Muscle for life

Muscle for Life Podcast Episode 3: Age and exercise, how to not be skinny fat, getting back after time off, and more…

Muscle for Life Podcast Episode 3: Age and exercise, how to not be skinny fat, getting back after time off, and more…

In this podcast I talk about…

  • How much age actually plays a role in getting in shape.
  • The diet and exercise mistakes that lead to being skinny fat and how to undo them.
  • How to get back into the groove of training after being off for a while.
  • And more.

Articles I reference in the video:

How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat…at the Same Time

Why High-Intensity Interval Training is Best For Weight Loss

Comparison of two lower-body modes of endurance training on lower-body strength development while concurrently training.

What is “If It Fits Your Macros” and Does It Work?

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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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  • Gabe

    Love the podcasts, Mike. Great info and updates as always. I’m very stoked for Legion’s arrival as well!

    Regarding further supps I personally feel that EAAs are far more valuable than BCAAs when it comes to building muscle at least.
    High dose BCAAs seem like a good anti-catabolic agent but the analogy I’ve heard is that BCAAs are like a team of highly skilled bricklayers getting to a job site but they have nothing to work with. EAA’s bring the bricklayers and the bricks and mortar in the form of the 6 other essential aminos to actually make good on their promise.
    This might be overly simplistic but my understanding is that BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis while EAAs can actually synthesize proteins.
    SuppVersity has a lot of interesting articles that review studies on the topic and more: http://suppversity.blogspot.com/search?q=essential+amino

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Gabe! Really appreciate your support.

      Yes, EAAs are the spectrum of aminos the body can’t synthesize, and it needs all to build proteins.

      BCAAs are simply used as an anti-catabolic agent. They’re good for fasted training, for instance.

      • Gabe

        With that in mind what’s your opinion on taking EAAs prior to fasted training. With all 9 aminos in place wouldn’t that be superior to BCAAs? Or is it the big bolus dose of Leucine in particular that makes BCAAs so popular (vs. less leucine per serving of EAAs)?

        • Michael Matthews

          Nah, doesn’t matter as all you want is the leucine. 5 grams of leu gets the job done. Get the rest of your EAAs from food.

          • Gabe

            Thanks man, always good to pare down the shopping list 🙂

          • Michael Matthews

            Yeah I hear you. 🙂

  • António Alves

    Thank you so much! I’ve been waiting for the skinny fat explanation from a knowledgeable person for a long time!

    In terms of lifting weights, do you think that Stronglifts is good to build an aesthetic body like yours for beginners, or is it mainly used to get stronger?

    Plus, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you’ve said that you should avoid carbs before bed. Does this mean that if you take a casein protein shake you should mix with water and not milk?

    Also, 20 minutes of HIIT per session is already demanding for me. Should I ease into it, and gradually progress to 30 minutes per session ?


    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Antonio! Glad you liked it.

      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.

      I avoid large carb meals before bed when cutting because it may get in the way of the first big GH pulse that occurs when you fall asleep. This is an unknown, but I just play it safe (and who wants to eat 50+ grams of carbs right before bed anyway).

      I just have some low-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.

      Yup, ease into the HIIT. If you’re feeling rocked by 15 minutes, just do LISS for the next 5 – 10 minutes. HIIT builds cardio quickly–you’ll be up to snuff in no time.

      • António Alves

        Thanks for the info!

        Just a few more things if you wouldn’t mind: Last time I went to a decent nutritionist, much better than the ones I am used to, he had a very expensive body analyzing/body fat measuring machine. Not your typical hand held BIA, but both handheld and something you can stand on that had electrodes as well. I looked it up, and not only was it very expensive but in their website they say that errors are less than 2% unlike classic BIAs.

        The question is: Being a skinny fat guy, I knew or thought I knew that I had a large bodyfat percentage, and that I was underweight. I am underweight, not a lot, 3 kg ( 7 pounds) below recommended weight (74kg), but the thing is that that machine said I had 12 % bodyfat. I was upset because I was certain that was not true. I can’t see my abs , only as a whole and mainly when flexing. But then after listening to your podcast, I think you mentioned that you can actually have a low bodyfat percentage and still look skinny fat.

        The guy said that I should focus on building muscle, especially being a teenager. Do you think I might actually be 12 % but simply lack enough muscle? I strongly think so, because unfortunately I have a skinny friend that weighs 63kg, and his arm is as large as mine, being 7kg (15 or 16 pounds ) lighter than me; so I guess I don’t really have a lot of muscle.

        This is already a long message, but I just want to mention something to see if you agree with me; I wasn’t born skinny fat. There are a lot of skinny fat websites that refer to skinny fat people as a genetic thing; at least for me, I call bullshit. I remember being 80, or even 85 kg, and with a lot people saying I was really strong. In other words, I was fat with a lot of muscle at that time, but I lost it all one summer where I literally did no exercise, and ate very few things- what you described. Plus, when I was young, I was really skinny and could easily see my ribs and had chest definition. So when I listen to this guy saying that skinny fat people by bulking will just put on fat, I don’t believe that, because it was not always like this, I used to be very strong and had muscle.

        So I believe it is possible to get out of this situation for good, especially with the teenager factor, and over the years build a physique like yours. Do you agree?

        Again, sorry for my infamous long posts.

        • Michael Matthews


          12% actually sounds right. If you can see any abs at all, in any lighting, you’re probably under 15% (or right around 15% if you have heavily developed abs).

          Skinny fat is NOT genetic. You just have to change your body composition, and priority #1 is adding muscle. Worry about body fat later…

  • Mitch

    How did you come to use Legion as your product name?

    • Michael Matthews

      I plan on expanding beyond just supplements so I wanted something that would work for an athletics brand.

      I actually preferred Prime, but couldn’t trademark it. Same for several other names I liked. But I’m happy with Legion–it has good connotations (masculinity, camaraderie, toughness, etc.).

      • Sam L

        Prime? I sense a closet Transformers fan?

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha not really, just liked the name. 🙂

  • Rob


    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rob. 🙂

  • Sam L

    Typing speed -> showoff! 😉 Great how you pause to make a reminder – I do that all the time.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hahah thanks. I literally spend like 9 hours per day typing so I would hope I would be good by now. 😛

  • Mike

    Really appreciate your commitment to putting out high quality discussions and information. Enjoy listening to these while I train and always learn something. Thanks Mike

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Mike. I appreciate it. 🙂

  • Osher Barda

    Great podcast mike let me ask u something about something you mentioned breifly about the 6-8 8-10 rep ranges. In your book you explain why 4-6 is good bec of overload so does lifting 6-8 or 8-10 actually stimulate your muscles to become bigger ?

    • Michael Matthews


      Yes, 6-8 and 8-10 do stimulate growth of muscle fibers, but not as powerfully as 4-6. 6-8 is better than 8-10 in this regard, though.

      I’ll be talking a lot more about the physiology of muscle growth and how it relates to rep range and overall strength in my next book, which I’m working on. It’s a follow-up to Bigger Leaner Stronger.

      • Osher Barda

        Wow I can’t wait for the follow up awesome!!!!

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks! I’m excited too. Going to cover a LOT of things for advanced lifters, include where to go with your training after 1-2 years of BLS.

          • Osher Barda

            When do you think the book will be out? Lol

          • Michael Matthews

            I’m shooting for a late Dec release.

  • Kristy

    umm pretty sure I love you haha
    Awesome articles and videos! Thank you!

    • Michael Matthews

      Lol thanks Kristy. 😉

  • vlad bertram

    i’m 52 yrs old, 6’1 and 176 pounds. everyone says i’m lean and don’t need to lose weight but my body fat (on a tanita electronic scale) is approx 18% consistently. is that high or low for my age and can i lose weight to get it lower? if so how much?

    • Michael Matthews
      • vlad bertram

        Very helpful, thanks Mike! Interesting that your body fat percentages don’t take into consideration age which all the other ones i’ve seen do and seem to suggest the older you are the higher your percentage is likely to be. However, i’m taking your advice and cutting and hopefully getting the percentage down.

        • Michael Matthews


          Body fat % is an absolute–it doesn’t matter your age. You have so many pounds of fat on you, regardless of whether you’re 12 or 72…

          • vlad bertram

            I totally get that thanks, Mike. Was referring to the sliding scale of “lean” versus “ideal” on several websites which imply that a higher body fat percentage is natural as you get older. like this one. http://www.builtlean.com/2010/08/03/ideal-body-fat-percentage-chart/

          • Michael Matthews

            Yeah but who cares about that. It’s not unhealthy to be 8-10% body fat, so I say we stay there for life. 🙂

          • vlad bertram

            I’m 100% with you!! Gonna bust a gut to get down to 12% which probably means losing 10-15 pounds. So at 6’1 that would mean i would probably weigh 165 pounds or less which everyone continues to tell me – including a bunch of personal trainers at Equinox gym – is way too thin!

          • Michael Matthews

            Nice! Let me know how it goes!

          • vlad bertram

            Will do, thanks Mike. Btw huge fan of your site and books. Smart, directional, black and white arguments that make sense and cut through a lot of the BS you read elsewhere! Keep it coming.

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Sarah Repetti

    Sorry about this i’m gonna throw you a curve ball in the opposite direction-I’m not 50, I’m 15, female, 5’4″ and 91 pounds. I’m around 15% body fat and I’m pretty sure I’m a hard gainer, not skinny fat (I’d swear I eat anywhere between 1500-2000 calories daily-unfortunately most of those come from carbs). I’m a good runner and I’d call myself lean. The problem is that I participate in crew, and I lack a lot of the strength, and muscular endurance required for the sport. I’m not sure if this is something I can fix by simply eating more protein and less carbs. or if I have to start walking around with wrist weights (not literally-maybe-, but if I just have to increase my weight training).
    I know that it’s different with adolescents yet I feel that I need to have some kind of muscle on something other than my legs.- I’d also like to not have my friends grab my bicep and say that they feel my bone or call me a twig.
    Much appreciated if you could help!

    • Hey Sarah!

      It sounds like you’re doing a lot right and yes a high-protein diet is going to be very helpful for you.

      You’ll also want to make sure you’re eating enough in general. Given your activity level I’d think 1,500 calories per day is too little…

      Check this out:


  • TD

    This is the first podcast I’ve viewed with lots of great information all-around. I especially liked the section on how age plays a role into getting in shape as I came to the party kind of late at the age of 39. Definitely will view other future podcasts.

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