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In this episode, I interview Brian, who used Bigger Leaner Stronger to bulk up from an atrophied 150 pounds to a jacked 220 pounds.
Like many guys, Brian learned everything he knew about fitness from magazines. He was following bro splits and celebrity workouts, taking every supplement under the sun, and hardly paid attention to his diet. And thanks to the majestic power of newbie gains, he still made progress despite all this.
But then everything changed.
Brain was the victim of a crime that landed him in a 6-day coma. When he woke up, his body had atrophied to an unrecognizable 155 pounds.
The good news is Brian didn’t give up, and he got back in the gym, determined to heal his body. He experienced newbie gains for a second time thanks to muscle memory, but progress began to stagnate.
Along the way, a friend introduced him to Bigger Leaner Stronger, and that’s when things really started to change. Brian learned about progressive overload, how much protein he should be eating, how to track his workouts, and more. And now Brian is lean and jacked at 225 pounds, and in the best shape of his life.
In this interview, Brian and I talk about his story and the important lessons he’s learned along the way, including what he was doing with his diet and training before finding BLS, how not eating enough held back his progress, how tracking his workouts lead to rapid progress in the gym, how alcohol became a crutch as he dealt with PTSD from the attack, and more.
So if you’re looking for a jolt of inspiration and like motivational stories, I highly recommend you listen to this episode.
8:29 – Where were you at before Bigger Learner Stronger and what drove you to find it?
19:02 – What were the major diet and exercise changes after you woke up from your coma?
34:03 – How has alcohol played into your meal plan?
41:09 – Where do you want to go from here?
46:14 – Where can people find you and your work?
Mentioned on the show:
Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching
Brian’s Website (The Shredded Sommelier)
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hello and welcome to Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews, your host. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to be with me here. And in this episode I interview Brian, who used my bigger, leaner, stronger book and program to bulk up from an atrophied 150 pounds to a. 220 pounds. And if that sounds a bit extreme to you, I understand because it is a bit extreme and his story is a bit extreme, which also makes it that more inspiring because Brian was in a.
Coma. That’s how he ended up at a hundred fifty, a hundred and fifty five pounds. But before that, he was into fitness like me. He learned everything. He knew about it from magazines, and he was doing different body building. Workouts different, bro splits mostly the stuff that you find in most body building magazines and celebrity workouts.
And he was taking all the supplements and didn’t really know what to do with his diet, so didn’t pay too much attention to it. He didn’t know about energy balance or macronutrient balance. Of course, thanks to the power of newbie gains, he still did fairly well for the first bit. The first year or so is smooth sailing, even if you do.
Most things wrong or poorly. If you do just a couple of things decently well in the beginning, you are going to see progress, but of course, everything changes as you transition from your novice or newbie phase to your intermediate phase. Now, in the case of Brian, not only did his newbie gains come to an end while his.
Life got flipped upside down. He was the victim of a crime. It put him into a six day coma and he went into the hospital at about 200 pounds and woke up at like 155 pounds. He felt that his body was almost unrecognizable. The good news is once the shock wore off, Brian didn’t let that. Discourage him from starting back up.
He did not give up. He did get back into the gym and he was determined to heal his body. And of course he got another round of newbie gains of sorts Thanks to muscle memory. But progress began to stagnate and along the way a friend of his introduced him to my bigger, leaner, stronger book. And that’s, Everything started to change.
He learned about progressive overload. He learned for the first time how much protein he should actually be eating and how to set up his calories and how to track his workouts properly, which becomes very important as you move beyond your novice phase and all the other cool stuff that’s in the book.
And now Brian is Eddie Lean 220. Pounds. He’s a tall dude. He’s a big dude. He is in the best shape of his life. Now, thanks to the information that I teach in my book, and in this interview, Brian and I talk about his story and some of the big lessons he has learned along the way, including how he has used fitness to help him deal with the p t s, the fallout from the attack.
So if you could use a jolt of inspiration today, or if you. Motivational stories. If you like hearing stories of other people doing well, and if you like picking up little tips and tricks that might help you do better in your journey, then this episode is for you. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages.
All circumstances, lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought possible, and we can do the same for you. We make getting fitter, leaner, and stronger. Paint by numbers simple, by carefully managing every aspect of your training and your diet for you.
Basically, we take out all of the guesswork, so all you have to do is follow the plan and watch your body change day after day, week after week, and. After month. What’s more, we’ve found that people are often missing just one or two crucial pieces of the puzzle, and I’d bet a shiny shackle, it’s the same with you.
You’re probably doing a lot of things right, but dollars to donuts, there’s something you’re not doing correctly or at all. That’s giving you the most grief. Maybe it’s your calories or your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise selection. Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe you’re not progressively overloading your muscles, or maybe it’s something else and whatever it is.
Here’s what’s important. Once you identify those one or two things you’re missing, once you figure it out, that’s when everything finally clicks. That’s when you start making serious progress, and that’s exactly what we do for our clients. To learn more, head over to www.by legion.com. That’s bui legion.com/vip and schedule your free consultation call, which by the way is not a high pressure sales call.
It’s really just a discovery call where we. Know you better and see if you’re a good fit for the service. And if you’re not for any reason, we will be able to share resources that’ll point you in the right direction. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to see more of it, and if you also want to finally stop spinning your wheels and make more progress in the next few months than you did in the last few years, check out my VIP coaching [email protected] legion.com/vi.
Hey Brian. Welcome to my podcast, man. Glad that we could make this happen. Sorry about the last time we tried for people listening when we went to record this. Previously, my internet just was mysteriously not working. I couldn’t connect to my wifi, so I was like I guess we’re gonna have to postpone this.
Brian: Yeah, no, glad to be here. It’s a terrible time not to have your internet
Mike: working. Yeah. Ironically it was working. It’s just I couldn’t get I record on a MacBook, so I have a Windows computer upstairs, but it’s not good acoustics, and my kids run around and make noise, and so the wired internet was working.
I just couldn’t get my computer to connect whatever it was, who knows? Now it’s fine. Computers, it’s one of those things you just try over and you just restart them like five times and then eventually they work again. Yeah, it
Brian: took me years to stop calling it before I just tried to restart it.
Mike: the secret. You just worse than have you restarted it. You restarted again. . Did you hit. Some more buttons. Did you just try literally anything
Brian: random? Oh, man. Yeah. Glad to see that. It wasn’t me on the technical difficulties. It’s usually my
Mike: fault. Yeah. No, that was me. Anyway. So we’re here to talk about you and your story, where you were at in your fitness and your health and your lifestyle before you found me and my work and bigger than you, Stronger in particular, and how things have changed since then.
Any also I tried to give as good of a one size. All inclusive program as I could in bigger or stronger. But inevitably, and I, I get emails every day from people asking good questions that, Cause I can never address every little nuance of people’s circumstances. So I also like to get into those details of.
Where did you have to make changes from what I’ve discussed in the book, or which things worked well for you, which things did not work well for you? For example, it’s common on the dietary side of things where I think it’s very reasonable to tell people to start with a balanced diet of higher protein, moderate higher carb, moderate lower fat, but some people, Like that.
Like they’re fine on the protein. They understand that’s non-negotiable. It’s just smart to eat that higher protein diet. But the carbs and fats are negotiable and some people find that they just prefer a lower carb, higher fat diet, or they do better on a lower carb, higher fat diet. Or some people prefer intermittent fasting, which I don’t recommend in bigger, lean, stronger.
I don’t say it’s bad. I just have found in working with many people that most people. Seemed to not like it over just eating five meals a day or doing the normal, three square meals with a couple snacks seems to work best for most people, but that’s not always the case. And so I always like to hear those details too, because there are the equivalents on the training side as well.
So I think where we should start is, I’m curious to hear where you were at before you found big, leaner, stronger, and what drove you to even find it, and then how did things go?
Brian: So starting off I was really skinny. I was a very small person. I graduated high school like six foot two and a hundred and fifty five, a
Mike: hundred sixty pounds.
That’s exactly where I started.
Brian: And I think that’s a big part of what kind of kept me moving towards you. Cause there was a lot in common. I started working out, trying to get bigger, super superhero, fetish, wanting to be Superman, normal guy stuff. And I was doing the typical bro split five day a week, chest day, back day, arm day, leg day, should.
And getting most of my information from men’s fitness, men’s health, normal modalities and not really even giving any thought to whether or not supplements work. I took, fat burners. I took weight gainers, I’d taken protein with no rhyme, ores never really even thought about my diet.
And I had a decent physique. I was in pretty good shape. And then when I was 22 where my story is unique I was a victim of a crime. Where I was thrown off a bridge and I was in a coma for six days and I was about 205 pounds. I’d done Okay. I doing my typical bro split stuff because I had youth on my side.
I think mostly really not paying attention to what I was eating, drinking all the time, and then, The accident, if you wanna call, it happened and I went from about 205 pounds. I basically overnight in my mind, I woke up from a coma six days later and I weighed 155 pounds. So kinda looked down and had a feeding tube in my mouth, had IVs all over my arms.
It was the stuff of nightmares, so I ripped the feeding tube out, ripped the IVs out, alarms went off, orderlies ran in and went from a reasonably strong guy at 205 pounds. Basically my muscle had all atrophied off my body and these orderlies are holding me down. I don’t know what’s happening.
So it was like one of those nightmares where nothing you do to defend yourself actually works. Obviously I was able to calm down and I was sedated, and the situation was explained to me, but went through the the whole newbie gains Twice because I, I went through all kinds of physical therapy.
There were years and years of recovery, learning how to walk again, working with physical therapists, going from facility to facility. I ended up having to live with my parents for a while because I couldn’t live on my own. Trying to retrain myself was comical. Like I, I would try to jump rope and do things like that.
But fast forward about 10 years later, I’m getting, this is like 2000. 11, 2001. It had me 2012. Getting into my thirties and doing the typical bro split stuff just wasn’t working as well. I was starting to put on a little weight and I was still going to the gym all the time. Like in my mind, I should have looked like a magazine cover because I believed in all that stuff at the time.
And a friend of mine actually recommended bigger, lean, strong. He’s my friend who researches this stuff all the time and I was griping to him about not seeing results. And I’ve actually bought bigger lender, Stronger and paperback and twice on Audible .
Mike: How did, you did two different Audible accounts?
Brian: canceled my Audible account. Ah, okay. Okay. And then when I came back I
Mike: didn’t, they didn’t save your library. If you cancel, I may have used a different email. Ah, okay. Got it.
Brian: And didn’t really pitch a fit and it was never super expensive anyway. I bought beyond bigger, stronger as well.
But the biggest thing that I got from it, I still remember which gym I was working out at. And you may actually remember you and I dmd a couple of times. I was working in the wine industry. I had DMed you a couple of times asking questions about, Okay, I’m finally ready to accept that I need to focus on diet.
And you recommended the macros. You just said, moderate to high carbs, moderate to low fat. The first time in my life I started really concentrating on protein. I never had tracked my workouts either. I was one of those that, I’d been curling the same 35 pound dumbbell since high school doing my sets of 10, and it just had never occurred to me.
I just hadn’t thought about it. So the biggest thing that really started to make a difference for me with bigger than or stronger, was the concept of aggressive over. And then I started programming better and using periodization and switched to a push pull leg split six days a week, and you couldn’t deny that.
After a couple of months, I started to see changes. I had always had difficulty in my packs and I started really seeing a difference. I’d been the victim of different certifications that told you to do your bench press down to 90 degrees and not doing full range of motion, and. Same thing with squats, going to parallel rather than trying to use it as a stretch.
And I actually dropped the weight. I was lifting a lot and started doing more full range of motion and just started to see results within a
Mike: few months. Yep. remember going through the same process, which was humbling. , I’ve told this little anecdote a couple times, but I remember when I first learned how to squat properly, so I was like quarter squatting four.
Oh. This is when I first learned this maybe was from Ripe and starting strength. It was many years ago. But I first learned why parallel squatting is better than quarter squatting or slightly below parallel normal squatting. And I was like, Oh, okay. Yeah, sure, that makes sense. But had never done it properly before, so I didn’t realize how much more difficult it is, even though it may only, if you look at it objectively, you’re like, I don’t know.
What is that? Like a. A foot difference or something, it can’t be that much harder. And maybe it was a little bit more because I really do think it was more like a quarter squat. Maybe I got to halfway with 4 0 5, maybe. So four oh five’s on the bar and sit down to proper depth and immediately realize I fucked up going, There’s no way this is coming back up.
Holy shit. And had to bail. Fortunately I didn’t get hurt or anything. I bailed. Successfully, and I wasn’t, I didn’t even have any training bars in place, or I wasn’t in a cage. I was just on a, I guess you’d call ’em a squat rack, but, just two vertical, like a squat stand, I guess you could call it.
Oh, yeah. With no safety bars. Yeah. Yeah. And I had never even bailed on a squat before, so I bailed it, throwing the weight. Forward instead of backwards. So again, I’m probably lucky I didn’t get hurt, but I didn’t, and I had to learn my lesson and then I went from there, 4 0 5 quarter squatting, which I thought at the time like, Oh, that’s a lot of weight that looks cool to 180 5 proper squatting for sets of maybe eight to 10 or something like that.
And had to, it felt like starting over from. Yeah,
Brian: but luckily came across some statements that really spoke to me. Things like, your muscles get bigger, your joints don’t, and the potty doesn’t know how many numbers are on the bar to try to like, get my ego out of it. And I’ve had some friends that did get hurt and my form was so bad.
I think I’m pretty lucky. That I never got hurt. But yeah, I actually had to go from three 15. I never went to 4 0 5, but I had to go from three 15 probably, third squats, maybe quarter squats to, I actually dropped to 1 35 for years and just sat at the bottom using it as a stretch to open my hips up and really started to notice how much more my glutes were.
Mike: in the lift. Yeah. Yeah. I think from going back down to 180 5 what did it take? It took a couple years to get just into the low threes for sets of four or five. It took a lot of work.
Brian: Yeah, I weigh 225 pounds. I don’t know if I could get a set of four on three 15 with proper depth.
Mike: Yeah. Before the virus came around, I was getting back up to that. My best was 365 for sets of three. I remember that. And that’s when I was, so I was doing beyond bigger, leaner, stronger. This first edition that’s out right now, or the first edition’s out right now? I’m about to wrap up. A new second edition, which I’m excited about.
It’s rewritten from scratch really. It’s a brand new book, and again, it touches on a lot of the same principles that are in the book currently, but explains them better. The information is better organized. The program is periodized a bit differently. I like the new programming more. But anyways, so that, that time I was doing the programming that’s in the book right now and I had, and I was lean bulking, so I had, I was a little bit younger, which is, it’s not a major factor, but it is a factor.
There is a difference. I’m 35 now versus maybe 27 or 28. Maybe I was 29. I don’t remember exactly when I was doing that, but I had gotten up to 365 for sets of three, which isn’t bad considering that I was only squatting once a week and I was doing that intentionally. I really didn’t want to get to training lower body cause I was squatting and deadlifting.
Separately. So I was training lower bodies twice a week, and I didn’t want to train it more than that because, and I still stand by this, that yes, I want to have good legs, and I like having size and definition, but I actually don’t particularly like the look that a bodybuilder would say, Oh, if you want to have bodybuilding proportions, you need to.
Three inches or two inches on your thighs cuz then forget about wearing jeans, for example or it just looks ridiculous. Then you were one of those dudes who’s wearing like gene leggings and. I would take it in my calves, but that’ll never happen. But, so I didn’t want to, if I were to increase my squat frequency to several sessions a week, the purpose of that, the only reason why that would make me gain more strength would be bumping up my volume, which of course would mean that my legs are gonna get bigger.
And anyway, so that’s why I’ve always kept my squatting it once a week. And I. Close to that. I have to check my training spreadsheet in terms of one rms getting back up to low threes for just a one RM right now. But then the beer virus struck.
Brian: I don’t know that I’ve ever really tried to max out on squats cause I just don’t trust my form enough.
Like I’ve really started to work on a lot more mobility days and stuff. I squat twice a week, but I still use 180 5. It’s more for 12 to 15 reps right now. That’s what I’m doing this. I don’t know that I would trust I, I’ve used the one rep max calculators that you have to figure out what mine
Mike: would be.
So let’s go back to, you come out of a coma and you get back in the gym. And when you found bigger than you were stronger, how did things change? Like how did that experience change? What did you start noticing versus previously? Now, of course, you had muscle memory on your side when you had lost the muscle from the injury, and so you were already predisposed to getting bigger and.
Faster, but, And this is, in the gym and in the kitchen. So with your training and your diet, what were the major changes that you made? You had mentioned more protein, more emphasis on progressive overload, and what did you notice as a result of that versus how you were doing things previously?
Brian: thing diet wise for me is, everybody, the media was demonizing fat, then they were demonizing carbs and everybody’s reading the headline and not doing the research. I was eating low fat and low carbs, so I was not eating nearly enough. So with the recovering from the injury thing and trying to put back on size, once I’d gotten out of the whole basically physical therapy stage.
I realized I wasn’t eating nearly enough. I was eating 15, 16, 1700 calories as a 6 2, 200 plus pound person. I
Mike: wasn’t eating. And so then would you then dramatically overeat every so often? Cuz obviously if you were eating 15, 1600 calories a day for a very long time, you’d eventually just die. But along the way, you’d get really shredded and then you would die.
Brian: I’m sure that there were also days, cause there was definitely days when I was eating fast food, junk food, really calorie dense foods. So it was either, super low calorie day or super high calorie day
Mike: with no sort of months. Yep. And that’s common. I’ve seen that many times.
With just working with people and emailing with a lot of people and keeping track of their progress. I’ve seen a lot of people, guys and gals start there that where they would, and this has actually even been shown in research, that a fair amount of the weight gain that occurs. In most people as they get older occurs specifically or on the weekends.
So it’s common for people to eat, quote unquote, throughout the week. And maybe that doesn’t mean a large calorie deficit, but maybe it does mean a slight calorie deficit cuz they’re trying to focus on vegetables and salads and relatively energy, light calorie, light foods. And then the weekends come and it’s the cheat days and then it’s all out.
Eat over the course of a Friday evening by Friday evening, Saturday, Sunday. You add it all up. They might have eaten 15,000 calories, 12 to 15,000 calories over the weekend, and you rinse and repeat that, where then it’s like undereating throughout the week and then spiking calories on the occasional week night and often spiking them on the weekends.
And yeah I’ve come across that’s a common mistake. People make, and it’s an understandable one, if you don’t know anything about dieting or if you don’t have any clear goal in mind and you’re just trying to not get super fat, basically, I understand it, but it really can get in the way of fitness in particular because now, as as you understand, when you’re spending five days a week in a calorie deficit and then dramatically overeating, you’re not doing your body composition any favors.
You’re just not.
Brian: No and it took me a little, a, as I read it as I learned the things from it, it took me a little while to accept. You’ve gotta start tracking your workouts, You’ve gotta start tracking your calories. And I started using my Fitness pal. And I was pretty inconsistent until I realized like I was having days where I wasn’t even getting a hundred grams of protein.
I started to accept that using the tracking system, even if I wasn’t gonna do it forever, just got you. In those habits of focusing my meals around protein and a lot of the foods that are super protein dense, grilled chicken or boiled shrimp are were my favorite foods anyway, so it wasn’t that big of a sacrifice.
Because I already preferred those. And then I started to realize that when I was tracking my workouts, there was a lot of workouts where, let’s say I was working in the six to eight rep range last time. I got seven reps on a wait and I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent, but I probably would’ve quit at six reps this day, except for I had realized I’d gotten seven last time.
So my ego wouldn’t let me stop until I beat the last
Mike: workout. Yeah, that’s a big aha moment as well. On the training side of things, I remember it myself, right? I used to do the same thing like you were saying. I would go in, I wouldn’t track my workouts, and I would just have a general outline of this is what I was gonna do.
Often the number of sets was a bit random as well, like I was at least gonna do. Some amount of sets, but who knows? Maybe I’ll do more or I don’t know. Maybe I’ll do less of this exercise and more of that exercise, but not tracking things, just picking weights based on feel and thinking that, Oh, so cuz I remember.
You hear a lot of things, You hear that, oh, the body doesn’t know weight. It only knows tension. So you just wanna maximize time under tension. The amount of weight that you use doesn’t matter. It’s just getting a pump, it’s just getting a burn. It’s just really feeling your muscles work. And so I remember that where I would just grab weights and do things and think that Oh, I’m getting a pump, and, it’s productive.
But by tracking what you’re doing in the gym and understanding that, You do need to see your one rep maxes going up over time like that is the really the key as a natural weightlifter and particularly on your key compound exercises. But you do want to be seeing that on all of your exercises. You naturally will, if you’re getting stronger on your squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press over time.
You probably also are. Stronger on your curls and your side raises, yeah.
Brian: And that was one of the other aha moments that I had was I had been the victim of so many celebrity workouts. If you do this cool movement, you’re gonna have a six pack. If you do this, you’re gonna look like Thor, whatever it was.
And so I developed a lot of bad habits with using things like more complicated things, machines and things like that. And by going back to the barbell and the dumbbells and really focusing on getting stronger on those key lifts as well. Getting my mindset off of this is how much I weigh and more on, I’m staying the same weight, but my strength is going up, which means I’m dialed.
Was really effective for me. I’m still weighing in at two 20 every morning, but my lifts are going up every single workout or every other workout or whatever it is. Just, it really the planning just, and not to mention I’m ocd, so it was very satisfying for me to track and control everything.
It just had never occurred to me before I went bigger
Mike: than stronger. Yeah, no I totally understand. And that point of watching your strength is important because in the beginning, depending on your circumstances, You can watch your weight and see it change pretty dramatically one way or the other.
So if you are starting out with a lot of fat to lose and if you start lifting, obviously the muscle you gain is gonna offset that to some degree. So maybe the first month or two is gonna be a little bit strange as if you don’t know what to expect. But once you get settled into that, cuz you do have that initial spike of weight gain, which is mostly just water and glycogen right in the beginning.
But once you get settled in, then you see a steady. Decline in body weight, and that’s nice and encouraging. And on the other hand, if you start skinnier, you will see a spike, and then a steady increase in weight, which is nice. But once you have your newbie gains behind you, things slow down pretty dramatically.
Yeah, weighing yourself every day is not a bad idea. You can still weigh yourself every day and take an average every seven or 10 days, but you shouldn’t expect to see that big of a change in the day to day, or even necessarily in the week to week, maybe slightly in the week to week, more so in the month to month if you want to.
Keep that average going up, you need to do exactly what you’re saying is you really make sure that your strength is going up, and that remains true as you get deeper into your intermediate phase, and even when you’re in your advanced phase, when you have very little muscle and strength left to gain.
Really, relatively speaking, it’s just the differences are even smaller now. So speaking in a scientific sense, you need a bigger sample size to detect them, right? You need more time to even detect those small increases, but that’s when you’re. I’d say toward the end of your novice phase is right where you’re talking about, where you still see your strength going up.
Your weight is not jumping up a pound a week like it was in the beginning or a half a pound a week at like it was a few weeks in or a few months in. But it’s still, if you’re lean bulking, for example, you still should see. An increase. If you’re trying to just maintain, If you’re eating maintenance, then it should be exactly what you’re saying where you should still be able to make progress, but you’re not gonna see much of a change in your body weight.
You’re really not. You’re gonna see a very slight increase over time, very slight, because it is hard to gain muscle when effectively, when you’re just trying to maintain, mostly because maintenance, it’s not like you’re hitting your exact maintenance calories every day. Really what it means is you’re in a slight deficit some days, a slight surplus other days, and that’s not ideal from a muscle building perspective.
Just some commentary that you might find helpful or anybody listening might find helpful if they’re in a similar situation.
Brian: Yeah. And that was one of the things when I first dove into bigger, Lean Stronger, that I found myself just thinking I can’t progressively overload forever, or I’ll be bench pressing a million
That’s true. And that’s when I started to started going into periodization and, changing my rep ranges and worrying about progressing like I do it every. Because it’s just easy. Like now it’s May, so I’m gonna switch to the one to three rep
Mike: range or whatever it is. Yep. It sounds like you’re doing something similar to what I’m putting together.
It’s already done. So what I have put together for beyond bigger Lean, Stronger 2.0, which is a linear periodization, and you are working in, you’re actually changing your rep ranges on your compound lifts week to week. So each meas cycle, Four weeks. It’s comprised of three micro cycles, so three weeks of hard training and then a de-load, and how the meso cycles and how the macro cycle, which is a four month.
So four meso cycles makes up the macro cycle. You start the macro cycle. With lighter weights and higher reps. So on your compounds, you’re doing sets of 10 with about 75, I believe it is. I’d have to pull up the spreadsheet to look. And then the next week though, you’re doing sets of eight with a little bit more weight.
You’re adding 5% and then six and then deload, and then the next meso cycle, you’re starting with eight, now 8 64 deload, and then 6 42 deload, and then 42 amap to test your strength deload. Update your training weights, restart. So it sounds like you’re doing something similar where now you just have to be more patient.
You have to work harder for less, and you have to wait longer to see smaller increases in strength. Yeah, and I think I’ve
Brian: convinced myself to look at my tracker and make sure that I’m not going backwards, at the very least. Maintain what you had last
Mike: time. Yep. Especially if you’ve been cutting, even if it’s unintentionally, if you look back and you’re like, there were a lot of days where I was in a deficit, even though, maybe it was just you were busy and you didn’t think of it.
And cuz what many people they don’t realize if they haven’t done a proper lean bulk. It is, I would say, just as obnoxious as cutting in a different way, right? So for your first few weeks on a cut, most people it’s not a big deal. Your workouts are good and maybe you feel like you would like to eat a little bit more food, but it’s not a big deal.
In fact, many people tell me that they. Experience more energy. In the beginning of a cut, they actually experience like a little boost in their workouts, but then when you get into probably the fourth or fifth week is when you start to feel it a little bit and you start to deal with a little bit of hunger and just the desire to eat more food.
On the flip side with lean bulking, it’s the same thing for most people. First couple weeks you’re like, Hey, this is cool. I get to eat more food. And then it gets obnoxious because you are force feeding yourself and your body responds differently than it does when it’s in a calorie deficit. But it doesn’t want to be overfed either.
Like it just wants to maintain homeostasis. It doesn’t want to be underfed, and it doesn’t really want to be overfed consistently. And so then, You get into a pallet fatigue where regardless if, even if you try to introduce variety, you just don’t feel like eating. And so if you’re just kind of of intuitively eating and maintaining, what can happen is you will.
Some people tend toward, I think this is just based on their natural appetites. Some people tend to naturally be in a slight calorie deficit more often than not, whereas others tend to be naturally in a slight calorie surplus and. Something else to keep in mind when you’re just eating by feel and you’re looking back on a training cycle, and let’s say you didn’t really gain any strength and let’s say your training is set up somewhat similar to what I’m talking about, where you do have a proper all out, seeing how strong you are, where.
Again, how I’m programming and beyond Bigger than You. Stronger is am wraps with I believe, again, have to look. I don’t remember exactly cuz I’ve gone back and forth and tried it a couple different ways. 90 or 95% on the bar. I believe it’s 90, but I’d have to check what was the final determination. And so that’s a tough set, let’s say even as just 90 for, and if you can get five or six reps or whatever, that’s a tough set going more or less to technical failure.
Or at least one rep shy, not to absolute failure, but to the point where your form is starting to get a little bit ugly and then you’re done. And so if you though are keeping track of your one RM and it didn’t change in a training cycle, that’s the first thing to look at is where were your calories at regardless of macros?
Where were your calories at? And if you think that you are in a slight. Just as many days as maybe a slight surplus or if you were doing something similar to what we were talking about earlier, maybe where it’s eh, I was probably in a deficit like four or five days a week, so I could eat a bit more on the weekends.
Then, yeah, actually maintaining your strength over an extended period of time if you’re an intermediate or advanced weightlifter, given those circumstances is good actually. Yeah, a
Brian: hundred percent. When I first started with bigger, lean, Stronger, like I said, I’m, I can get a little obsessive, like I needed to go up every workout.
I had to remind myself like, Look, you’re not gonna go up forever. And when you don’t go up, it might be time to, to look at your programming, maybe make some adjustments, maybe change your calories. Et cetera, et cetera. But it was very eye opening to just, like I said, just start tracking and start progressively overloading.
And there was definitely some hard lessons learned and some like you said earlier, some taking the ego out of it and accepting that, I was not always gonna be the strongest guy in the gym and that I was competing with myself and not anybody else.
Mike: If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought possible, and we can do the same for you.
What about. How is that played into your, I guess it’d be just into your meal plan. How have you made this work? Cause this is something I get asked about fairly often. Yeah. And I
Brian: actually listen to your podcast. Actually that was pretty eye opening for me cause I listened to your podcast on it cuz I was in the wine business for 20 years and when I came out of the coma, obviously felt very victimized and had to really focus on getting better.
And there was a lot of years of that and I didn’t realize, I never focused on the psychological recovery. I was so into the gym and I was so focused on physical recovery. I didn’t realize that I was suffering from PTSD and that I was self-medicating with alcohol, what I had done because I was working the wine business.
So it enabled me to drink more than normal people, cuz that was my business. On top of the fact that I was dealing with PTSD undiagnosed at the time. What I was doing was basically making sure I got to my protein goal and kept my fat super low any night I was going to drink. So I was basically living each day around focusing on my diet and fitness, but from a, the perspective of allowing alcohol to come in at night and, PTSD is something that a lot of people deal with and it’s not commonly known that most cases come from car wrecks.
So it never occurred to me. I wasn’t in battle. So PTSD had never occurred to. As a possibility, but once I figured that out and started getting treatment for it, it became a lot easier to not have that drink every day and to start getting sober sleep, which is also super effective. So yeah, alcohol was a big self-medication piece for me for a long time.
My therapist that I have a very close relationship with, obviously, he always says that, these rules that you developed from this training system are the reason that you never went off the deep end because you had. Your protein goal and you couldn’t sacrifice that with the consumption of anything else and things like that.
He brings it up all the time. So that was, it’s super interesting and I still drink wine. I am a drinker. I still enjoy wine. I have a big passion for wine. I’m not in that business anymore because I realize that I didn’t need to be in a business where having a drink on a Tuesday afternoon was appropriate.
That wasn’t going to be. Conducive to health but I do still really enjoy wine and like I said, if it’s going to be a drinking day, I try to keep my fat grams lower than normal and I try to hit my protein very early. And the reason I try to get it to hit it early is so that it’s in my system and not in my stomach.
With the alcohol where the body switches over to. Dealing with the alcohol instead of the protein.
Mike: Yep. Yeah, that’s smart. And for anybody wondering why the low fat intake, it’s because combining alcohol with fatty foods maximizes fat storage, basically. And that’s been shown in research because your body prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol over any other food in your system.
So where dietary fat is, Preferentially stored as body fat. When you combine with alcohol, it is even more preferentially stored as body fat, and that’s one of the reasons why alcohol is conducive to fat gain really is because What kind of foods do people generally like to eat when they’re drinking?
It’s not celery, .
Brian: And I’ll tell you, Mike, I was in the wine business, which is a very passion driven business. Like I’ve said, I’m a certified sommelier. and one of the first things they teach you is think of wine as sauce for the food. The wine is there to accentuate the taste of the food. So I still remember where I was when you DMed me and told me that I was at any time Fitness in San Antonio, Texas.
And you responded to my message and told me that, and I remember thinking, Oh
Mike: man. Yeah. Yeah. And so really what it comes down to is where you’re at now. It sounds like you have a good balance where you still get to enjoy wine. You’re not drinking as much as you were previously, which maybe was an issue in terms of bottom line, like how many grams of alcohol are you consuming every week, But now where you can enjoy it, you can adjust your macros on the days and make sure that your calories, obviously you pay attention to that as well.
And on the days where you want to enjoy some wine, and then there’s the physical component of that, which is why you’re doing what you’re doing, but then there’s also, I’m sure you get to enjoy it. Then there’s the psychological component too, where you’re not then concerned about gaining fat from drinking alcohol.
Even if anybody hearing that would think that, Oh, it’s silly to be concerned about that. Okay, fine. That’s an opinion. But for those of us who are into our fitness, That is a common concern. It is a common conflict. That’s why I recorded that podcast on, and I had written about alcohol intake previously, but not too much.
It was more in the context of testosterone. So I thought it would make sense to do something a bit more in depth, and you can strike a balance, which is music to many people’s years. It’s it’s part of the whole flexible dieting mindset. You can include alcohol in there if you want. As my
Brian: physique got better and better, especially having been in a business I found people approaching me constantly going, Dude Cause there’s so many people out there that are like, I love to drink and that doesn’t work with fitness, so I’m gonna choose alcohol.
And so I found that people were really intrigued Hey man how are you built athletically? Even though. I drink wine with you all the time, and people were really intrigued by the fact that there is a way to do it. There is now, obviously I’m not gonna get on stage and win Mr. Olympia 40 years old.
I’ve given up on that dream anyway, and I don’t think the Houston Texans are gonna reach out to me anytime soon, but, It is okay to have that balance and to, the whole you can have a few glasses of wine with dinner and you can do those kind of things and still be healthy. And it was music to my ears when my doctor tested my enzymes and said, I wouldn’t even guess that you drink based on your liver enzymes.
Mike: That’s great. And that’s just a testament too. Again, if you do the most important things mostly right, most of the time you can be in, in great health, great fitness, and have a sustainable lifestyle, something that actually does work for you. And even in and in my experience working with and just going back and forth with many people who do like alcohol just as you do.
One for one, we’ve always been able to find that balance. I know there are people out there who have maybe addiction issues and that, I couldn’t say that would be the case for everybody, but I’m just speaking from personal experience, I’ve always been able to, we’ve, it’s not just me, but always been able to work with somebody and find a balance where they get the satisfaction that they want and from how they’re eating and from the frequency of drinking and what kind of drinks they’re able to have.
What they’re doing in the gym and then it all comes together. And then you have the additional evidence, like in your case where you’re getting blood work done and your doctor’s even signing off on it saying, Please just continue what you’re doing. This is great. Yeah. And
Brian: That was after having blood tests where the doctor was like, Dude, like this is not good.
You need to get control of this. Like I said, it was just music to my ears.
Mike: So where do you want to go from here? What are your future goals?
Brian: I’ve had a lot of interests. Like I said, I’ve still got a of peers and friends and people that are in that industry. Cuz that’s where I was for 20 years.
Before that I was in restaurants, so the same. Kind of thing. So I’m trying to develop a website to reach out to people who want to do that kind of thing. People who want to be in shape, they want to be healthy, but they want to have a passion for wine. They want to enjoy a cocktail every now and then.
Things like that. And I want to bring my journey to more people. Maybe they’ve got that all or nothing attitude. Because I drink wine, like I said earlier, because I drink wine. But what’s the point of even trying try to help people defeat that attitude? Like you can still be very healthy.
And have a balanced lifestyle. You don’t have to be obsessive to be healthy. And I think there’s a lot of people out there that think you’re either, you’re on the cover of Men’s
Mike: Health or you don’t work out. Yeah. All or nothing mentality. A hundred percent. And I
Brian: think so many people.
I, I’ve been really fighting urge to say a hundred percent cuz a friend of mine who does alcohol podcasts told me she noticed that. I say it a lot. But yeah, I think a lot of people just have that all or nothing mentality. And like I said, because I had that mentality and I just had those aha moments with bigger, stronger, they just sent me on this path to getting healthier mentally and getting healthier physically and having, if I don’t look like the cover of Men’s Health, I’m never gonna be completely satisfied.
But that’s not realistic either. Cause I don’t have any Photoshopping equipment.
Mike: And I would say, let’s see, Men’s Health, maybe not so much, but you get into the fitness magazines and certainly like the muscle magazines And then you’re also looking at a lot of drugs too. So let’s not forget to I was gonna say, I also even if you have the genetics and even if you put in the work at the gym, Adding the drugs changes everything.
Brian: And ironically, I was so concerned with losing my hair, which is a big part of the drugs a lot of times that my vanity kept me from ever doing them. The lack of barber in this whole quarantine thing has finally motivated me to shave my head and give up on the old receding hairline. The fear of balding prevented me from ever doing it and went bald anyway.
Mike: You win some, you lose some with Yeah, with genetics, I have good hair, but I have no calves
Brian: My calves are humongous because I walk on my toes. Yeah.
Mike: I think it, I don’t think it would matter in my case. Maybe. That’s what I tell myself anyway. I’ve tried, I’ll give myself credit for.
My buddy Josh that
Brian: brought bigger leader, stronger to me that I mentioned earlier. He works ’em every day and just doesn’t have ’em. It’s a frustration point for him. And I never work calves and my calves are almost 19 inches, most times. ,
Mike: you’re a bastard. You’re one
Brian: of those guys. I had people walk up to me at the gym and be like, Hey man, what do you do for calves?
And I see their heart .
Mike: You’re one of those guys I, I. Friend who I just haven’t seen in a while. Even when I was living in Florida, we used to, we didn’t work out together, but he read bigger, leaner, stronger. He was a bit overweight, and then he got into it and he lost a lot of body fat and he got pretty jacked.
Actually, it was the same thing. He had been overweight for a long time, and so his calves were huge, but he also just had good calf genetics because they weren’t just big, but they. Cut. He had the split down the middle, like he had straight body builders calves. Yeah, that’s me too. Yeah. And he never once done a calf exercise, and so he already started with big calves and then he did a bunch of heavy squatting and deadlift, which of course works for calves quite a bit actually.
And so his calves just got even bigger and more developed. And he said he would tell me the same thing all the time. Guys would come up to him in the gym and. Do you get those calves? Please tell me. . He just sees the blank stare when he is like, Dude I don’t, I have never done a ca phrase in my life. I even remember talking to
Brian: Josh and being like, Dude, should I just tell people like I run a bunch of hills or just tell ’em something like I jump?
Yeah, Just tell. Yeah. Tell ’em something that’s gonna benefit them anyway. So maybe they’ll, Yeah, you
Mike: need to go 30 hard sets a week. You need to be doing seated raises. You need be leg press raises, standing raises, and you gotta ize your calf training and you just gotta, you gotta grid it out, you gotta grind it out like everything else that would be more encouraging.
Oh, okay, great.
Brian: I’ll do it. If it motivates them just to take better care of themselves and start working out more than I’ve done ‘
Mike: em with solid, . Yeah, exactly that. Now we get into the philosophical argument though, is lying ever ethical? But yeah, no, I had the same experience with a buddy of mine.
That’s funny. , I don’t remember. Did you say you, you have the website in the podcast up, or you are starting them, or
Brian: no I’m putting it together. I’ve got some ideas and I’m working with some people to get it going and trying to use Squarespace to get my website going and lock down the web address and
Mike: all that.
Okay. If you already, if you have anything you want to share in terms of where people can find you, cuz this probably won’t come out. We run pretty ahead on interviews, so I’m guessing this will come out in a month or so, but people will start listening to it, and then people will be listening to it a year from now.
So if you have anything to share where people can find you and your work or where they, what should they search for?
Brian: My Instagram is just at Brian Ashley Miller. So it’s Brian with an i, Ashley with an ey and then, The website will be the shredded sommelier.com.
Mike: Okay, cool. I like the alliteration and the nod.
I’ll take it . Cause I have for people wondering. I have a book called the Shredded Chef . A hundred percent.
Brian: Yeah I’m well aware. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Great. Mike, this has been awesome,
Mike: man. I’ve really enjoyed it. Yeah, man. Thanks again for taking the time and keep up the good work. Definitely keep me posted on how things go with your training and also your website and your podcast.
Brian: I’ll keep you posted. Appreciate it, man.
Mike: Yeah. All right. That’s it for today’s episode. I hope you found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, could you please leave a quick review for the podcast on iTunes or wherever you are listening from? Because those reviews not only convince people that they should check out the show, they also increase the search visibil.
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And last, If you didn’t like something about the show, then definitely shoot me an email at mike muscle for life.com and share your thoughts. Let me know how you think I could do this better. I read every email myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. All right, Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.