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Muscle for life

MFL Podcast 37: Holiday “damage report,” why I don’t like “slow cutting,” and more…

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MFL Podcast 37: Holiday “damage report,” why I don’t like “slow cutting,” and more…

In this podcast I give a quick report on the effects of my holiday hedonism, explain why I like to be aggressive with my fat loss instead of “slow cutting,” and share my thoughts on how the people you associate with affect your success.

ARTICLES RELATED TO THIS PODCAST:

Why Rapid Weight Loss Is Superior to “Slow Cutting” (And How to Do It Right)

How Much Muscle Can You Build Naturally?

Fat-free mass index (FFMI)

Study on track and field athletes

The Best Way to Gain Muscle Without Getting Fat

The Definitive Guide to Why Low-Carb Dieting Sucks

How Much Cardio You Should Do (and How Much Is Too Much)

Why High-Intensity Interval Training is Best For Weight Loss

How Much Protein is Needed to Build Muscle

Which Weight Loss Pills Actually Work?

TRANSCRIPT

Hey, hey! Mike Matthews here, muscleforlife.com. Welcome back to the podcast. Sorry that I’ve been off a few weeks, at least off the podcast. The holidays are a little bit crazy, and I was doing what I could to keep up with all the random balls I’m juggling right now.

Between book launch stuff, and some MFL projects, workout app. Legion and blah, blah, blah. Podcast got neglected for a few weeks, but here we go. First, this was a Happy New Year. Hopefully you had a great holiday. Friends and family, ate a bunch of food. Didn’t gain too much weight.

I made it out pretty good. I gained one pound. I dieted for a week and that’s that. Mainly I practiced what I preach. What I was doing is saving most of my calories for those random dinners that I had to go to or whatever.

I would eat protein throughout the day, and then here comes dinner. A couple of the dinners were a bit absurd. I’m very surprised that I didn’t gain more weight, even after… It started with Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, I ate until I was in pain. I couldn’t even move.

I was lying on the couch trying not to move because it was painful. I was in pain sitting there, but if I moved it made it even worse. Absurd amount of food.

Then there was a party at my parents’ house, and I ate eight plates of dessert. That was it. I ate protein throughout the day and eight plates of the dessert. It wasn’t to the point of pain, but my stomach was thoroughly full.

Even with those massive over‑feedings… I had to have eaten at least seven, eight thousand calories in those two individual meals alone. There were a couple of other dinners where I didn’t go crazy. I ate a good amount but didn’t go crazy.

Over the course of the next few days, after those crazy meals, I didn’t really see a difference in my body. I was a bit surprised. I was expecting worse. Yeah, they were very, very high‑carb meals, so that helps, but there was a fair amount of fat. They weren’t fatty enough.

I got a say, though…no, there must have been at least two, three hundred grams of fat in each of those meals. 200 grams of fat, that’s a pound of fat. If you were to eat 200 grams of dietary fat, and it were to be stored 100 percent as body fat…which it doesn’t get stored 100 percent.

But a large percentage gets stored as body fat, that’s a pound of fat. I got lucky to…I don’t know, I was a bit surprise. Also, one point action, I want to look into this, it is random, I don’t know if it’s fit into an article or anywhere, but I’m curious how long it takes for your body to synthesize fat.

It takes time to build muscle, for instance, same thing with body fat. OK, so I eat 8000 calories and my body let’s say it process all that…how far can it process? A fair amount are meat which went through the small intestine on process for sure.

Let’s say it process 5,000 calories in over the course of eight to 10 hours, what point can I say that fat synthesis is done? I know that I gained the fat that I gained, there’s no more. I feel that I’ve seen this over feeding studies, but that numbers are not coming to me.

If I take a guess, I would say, I don’t remember…18 hours. I’m not looking into that, I’m curious. Almost like a point of mental…you go all in and then you go, “All right.” At least there’s a point where you know you’re not going to get any fatter from that meal.

You gain the fat you are going to gain and now you’re done. That was my holiday, I hope you had a great holiday too, eat a bunch of food…that’s what you do. I’d say I enjoy yourselves on your holidays. I did that a couple of times. I’m not doing that everyday or multiple times a week even.

There was a couple and I didn’t feel bad about it, I loved it. That was all my plan…was to go. I didn’t care if that meant I had to diet for a week or two after. I was going to enjoy myself and eat a bunch of food I don’t normally eat.

Never people write me about it, little bit anxious about the holidays and gaining weight. That’s I recommend is use the calorie saving method I was talking about. What becomes a problem is when you start eating big breakfasts, lunches, and dinners multiple days a week.

When you start off with a 3000‑calorie breakfast and then do a 3000‑calorie lunch and a 7000‑dinner, and you do that multiple times a week, that becomes a problem.

You can gain quiet a bit of fat quiet quickly doing that. Especially if you are not exercising, If you take a couple weeks off form the gym and then you eat absurd amount of food, in two weeks, you could easily, easily gain a good price…six, seven pounds of fat if you really tried.

I minimized that damage by doing a few all‑in type meals saving, my calories. Also, usually on the days after…after I eat all that food, on those really high calorie days or those high calorie meals the following days. After Thanksgiving, I maybe ate 1,000 calories on the next day.

I need to eat my protein and a little bit of fat or a little bit of carb if I remember. Essentially I eat 200 grams of protein and a little bit of carb or fat that goes on what I’m eating. I semi‑full all day. [laughs] I woke up full, that doesn’t happen usually.

It was almost like a protein sparing‑modified‑fast, if you’ve ever heard of that. It’s more of a medical type of dietary routine where you’re really eating protein, they do it usually for obese people. So you can do that where you ridiculously over eat for a day and then you under eat for a day.

There are types of diets, there’s like an intermittent fasting. It’s not really intermittent fasting, it’s called a five two diet. Five days a week you’re eating food, two days you’re not. Not a really good diet if you’re physically active, if you’re going to the gym.

Because those two days a week you’re not eating food, you’re not going to want to train on those days because you’re going to have no energy and not feel good. Even if you save those two days, say you’re training Monday through Friday and you’re eating and then you don’t eat on the weekends.

Your Monday and Tuesday workouts are gonna suck. Maybe they’ll be OK if you’re working out later in the day and you have a good amount of food in you come Monday, by the afternoon if you’ve eaten a couple thousand calories by the time you train. Still I wouldn’t recommend the five two diet.

My point is you can do that, you can not eat food for 24 hours, at the fourteen‑sixteen hour of fasting you’d want some BCAAs or Lucine to elevate protein census rates and then you could probably do that every couple hours and not eat for 25 hours and be totally fine.

You’re not gonna lose any muscle, you’re not going to run into any real problems. It’s not really a matter of starving yourself, I don’t look at it like that. When I was going “OK I ate so much food yesterday, I’m gonna eat a small amount of food the next day.”

It wasn’t like “oh OK I’m gonna starve myself.” Like I said, I was pretty much full all day, I wasn’t even hungry. It was more to try to balance out my weekly intake, at least get it closer to where I’d like it to be. My maintenance calories are probably about 20 thousand, give or take.

Given my body weight, my body composition, and my activity level. I like to have my weekly calories come out to be about 20 thousand, some weeks it’s a little bit over, some weeks its a little bit under. So if I’m 88 thousand calories in a day, even a little bit more.

Then I’m gonna go low calorie the next day, and then about two thousand calories or a little bit less the following day. So over the course of those three days, where normally my intake would be 10 thousand calories.

Maybe it’s 12 thousand calories, and a lot of those extra calories are from carbs which are burned off and used in other ways. The net effect is my body composition, in the mirror, I didn’t see any difference, I saw the muscularity, same body. It didn’t look any different, despite eating so much food.

And I can eat a lot. I can fast for long periods of time and not get hungry and feel totally fine. I can even go out and play some, I’d say, moderate activity, I haven’t played intense sports. I’ve gotten into golf recently, go out to the driving range, hit a bunch of balls, after fasting for a bit.

And I don’t get hungry, it doesn’t bother me. At the same, time I can eat a ton of food in a sitting and be moderately full. I can eat 25 hundred calories in a meal and be “OK, I guess I’ve eaten enough”, I’m full. I could eat more, how exactly that works out I don’t know.

With that type of capacity for eating food, I was eating a couple of those meals, until I couldn’t fit any more food in me. If you can push it that hard and then make up for it in the next couple days and look the exact same, and my weight is the exact same, about one ninety.

It goes up and down depending on water retention and whatever. When all the holiday stuff was done, the New Years dinner, all that stuff, within a week I was back to my normal weight, that’s pretty cool. You can do the same thing, it does take a little bit of moderation.

It sounds like I have controlled bouts of moderation, I’m not just all over the place for three weeks. If it happens, it happens, so what, you diet for a month to get rid of the fat and now you’re back to normal. Does it really matter? No it doesn’t really matter. Alright, all the holiday stuff behind us.

Let’s get into the meat of the podcast. In this podcast I want to talk about two things, one is the concept of slow cutting, that’s a colloquial term for it. I get asked fairly often if you should, if it’s better to slowly taper your calories down when you’re wanting to loose fat.

Or jumping to a moderate deficit and go from there and then maybe at some point depending metabolic adaptation maybe you have to reduce calories further, maybe not, it depends on your body.

But, the point is it better to slowly taper calories down and jump into a decent deficit and you know, get the ball rolling like that and the other thing that I want to talk about is a question that I got asked by a named “John”.

I’ve been asked this before and usually show up personal response than getting it enough where I thought maybe a worthy pod cast topic. That’s the topic of surrounding yourself with the right people or that concept of trying yourself with the right people.

And how the people around you…how does that affect your mood, your motivation, your goals, your willingness to work and your overall happiness and chances for success and some of my experiences on it and some of my thoughts.

Let’s start with the, this “subject of slow cutting”. Is it better to taper your calories down and lose fat slowly or is it better to jump onto a larger deficit to lose fat faster and my standard like go to strategy for fat lose is, I want to lose fat as quickly as possible.

Without causing negative, without losing muscle, losing a bunch of strength, without feeling miserable and all the things that comes with starvation dieting.

So I don’t obviously to starve myself. You want to lose fat the fattest? Eat five hundred calories a day. There you go. You’re going to lose fat fast. You’re also going to lose muscle, you’re going to feel like shit but you’re going to lose fat very quickly.

What I do is, I am using a moderate deficit 20, 25 percent. Personally, I chose to keep it at 25 percent but, this is something you have to… you have to… part of this whole fitness game is learning your body either the fundamental principles that guide you.

And keep you from making stupid mistakes. But then there are quite a very few variables that are individual that you have to experience yourself. I know guys that do great with 25 percent deficit like me, my body is totally fine with it. I’ve dieted so many times and I stay pretty lean.

I maintain seventy eight percent. I stay quite close to eight percent, my maintenance. Hanging out around here eating about 27 to 28 hundred calories a day.

With a couple days over maybe a couple days under depends on what I feel like doing.

I dieted down to six five maybe I never made it five, but I made it to the six percent ration several times for photo shoots and such. I have enough experience as my body to know that 25 percent deficit is totally fine but some people, guys and girls, I speak with don’t do so well on it.

They need a smaller deficit because maybe something fifteen, 20 percent because if they go higher they really get to start to have hunger issues, craving issues, energy issues, mood issues and that’s something you have to learn.

But, I recommend is you’re not sure about what works best, start with a 25 percent deficit or 20 percent deficit and see how your body responds and you can adjust things. I wouldn’t go higher than 25 percent because then you start getting pretty close to BMR more.

Most people are going to find, if you drop your intake to BMR, that’s not going to do…most people are going to run into problems, you’re going to be hungry, you’re going to be angry, you’re going to be, you’re workout are going to suck, you’re going to lose strength.

So, that is on the deficit point. That is what I like to do. The reason why I want to lose fat as quickly as possible is…there are a few reasons.

One, is the longer you’re in a deficit, the more your metabolism slows down which means the more you have to reduce your energy intake or increase your energy output to continue losing fat.

That’s not a huge problem, if you’re slow cutting, if you start with a 10 percent deficit and you see you can get fat lost from there and you reduce it a little more maybe to five percent, five percent and five percent.

Your metabolism slows down but you’re not ruining your metabolism, you’re not damaging it. You’re making the process take longer and you’re not going to gain that much weight. I’ve done this before, I tried it.

I don’t see much of a difference in my training to a 10 percent deficit to a 20, 20 percent deficit. Yes, there is a slight difference. I’m going to probably lose a wrap or two on a 20, 25 percent deficit versus a 10 percent.

But my energy levels are still high, my workouts are still good, I feel good throughout the day. If there were a big difference, if I felt way better on a 10 percent deficit than a 20, 25, I probably would slow cut.

I would start with a very mild deficits, some people would even start with a low as five percent deficit which can be tricky to make sure you don’t accidentally, because you have a small margin for error there.

If you’re running on a five percent deficit, you are eating by a hundred calories that could be five percent deficit. If you’re a girl or guy that can be a half of your deficit right there. It also can be a little bit tricky in terms of tracking because if you’re running a small deficit.

You have to weigh yourself every day, which is not a bad idea, and take an average weight every seven to 10 days and really keep an eye on things because you can accidentally over eat and under exercise and not burn as much calories as you were anticipating when you’re planning your meal.

Planning your diet and you cannot really lose any fat for a couple of weeks and not quite know because you’re not expecting dramatic changes. So the metabolic adaptation point is not a big problem but it is something that you’re going to deal with and when you’re slowly reducing.

Weight loss is depriving your body with food. That’s all that you’re doing. You’re losing fat and when you’re depriving enough to get fat loss a little bit going and that you’re trying to reduce a little bit more, and a little bit more, it’s trickier.

The really point is it’s unnecessary because you can jump in to a larger deficit and you’re still going to have metabolic slowdown in some degree it will only a happen a little bit faster but, you’re going to…in that time period.

Like if you’re going to jump right into that 25 percent deficit and you’re exercising, you’re eating enough protein and you’re not doing too much cardio or doing all the things you should be doing…

You probably will get a good, let’s say six weeks of fat loss out of that before you have to reduce, before you have to change anything. Before you exercise more or eat less. Some people they start on that deficit and I’ve seen a research.

Some people metabolism are more resilient than others meaning that they’re not as prone to the slow down as others and some people metabolism slow down faster so that’s also a point. You’re going to experience with your body weight and get away with it but I’ve run to quite a few.

Usually with guys not so much to girls, probably hormonal and muscle with guys, they have more muscle and are going to do better. But, they will go to that 25 percent deficit and they’ll stay there and they’ll get as lean as they want and then reverse diet out of it and that’s it.

It can be that simple. Another point why I want to lose fat as quickly as possible is the more time that you’re in a deficit, even if it’s a slight deficit it means the more time you’re not building muscle and you’re not going to see much of a strength gain either.

This applies to most people, people who are new to weightlifting or new to heavy weight lifting, like if you’ve been doing some high rep isolation magazine type workout and you’ve switch to a more heavy barbell type routine like starting strength five by five program.

Or building your stronger program or something like that, you definitely can build muscle while losing fat but, if you’re new to working out you can as well but If you’re an experienced weightlifter, you’ve put in a good amount of time on the barbells and you’re pretty strong and you lift heavyweights.

You’re not going to be building any muscles to speak of while you’re on a deficit. When you’re slow cutting, if you slow cut for five months, to lose. Say you’re 15 percent, you want to go to seven percent and it takes you five months to get there.

In those five months, you’re really not going to build any muscle to speak of and your strength is going to be pretty stagnant thorough that time. You might be able to make some strength and maybe you’ll build a little bit of muscle, but not nearly as much as if you were aggressive with your fat loss.

Let’s say you went from 15 percent to seven percent in three months by being more aggressive and then you can reverse diet out of it, and in over the next two or three months you reversed diet and you’re now in a maintenance or even in a surplus, depending on what do you want to do.

Once you start that reverse diet process, you will see that your body responds very quickly. Your strength starts climbing up again. You can you can build muscle more effectively again.

If you are in my position, where really I maxed out my genetic potential in terms of natural muscle growth, if I really cared, it’s possible I could gain about 10 more pounds. My FFMI, which I’ll link in an article down below, if you’re not familiar with that, it’s about 23, 24. It was about 23 a year ago.

I’ve gained a little bit of size then. It’s right about 24 right now. Really when you’re start getting 24, 25, that’s all you can expect in terms of natural muscle growth unless you’ve outstanding genetics for it. Even then you’re not going to see much higher than 25.

When you start seeing 26, 27, 28 and higher, it’s really steroids is we’re looking at. So if you were in my position and I am not going to really gain much more muscle and I am not really looking to gain much. I do not really want to.

I’ll take more some more calves because genetically my calves were the worst ever. They’re decent now, but I’ll take some more calves. Take some more shoulders because natty shoulders are always too small or standard. I don’t want bigger arms. I don’t want a build chest. My back is pretty good.

My upper legs are good. I’m already having trouble, like certain brands of jeans, forget it, I can’t wear them. If anything is like a skinnier or even a straight cut; skinny forget, I’m not that and I really don’t want to wear it anyway. Straight cut is usually a problem. They get stuck in my thighs.

Or they look like leggings, which is ridiculous. I don’t really want more upper legs. Well, because it starts to become impractical, when your legs starts rubbing together everywhere you go and you can’t wear the clothes you want to wear or whatever. So in my case slow cutting could make sense.

If I had a problem with the larger deficit, I could run a small deficit over time. So, I’m not really going to build much muscle anyway and I can preserve as much muscle and strength as possible. OK. I could see that.

Personally, I still rather be aggressive about it, and then get my calories back up to maintenance type level because I like my training best when I’m at maintenance. I feel strong in the gym and be able to progress on my strength. That’s probably your plan out in that position.

You probably are still looking to improve your physique, add some size, gain a fair amount of strength and if that’s the case, slow cutting is just not the way to go. This is one of the big problems that I see, one of the big mistakes that I see people make.

My brother is a good example. He has made this mistake for quite a while now and I tell him about it but he doesn’t listen. That is his bulks are too short because he gets way out of hand with his calories and maybe he’s shrinking his bowel, I don’t know, but he gains fat way quickly when he bulks.

Maybe he’s in a surplus for two months and so for two months he is able to gain strength and build a little bit of muscle and get things rolling. But then he gets too fat and then he has to cut.

Then his cuts take too long because he is not strict on his diet and he skips workouts here and there and whatever. So he’ll now cut for let’s say four or five months and lose, let’s say, 15 pounds.

So he’ll go a little bit too high on his bulks too. He likes to start at about 20 percent. He’ll then get to like 14 percent or let’s say 13 percent on his cut and then stop there and go back to the bulk, and then go back 20 percent within a couple months.

So, when you look at his year, his year is, let’s say, four months of being in a surplus and eight months of being in a slight deficit. That sucks for building muscle and for building your physique. You want that the other way around.

You want to be in a surplus for eight months and where you’re building muscle, you’re building strength. I’ve never really seen this in any research but I definitely experienced it myself. Anecdotally, when you’re in a surplus you get into a rhythm. There is a momentum that builds.

Especially for me, I would notice it after about six to seven weeks of being a surplus, a steady slight surplus. I really start to build up momentum in my training around adding reps every week and I am feeling strong and have a lot of energy and maybe even a little bit of shoulder.

Which could be related to the glycogen stores have really topped out and they’re really maxed out all the time. But I would suspect that there is something with the nervous system as well, where recovery is going to be your highest when you’re in surplus.

I don’t know exactly what the factors are, but I have seen that. But it takes a little bit to get going. That is also why I don’t recommend that people bulk for a week and cut for a week, because you never really get into a rhythm with your bulking where you are making steady progress.

And you are not gaining very much body fat. You’re gaining a little bit, a little bit, a little bit but you’re gaining as much muscle than you’re seeing while the strength gains in the gym. But it takes a little bit to get there, so if you are only bulking poking for two months, yeah, you’re going experience it.

Maybe if you’ll have a month of that where you’re really starting to get into a groove but then you’re too fat and then you’re running into problems where you can’t build muscles effectively when you are fat.

Once you start getting above, let’s say, 15, 16 percent, you’re going start running into some issues that get in the way of muscle growth. Something you can’t build muscle. Ideally for building muscle you’d stay probably in the 10 to 15 percent or 10 to 16, 17 percent range.

I’ll link in an article down below where I explain why. My brother he makes that mistake of where he starts getting into a groove, but then he has to cut and his cuts take way too long.

He hasn’t gained really anything in the way of muscle and strength now at this point since he has been lifting about a year and half. He could get away with this in the beginning. That also messes with people in the beginning where if you’re doing some things right, if you’re training right.

If you’re for eating decently you can makes these mistakes and he did make these mistakes in the beginning but it didn’t matter because he was building muscle and strength, while he was in deficit.

So he thought like “Hey, whatever, I can go to absurd eat all this food, get fat and then go to a deficit, feel fine, train hard, get strong, build muscle who cares.” But now he is in the intermediate stage where you can’t do that anymore. You have to be a lot more on point with your diet.

You have to make sure that you are not sitting in a slight deficit for long periods of time or you are going to get stuck. The last reason why I enjoyed rapid weight loss over rapid fat loss or why I recommend rapid fat loss over slow cutting is, the longer you’re in deficit.

The more you are going to fall of the wagon. I can use my brother’s example again. He doesn’t any major issues of hunger or cravings but it’s a fatigue point where he gets sick of eating the same. He is not a person to cook for himself or be creative with his meals or anything.

So he was eating like chipotle every day for three months when he was cutting or something. He used to get sick of it. You want to eat different foods and you start to feel the effects, a little bit of the energy effects in your training.

You’re getting sick of training, being stagnant and you’re more likely to give up and starting eating your brunch again, which is what he does. He cuts for a bit and then he is like, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Then he starts his reverse diet, which quickly flies out of control and becomes full on bulk and then it is back in the bulk mode and gain fat too fast mode and then be like, “Well shit, I guess I’ve got to cut again.”

I find that if you are aggressive, it is easier to really keep your discipline in and stays strict on your numbers and make sure you’re doing everything right for shorter periods of time. I would prefer to go a 100 percent all in for two months or three months, then like 30 percent for five, six months for sure.

Because the more time you enter into the process, the more chances there are to mess it up. So that is more a psychological point and some people don’t have a problem with that.

Some people, especially more experienced weightlifters and experienced dieters they’re really grooved in on tracking and planning, food intake and this is not a big deal. They could be in a slight deficit for year because they track and plan all their macros anyway.

What’s the difference to them if they’re eating, it’s numbers. I get some kind in that boat but most people are not so much like that and that’s why I recommend be more aggressive with it and getting it over with in a sense.

In case you are wondering if being in a larger deficit like a 25 percent deficit is too much and its going to cause too much muscle loss, and strength loss, I can tell you anecdotally it’s not.

Not just with my body but I’ve worked with thousands of people at this point and never run into that problem once. But it’s also backed up by a bit of research and there’s one study in particular, which I’ll link down below.

Which was conducted with sprinters, with athletes may look [inaudible 0:28:45] . It was a national/international level track and field jumpers and sprinters with low levels of body fat at or around 10 percent. So they were lean already.

You had two groups, a 300 calorie deficit and a 700 calorie deficit daily with a high‑protein diet. The 750 calorie deficit group obviously lost quite a bit more fat than the 300 calorie deficit. This is after four weeks. They’re on the diet for four weeks with very little muscle loss.

So you can run a larger deficit and especially if you are training correctly, you’re still hitting heavyweights, you’re still pushing to make gains, you’re still trying get stronger. Whether you can or can’t you don’t resign yourself to cutting so then get lazy in the gym. Train hard. High‑protein diet.

I don’t recommend low‑carb. I’ll link an article down below that explains why. So you have a higher carb, higher protein, moderate to lower fat diet, and you don’t kill yourself with cardio, which I’ll link an article down below where I talk about how much cardio is too much and if you do all that.

Then you can lose quite a bit of fat quite quickly with a larger deficit and it will totally fine. No negative consequences in terms of body composition or any mild, mild consequences in terms of performance. You might lose a few reps, you might a lose a few pounds on a couple of lifts.

But nothing major. That bring you to the last couple of points on how I go about losing fat as quickly as possible. So I mentioned high‑protein, high carbohydrate diet because I’m fairly lean and when I’m cutting I’m wanting to get really lean.

I’m eating about 1.1 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. I’ll link an article down below to explain why and my carbs are around one gram per pound and my fats around 0.2 or 0.25, never higher than 0.3 grams per pound.

That combination of macros helps preserve muscle, preserve strength and gives you enough dietary fat for your body to do everything it needs to do and prevent any major hormonal disruptions.

I also use different supplements that improve and help with fat loss like caffeine’s, synephrine, yohimbine, green tea extract and all linked in a article down below where I talk about fat burners and what works and what doesn’t, and what I found.

Will the reactions make a difference. When you supplement properly, it does make a difference. I would say based on my experience with my body and how many times I’ve gained fat and lost fat.

I would say that’s probably about 20 percent faster when I have my little supplement stack that I run, which is worth it to me. That means instead of eight weeks, I am going six weeks. That’s worth it to me. None of the supplements are that expensive. If I am spending 80 bucks to do that.

Then that is worth it to me. Also, I lift heavy weights when I’m cutting. I don’t go high rep to really bring out definition. That’s all bullshit. Keep the heavy weightlifting in, emphasize your heavy compound list because you want to still be toning your muscles, overloading them.

You still want to be stimulating them, telling your body like, “Hey we need these muscles, push them.” Also heavy weightlifting burns calories, especially in the after‑burn effect.

I hate that phrase, because it’s overused in bullshit marketing stuff, but there is a significant enough calories that your body is burning after a heavy weight lifting workout that helps support your weight loss efforts. Last but not least is I do high intensity interval cardio only.

I don’t do any steady state, because…Sure, steady state burns energy and it can help you lose fat in that way, but high intensity interval cardio burns more fat, period. There’s just no question. I’ll link an article down below, but it’s been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt in multiple.

Multiple studies that high intensity interval cardio burns more fat in less time than steady state. I know people are going to say that, “High intensity, it’s so hard on your nervous system, and it’s going to calls over training.” No.

I’ve worked with thousands of people, and I don’t know if I’ve ever once had anybody come back to me with how I lay it out, where I don’t do much cardio. I do maybe an hour and a half a week, never more than two hours a week, but maybe an hour and a half a week of high intensity interval cardio.

And that’s all I recommend. It boils down to three to four sessions of about 30 minutes or so. That’s it. I lift weights 45 times a week when I’m cutting as well. That’s my exercise routine. My weight lifting sessions aren’t that long either. 45 minutes, never longer than an hour. Not killing myself with exercise.

I’m pushing myself, but it’s not the type of routines that you’ll see with fitness competitors where they’re talking about doing two hours of cardio a day plus two hours of weight lifting plus a large deficit. That’s a recipe for disaster. That’s muscle loss. Hormones are going to go out of control.

You’re going to feel terrible. You’re going to get lean, but it’s going to be miserable. I’m not into that. Another point is mentioning with the high intensity interval cardio and over training and stressing the body is, from what I’ve seen, the studies that have been used to support those statements.

That high intensity is so hard on the body and so hard on the central nervous system, if you look at the people in those studies, the ones that I’ve seen were elite level endurance, elite endurance athletes that are really pushing themselves as hard as they can go.

That’s not us. That’s not me. I’ve been doing cardio high intensity, hit cardio regularly for over a year now. My cardio is very good. I have a really low resting heart rate in the 40s. I never really see my heart rate go above 140 or so. Maybe it makes it to 150, toward the end of my workouts.

That’s me pushing myself, but that’s not me pushing myself like an elite cyclist on an upright bicycle doing 60‑second or 45‑second, all out sprints. That guy would crush me. We have to also remember that our version.

What we’re doing for high intensity interval cardio is not the same as what you’ll see in some studies. There are some studies that, again, support it in terms of being more effective for fat loss, but the studies that are conducted with more average type people, the routines are not as intense.

They’re just not pushing themselves as hard as the high level athletes, because they can’t. That’s it for the rapid weight loss versus slow cutting. I highly recommend that you try being more aggressive with it if you’ve been a bit weary of larger deficits.

Or if you’ve always thought slow cutting was the way to go. Try the more aggressive approach, and you’re going to be happy with the results and you’re going to find it an overall more enjoyable experience.

Let’s get to this next topic here. That is the subject of the people you have around you and how it affects you. Let me heck out John’s email here, see if anything else that I don’t want to miss. He’s asking, if I have anything to contribute in regards to maintaining my habits.

I write about habits and talk about habits. I’m a very routine habit‑based person. I try to ritualize a lot of the things in my life, so I don’t have to think about, including food. I don’t want to be thinking every meal, what I’m going to eat. I have too many things to do.

I want to take out as much random motion out of my life as possible. That means that every day, I have an alarm that I’ll wake up at certain times, 6:15. Then I do some blog reading in the morning when I get from the bathroom or getting ready. I’m at a gym by certain time.

Sure, it fluctuates 10 or 15 minutes, but I’m here at the office at a certain time. I’ll leave at a certain time. I have dinner in certain, certain time. I do my cardio certain time. Everything, I try to keep as regimented as possible, because it takes my attention off things.

I’ve been doing it enough now where I know that I’m going to…There’s no, “Oh, I hope I wake up on time to get to the gym.” No. I can’t remember. Maybe the last time I missed the gym because of something like that was when my son was younger and I slept two hours.

And I thought, “My workout is going to be terrible. What’s the point?” I might as well sleep more and then work out later,” thing. If it’s not act of God thing, I’m up. There’s no question. I’m going to be at the gym by that time. I’m going to do my thing.

I’m going to be at the office by this time. I don’t get into bargaining with myself. You have the voices or whatever that try to say, “Hey, maybe you should do this. You need a little bit more sleep.” Start making excuses for you and start justifying you or whatever, I’ve beaten them in the submission.

They just don’t even try, because they know that there’s no way. They’re not going to take me off my routine. I’m big on habits and big on routines. John’s asking of maintaining my habits, if surrounding myself with the right people is a part of that.

And then what do I do if I feel that there are no people around me who embody these qualities, or if I feel like my environment matches that and that supports me, or if I feel alone or I have to do it all myself and I have no external support.

It’s a good point, good questions, because honestly, I don’t hold myself up on a pedestal. It’s maybe a point of modesty but it’s more a point of…I think of meditations from [inaudible 0:38:37] where it’s more a point of I’m not so presumptuous to think that I’m so special and people should look up to me.

In however many years, I’m going to be dead and gone. Everything that I’ve done, maybe they’ll live on, maybe not. At some point, people that are going to praise me or denounce me, they’re gone too and everything.

My only gripe with Stoic philosophy is it can be a bit apathetic and a bit pessimistic, but there are a lot of elements of it that I like and staying grounded. With that said, I would love to have a network of people that I felt were like me.

I do know some people, successful business people mainly, that live in a very similar way, they’re very similar. They don’t sleep that much. They wake up early. They do exercise. They’re always working. They’re always thinking about their business. If it’s not business, it could be their work.

It could be acting, a couple of actors like that or sports player or whatever. I would say that I feel bad about it, but I wish that I have more of a network of people like that, because I don’t. I don’t feel like I have the support of a peer group. I have myself, essentially, and I do my thing.

My wife supports me a lot in that she handles a lot of stuff, home stuff and kid stuff, so I can work. I do take time, family time obviously. She’s very good in handling our son, Lennox, and giving me the time and space that I need to do my thing. That’s very cool.

I have a small circle of friends that I don’t see that often. Mainly, my friends are the guys that work with me. Like John says in email, it says here that he feels like the answer is suck it up and become who you want.

Yeah, he’s saying that he can’t find a media pertaining the type of person he wants to be. He can read books, watch video logs, and read more books and look up articles and beyond forums and stuff.

He says that he feels like it’s not the same as being surrounded by people who think the same way or being in a group that buzzes with energy and motivation. In one way, it would be cool if I had that, but I don’t. I don’t really look to external factors for motivation either.

I’ve internalized a lot of that by now where I have an ambition or do I have a drive to do stuff. It’s not just to make money. If I were driven by money, I would probably work three hours a day.

Not that I’m rich or something like that. I make more money than I need to live the lifestyle that I have right now, for sure. I could significantly upgrade that lifestyle if I wanted to and still be fine. It’s not a money thing for me, it’s that I like to do stuff. I like to be engaged in actions that have purpose.

I can’t just sit around and watch TV every night. If I get bored, I sit there and I’m like, “What am I doing? I can’t even enjoy this.” I do enjoy good movies and good TV shows, but it’s a moderation. I watch that stuff when I’m doing my cardio.

My recommendations on my cool stuff, I watch all that stuff. It’s over time. I do my little 25‑minute cardio sessions a few days a week. Essentially, what it boils down is I’m watching an hour, a hour and a half a week and maybe I’ll watch a movie with my wife on the weekend thing.

In those small amounts, it’s great. That’s the way I am. I’m drive. I enjoy my work, and I like to get things done and to create things and get them out there. For a sake of, I don’t know, person, I don’t even care to brag to people about it or get praise from people.

I like to do, so that’s what I do. It’s my life. It’s not like, “Oh, I have my work, and then I have my other stuff. It’s like, “It blends together, basically.”

It’s also probably worth saying that another thing that I don’t do is I don’t look to other people for inspiration much, really. I do read a lot of books and I do find a lot of that stuff, enlightening and insightful. I’m not looking to other people for motivation to get going or do things.

I’m definitely not looking to other people for excuses or justifiers for failures. Again, not to sound arrogant or whatever, I definitely do not want to live like the average person. I don’t want their type of life.

From happiness, from drive, from purpose, from money, the overall experience, not [inaudible 0:43:56] that. When I’m looking to how normal people are living…Yes, it’s normal to work 40 hours a week. Really, let’s face it.

Most people work probably 20 hours a week and the rest of the time is digging around the Internet and whatever. It’s normal to do that. It’s normal to watch a bunch of TV. It’s normal to want to spend much time with friends on stuff. Also, when you take a look at the overall life.

A normal life would be depressing to me. My actions and how I live is not normal, and that’s the way it is. The reason why I say that is because I know people that feel like they should be, they have the potential, maybe, to be more than normal and they should be doing more than normal.

They get too caught up in their head and then being normal and feeling comfortable, being a part of the herd in a sense, where they, to themselves, they can justify their actions because everyone else is doing it and that’s normal. That dude, Mike, he’s just…Who knows?

He’s not even human. He robotically goes through his life, and that’s all he does is work. [laughs] I don’t look to other people to really judge my doing things correct or doing things incorrectly. I look to what I want to do and what is that going to take.

I don’t care what other people are doing, I want to know what’s my goal, what am I going for, and realistically what’s that going to take, how much effort is that going to take, how much time is that going to take, what is it going to take?

I look at it more like that. I always try to overshoot it and think that it’s going to be harder than. It’s going to take more work than I think, so I better be ready for that and I better plan for that because that can become de‑motivating itself if you’re a habitual under estimator of effort and time.

Then it can be quite demotivating when you think, “Oh, that should be banged out. That shouldn’t take me more than 100 hours.” Then you’re 300 hours in, and you’re like, “What the hell?”

I had that experience recently, trying to learn German. My wife is German, I want to learn the language. I thought that three, four hundred hours would be enough to achieve the level of fluency that I wanted. I did that. I did all of Pimsleur’s courses and one or two others as well.

Obviously, I learned a lot but my vocabulary was crap. I wasn’t at the point of fluency that I wanted to be at at all. I was pretty annoyed about it, because I was putting a lot of time into it and that’s time that I could be spending on reading books or doing other activities that have value as well.

I try not to make those mistakes. I try assume that things are always going to be harder and take longer and myself accept that, that I’m going to have to work really hard. There’s no way around that.

There’s no trying to slide by or bullshit my way through it, or half‑ass things, cut corners, make excuses why. That part of it, I don’t really have to do that. I’ll do these little parts.

I try to really be honest with myself and look at it and go, “What’s that going to take? Am I willing to do that?” Really, what’s that going to take? How much more should I add to that to really make it realistic? Am I ready for that? Is that what I’m ready to do.” Good, and then do it.

Close on John’s question is, it’s great if you can be surrounded by the right people. It’s harder. It’s quite hard to find that, but then again I’m not much of a networker. It’s probably something I need to get better at or put more attention on, really.

Because it would help, but I’ve always been a person to beyond consider that I have…Yeah, I’m going to get help along the way, I’m going to get support along the way. Ultimately, it’s going to be me pushing hard, working hard, and that’s what it’s going to boil down to.

I would say as a boss or whatever, I’m also…I’m not really into trying to motivate people. I don’t think that you can even really do much in the way of motivating people. If somebody needs to be continually motivated, that’s the person that’s just not going to do very well.

One for one, the most successful people I know were all strongly motivated internally. They didn’t require external motivation. They didn’t require pep talks. Yeah, sure, some things here and there and they run into problems and they get through it though, they’re tough individuals.

They’re tough, drive individuals that when they fail, they don’t get all hard on themselves. They see it as a step along the way, and they push through it. They show up every day. They work as hard.

Whether they feel like working or not, know that it doesn’t dictate anything. They don’t allow their emotions to then change their routines or change what they know needs to get done, they do it. I’ve always been that way in things that I want to do. Maybe I’m forcing it that way.

It can be cultivated though as well, because it’s a mentality. The people can definitely…Probably the most powerful thing you can do is change your mind about things. This is something that can be learned.

Hopefully that my rambling is of any help. I hope you enjoyed that. I’m going to wrap up the podcast here so it doesn’t get too long. I will see you next week.

Hey. It’s Mike again. I hope you like the podcast. If you did, go ahead and subscribe. I put out new episodes every week or two where I talk about all kinds of things related to health and fitness and general wellness.

Also, head over to my website at www.muscleforlife.com, where you’ll find not only past episodes of the podcast but you’ll also find a bunch of different articles that I’ve written. I release a new one almost every day.

I release four to six new articles a week. You can also find my books and everything else that I’m involved in over at muscleforlife.com. Thanks again. Bye.

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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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  • Debbye S. Sparks

    workout app! yay!

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah app is gonna rock!

      2:1 would be a bit short. 4:1 would be much better.

  • JonnyA

    Hi Mike. Great job as ever. I have a couple questions though. In your podcast you mention you are pretty much at your genetic potential. Are you still aiming to grow stronger? I am still in my first year of your programme (about 5 months in and 8kg heavier) so feel like I’m getting stronger each week but strength gains have slowed. I’ve started a 3 month cut now to see if I can strip some fat and get a good idea of where I’m at. I presume (albeit in a few years time!) I will get to a point where I top out and can’t physically get any stronger though? What do you recommend at this point? Changing some of the exercises around the 3 core compound moves perhaps? Or should I constantly be trying to improve on my last workout? Cheers

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      Yeah I’d like to get stronger but strength and size are correlated so there IS a point where I won’t be getting stronger unless I’m willing to eat quite a bit more and get quite a bit bigger and fatter.

      You’ll be at the top of your potential at around 5 years and you can decide where to go from there, really. I still really enjoy training even though I’m really just trying to maintain my physique while slowly improving strength. I still try to beat my last workouts. 🙂

      • Ilham

        I believe the Pareto principle tends to apply here very well. If you reach your 90-95% potential in around 5 years, and it then takes you 10-15 years to gain the remaining potential it would be wiser to perhaps follow a different training theme.

        To explain, training to grow takes a lot longer than maintaining that strength/size. In that case I think I would rather switch to maintaining while growing slowly but invest a lot more of my time to things like martial arts, improving my speed, or developing isometric strength.

        I could be wrong, I’ll experiment on myself in about 5 years time. 😉

        Thanks Mike.

        • Michael Matthews

          I definitely agree.

          One of the “rewards” of reaching the point where you want to just maintain your physique is you can use a foundation of lifting 2 to 3x per week to keep your muscle and then do other types of exercise for fun.

  • Chronberg

    Great listen. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

  • Audrey

    Great podcast as always! I’m also an internal motivator- a lone wolf so to speak. It would be nice if other people were the same way, but I tend to find that a lot of people like to talk or focus on their sad stories and use them as excuses. Or a lot of people are comfortable with being comfortable. Personally, I do like to push myself outside the realm of my comfort zone, and I like to achieve goals- it’s just something I enjoy. I do have chronic health issues (the cause of which was outside my control, but the management of which is in my control to some degree). But I try not to label myself with these issues or use them as excuses. I simply try to do my best every day and not compare myself to others, and surprisingly the results are usually pretty good. I would like to accomplish more, but I have to schedule in adequate rest time otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything. Doctors always kind of laugh a little when I say how much I exercise and how many vitamins and supplements I take- it’s abnormal I guess. But I’ve been able to get off all prescription meds and just rely on nutrition, exercise, supps, and sleep so that’s good in my book. My boyfriend sometimes gives me grief about how I weigh out my food- says it’s not what normal people do. Well I guess that’s a win, because I don’t want to be normal, haha

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Audrey!

      I totally agree and admire your grit. Great job on what you’ve accomplished with your body. That’s awesome.

      Haha yeah food weighing throws many people off. Oh well. 😉

  • Debbye S. Sparks

    I understand what this guy asked you about staying motivated, and I loved the way you answered, how you said you don’t really need any extrinsic motivation to stay in track cause you just love what I do, and I’m the same, but sometimes I do wish I had people around me who’d share what I love about fitness and life! That’s one of the main reasons I think you have so many followers, at least that’s one of my reasons -why I follow you, also you’re handsome lol-, there’s no people like you or the other people I follow in “my real life”, I don’t mind being alone or working on my projects by myself, -that way I make sure I do things my way- and I don’t need extrinsic motivation either, but sometimes a reminder or a little push wouldn’t hurt, and that’s what I get every time I hear/watch a broadcast or read one of your articles, so thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the kind words Debbye and I totally understand where you’re coming from. That’s one of the reasons I like reading/watching biographies a lot–I find moral/worldview support in them, haha.

  • Lewis

    Hey Mike. Great video! If you could spare the time, I’d be really interested to see what a day where you manage to consume 200g protein with very little carbs and fat might look like? I’m often in the situation where I want to go low cal to balance out a heavy day previous, but don’t want to sacrifice on protein. Thanks in advance!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      I just stick to stuff like lean meat, low-fat dairy, egg whites, and protein powder.

  • Michael Matthews

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

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  • Kam Barnes

    Hey Mike,

    I Was hoping you could help with something. I’m currently bulking, started about 2 weeks ago but due to holiday eating I’ve jumped from 10.5% BF @ 172.5 up to 12% BF @ 175 in a very short time and I’d say with Christmas coming up next week I’ll probably end at ~13%BF, give or take a bit & I just wanted to know your opinion on doing a quick 1-2 week cut (at most) to get rid of holiday fat and then jumping right back up to a slight surplus. I have added a pretty big amount of strength in just 2 weeks of bulking after having just finished a cut & reverse dieted up. I remember watching your podcast where you say a mini cut is ok if you’re maintaining but you wouldn’t suggest it if you’re bulking bc of momentum. Just to clarify I do use the calorie saving mode and always go into a deficit the day after, sometimes even the day before if I know I’m going into an event like thanksgiving, Christmas, etc but I always seem to gain a ton afterwards. Anyways, since I will only have been in a bulk surplus for about 3 weeks after Christmas I was wanting to know how you would suggest going about my diet after that.

    Thanks!

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