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Muscle for life

MFL Podcast 36: Why I’m not on steroids, a “day in the life,” and more…

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MFL Podcast 36: Why I’m not on steroids, a “day in the life,” and more…

In this podcast I talk about why I’ve never done drugs and never will, how a typical day of eating and training looks for me, and how to adjust your training if you have to miss workouts.

ARTICLES RELATED TO THIS PODCAST:

5 Huge Fitness Mistakes That Nearly Made Me Quit

Bostin Loyd’s steroid transformation

The Definitive Guide to Leptin and Weight Loss

How Much Muscle Can You Build Naturally?

Why and How I Use Fasted Cardio to Lose Fat as Quickly as Possible

How to Stay in Shape When You’re Traveling

LEGION SUPPLEMENTS

TRANSCRIPT

Hey, this is Mike Matthews from muscleforlife.com. Thanks for checking out another episode of my podcast. In this episode it’s just me, and I want to talk about a few different things. One is a question that I get here and there, and it’s a funny question, but it’s actually a good question. I thought it would make a good podcast topic and that’s “Why I don’t do steroids, why am I not on steroids?”

The other thing I want to talk about is, “What’s a typical day?” I get asked this fairly often, too, in terms of how I eat, and how I train, and how I sleep, and how I work everything in.

The other thing I want to talk about is, if you have to miss workouts, what’s the best way of going about that? Do you just double up, and try to get in the gym for two hours on another day to make up for it, or is it best to change your split for the week or whatever? I will talk about that as well.

Let’s talk about steroids. So the question that I just got asked, and it just reminded me that I’ve been asked this before — I figured it would be something worth talking about — is “Why am I not on steroids, and why have I not done steroids in the past?” It’s a good question, because a lot of guys in my position would be on steroids. Let’s face it, a big part of how I make my living is how I look, and to some degree I guess, how I train.

I don’t do as many training videos as other guys do, because I think they’re kind of boring just to watch somebody do the same workouts over and over. Even if they’re getting a little bit stronger over time it’s just not my thing. But looking good, being strong, being lean, definitely helps me make money and helps people be more interested in what I have to say, so why not be on steroids? It’s a good question.

If you’re familiar with my story, for my first six or seven years of weightlifting I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just did a bunch of bodybuilding kind of magazine type workouts. My diet actually wasn’t horrible. I didn’t know anything about energy balance. I didn’t really know how to manipulate macronutrients. I didn’t know, “OK if I wanted to get lean what do I really do?”

I thought I would do the standard, “Well, I’ll just cut my carbs way down, and I’ll do a bunch of cardio.” and yeah I lose some fat. After a month or so of that, I would get pretty burned out. Generally my diet was, I just ate a lot of food. I just hung out around probably 17 percent body fat, 16 percent body fat. So not the worst actually.

If I would have known what I was doing with my training, I actually probably would have made decent gains, simply because I was eating a lot of food. At least I wasn’t under-eating, but during that time period I didn’t make great gains.

In my first six to seven years, maybe I gained 30 pounds of muscle. Maybe. It might have been a little bit less. I’ll link an article down below, where you can see some of the big mistakes I made in that time period. You’ll see it in the uninspiring results.

During that period, it would have been the normal…if someone was going to do steroids, and if I was going to do steroids, it would have been in that beginning period. Because when other people come to me, and I have people email me, and openly ask, should they do one cycle, just to see how it goes? The hardgainer type of guys, they think, maybe they’ll just never be able to build enough muscle, maybe they do need to just do steroids.

I’ll get into why I wouldn’t recommend just doing one cycle. As a matter of fact, somebody, a guy I know in the gym this morning, he was the exact same conversation. This guy that he trains with is on drugs. He cycles on and off, which the guy says, which means he’s always on it. Whenever people say they cycle off, they don’t cycle off.

Now it’s all about, you just are always on. Probably at least low T, low doses of T. That’s like cruising, and then you blast it with other drugs, and whatever. This guy, just this morning, was like, “I’m going to cut down, and I’m going to do a cycle with this other dude.”

So I’ve kind of had the conversation I’m going to have now. The reason why I never got into drugs when I was younger, and I didn’t really know what I was doing, wasn’t making good gains is, I guess I’ve never been into drugs. Never was even into drinking.

I’m not morally opposed to drinking. I don’t care if somebody smokes weed, or whatever. Whatever, it’s their body. It’s their choice. For me personally, I just never got into it. I don’t really like alcohol. I never did. I’ve never tried any other drugs. It just wasn’t really my thing.

I already, kind of naturally, was inclined to not want to do steroids. Then I didn’t know anybody doing steroids, so I wasn’t exposed to it. For those two reasons were probably the main reasons why I never tried it. Then also there is the legality point of it. Not that I even necessarily agree that these drugs should be illegal. I mean, it’s your body.

With certain drugs, take testosterone, some of the dangers, the risks, of testosterone are very, very over-played in the media. If you’ve seen the documentary “Bigger, Faster, Stronger”, you know what I’m talking about. I don’t even know exactly. I haven’t looked into it much, because I never really had much interest in drugs.

I don’t even know if there really is any good evidence of an increasing risk of prostate cancer. That probably depends on dosing, and such. But, yes, there is also that point, I generally try not to do illegal things. That was probably another reason why I never got into it.

Now, fast forward to today, there are a few reasons why I am not on steroids, and I’ll never do steroids. One is that point of, there are definitely health risks that are associated with some of the other drugs that are popular. While I probably could run a low dose of T, and be OK in the long run, there may be a chance that I’d be increasing my risk of prostate cancer.

Again, I don’t really know. I haven’t looked into it that much. It seems kind of contradictory, and would really require some studying. But then, some of these other drugs that these guys are on that are very popular, like trenbolone acetate. Tren is what it’s called.

A very popular drug. A very interesting drug in its effects in the body. You have these guys, they run a low dose of testosterone, and a high dose of trenbolone, and I think a high dose of growth hormone as well. It’s kind of like the bodybuilder, the new-age stack.

Although, I guess, Tren, it does go back. I think there was Tren around even in Arnold’s days. I think he even talked about doing it. I don’t know, maybe it’s just come back into popularity again. But, the point is, when guys run this stack of drugs, one; the changes in their physiques can be just staggering.

I’ll link an example of this below, of a guy named Bostin Loyd who is very open about his drug use and shows what a one-year, hard steroid transformation really looks like. It’s pretty ridiculous.

Trenbolone is very powerful for building muscle, even when you’re in a calorie deficit. Also particularly, it’s strange in that it short-circuits a process called de novo lipogenesis, which is a process whereby the body converts carbohydrate into body fat. Basically these guys that are running Tren and then T and then Growth Hormone, they can eat absurd amounts of food and absurd amounts carbs, and gain no fat and just stay shredded. Their workouts are obviously, I mean…

There’s another guy who works out in the morning, nice guy, cool guy. He runs all kinds of drugs and he’s very open about it and he talks to me about it. He actually is one of the guys that tells me, “Don’t get on drugs,” and I’ll explain why in a minute. It’s another reason why I’m not going to be doing steroids anytime in the future.

He said that when he’s on his cycle — I think his last cycle was testosterone, of course, and then it was trenbolone, and it was, maybe Deca, I don’t remember, and a couple of other popular drugs — and he says that basically he just feels like a God. He has so much energy in the gym, he just feels invincible. Not only in the gym, but in life. From the second he wakes up to the second he goes to bed, he’s just on. The biggest thing that he regrets about getting into steroids is that he’s now psychologically addicted.

He’s an interesting, I mean, you’re not going meet many guys like this. A lot of guys on drugs are very secretive about it. They’re going to swear they’re natural; all up and down and they’re going to talk all kinds of shit about guys that are on drugs and how steroids are so unnecessary, and this and that, and they’re running so many drugs it would blow your mind.

This guy is the opposite. This guy is very open about his drug use. He doesn’t care. He’ll tell me here and there, “I just changed my cycle,” this and that, and tell me how it goes and stuff. I find it kind of interesting. He’s also though, he has enough self-awareness to know that he is fully addicted. Psychologically he said, that’s the problem. Now when he’s off drugs, he said being natural is almost miserable in comparison to how good he feels when he’s on the drugs.

That’s also one of the reasons why I’ll never do steroids, because I don’t want to put myself in that position. That’s like a heroin addict or where you feel life under the influence of a certain drug, and then you can’t reproduce that feeling without the drug. You just can’t. There’s nothing that’s going to do it. You get hooked to that feeling and you just go back.

Then the psychological stuff, similar to even smoking, where triggers can come into play, or certain things that trigger you into wanting to use the drugs and you’re constantly dealing with that. That’s one of those cases where, in my opinion, you’re better off never even knowing what it feels like to feel like, to feel like what he says, a god, superhero, unlimited energy. Just ridiculous strength in the gym and all that.

Yeah, that sounds good until you realize you have to inject yourself with quite a few drugs every week to get there. In the case of it trenbolone, this kind of comes back to the health point that I was talking about. There is research to show that it is genotoxic meaning that it can damage your DNA, and that’s cancer shit.

That’s something I never want to mess with. If there’s one way I don’t want to die it is suffering with a disease like cancer. I don’t ever, ever want to go down that road. We’ll see in thirty years what a lot of the bodybuilders today that are abusing drugs like trenbolone and these other drugs that are popular, we’ll see where they’re bodies are at.

Given that it’s a very niche thing, it’s unlikely to get much in the way of funding. Trenbolone they use it with cattle, to keep the lean mass on cattle while transporting and waiting to be slaughtered, so are we really ever going to know the whole effects on the human body? Is that ever going to really get enough funding research? I would be surprised.

It’s very much taking your life into your own hands when you’re messing around with these drugs. Also, if we’re talking health stuff, orals are very hard on the liver, and guys that run a lot of orals are always fighting that. Then when comes to abuse, you hear these stories these bodybuilders. There was some guy recently that died and he had some massive tumor on his liver.

The more steroids you do, and the longer you do them, especially if you’re going outside of just testosterone. Guys that run steroids, if you’re really into steroids, you’re not just running testosterone. Yes, there are people out there, and there are a lot of people out there that have had no problems. You can definitely find stories of guys who have run drugs for forty years and had no health issues, so it’s not that everyone is screwed.

I don’t really know enough about it to know that, well, the guys that do get screwed, is it because they abused the drugs so heavily and also abused their bodies in other ways? A lot of these bodybuilders are on a lot of steroids, are on a lot of other drugs too. They’re into cocaine, they’re into meth, they’re into all kinds of stuff. Alcohol, of course.

Is it all the whole picture that is the problem? Or is it mainly the steroids, or what? I don’t know. It stands to reason that doing a bunch of steroids is not good for your health. It’s not going to improve your health. It’s probably going to detract from it and you’re going to be constantly battling with that. That’s another reason why I’m just not interested in messing with it.

Which takes me to my next point, in that doing steroids is not necessary for what I want to do with my body. Right now I weigh about 190 pounds. I’m somewhere between about seven, to seven and half percent body fat. I like how my body looks. I don’t want to be bigger in general.

I could use some more calves. I could use some more shoulders, which is the never-ending, as a natural weight lifter, you’ll never have enough shoulders basically. My calves are a genetic weak point. Genetically, I had zero calves before I really started training them so now at least I have something. But they’re still lagging. I’m working on it but it’s kind of strange how stubborn my calves are. I’m kind of surprised.

But I’m not generally trying to just put on a bunch of size, because I really don’t want to look like a bodybuilder. I guess you could say I kind of look like a bodybuilder now, but when I think “bodybuilder” I think — I really couldn’t go compete in a bodybuilding class, I’m way to small.

I could go compete in a physique class, and even then, even if I went up against the drug guys and tried it, if I got down to competition four, five percent, I would look pretty small compared to these other guys that do well in physique.

I can maintain the type of body. This is the type of body that I like and I got here without doing drugs and I can maintain it pretty easily without doing drugs, in terms of diet and if you are familiar with my work, you know that I’m very flexible with my dieting.

I eat foods that I like. Right now my calories are about 2,700 a day, which is right in the middle. I probably could go a bit higher. I found, it’s an interesting thing that I’ve noticed in terms of staying very lean, is that technically, like per the [indecipherable 19:30] , my TDEE, my total energy expenditure, is fairly high. It’s probably about 3,100, 3,200 calories a day.

I can tell you with absolute certainty if I were to eat that much food right now, I would get fatter. I’ve actually tried this multiple times. I’ve tried reverse dieting, slowly increasing my calories up and that, I still get a little bit fatter. If I were to eat that much food, I would hang out at about 9 or 10 percent.

The only explanation I have for that is that because my body fat levels are low, my leptin levels are going to be low or lowish, lower than they would be if I had more body fat. My metabolism is essentially — and if you are not familiar with leptin, by the way, it’s a hormone that regulates the metabolism among other things, regulates hunger. I’ll link an article down below so that you can go learn more about it.

Basically the lower the leptin levels are in your body, the worse it is, essentially to a point. Having higher leptin levels is good, but if you have too, too much leptin, like obese people have a lot of surplus of leptin, that’s bad as well. Because I’m staying pretty lean, my leptin levels are kind of low which is probably keeping my metabolism a little bit down-regulated, which might sound bad but it’s not going to impair my health.

I’m not starving myself. I’m eating plenty of food and my body feels good. My training is good, but the reality is if I wanted to be able to eat more, and without gaining fat, I would have to…If I wanted to eat more, to reach my total daily energy expenditure, or closer to it, then I would have to just be a little bit fatter.

The only other option which have done which also does work, I actually talked about it in my book beyond “Bigger Leaner Stronger”, is a surplus deficit approach to dieting, where I’m in a surplus five days a week on my training days. Slight surplus, and then I’m in a moderate deficit two days a week and my rest days to offset the surplus, the little bit of fat that I’ve gained during the week and the surplus essentially.

I could go that route. I do that sometimes, but it depends on what I’m doing in the week and it depends on what I feel like eating. I like to be flexible with what I eat. The simplest method of dieting is just eating the same amount of food every day and I default back to that because I don’t like having to make a bunch of food decisions.

I’ve a lot of things that I’m doing and I’m just busy with a lot of things and I don’t really want to have to sit down every day and think much about what I’m going to eat. I’d rather just plan it out, take the foods I like, eat that every day, get on with my life, change things here and there when I really want to.

So, back to steroids. At this point, why do steroids? What would be the point? My strength is decent, I’m fairly strong. My recent best numbers are…I’ve pulled about 450 it was, give or take. I don’t remember exactly, for two or three reps.

I’ve squatted about 350 for about the same which is not too great, but I’d neglected squats for a long time. I’ve only been properly squatting for probably for about three years or so, and it just takes time. I’m always impressed with people that can squat four plates in under two years. That’s just abnormally strong and also my legs, for some reason, are kind of a weak point. They didn’t come up as quickly as I thought they would.

On bench, I’ve put up 295 for two or three, and on the military press I’ve put up 225 for two or three. I’m fairly strong. I enjoy my workouts. I have plenty of energy. At this point, it just doesn’t really make any sense for me to do steroids. If I wanted to be on 190 — I’m 62 — and if I wanted to be 210, same seven to eight percent, there is no way I could do that naturally, no way.

The most I think at this point that I could gain is probably another 10 pounds of muscle. It would probably take three or four years and it would take a lot of bulking and just doing what I preach, slower type of bulking and then cuts. Get rid of the fat and it really takes some work, so maybe I could reach 200 pounds at about seven percent.

Which does align with some of the more accurate models of how much muscle you can naturally grow, and how big you can actually get which I’ll link in an article down below that I wrote on this subject. You can see what these models predict for you or for me or whatever. If I wanted to gain another 20 pounds of muscles, I would have to do steroids. If it really mattered that much to me, but I don’t.

I just want to keep my body the way it is now, bring up certain weak points a little bit more. I do have some strength milestones that I would like to reach. I would like to pull at least 500 for one or two, with good form of course. I would like to be able to squat four or five for a few reps. That would be cool, and I’d like to be able to bench 315 for a few reps. I think 225 is pretty good on the military press, but if I can get that for maybe four or five reps, that would be cool.

Getting there is a slow process at this point because I’m not willing to eat a bunch of food essentially. I do want to keep my body fat where it’s at. I can make gains but it’s just slower. If I didn’t care, it’s like, I did an interview, and I’ve talked subsequently just off the air with Mark Rippetoe a few times.

He’ll ask me, he’ll be like…the first thing he told me, I think he was saying that I need to weigh 210ish or something like that right now. You want to be strong, you need to gain some weight. He was right, if I just wanted to be strong and push, pull and squat a bunch of weight, this is not the type of physique that I would want. I would want, to be up somewhere around 200, 210. I would be around 10 to 11 percent body fat. It wouldn’t look bad, but I would be big. I wouldn’t like that.

I’ve been up to that by five percentage about a year or so ago. I don’t like how it feels, all my clothes are super tight and I can barely get on my pants and I just feel, I don’t know, I like being lean. He always jokes to me about that and that’s true, though. If I really wanted to get stronger, I’d have to get fatter.

Building up strength, that could be one reason to be on drugs. I don’t need it, I’m not trying to compete in a show or as a bodybuilder or as a powerlifter or anything else. I’m just doing it to stay healthy and I enjoy it. It feels good. That’s another reason why I’m really not interested in doing steroids and why I never was interested in doing steroids.

The other reason is I think it’s kind of cool to do it naturally. I think that the mentality of wanting to cheat it…the idea that steroids are cheating. That’s cheating who, what are you talking about? It’s some dude that wants to build muscles. He is taking drugs to help him do that, but it’s not cheating unless he’s competing in a natural bodybuilding league with a bunch of other guys that actually are natural.

A lot of natural bodybuilders are a joke, these guys aren’t natty. Let’s say the other guys are natty, then yeah, that’s cheating but if everybody is doing the same drugs, then it’s not cheating. If you are not competing, if you just want to look good, to be attractive or feel good about yourself, you are cheating who?

The truth is, though, that steroids make a huge difference in terms of how quickly you can build muscle and get the body that you want. Again, I’ll link down below what a one-year steroid transformation, hard steroid transformation can look like. Generally speaking, if you are going to run the drugs that you run, you probably can condense, make about three years of gains in one year probably.

If you are not going to run a ton of drugs, if you are going to be more moderate, you can probably make two years of gains. Like your first two years, let’s say you started on drugs, not that that would be a good idea, guys. Even steroid guys will not recommend — like, ones that actually know what they are talking about — don’t recommend that newbies jump on drugs. They recommend that you probably do your one or two years natural and then do steroids if you are going to do that.

It’s that mentality though of where you are impatient you just want it now, and you don’t want to wait for it. You want it to be as easy and quick as possible and so forth, and I think there is some value in doing it naturally and learning to embrace the process and embrace the work that goes into it and the amount of discipline that it takes being strict with your diet.

Again, when I say strict I don’t mean obsessing over clean eating. I mean more just making sure that you are hitting your numbers every day and not just being random with your diet and showing up to the gym every day. You have to work hard. Definitely, when it comes to training, training on steroids is quite a bit different. When you see guys in the gym doing all those super high rep, drop set, super set, giant sets. Big lean guys, they are on drugs.

You can’t train like that and get anywhere as a natural weightlifter and the reason why you will not see guys on a lot of drugs, often they will not be doing very heavy weight lifting, is because the muscles, they grow faster than tendons and ligaments can support them. They need to watch out. If they started throwing around the weights that they felt their muscles could handle, they can get hurt.

I’ve known quite a few guys that have been on drugs. They’ll go in, they’ll work out or they’ll do sets of 20 and sets of 30 and really go for the pump and go for the burn. I used to do that stuff as a natural weightlifter and didn’t get far with it. That’s just a different style of training, Even mentally I think it takes a bit more toughness to work in the four-to-six rep range or even do some heavier stuff.

You know, “Go stand under 400 pounds of weights and squat it,” or “Go try to pull a bunch of weight.” You do a lot of that. It definitely has some residual effects on just your mindset and how you approach things. I think there is some value in doing it naturally. By doing it naturally — and this is something that I personally care about, another reason why I didn’t do drugs and won’t do drug is, I want something that I can maintain for the rest of my life.

I want a lifestyle. I don’t just want to look good. I’m 30, I’m not trying to just look good for my 30s, and then have things start declining as I get older. I’m also…would not want to be thinking that, to look the way I want to look and have the type of body that I want, and the strength, that I’ll have to be on drugs for the rest of my life.

There are quite a few guys, that that’s kind of how they look at it. They’ve been on drugs for 30 years or whatever and they are going to be on drugs until they die. I don’t know…that does not seem appealing to me. I much, much, much prefer having a lifestyle that is healthy and sustainable.

I’ll never look as good as some of the guys on drugs. There are certain looks you can’t achieve without drugs, you just can’t. You can’t get all the muscle developments, especially the little muscles. You’ll see it in guys where their serratus is just ridiculous all the way down.

You’ll get these big shoulders, these big upper chests, these big traps. Certain drugs give you a very, very dense look. You get that hard, just where their skin looks paper thin because they are super lean and they are vascular everywhere. You just don’t get that look without drugs.

It goes too far, I wouldn’t even want to look like that, but there are certain looks like…you’ve probably heard of Zyzz, Z-Y-Z-Z, right? He was very open about his drug use. He’d joke about it on the Internet and stuff. There are certain periods of — his physique kind of changed over the years — but the point when I think he looked the best, he was running all kinds of drugs.

He talked about it. There’s just that look, you’re just not going to get it naturally. He was also using cutting drugs like clenbuterol and such. I’m fine with that. Whatever. I’m happy with how my body looks. I think that’s part of a benefit of being a natural weight lifter is you — once you have the body that you like, it’s very easy to maintain it.

You get to eat plenty of food. If you overeat for a couple of days, big deal. Then you just reduce your food for a couple days. My point is, you’re not relying on chemicals to keep your body in the shape that you like.

Another personal point of why I wouldn’t want to be on drugs is, I wouldn’t want to have to constantly lie about being natural like a lot of these people in this space do. That would personally just bother me, especially because if I looked, with how my body is — I talk with quite a few people that are experienced weight lifters and they’ve made their way around the fitness space.

The people in the know, when they see my pictures and stuff, they think that — there initial thought is that I could be natural. They’re not sure. I’m not clearly on drugs. I’m not clearly…some guys are clearly on drugs. They’ll look so good and so over-the-top, in some cases over-the-top and in some cases good. There’s just no question. Then some cases, guys look so soft and bad and kind of frail that you’re like, “Yeah, that guy is natty, that’s clear.”

I’m somewhere in the middle of that. Guys that are really in the know, that are familiar with drugs, if they look at my upper chest and look at my shoulders, they look at my core development and they look at certain parts of my body they go, “Yeah, he’s probably natural.” But if I got on drugs it would be pretty obvious.

You would see within two months of me starting a steroid cycle, you’d start seeing my pictures, you’d be like, “Mike, so what new supplement are you on?” Then I have to start making up stories like everybody, “Oh, I started this new sick training routine. I increased my frequency, this, that, fixed my diet, just doing a lean bulk.” All that bullshit these guys say. Yeah, fine, whatever. I don’t care, it’s their bodies, they can do what they want, but me, personally that’s just really not my style.

Not like I’m a saint or anything, but just like I try not to do illegal things. I’m not into even downloading music. If I like someone’s music — I just use Spotify, actually — but if I couldn’t find something on Spotify I’m probably going to go buy it. If I want to watch a movie, I’m going to go rent it on Amazon because I like Amazon and I want to support them and support whatever it is, even it’s supporting the movie studios, fine for the most part. They’re the ones who put up the money for the movies that I like.

Just how I try to do that and kind of live my life that way, I also try to be as honest as possible. Try not to lie, I try to…again, of course I’m not saying I’m perfect or anything but my inclination is more in that direction of just being honest and being open and not being shady, basically. Then being on drugs and lying about it — because I’d have to lie about it — if I were on drugs, I couldn’t say that I was on drugs because then it would totally ruin my credibility. A lot of people would say, “He’s just cheating.”

It would appeal to guys that are on drugs, but to your average guy or girl just wanting to get in shape that would be a huge negative turn-off if I were open about it saying, “Yeah, I’m just doing all these drugs. That’s how I look good.” Even not necessarily that drugs are the key because there are plenty of guys…I go to the gym early in the morning, it’s very empty. But I’ve gone in the afternoon before and it’s full of guys that I guarantee you, there are probably 50 percent of the guys in there are either on drugs at this time period when I went at least, or have done drugs.

The majority of them look terrible. They’re weak because they don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know what they’re doing in the gym. They don’t know what they’re doing with their diet. It’s not like steroids are magic. It’s not like you can know nothing and just inject a bunch of stuff and all of a sudden, now three months later you look awesome.

The guys that really make those impressive transformations, they not only did the drugs but they also know what they’re doing with their training. That means they know how to train as somebody that’s on drugs because it’s different. They know what they’re doing with their diet. That’s not so much different. The biggest difference is you’re — depending on what drugs you’re doing — you’re probably just going to able to eat more than you would otherwise. There’s not that really much of a difference otherwise.

Those are really the main points of why I never did drugs and don’t really want to. My recommendation to you, if you’re considering steroids, is of course don’t do it. I just don’t think it’s necessary. I think that there are potential negatives, that way outweigh the potential positives when you can have all the positives that you want. You just have to wait longer for them and work harder for them, unless you want to be a hulking bodybuilder type of dude.

If that’s how you want to look, if you’re my height, if you’re six foot, six foot one, six foot two and you want to be 230 pounds and lean, you’re going to have to do drugs. Period. I’m not suggesting that you do drugs but if that’s really what you have your heart set on, you better be willing to do a lot of drugs.

You can have the type of body you want though without drugs. The vast majority of guys, they just want to look…they want to have more the type of body that I want to have. You want to be lean. You want to be athletic and muscular but not over the top. There’s also one thing that’s worth mentioning is, a fair amount of the size…I don’t know, I’ve seen this both ways.

For instance, this guy in the gym that’s always on drugs — he has talked to me about this — that depending on the drugs he is running, he’ll run certain drugs and gain size quickly and be very, very strong in the gym. Then come off the drugs and lose quite a bit of that size. Not necessarily all of it, but it’s not like you do a cycle and then just maintain that.

I’ve run into people that had that idea, too, which is understandable. They’re thinking, “All right, if I just do, like, let’s say I just drug for a year or two, then I have the body I want. Then I just get off drugs.” Yeah, maybe to some degree but it probably isn’t going to go exactly like that.

When you get off you are going to lose some of your size. You’re definitely going to lose a fair amount of your strength and then you’re going to deal with the psychological stuff which is going to lead almost inevitably back to doing drugs again. Then if you’ve done it a second time, then it’s less likely that you’re even going to come off again.

You just go down that slippery slope until you’re the guy in the gym who likes the feeling of being on steroids, the physical feeling, but does not like the psychological aspect of it. But right now for at least, he’s kind of resigned himself to the fact that he can’t quit right now. That’s how he feels, that he would be too unhappy. I don’t want to mess with all that. That’s why I don’t recommend that you do steroids.

All right, to move on to the next point here which is just a typical day and how I like to balance things. I get asked this fairly often especially regarding how I eat. I’ll go through it quickly, because if you’re familiar with my work, there’s really nothing revelatory about this. It’s pretty straightforward.

I wake up early. I wake up at about 6:30 and let my dogs out, go to the bathroom, blah, blah, blah. I go train. I get there about 7:20ish or so. I also do some reading in the morning so I usually am reading for about 20, 30 minutes and then I’m out. Just catching up with blogs that I follow and stuff.

I am training at about 7:30ish or so, maybe a little bit earlier. I’m there for about an hour, then I come to the office. Depending on what I’m doing with my training, if I’m cutting, I’m going to be training fasted, so I take some BCAAs — well actually I take leucine but you can do leucine or BCAAs.

I also take yohimbine and I’ll link an article down below that explains why. If I’m not cutting, then I’m going to have a pre-workout meal of 30 or 40 grams of protein and about 50 or 60 grams of carbs. It really makes a difference in the gym, quite a bit more strength just from the carbs alone.

Train, come to the office, have my post-workout which is usually I do a shake. I blend up a frozen banana with some rice milk and some protein powder and cinnamon. It’s tasty, about a hundred carbs, 40 to 50 protein, very little fat and just drink it down and get to work.

In the morning about two hours later or so, I’ll usually have another snack. This time it’s just carbs, or mainly carbs. These days I have some Harry & David pears. They’re so good. Maybe it will be a couple pears or do these spelt English muffins. They’re really good. I’ll do it with some PB2 and jelly, just about 50 carbs or so.

My lunch these days is around 12:30 or so, 12:30 or 13:00, I do something simple. I’ve been doing a salad recently. Just a salad with chicken, and I do some chocolate PB2 — not in the salad. I mix it with some water and eat it after because it’s so good. I love that stuff. I could eat a tub of it a day. I just love chocolate and I love peanut butter. You combine them, it’s so good.

So, my lunch. Also I use these dressings from a company called Bolthouse Farms. Basically, they take these yogurty base type, these dairy based dressing like Caesars that I’ve been eating every day, recently. They make them with Greek yogurt and lower fat ingredients.

This Caesar dressing — Caesar dressing normally is ridiculous. Look at the calories of Caesar dressing. It’s delicious but a few tablespoons is like 30 fat or something. This Bolthouse Farms…I don’t remember the macros off the top of my head. I have it in my meal plan. I want to say two tablespoons, it’s ridiculous, is like some protein, five carb and five fat, something like that, two tablespoons. All you need is three tablespoons max for — you can even do two tablespoons. I think that’s what the macros are.

I don’t remember exactly, but it’s very, very low, very easy to fit into a meal plan. I don’t like doing high fat. I’m not a high fat guy. My fat are of 50, 60 grams a day. I want to load up on carbs. Carbs make a much bigger difference in training, give me a lot of energy, a lot of strength in the gym, feels good in my body. I don’t need more than that for fat, dietary fat, for my body to do everything it needs to do.

That’s my lunch. Around 3:00 or so, I have a scoop of whey protein and water. I usually do my cardio when I get home about — I usually leave the office anywhere from 17:30 to 18:00. I go home and then I do my cardio. At that point, I’m fasted again. If I’m only having a scoop of whey protein at about 15:00, at two to two and a half hours, it’s out of me. My insulin levels are back to baseline.

If I’m cutting, I’ll do a fasted cardio. I’ll take more yohimbine before the cardio. Do that for about 25 minutes, then eat dinner after. My dinner is 18:00 to 18:30, maybe closer to 19:00 depending on what I’m cooking. My dinner is usually about — I have it slotted as about 130 to 140 carbs, 40ish protein, and 20 to 30 fat is what I generally will have for dinner. I have a little bit of dessert after.

I have 200 calories allotted for dessert. I’ll mix and match what that will be. Sometimes it’s a little bit of chocolate, sometimes it’s — there’s these little coconut ice creams that are fairly low calorie that I like. Or even I have little fudge bars that are low calorie. Just something tasty that is about 200 calories.

Then before I go to bed, I go to bed these days about midnight. I don’t need that much sleep. I sleep about six hours a night. That’s really just all I need. I could sleep seven hours I guess but I tend to wake up even before my alarm. Whatever, I’ll take it.

Before I go to bed, I’ll have about 20 grams of protein, a slower burning type of protein. Not because you’re going to go catabolic when you sleep. That’s a myth, but research has shown, one study in particular, that showed that just having a slower burning protein before going to bed improved muscle recovery in guys that were weight lifting.

Of course, that makes sense. If you have your last protein at let’s say, 8:00 PM and you go to bed at 12:00, unless your meal was huge and it’s really taking your body a lot of time to get through all that food, your body is going to be done processing what you just ate by midnight. What you ate at 8:00 PM is already processed. The amount of available amino acids in your blood is obviously going to be lower than they would be if you had some protein right before you go to bed.

If say you’re sleeping eight hours, there is a point where your body just runs out of amino acids to rebuild itself with. It doesn’t mean now you lose muscle. It just means that you’re missing out in a sense on a little bit of a potential recovery. So I have some slow burning protein before I go to bed just so there’s amino acids in my blood that my body can continue to use while I’m sleeping.

That’s kind of the simple breakdown of my day. I’m lifting five days a week right now. I’m doing cardio three days a week. I play some sports. I play some golf on the weekend which can burn quite a bit of calories depending on what I’m doing. If I’m on the driving range hitting a bunch of balls, it actually burns a surprising amount of calories, more than I thought.

I think it was four hours on the range was a thousand calories burned or something like that which isn’t that much if you’re doing cardio but it doesn’t feel like cardio when you’re out there. You know, it doesn’t feel that active when I’m just hitting balls. There’s quite a bit of whole body, total body energy that goes into that.

That’s how I have my day broken down. If I’m going to be shifting things around sometimes I’ll cut carbs from my post workout meal. I’ll cut it down to maybe 50 or so, then move those to dinner if I’m going to be doing…I’ve been trying different recipes because I’m working on a new cookbook.

Sometimes I need more calories for dinner. I don’t really feel like just overeating so I’ll shift things around. I’ll take 50 carbs from my post workout and I’m going to move those calories, move those carbs to dinner so I can make some pasta dish that I’m trying out or something like that.

You can do that kind of stuff, especially when I’m maintaining. I’m not cutting right now, so I can do that. Just be a little bit more kind of loosey goosey with my intake. If I were cutting I still could do the same thing but I would definitely want to make sure that I’m being strict on my numbers or I’d just slow the whole process down.

Types of foods…I don’t get sick of foods easily. I tend to eat the same stuff every day. If you really are into variety, you can do that. You just have to plan for it, that’s all.

Now let’s move on to the last little bit of this podcast. That’s going to be regarding if you’re missing training how to best go about it, essentially. I have a simple rule of thumb. If I’m going to miss a workout — I’m training five days a week right now. My split is chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs. I’m doing a little bit of extra chest on my arms day, so I’m training my chest twice a week.

My legs, between the heavy deadlifting that I do and the heavy squatting that I do, I don’t do more on my legs. Actually I don’t want…my legs are…I need to measure them again. I think my upper thighs, I want to say, are about 27 inches. I don’t really want more there. There are certain brands of jeans that I just can’t wear that I would like to be able to wear. Suits can be a bit like — I think I went through six suits. I buy them online. Gilt or [indecipherable 48:55] will have sales on nice brands — Prada, Wiseau, whatever.

I’ll try this different suits and, “Oh, it’s great up top,” but then stupid pant I can barely even get over my leg. I have to get it tailored, it’s a bit a pain in the ass. I don’t want bigger legs so I’m not doing a ton of squatting. I am of course training legs every week. I’m also deadlifting heavier every week so they are going to grow to some degree, I guess.

If I’m going to miss a day, first to go is arms. Arms is definitely the least important day. I can just maintain my arm size and a lot of my arm strength without even really training them. If I just kept up my heavy pulling and my heavy pushing, my arms really wouldn’t change visually. I would lose a little bit of strength on the curl and on stuff like overhead dumbbell press and stuff like that, but you wouldn’t see it.

So arms would be the first to go. If I knew I had to miss a day next week, I’m just not going to be doing arms. I’m going to be doing chest, back, shoulders, legs. If I have to miss another day, then I’m going to drop shoulders. Actually, I won’t drop it. I’m going to move, I’m going to take my military pressing that I do on shoulders day and I’m going to move that to my chest day and turn into a push.

Basically, I’m kind of turning into push, pull, legs is what I’ll end up doing. I’ll do my normal chest workout. Maybe what I’d do, normally I’m doing nine to twelve sets for my chest. I’d probably drop my chest sets to six, then do three sets of military press and three sets of side raises. That’d be my push, get my shoulders and chest trained. Then do my back or my pull.

If I really cared, I’d move my bicep work to my back day, turning it into a more traditional pull where you’re doing your back plus your biceps. Then I would do my legs. You could move legs to shoulders. You can also do it that way. That’s a very hard work out. You can do it that way though.

Some people do prefer — they’ll go chest and tris, back and bis, legs and shoulders, or push pull legs. I prefer push pull legs. Some people prefer the former. You would have to try both and see how does your body respond, which work out do you feel you can push yourself the hardest in. Which do you enjoy the most.

If you could only lift two days a week then I would just do an upper, lower. I’ll link an article down below where I give an example of how you can do that. One day a week, then you have a whole body thing of course which is also in the article.

This is useful if you’re traveling, especially now in the holidays if you’re out of town. What I try to do even when — my wife is from Germany so we’ll go to Europe usually every year. I’ll try, depending on where we’re staying — is it close to a gym, is it really feasible for me to train every day? If it is then cool, I’ll wake up early, do my thing just normal. If it’s not, then I’ll try to at least get a couple work outs in.

You’d be surprised how much of a difference that makes. If you just train two days a week, you can maintain everything that you have right now for…it doesn’t matter, you could be out of town for a month. If you’re just doing two good workouts a week, a heavy upper, a heavy lower work out a week you’re going to maintain your muscle. You’re going to maintain your strength. It’s going to help mitigate the fat gain that’s going to come if you’re out of town eating a bunch of food.

Not working out at all, being very sedentary and eating a bunch of food is a recipe for travel disaster, physique disaster in general. If you keep your training in, it gives your body things to do with the food other than store fat. That’s how I recommend you modify your week if you can’t get in the gym as much you want.

That’s it for this podcast. I hope you enjoyed it. It’s Christmas this week. If I don’t see you before then have great Christmas. I hope that you get a lot of cool stuff and have a lot of good times with your family and with your friends. It’s always a fun time of year for me. Thanks again and I’ll see you next time.

One last thing before I go. Head over to legionsupplements.com, L-E-G-I-O-N supplements.com because we still have our cool Christmas deal and end of year deal stuff going. We’re going to be kicking off a pretty cool, I’m pretty excited for it, actually. We’re going to be doing a transformation contest. A new-year-new-you transformation. It’s going to kick off in January. Similar to Shredded Summer if you remember that. We’re going to be doing a whole cool thing for that. I’m excited for it.

If you are interested in checking out my supplements, then head on over because now you can save money and win cool stuff. We’re kind of just having fun with it.

All right, thanks again and see you next time.

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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

    I find you hilarious, you’re comments are so honest, like with the “cancer shit” and the fact you don’t like to go up in your BF because “it feels like eew” LOL and the “pears are so good!” and so you do eat more carbs than protein? I mean, in your normal diet?

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks. 😉

      Yeah I eat quite a bit more carb than protein. About 190 grams of protein per day and 300 carbs per day.

  • Terrified T

    I’m going travelling in January & will definitely be applying flexible dieting (hopefully some workouts) while I’m away. Thanks for the info. on missed workouts also! These podcasts are helpful.

    ps. Quick question! I’m 5’9 168lb on a bit of a cut for a while with 210P/184C/58F 2100Cals. And hitting the gym 5 times a week. Are these decent numbers?
    The results are breaking in, it seems.

  • Tricia Gotcha

    when are the new books coming? 😀

    • Michael Matthews

      January!

  • James Buckley

    Mike, like you I’m all natural, but there are quite a few reasons for that in addition to those you mentioned:

    *All steroids, even the less harmful ones, are hormones / hormone derivatives. The body reacts to an excess of hormone by shutting off its own hormone (i.e., testosterone) production. That’s one of the reasons people crash big time post-cycle – and it also means low energy, low libido and/or depression. Users may say ‘yeah, yeah, that’s why I do post-cycle therapy’, but I know clued in guys who have damaged their hormones to the extent that they’re lifelong dependent on testosterone replacement. What man wants to finish up not able to make his own testosterone!?

    *The above can damage fertility.

    *Even less harmful steroids will push red blood count beyond normal ranges (hence a slight risk of clots) and almost certainly impact negatively on cholesterol.

    *Genetics matter more than drugs. You’ve got short muscle bellies in your biceps, you don’t get Arnold’s arms no matter what you inject.

    I agree that the media has probably overplayed the risk of steroids, but there are many the many disadvantages add up.

    • Todd

      My question too. I’ve heard steroids are a great way to chemically castrate yourself…true?

      • Michael Matthews

        Lol I’ve never thought of that. Not sure how much drugs it takes to shoot blanks though.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment James! Great points.

  • Luke Sfair

    Thanks for another great PODCAST!
    i’m Waiting for news!
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Merry Xmas and HNY to you too!

  • Adel-Alexander

    Hey Mike, could you maybe write an article on gymnastics? I know that the gymnasts are ripped and I’m considering joining a gymnastics class when I move to Sydney, I wanted to hear your opinion?

    • Michael Matthews

      Honestly it’s not an area I know much about. Never got into it myself…

      • Adel-Alexander

        Well I can’t imagine you wearing the same outfits as Gymnasts wear during the olympics. 😛

        Jokes aside, I just thought it would be interesting. They’re usually quite muscular during olympic events. And I figured it could be a cool/fun way to become muscular other than doing the traditional weight training. 😛

        • Michael Matthews

          Haha yeah but remember those bodies are the result of 15+ years of training…

          • Adel-Alexander

            Also I wanted to ask, which is more important? Form or weight? I know that they’re both very important, but It’s just that I see a lot of people with bigger muscles than me who lift weights that are lower than the ones I do, and I’ve been thinking that maybe I should try and focus more on my form than the weights currently..

          • Michael Matthews

            Form>weight, especially on the big compound lifts…

  • Matt

    Great podcast man, and I really agree with the part where being a natural requires discipline, patience etc. Money can’t buy that.. Talk about integrity…. There’s more than that though.. Its like a ritual, words cant describe it.Its like a journey where we evolve to our best selves.. Both physical and mental aspects. And the roid part reminded Me of Pros and cons of roids, Dom from BroScienceLife made a vid about this.. Talk about Broscience hilarity explanations hahah! Gave me tons of laughs.. Anyway keep up the good work and Merry Xmas!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Matt! I appreciate it.

      I totally agree and I’ll check his video out. He’s hilarious. Merry xmas!!

  • Matt B

    Hey Mike, hope you’re well. I’ve been subscribing to your
    podcast for the last year or so, and find them extremely interesting and
    helpful. As a natural bodybuilder, it’s refreshing to find good quality information
    on training and dieting from a natural perspective, backed up by evidence.

    I’m seriously considering competing in local and hopefully national/international
    natural bodybuilding competitions. However, as I have listened to your podcasts, you come across dismissive of natural bodybuilding, stating on a number of occasions that the guys that compete are not natural. So my question is this, do you think it’s worth the pain and struggle to compete naturally? Are the tests (urine and polygraph) adequate to filter out the cheats? If I compete, I compete to win.

    Thanks, Matt.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Matt! I appreciate the support.

      I’m not too familiar with all the differently leagues out there but I’ve spoken with a lot of guys that compete and unfortunately the drug testing is just a joke.

      The reality is getting to 4-5% body fat naturally is grueling and you’re almost guaranteed to just look flat and horrible. The “natural” competitors that look awesome on stage just…aren’t natural.

      That said, I’m jaded and cynical here. You may find a league that you can do well in and you may enjoy the whole gig, you know?

  • Sarah Goran

    Hey there Mike, really loved this podcast!
    Not sure if you remember my post from the summer but I was in a car accident this summer and had broke my pelvis. Just wanted to let you know I’ve been back in the gym for 4 months now and have been making some pretty good gains back! I can squat 135 which I know isn’t much but considering I’ve only just started lifting this year Im hoping it will keep increaseing over the years.

    I just wanted to say thanks for being such a great inspiration, I always feel weak compared to the guys in the gym but I’m just going to keep pushing forward!

    Mery Christmas hope you have a good holiday!

    -Sarah Goran.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Sarah!

      Wow that’s great! Glad to hear you’re rolling again and that’s very good on the squat! Milestone One! 🙂

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted! Merry xmas!

  • Geoff Lynes

    Hi Mike, recently discovered you by accident and very impressed with your honest, no nonsense approach. starting back down the gym at the age of 58 was a bit daunting but thanks to your direct approach I am already seeing significant changes and measuring surprising strength gains although I have to admit I cannot get to the gym more than 3 times aweek. Thanks for the inspiration!

    One question – can you provide an RSS feed for the MP3s of your podcasts please?
    Thanks a lot, Geoff

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Geoff! I really appreciate it and am glad to hear you’re doing well.

      I’ll check it out on the RSS feed. I’m hosting with SoundCloud so I’m not sure if they do that.

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