Muscle for life

MFL Podcast 15: Training frequency and muscle growth and beating food cravings

MFL Podcast 15: Training frequency and muscle growth and beating food cravings

In this podcast, I talk about training frequency and why VOLUME and INTENSITY are more important for long-term gains, and some of the common misbeliefs about food cravings and the easiest way to overcome them.

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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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  • David M. Auge

    great podcast – definitely can relate to the over-training symptoms…been using a 2 days on and 1 day off workout schedule and it really helped me to recover

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Keep it up.

  • Awesome podcast Mike, just what I needed to hear, especially the food cravings part (actually, all of it). I struggle with cravings, but since I’ve stopped the high carb/low carb days, and kept carbs constant, I’ve been a lot better. Been 3 1/2 weeks with only one minor slip up, which is good. I see myself getting lean again for the summer, which would be fab!

    Well, time to hit shoulders on the BLS plan!!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah reducing diet-induced stress works wonders for controlling cravings, haha. Keep it up.

  • Mat

    Great podcast, definitely know the cravings part been on the diet plan for a week and a half now lol. Going to take your advice and start working in some stuff to ease it next week and keep the Macro’s good. I’ve done the kill myself diets and workouts many times over just to drop weight on the scale (dropped 50lbs in 90 days, granted I was in Iraq and ran 6 miles a day). Looking back I wish I would’ve found this a long time ago, I would’ve stayed with it and not gone the other way just to slam the fat all back on lol. A little over 2 weeks into the BLS plan and feel great!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Yeah just work some stuff you like into your weekly planning. It’ll help.

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Thekid

    Good info as usual. I can attest to the fact of working one muscle group a day every 7 days. I was one of those people who did full body workouts 3 days a weeks for 2 hours at a time. By the 3rd day you’re completely worn out, fighting your body to get through the workout. Telling yourself, “just push through it, this is where the gains are made..” only to be teased by the image in the mirror of a great pump, but not see any growth next week. I also did the 2 muscle groups 2 times a week split – Rusty Moore’s program – and although I made gains – they slowed down tremendously moving into the 5th month. And I didn’t understand why. I was still eating around 2800 calories as I do now. Eventually gains came to a stand still.

    Funny thing is, I actually worked a HELL of lot harder on Rusty’s program than I do Mike’s! Not because the program was hard (although it was a bit more challenging) but because I pushed myself harder. I really wanted it that year. The one day a week split turned out to be the missing ingredient and was one of the driving forces for trying MIke’s program. I had read about it once before on anther blog, but over looked it. There is so much “advice” out there it’s hard know what’s real.

    I will say one thing, for tall guys (6’4 and up) in their mid 20’s and up, who have little training experience – who want to develop perceptually bigger arms (a 16 inch arm won’t look the same on you as it will on a 5’11 dude):

    HEAVY barbell curls, close grip bench presses and CREATINE are your friends. Dumbbell curls first thing on arm training day is simply not very for tall skinny guys. I went from 14.75 inch arms to 16 1/8 in 9 weeks. At this rate – 18 inch arms are only 6 months away. Can’t wait.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment! I really appreciate it and am really glad you’re kicking ass on the program.

      I used to train everything twice per week with moderate/high volume and it just ground me down.

      The big benefit of a proper once-per-week is you get enough volume and intensity to grow and you get to RECOVERY, which is vastly underrated in a lot of the workout advice out there (mainly because many popular programs were created by guys on drugs that couldn’t overtrain if they tried to).

      Anyway, keep up the good work man. You’re killing it.

  • John

    when is your new book coming out Michael? Is it going to be an updated version of bigger leaner stronger?

    Cause i am about to start your bigger leaner stronger workout plan but if you are having a new book coming out with an updated and more efficient workout then i ll wait and continue the workout i am doing now and switch to your new one!

    • Michael Matthews

      About 7-10 days and nope it’s a true sequel. No rehashed BLS content.

      And speaking of BLS, I’ve already begun on the second edition of that, and it will have a ton of new content based on reader feedback and questions. I’m really excited to get that rolled out, but it’s several months away.

      The workout plan in the new book is meant for advanced weightlifters. I would recommend you start with BLS.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • John

        Thanks for the clarification. I admire the way you reply to absolutely everyone so fast.

        I am a certified personal trainer and have been training seriously for 3 years. I started at 64kg and now i am 80kg 11% bodyfat. I can bench 95kg for 5 reps. Deadlift 140kg for 5 reps and squat 100 kg for 6 reps plus.

        I guess im getting to advanced? I have been training each muscle group twice a week and wanted to try something different. I will start bls and as soon as your new book is out i will buy that and try your new workout plan! Excited.

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure! Thanks!

          Great job on your progress so far! That rocks.

          I would say you’re right at the point where you’re ready to make the transition to the advanced program. I think you’ll really like it.

  • Dan

    hey mike,
    Interesting podcast. Ive been training for a while but the 5 days a week always seemed to be too much. I like to train with high intensity every workout but I’m always worn out by the end of the week if i do a 5 day split. Ive done bls before and enjoyed it, but i don’t like doing straight sets with a weight. I’m currently doing wendler 5/3/1 and have made some great gains. i finally benched 225 ten times at a bodyweight of 160. i like gaining strength which goes hand in hand with gaining muscle, but i want to get into more of a body building style workout and lean out. I’m going to give bls another go, but do you think i would see the same gains if i were to do more of a reverse pyramid rep scheme than just straight sets with a weight?

    Your book is great by the way. Its hard to find good material on lifting and nutrition. And i feel your pain about trying to get bigger shoulders. It seems impossible haha

    • Michael Matthews

      It sounds like your volume was just too high when you were training 5 x per week. A common mistake.

      531 is a great program. It’s what I would do if I were to powerlift.

      Reverse pyramid training is more suited to advanced lifters, and it sounds like you’re there if your lower body strength matches your upper body strength.

      I will be releasing the sequel to BLS soon and it contains an advanced, periodized version of BLS that you will really like.

      Thanks on the book!

      Lol yeah natty shoulders are just never good enough.

      • Dan

        yeah i consider myself advanced as far as upper body lifts go. My lower body is lagging a bit because I’ve had three knee surgeries during high school but i can now squat 285 for 5 reps.

        when is your new book coming out? Im going into my sophomore year of college and my roommates are also interested in getting into great shape so hopefully i can share the knowledge in your books with them.

        thanks for the response! i really appreciate it. I’ll definitely buy your new book for sure. Is there any new nutrition advice in it? That is my main problem in getting into shape because of all the alcohol we consume. Its tough living in a college atmosphere and trying to get ripped. Living on a budget is tough trying to eat healthy. Vegetables are scarce in a college kids diet lol. We are cutting the alcohol back to once a week, but i hope thats enough to make a noticeable difference.

        Your my role model mike. Thank you for answering all these questions.

  • Jolo300

    In the podcast you mention doing push ups is a waste of time for strength etc but I’m following tls and the 4th exercise on chest day is push ups, 3 sets to failure….. Should one doing this still? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Yes that’s fine as you’re doing them last in your workout. What I mean is just doing a bunch of pushups alone is a waste of time. 🙂

      • Jolo300

        Great thankyou 🙂

        • Michael Matthews


  • Jeremy

    Hi mike
    I have a suggestion on body fat set points for people.
    Unlike yourself I find hunger an issue even on a mild cut, eg 186pounds at around 12to 13% body fat I find it hard to sleep because of hunger if I stay around 2200 calories.
    If I go up slightly in calories it feels great just no weight loss and waist circumference goes up.
    I’m playing with it a bit including more carbs and calories at nite but it appears to be a tricky sticking point.
    Be interested to hear if others have this issue and it makes me wonder if 12% is healthier than say 9 or 10% body fat. Up until now I had assumed 10% was a good goal to improve insulin sensitivity etc

    • Michael Matthews

      Interesting. I have run into this with some people and it’s usually related to the actual foods they’re eating.

      What types of foods do you eat?

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