Muscle for life

MFL Podcast 22: 5 fitness mistakes that almost made me quit and Steve Martin’s “secret to success”

MFL Podcast 22: 5 fitness mistakes that almost made me quit and Steve Martin’s “secret to success”

In this podcast I talk about the 5 big mistakes I was making in my diet and training that kept me stuck in a rut and a great lesson on achieving goals that we can learn from epic funnyman Steve Martin.

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What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • EmmettCooke

    Hey Mike, great video, love reading and listening to your stuff. A topic that I don’t often see discussed is injuries when training.

    I used to run a lot and injured my knee from probably over training with bad form. Now I can’t run anymore.

    I started doing weights in January and injured my back by doing deadlifts wrong (really wrong!) and hurt my shoulder from probably doing bench press wrong I’m guessing. I’m resting up for 2 weeks and totally stopping any weights, just doing walking and swimming (and seeing an osteopath).

    I guess I’m just curious – did you ever experience injuries during your years of working out, and how did you cope with it?


    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man!

      Fortunately I never had to deal with major injuries because when I finally got around to heavy, compound lifting, I was very strict with form. That said, this can help:


      I have strained various things though and I just have to lay off them here and there and not do exercises that make it worse.

  • frametheory

    Hey Mike great podcast. I have a question when you mentioned the part about the bmr and metabolism at 19:17. You mentioned you should lower your calorie intake over time to cut, if i understood you correctly. But that you shouldn’t go below your bmr, but you need to go below 20% to cut don’t you?

    I’ve been able to lose 5% of BF but for some reason I’ve been stuck at the same BF% (19-20) for about 2 weeks, maybe a little more. I thought it was because I cheat on weekends so Im planning to fix that and I’ve added HIIT to my routine as well. But did my metabolism adapt? Is that why? Do I need to bump it back up to maintenance level for a while? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! No, 20% below TDEE won’t be below BMR unless you don’t move at all, haha.

      Weekend cheating will kill you. Gotta get that under control.

      This will explain what happens with your metabolism:


      • frametheory

        Thanks Mike. Aaah, I meant TDEE. I am eating 20% below TDEE. But I dont know if that equals my BMR. Have to check that. But anyway, Do I have to decrease my calorie intake over time or can I just ride this meal plan all the way through? I’ll probably find my answer in that article though lol Thanks

      • frametheory

        Mike I read the article you shared so I have a better understanding now. When I have my “cheat days” I don’t necessarily pig out, I just break from the meal plan, but still conscious of what Im eating, although Im not counting calories accurately. But regardless I’m going to stick with the meal plan all the way through for 2 weeks and see if I notice a difference. If not then I guess I’ll have to raise calories gradually to TDEE and then cut again.

        So when I cut, I gradually bring it down to 20%? This is so the metabolism won’t catch up as fast?

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay cool let me know how it goes. Just have a cheat MEAL instead of a day and keep it moderate.

          No you want to drop directly to 75-80% of TDEE. Don’t slow cut.

          • frametheory

            Cool thanks, will let you know. I measured today (Friday) I noticed I lost .25 off my waiste. So maybe it was the weekends tripping me up. Will let you know how it goes next week. Cheers

          • Michael Matthews

            Sounds good! 🙂

          • frametheory

            Hey Mike, Im not losing fat anymore. I have been at it for about 2 months so Im going to reverse diet and reboot.

            Also, Im not sure if you’ve done a podcast on this but Id like to hear your thoughts on the phycology aspect of people’s fitness goals. As a skinny fat guy Im often teased about being on a diet. Or Im made fun of for actually wanting to look “buff” or like a “meathead”. Im reminded to just “relax” and eat like every other “normal” person. Im even tempted. I also may have offended people that have prepared food for me as a guest and so forth. But I always remind myself that if you eat like everyone else, you’ll look like everyone else. And i want to look a bit different than everyone else. In a good way.

            Anyway, Im sure other people experience similar challenges in different forms depending on their starting point. If you have a podcast or article that touches on these things, Id love to read it. Thanks

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay sounds good. Let me know how it goes.

            Yeah I have this down as a topic to talk about. It’s interesting because I never ran into those issues.

            Yes patience is part of the game. No doubt about it.

  • John

    Thanks Mike

    My BMR according to the Katch Mcardle is 1,881. I was going to try a 30% reduction of my daily intake for maintaining (which is 2516 cals). This amount of calories would be 1750. Do you think this is too extreme? I really just wanna cut as quickly as possible! I’m currently doing about 2000 a day and losing slowly but surely

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I wouldn’t go below BMR… Let’s keep you around 2000 if you’re doing well.

  • Liesa Moon

    This was riveting stuff. Lots of people have been asking me what I’m doing to lose weight and I’ve been recommending your programme (which is easy to newbies), but you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the hardest people to convince are those who are already making the mistakes. Especially when it’s coming from me, who has been predominantly overweight most of my adult life, suddenly I’m the ‘expert’ with all the answers, when in fact I’m simply quoting you lol! I will forward this on as my passion about TLS can only get me so far, you have the experience to back it all up.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I really appreciate it and am glad you’re doing well!

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • James

    Hi mike. I hope this all makes sense… I bought your cutting plan which was great and got me to ten per cent. I was around 2000 calories. I then bought your bulking plan which is set at 3000 calories. I wanted to do it properly so I have reversed diet up 100 calls per week and currently sitting at 2700 calories and still losing weight! Lol it’s great! Ha basically I want to stick at the bulk plan you set me for about 5 weeks and hopefully build a pound or two of muscle and then do another mini cut for 4 or 5 to look extra sharp as I’m going on vacation for a month! So my question is – what calories do you think I would need for this cut as I think 2000 would now be too low considering I’m still losing a bit on 2700. Would greatly appreciate your input thanks. Ps reverse diet for the win!!! 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome job! That rocks! You’re doing everything right.

      Let’s see how high your intake goes on your bulk because we will go to 75-80% of that when it’s time to cut.

  • Shanna_Lee

    Hey Mike!
    Just wanted to take a quick second to say thank you. I came across one of your articles somewhere a few months ago and have been completely hooked ever since!! I’ve purchased a few of your books and after reading Thinner, Leaner, Stronger I not only confirmed a lot of what I already had a feeling about, but learned so many new and amazing things. Fitness and lifting is a personal passion of mine, but starting my senior year in college makes it difficult to plan everything towards success all on my own. Already being a healthy and athletic 21/22% bf as a 5’6″ female I’ve lacked the motivation to really push through the last 10-ish pounds to achieve the body and status I’ve always desired. Your work motivates me to follow the plans laid out in your book to get there…it is set up too simply to ignore!! So thank you, you’re appreciated and your witty, relalistic approach is enjoyed.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! 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.

  • Hey Mike!

    Thank you for the really clear, helpful podcast. I’ve read all your books and have found them very helpful.

    A question about macronutrients: why is it important to make sure you are getting significantly more of your calories from carbs instead of fat?

    I can understand why you need a certain amount of protein each day to build muscle and why being strict about how many calories you’re eating vs. expending is important. But why is it important to make sure you’re getting so many of your calories from carbs instead of fat if, in the end, it’s your total calories per day that will determine if you gain or lose?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! I really appreciate it.

      I talk about this here:


      • Thank you, Mike! I also have been making my way through your other podcasts and I found you also talked about your reasons in a few of those, including at length in one of them.

        Very helpful. Thank you. 🙂

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah cool man! Glad I can help.

  • Gilson Silveira

    Hey Mike,

    On your meals book you suggest us to eat good carbs before and after weightlifting but no carbs allowed before bed time.

    However, for people who weightlifting at night, within 2 to 3 hours before bedtime should we eat any carbs after weightlifting or no?

    If yes, what carbs you suggest?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question!

      Based on further research I’ve done since writing the book I no longer feel this is an issue. I’m updating this in the second edition, which I’m working on.

      The bottom line is if you hit your daily numbers, you’ll do well. When you eat your carbs doesn’t matter.

  • Marco

    Hi Mike,

    when you call benching 225 lbs 1RM “pathetically weak”, I feel totally “unseen”.

    I started somewhere around 80-90 lbs 1RM. Now, after 17 months, I am at 159 lbs 1RM and this is hard to break through. In the last 8 months, my plan has been pretty close to BLS, and before that, it has not been too bad either. I am 34 years old, and I have had little strength all my life, but this is in no way pathologic.

    Something similar applies when I see your year 2 picture, which is supposed to show me how little muscle you had. Most guys in your success stories section are not really skinny either. I will have to train for a long time to gain that amount of muscle, I am not even sure whether it is possible for me.

    I think it is natural that you tend to look at the guys who are (muscle-wise) even more genetically blessed than you, and that you are proud to show what you achieved without outstanding genetics. But I wish you would also pay a little more attention to the guys at the (muscle-wise) lower end of the genetic spectrum. Looking like your year 2 picture and being “pathetically weak” would be a major achievement for me.

    BTW, in my gym, I rarely see even the bigger guys lifting more than 220 lbs for a couple of reps.

    Kind regards,

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on your progress so far.

      I didn’t mean to offend but honestly after lifting weights for 6-7 years, from 17/18 to 23/24 years old, 225 for 1 is pretty damn weak, haha.

      This will answer your question about how much muscle you can gain naturally:


      Again, I’m sorry if I offended. It wasn’t my intention.

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