Muscle for life

Muscle for Life Success: Ira C.


"I truly thought I could never get a defined mid-section and all it took was 3 months of the Bigger Leaner Stronger program."

Ira's Progress

Progress Image Before
Progress Image 3 Months
Progress Image 3 Months

What has happened so far on the program?

I followed the Muscle for Life cutting suggestions and the fat just shredded off me in the 3 months. I started off at 153 pounds and approximately 17% body fat and finished at 137 pounds and approximately 9% body fat

I used a 20% calorie deficit and upped my carbs to 40% to provide workout energy. I lifted heavy 5-6 days a week based on the Bigger Leaner Stronger program (I used to be a 12, 10, 8 guy with lots of supersets and lots of isolation exercises). I trained fasted and used certain Legion supplements (Phoenix, Forge, Pulse, Recharge and Triumph).

I didn’t really gain anything on my big lifts as I was cutting and was in a calorie deficit. With that being said, I didn’t lose any significant strength and my BOD POD analysis confirmed that all weight loss was indeed fat (negligible muscle loss).

I will be transitioning to a bulk shortly. I looking forward to hitting the “big lift targets” and transitioning to the Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger workouts (got some work to do on the legs, I’m there on shoulders and chest).

What, if anything, almost kept you from buying the book or starting the program?

Once I read Mike’s article on “Clean Bulking” and read a bit of his weightlifting history, I was sold on trying the program – it was like reading my personal history.

For about 15 years, I had focused on “eating clean” and changed up my workout routine quite often based on what I read in articles online and in magazines – always trying the new exercise/program to finally get lean.

After 15 years years in the gym, I looked pretty good, lots of muscle and fairly lean but never had definition in the mid-section and I truly believed that I could never get visible abs due to body-type and genetics.

At the end of the day, two things were holding me back: eating too much “clean food” (not tracking calories) and other nutrition fallacies (such as being afraid of carbs and being afraid of eating in the evening).

What do you like most about the program?

I expected the calorie deficit to be horrid but it wasn’t really that bad and the reason was “flexible dieting”. I have historically been afraid of carbs, especially carbs at night. I love bread and pasta but rarely ever at them, especially guilt free.

My carb intake basically tripled once I started the BLS cut and the fat melted off me. I love carbs and the ability to eat them has simply increased my enjoyment of life.

Now that I am no longer in a calorie deficit and I have some more flexibility in my diet adding the odd “non-clean” food to my diet has been great. I still focus on nutritious foods but am buying in to the flexible dieting principles and it is great to add some tasting alternatives in moderation.

I received results faster than I could possibly imagine. I never figured I could have a defined six pack and, after trying to get one for over a decade, it amazes me that I reached the goal within 3 months of following the BLS cutting recommendations.

How does this program compare with others you’ve tried?

I’ve always concentrated on “eating clean” with a focus on low-carb and low-fat. Mike’s article on “clean binging” and the realization that I was simply eating too much clean food changed everything.

I now track everything I eat on myfitnesspal.com and sticking to certain numbers has been the essential factor in my fat loss.

I now realize that I can basically eat whatever I want as long as I fit it in to certain numbers. Truth be told, I still eat very clean (especially when I was in a cut – clean foods go much farther with a 1650 calorie allowance) but have the ability to add certain foods that I would never eat on a regular basis.

I have tripled my carb intake and that is amazing to me. I am also no longer afraid to eat at night and, in fact, eat the majority of my calories at night – again, life changing.

I had never focused on heavy compound lifting with ample rest in between sets. I am very much looking forward to lifting heavy while in a slight calorie surplus and to find out how much muscle I will be able to put on.

How has what you’ve achieved with your body changed other areas of your life?

Although I have generally been confidant in my appearance over the last decade, it really has gone to another level. I still have a significant amount of work to do but it feels great to know that I am now doing it properly and know the results will come.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I would absolutely recommend this program to others and have done so on numerous occasions previously (and have posted links sporadically in fitness sub-forum of a sports forum I frequent).

My results are proof that the program works and that there are many generally accepted views that are simply not accurate (i.e. a high-carb diet leads to fat gain, food timing is important, etc.).

Not only does the program work, the fact that Michael responds to all article comments and e-mails and puts out a regular podcast is a huge selling point for me.

I just wanted to thank Michael for his website, his articles, his books and his availability. I truly thought I could never get a defined mid-section and all it took was three months of cutting on the BLS program while tracking my calories and nutrients.

Want to become a success story too? Here's how he did it

The program that made this transformation possible:

The meal plan that makes building muscle and losing fat easy and enjoyable:

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  • Herostrat

    Hello Michael,

    I’m sorry that i use this article for my question. I bought your ebook Bigger, Leaner, Stronger 2 days ago.

    Now i’m a bit in a pickle. I started going to the gym again and used the first Day of your 4 Day program. I know its normal to not feel a “pump”, but the warm up 10 Minute Cardio was more exhausting than this workout (granted it was only triceps press/triceps machine/bench press/Incline bench press, so legs and deadlifts are probably more exhausting).

    I really want to have somewhat of a defined body for the summer. My plan is to use your 4 or 5 day version of the program but with 4 sets of 6-8 reps and 90-120 seconds rest time until June. Then i want to start start your workout program with the appropriate rest time and reps.

    I’d just have a better feeling with this kind of start. Do you think that your workout would still be kind of viable with the tweeked sets/reps/resttime? I’d be glad if you could answer my question!

    • No worries! Thanks for picking up my book!

      Glad you made it back to the gym.

      Hmm. Unless your warm-up is intense, something doesn’t make sense, haha.

      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.

      If you want to do that, go ahead! I recommend you start with the proper training right away, though. 🙂

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • is the bigger leaner stronger book for body weight training?

  • Awesome work Ira C.

    Great transformation for a period of three months. Getting ripped

  • Chris

    Hi Mike,

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on the 5×5 programme in comparison to your own BLS programme? I have seen good results on BLS before an injury so looking to get back into the gym and wondering as a change to try this? It seems to follow your “rules” but would welcome a more indepth review/opnion.


    • I’m a fan of the 5×5 program. It’s great for getting your main lifts up. I’d recommend BLS if your goal is putting on muscle and aesthetics while still getting strong.

      • Chris

        Thank Mike, much appreciated. Another question if you don’t mind?! I have a fitbit Blaze and on average it suggests I am using way more calories per 24hr than your formulas suggest. What is your opinion on these devices and their efficacy? Would love to know what you think. Is it best to stick with your maths or are these devices accurate more personally accurate? Many thanks

        • NP.

          Yep, Fitbits and other activity trackers are cool for seeing different stats, but when it comes to tracking calories burned from activity, they can be painfully off.

          I recommend you stick to the numbers you get from my formula and then adjust intake based off results. The goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week.

          Welcome! Talk soon.

  • I love this! He totally encourages me. I’m upping my carbs during my flexible dieting plan at the moment, and it’s kind of scary (silly, I know) to think about adding more carbs, as they’re HOUNDED upon you that they’re bad. But he makes me excited not only to eat carbs, but to get to enjoy them with dinner! Yay for flexible and healthy dieting!

    • He did a great job. 🙂

      Yep, you have nothing to worry about with carbs. They don’t make you fat–overeating does.

      LMK how it goes! Talk soon.

  • ThisIsCisco

    I have paid many trainers to try and get the physique I want. I train well and eat good, follow every meal plan that has been written up for me. The number one cop out for trainers is: you’re not eating your meals or you’re not training enough. They run away because their meal plans are not working. I follow every plan given to me with no results.

    • I hear you! Unfortunately, most trainers have no idea what they’re doing. Check this out:


      To answer your question, yes. The book will lay out everything you need to know about training and dieting to build muscle and lose fat.

      The custom meal plan service will do the work for you of calculating what your daily intake should be and putting together a day’s worth of meals/snacks to hit your target intake.

      Hope this helps. LMK how it goes.

      • ThisIsCisco

        Thank you for the quick reply.
        I’ll read through the book and do my best to get it right.
        Hope I can post a Before and After soon.

        • YW! Sounds good.

          I’d love for you to be a before and after! Let’s make it happen. 🙂

  • Shaunagh Smith

    Hi Mike, I have a few of your books and love your recipes. I recently bought the ‘One Year Challenge for Women’ and I am really looking forward to starting the plan, however I wondered if you could provide any advice on rep/weight scheme I should be using please? I want to get leaner and stronger as the journal says but I am a little confused on what the best weights/reps would be after the warm up sets to achieve my goals! Any advice would be appreciated, thanks in advance 🙂

    • Hey hey! Thanks for picking up my books. Glad you’re enjoying the recipes. 🙂

      All sets are done in the 8-10 rep range unless otherwise stated.

      Regarding the weights, it’s honestly just trial and error for your first week or two. As a general rule, for every 5 lbs you add to a dumbbell exercise, you’ll lose 2 reps. The same for every 10 lbs added to a barbell exercise. So if you put 100 lbs on the squat bar and do 10 reps, you should be able to get about 6 reps with 140 lbs.

      Just work with light weights at first and learn the form, and then increase. You’ll get your numbers within a week or two.

      My pleasure. Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • George Martins

    Hi Mike! He mentioned 4 different pre-workout supplements. Did he take all 4 of them in the same day? I’ve read your article about the best pre-workout supplements but it doesn’t say if you should take them individually or combined.

  • Joe_Det

    Wow 137 lbs? That’s insane! I thought this dude was at least 180/190 lbs. Just more proof that the scale means nothing. Great job man!

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