as well so probably some more reps would be better to focus in my rear delts… Idk. What do you think? Also, whats the difference between regular barbell row and rear delt row? Elbows flaring more out on the latter and more tucked in with the former?

    Also, i messaged you several times about my elbow pain, we both didnt know what it was, know i know: its a bursitis of the oleocran bursa at my elbow, caused by excessive loaded hyperextension by some bodyweight isometrics i did on the bars…

    Any recommendations how to deal with it: i can probably do everything ( in 6-8 reps for now) apart of exercises that force my elbow into extension ( deadlifts, Rdls, …. What can i do for my hams then? Ham-glute raises bodyweight? ( no gym here)

    Also military presses are biggest problem, should i just do front raises instead of them for a while now? (6-8 reps?)
    Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      That looks great.

      Yeah rear delt rows are also more upright. Proper back rows keep your torso close to parallel to the ground.

      Ah shit on the elbow. Well I’m glad you know what it is. I think we have to just treat it like an injury:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-prevent-and-recover-from-workout-injuries/

      Yup drop the MPs if they are an issue. FRs aren’t as good, but we gotta make do.

      • Jonas

        Mike, i just think ill have to take a week off…
        Its not 8-10 weeks yet,also the last weeks due to injuries werent the ultimate thing, actually couldnt do chest and tris for some weeks now, but i have all those nagging injuries, my patella tendonitis on that ive worked for so long to heal up flamed up again, my achilles tendons ache, my described elbow pain is flaring up again if i try to train, and my shoulders dont feel that alright… and my last workout(s), definitely suffered
        and: im just feeling so tired, shitty, today was just an awful day, i even thought about quitting altogether…
        well, if i read through my list of injuries, i even ask myself if this program is made for me…:’(

        but then i thought ill probably take a week off….
        mike? you recommended every 8-10 weeks to rest- could it just be that its more often for me, like every 5-6 weeks ( or just deload?) because you know im quite active beside doing your program, so maybe i should deload more often and earlier to prevent this shitty phase im going through?

        i think i will eat my bulk diet for this week throught, right?

        i have a more personal question to you: what do you do to motivate yourself again, ‘to see the light again’ when you are discouraged? do you have any role models? thanks in advance :)

  • TJ

    Hi Mike,
    I’m looking to find out what exercises would help me lose fat and what machines to generally use for fat loss in the gym

  • LiamJM

    Hey Mike, if you’re looking to get shredded as quickly as possible and you know you’re going to be doing weights and HiiT in 2 separate sessions on the same day (morning on an empty stomach and the other in the evening after work), which would you recommend to do in the morning vs evening?

    • Michael Matthews

      I would lift in the mornings and do cardio at night. That’s what I do.

  • Ryan

    Hey mike. Quick question. Although you may not be able to answer it!! My girlfriend and I are expecting our first baby she is 4months pregnant. Now she has been asking what sort of diet she should be on. She still goes the gym and has put on about 10lbs which she thinks is too much but she has been eating everything and anything haha! She wants a plan to follow so she doesn’t undo all her hard work of the previous few years? Any ideas?

    Thank Ryan

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome congrats! Haha from what I’ve read, the calorie needs work out like this:

      First trimester: No need to increase normal food intake.

      Second: Daily intake should go up by about 300 calories per day

      Third: Ditto

      Check that out though. I’m not 100% sure. And of course she should be eating a high-protein diet of nutritious foods. Healthy momma means healthy baby!

  • Brian

    Mike, I’ve got a few questions about when to increase weight on lifts. I understand that you recommend increasing weight when you hit 6 reps on your first set of an exercise to allow 4 reps on the remaining sets. My only issue with this is that for me sometimes i’ll barely hit 6 reps for example on my bench, and then with the same weight I’ll do 4 reps for set 2 and 3 reps for set 3. If I were to increase weight for set 2 I probably would not be able to get the 4 reps and certainly not for set 3. What do you recommend to do in this situation? Do you increase the weight or stick with that weight until you can do 6 reps for each set?
    Also, do you recommend this same progression for the more isolation type exercises in the program (curls, tricep extensions, etc.)? Or is this more for the heavy compund movements. Thanks for the help.

    • Michael Matthews

      No problem. In that case work with one weight until you can do TWO sets of 6 reps, and then move up.

      Yes, same progression for isolation movements.

  • Eric

    Mike

    Any tips on shrinking the actual stomach size.?
    51 year old male.

    (not the layer of fat surrounding it).

    Any seminars or Training Events in Florida this summer?
    (you are involved in).

    • Michael Matthews

      This is usually just a matter of reducing body fat percentage, and it can include visceral fat, which coats your organs and makes your stomach protrude while looking hard.

      I haven’t done any seminars or such, no. Schedule kinda crazy with everything ATM…

      • Eric

        Thanks for the explanation concerning the visceral fat, You would be surprised at how many Doctors that have told me that this was just a symptom of getting older. Now I know that I need to a little less bulk and little more cut.

        Back in High School and College I would almost kill myself with long workouts, over training and useless exercises trying to build a perfect body. In my mid twenties, (burnt out) I eventually quit bodybuilding until my early thirties when I met a powerlifter and we followed a somewhat similar in workout in which you have laid out in BLS. ( Great Gains) But, once again, life, marriage, kids led me away from weightlifting. When I reached 50, I knew it was time to hit the weights again. But I dreaded those long, grueling workouts, crazy diets, endless supplements.( and I convinced myself I was too old.)
        .
        On a long trip, I listened to your audio version of BLS (trying to find something to motivate my son) and practically everything I heard clicked with me. (with my past weightlifting experience, good and bad). I absorbed every article, book and listened to your audio versions. I now follow your advice and training religiously. (Man, to have this knowledge thirty years ago)….The honesty, the truth and the applicable common sense I found…. has been a life changing experience for myself and my family. Still got a ways to go,
        but I know I am heading in the right directions.

        Brother, I can never thank you enough.

        Eric

        • Michael Matthews

          Heh it’s definitely not a symptom of age. It can be fixed but it can take time. Visceral fat is very stubborn. This will help:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

          I hear you on the long grueling workouts. I used to do the same. Thanks a lot for the kind words. I really appreciate it.

          Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • vrk1975

    I have been running and cycling for 2 years now and lost lot of weight (from 170 lbs to 143 lbs) – never did weights before.

    Started the program and 3 weeks into it. I realized that I have to bulk as I do not have any muscles to show. So far gained 8 lbs, since starting the program. I have two issues so far :-

    1. Still struggling with getting the form right for lot of exercises. It looks like it will take a long time for that. (I have been reading Become a supple leopard and Starting strength also)

    2. Bulking for an entire year seems scary looks like at the end of the year I will weigh around 190-200 lbs which will be far over my ideal body weight range. (Height – 5’7″”). How to figure out the right time to stop bulking??

  • Serge

    Michael, I have a question. I recently started to workout on regular basis using BeachBody programs (P90X and Insanity). They always promote their product called Shakeology – as a “healthiest
    meal of the day”. Do you think it worth its price tag ($140 for 30 days) or it
    is just another good marketing product? They claim that it contains ton
    of healthy superfoods. I’m interested in your opinion. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Great! Shakeology is okay. It’s just WAY too expensive. Unnecessary.

      • Serge

        Thanks, Mike! That’s what I thought. I think I would be OK by having normal healthy breakfast.

        • Michael Matthews

          Yup. :)

  • Silentbobafett

    Mike – read the book and love it. Started the gym routines on Monday. Very excited. I was obese last September and have lost just over 5 Stone and am now very healthy and ready to get ripped – something I never thought possible and I’ve turned to your book for the next step. The problem was I did this 1st step using Paleo / Primal but for various reasons want to swap this up – and reading your book has me ready to follow what you recommend. But I’m confused – reading your book (though you do mention Paleo is healthy), listening to your podcast (excellent btw), looking into suggested recipes inc high carb intake for muscle growth – it’s clear that Paleo style isn’t too inline with what you do (but there are cross overs like high saturated fat intake etc). Anyway, I’ve no trouble about leaving the Paleo/Primal diet behind – at least to try something new – but I notice in your Year 1 PDF you suggest Primal Blueprint as a good book and you say along with it that you’re quite close to Primal lifestyle. So just to help me move over – where do you really sit on low or high carb, high or low fat products, fasting, many small meals versus 2 -3 meals and eating only when hungry? I notice in your custom meal plan you offer it for Paleo life stye as well. I’m not some Paleo nut on here to cause trouble lol – I’m genuinely here to follow BLS – I just want to clear a few things that have confused me about this switch over. Basically I’m healthy and have lost weight and worried about messing that up in anyway…

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! That’s great you’ve started the program.

      Check out my thoughts on Paleo here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/the-definitive-guide-to-the-paleo-diet/

      Give it a look and let me know what you think. The bottom line is Paleo is healthy but overly restrictively, and unnecessarily so.

    • Silentbobafett

      Mike – it was an interesting article – thanks for the speedy reply. Would you reccomend cutting back on the carbs on days I don’t go to the gym?

      • Michael Matthews

        Thanks! You can reduce them yes but there isn’t anything particularly SPECIAL about doing so.

  • Justin

    Hey Mike, I read your article about D-Aspartic Acid and then I saw this:

    http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Dangers-of-D-Aspartic-Acid—Boost-Your-Testosterone-Safely-With-This-Secret!&id=4632468

    Is there any truth behind this? I know you should believe everything you read on the internet but then again, I read your stuff on the internet. Just wondering what you think.

    • Michael Matthews

      DAA will not boost T enough to give you estrogen-related issues.

  • Serge

    Hi Mike! I’m currently doing HIIT program (Insanity), 2 weeks are done. I am loosing weight, but not as fast as I want. I have a question about diet. Currently, I’m trying to stick to 50%/30%/20% diet (protein/carbs/fat, respectively). My wife doesn’t like me to stick to this plan, she thinks it is too much protein intake (she does not like me eating highly processing food like whey protein) and she thinks my body cannot digest so much protein (for 1900 calories/day it is 242g of protein). Since you are an expert in fitness, do you think I should stick to it?

  • Dave H.

    Mike,
    So what’s up with calves? It’s my understanding that for most muscle groups we should be using a full range of motion in the specific exercise. It works the muscle more thoroughly, it’s more healthy for the joints, etc., etc. Yeah, with most muscle groupls if I shortened the range of motion a little that would let me lift a little more weight. But with calve training this seems to go to the extreme. If I stay “light” I can get good range of motion, but as soon as I add significant weight it seems to dramatically shorten my range of motion – much more that other muscle groups. So what do you recommend? Heavy with a shorter range of motion or “light” with full range of motion?
    Thanks for all the great wisdom!

    • Michael Matthews

      Calf training is a bitch but full ROM is VERY important or you will not see the gains you want. You have to build your strength up…

  • Austin

    Hey Mike, so I was at the gym today(this is my first week on the BLS program) and I was doing my first set of squats. Ill be the first to admit my form kinda sucked. One of the guys working out next to me stopped me and explained that 1) I was using the weight rack wrong(lol) and that 2) if this was my first time, squatting 135 was probably not ideal. He said I should do 15-20 reps with low weight to get my form down and build muscular endurance before trying to build strength. This sounds pretty logical to me, and I was wondering if this applied to any other exercises as well?

    • Michael Matthews

      Ignore him. Work in the 10 to 12 rep range until you feel comfortable with the movement and then start adding weight. You’ll be fine.