Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on YouTube

This podcast is a Q&A, but it’s a bit different from the kind you’ll typically find here on Muscle For Life.

In my usual Q&A episodes, I take a question from email or Instagram and then fully answer it in an episode of the podcast every week.

However, over on Instagram, I’ve started doing weekly Q&As in the stories, and it occurred to me that many podcast listeners might enjoy hearing these questions and my short answers. So, instead of talking about one thing in an episode, I’m going to cover a variety of questions. And keep in mind some of these questions are just for fun. 🙂

So if you want to ask me questions in my Instagram stories, follow me on Instagram (@muscleforlifefitness), and if I answer your question there, it might just make it onto an episode of the podcast!

If you like this type of episode, let me know. Send me an email ([email protected]) or direct message me on Instagram. And if you don’t like it, let me know that too or how you think it could be better.

Lastly, if you want to support the show, please drop a quick review of it over on iTunes. It really helps! 


6:21 – When should you consider TRT?                   

12:23 – When should you start using straps for conventional deadlifts?

15:23 – Are bands and bodyweight exercises a waste of time? 

16:08 – Should you change macros or calories during a deload week?

17:27 – When should you move on from BLS to Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger?                       

20:54 – What do you think about vegetable and seed oils? Are they unhealthy?

21:43 – How should your diet look when you’re sick?        

22:54 – Should you use a weightlifting belt?     

23:32 – Do you trust any politician?   

23:49 – What body fat should you cut and bulk at?          

24:11 – Who rules the world?

24:26 – Should you work out fasted?

25:01 – What’s your advice for someone hooked on cardio?

26:53 – How do you keep staying a badass?

27:02 – Which is best: occlusion training or rest-pause?

27:43 – If you can’t lift heavy, can you make up for it with more volume?

27:57 – Can I workout in the evening for fat loss?

28:09 – How do you make yourself eat when you’re not hungry?

28:33 – Is the hex bar just as good as the barbell for deadlifts?

28:56 – Thoughts on glycerol monostearate supplementation? Is it worth taking?

Mentioned on the Show:

My New Book Muscle For Life

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Getting fit, lean and strong does not revolve around dubious biohacks for super charging muscle growth, melting belly fat, or optimizing your hormones. It doesn’t require dietary strategies like intermittent fasting and keto. It does not require exercise techniques like muscle confusion and functional training, and it does not require esoteric pills and powders like collagen protein and exogenous ketones.

Instead, the real secret sauce of the fitness elite can be summed up like this one, they control their calorie and protein intake. Two, they mostly eat nutritious foods, and three, they work out a few hours per week, and mostly to gain muscle and strength. In other words, the passport to the body you’ve always wanted is in the fundamentals.

The fringes, the devil is in the details as always though, because there are a few correct and many incorrect ways of executing those strategies. It’s like making music because just knowing that the process amounts to using notes to create pleasing harmonies, melodies, and rhythms, that’s not enough to create an ear worm to do.

You have to understand how to craft and how to combine those elements in very particular ways. And if you’re skeptical of people like me who say these kinds of things, good because you should be. I was skeptical when I first encountered the scientific research and the practical strategies that I share in my new book, Muscle for Life.

But I have good news. I am not going to ask you to make a big. Of faith. Most of what you’ll learn in this new book has been around for decades. It has stood the test of time, but as you are probably not an elite athlete with access to world class trainers and dieticians, nobody has connected the dots for you the way that.

I do in this book and Muscle for Life, like all of my work is all about getting results and getting them quickly. And so that means you are going to see real, tangible improvements in your body within the first 30 days of starting one of the programs in the book. And within a few months, your friends and family are going to wanna know what the heck you.

Doing because your weight is going to be moving in the right direction, your clothes are going to be fitting better, and you’re gonna be seeing muscle definition where there was little before. So head over to Muscle for Life now to pre-order your copy and. Hang on to your receipt when you do pre-order, because in a couple of weeks I am going to be announcing a big book Launch Bonanza, including a giveaway of thousands of dollars of all kinds of cool fitness things that I’ve collected from cool fitness companies.

Hi. Hi, Dear listener, I’m Mike Matthews. This is Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today. And if you haven’t already, please take a moment to subscribe to the show in whatever app you are listening to me in so you don’t miss any new episodes. And so you help boost the ranking of the show in the various charts, which helps me.

All right. This episode is another installment in my new q and a series where I just answer the questions quickly, clearly, usefully, hopefully, instead of rambling, tangents, preambles, and so forth, which I myself. Do like of course, I don’t just like the sound of my voice, I do like to learn that way personally.

If somebody’s going to teach me what to do, I also like to know why. But I’ve been getting positive feedback on these shorter q as people have been telling me that they like the longer deep dives. But it’s also nice to have some appetizers sometimes as well, some more deves. So that’ll be the format of today’s episode, and I will be answering questions about, Tea about vegetable and seed oils, about trap bar or hex bar versus conventional deadlifting, and many other things.

Now, if you want to get your questions to me, you can email me, mike muscle four, f o r, or you can follow me on Instagram at Muscle Life Fitness and you can DM. Or you can wait for when I post, usually once a week I’ll do a post in my stories asking for people’s questions, and then I will choose questions to answer in the stories as well as questions to feature on future podcasts.

Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books. Including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world. Bigger, leaner, stronger, and thinner. Leaner, stronger, as well as the leading flexible dieting cookbook, the Shredded Chef.

Now, these books have sold well over 1 million copies and have helped thousands of people build their best body ever, and you can find them on all major online retailers like Audible. iTunes, Cobo and Google Play, as well as in select Barnes and Noble stores. And I should also mention that you can get any of the audio books 100% free when you sign up for an Audible account.

And this is a great way to make those pockets of downtime like commuting, meal, prepping, and cleaning more interesting, entertaining, and productive. And so if you want to take Audible up on this offer, and if you want to get one of my audio books for free, just go to Legion, that’s b u. and sign up for your account. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you wanna see more of it, and if you wanna learn time proven and evidence based strategies for losing fat, building muscle and getting healthy, and strategies that work for anyone and everyone, regardless of age or circumstances, please do consider picking up one of my best selling books.

Bigger, Leaner, Stronger for Men, Thinner, Leaner, Stronger for. And the shredded chef for my favorite fitness friendly recipe. Okay, the first question is, when would it be a good option to consider t r t? Now, this is something I actually want to write an article about or record a long form podcast on. Maybe do both because it is something that I’ve been getting asked more and more about over the last year or two as t RT has been getting more and more popular.

But the simple answer is it makes sense to me to consider. T rt. Testosterone replacement therapy, by the way, that’s what it stands for. It makes sense to consider it when your testosterone is low. So let’s say it is at the low range of normal, which is three to 400 ish, up to maybe a thousand to 1200. Ish.

That’s the general range that we see naturally. And so if you’ve gotten blood work done and you are at the low end of normal and you are, or maybe you are even below the. Floor that I just gave. So let’s say you come in at 200, 2 50, and that would be nanograms per deciliter. You’ve probably heard N G D L, right?

Nanograms per deciliter. Nanograms of testosterone, per deciliter of blood. And so if you are coming in at 1 50, 200, 2 50, That is definitely low. If though you are coming in at 300, maybe 400, that’s where symptoms come into play because if you are at three to 400, but you do not have symptoms associated with low testosterone, you have good energy, you have good sex drive, you don’t have.

Anxiety you are sleeping well. You can just look up online. The simple roster of side effects associated with low testosterone if you are not experiencing those things, but your testosterone is at the low end of normal for me personally, I’m not sure that I would go on t r t under those circumstances because the primary reason I think to go on t r t is to improve quality of life, not to chase muscle and strength gain.

And the reason for that is to really make a big difference in the gym, you have to go quite beyond the ceiling. Of normal, the range of normal that I gave earlier, you have to go quite beyond a thousand to 1200 nanograms per deciliter to make a big difference in the gym. Now, if you go from, let’s say 300 to a thousand, that is going to make a difference.

There’s no question it is going to probably make a big difference depending on how muscular, how fit you already are. But if you look online at the steroid cycles that many bodybuilders. Run. They can take their testosterone up to 5,000 nanograms per deciliter. I’ve seen guys reporting 10,000 plus. Now, of course, they’re also taking other drugs, but most effective steroid cycles are powered by testosterone.

And then there are other drugs that are added in the mix. Now, some people who are very familiar with steroids, Might quibble with me on that point and talk about fringe, kind of edge cases where you are going to run low testosterone and much higher amounts of other drugs and you would probably be right.

Steroids is something that I am conversant in, but I’ve never used steroids. I’ve never been interested in using them, so I haven’t taken the time to. Really dive into the details and really get into the nitty gritty of what drugs are used in, what amounts and when and how they’re combined and so on and so forth.

So I’m speaking more generally about how steroid cycles are formulated and generally. You have the base of a lot of testosterone and then you are adding other stuff in. And so in the case of t r t, if I had low testosterone, I test low, I have symptoms of low testosterone and I’ve done everything that I can naturally to try to bring it up, including training regular.

And doing a lot of compound weight lifting, which positively influences hormones. I would make sure that I’m eating plenty of dietary fat. I would probably eat around 30% of calories from dietary fat. I would make sure that I’m getting a mix of saturated and unsaturated. I would make sure I’m getting a good amount of monounsaturated fat.

I would make sure that I am sleeping enough and I’m making a priority to get good sleep, and I would make sure that I am not overextending my. With too much vigorous physical activity and that would mean stuff inside and outside of the gym. And I would do other things again that I’m gonna get into.

I don’t wanna turn this episode into 15 minutes of me then creating this other episode. and I will get into these things in detail, but I would do all the things I can naturally to bring my testosterone up. And if that did not work and I’m still low testosterone and. Symptoms of low testosterone.

That’s when I would go on t R T, because at that point it’s about quality of life and health. It is unhealthy for men to have low testosterone. It raises the risk of various types of disease and dysfunction. It is almost certainly. Healthier on balance to raise testosterone up to the middle, to maybe middle or higher end of the normal range, something like 600 to 800 nanograms per deciliter.

Now, one of the downsides to T R T is it’s something you’re going to have to do for the rest of your life, and that is one of the reasons why I recommend doing everything naturally that you can to try to correct the problem before turning to the magic. Okay, that was a long answer, but let’s move on.

When should I start using straps for conventional deadlifting? I would recommend that you avoid straps and you avoid mixed grips and even the hook grip, unless you just hate your thumbs for as long as you can. So just use a double overhand grip, a conventional, simple, just grip the barbell. Hold on to it.

But eventually as you get stronger, what you’ll find is you maybe can get away with that on your first working set, but then by your second working set or hard set to use another term, the sets that you are going to be taking close to muscle failure, you can’t finish your second set because you can’t grip the bar.

It starts to slip out of your hand. That happens, your entire body basically shuts down. The whole lift shuts down and that’s it. So at that point, you have a couple of options. You can start using straps. So in this case, you would not use straps on your warmup sets. You would try to do a hard set, maybe two hard sets, as many hard sets as you can before your grip starts to fail.

And. Starts to become a limiting factor to your progress, and then you would introduce the straps, or you could introduce the mixed grip. But if you’re gonna do that, then I’d recommend alternating the palm up hand at least every month or so, maybe every week. Look, let’s say you’re deadlifting every week, so every week you would switch the hand that is.

Up. That is awkward to me. I tried it a couple of times and I didn’t care to put in the work to get used to it. I’d rather just use straps personally, but that is an option. And also the hook grip is an option. It just hurts your thumbs a lot, especially when the weights get heavy and I don’t mind pain.

It was excruciating actually, and I guess if I just stuck with it eventually, I probably would get used to it. But, some people, they will complain about the front squad and how much how uncomfortable it is to get the bar in the right position. It’s up against their throat. They can feel it on their collarbone.

While I never had any issue. With the front score, maybe it was slightly uncomfortable the first couple of times I tried it and then I quickly got used to it, not because I’m such a badass, but my point is I’m not over sensitized to pain. But the hook grip, wow, that was painful. And also I hurt my thumb skiing about a year ago.

I sprained it and it’s fine, but it’s still a little bit gimpy and hook gripping would mess it up. And if you wanna learn. About how to make the mixed grip work. How to make straps work. If you wanna learn a bit more about the hook grip, head over to legion, Search for Deadlift Grip, and you’ll find an article I wrote on the topic.

Okay, next question. I see so many women doing bands and body weight exercises. Is that a waste of time? Mostly, yes. Especially when people, and I guess. I see more women than men doing banded stuff, but when people are doing banded exercise instead of loaded exercises, so instead of the heavy barbell squats that are doing stuff with rubber bands and bands are also a waste of time when they’re randomly added two loaded exercises.

So trying to do the heavy barbell squat with a rubber band around your. Bad idea, adding the rubber band to really anything, any heavy compound movement. Not a good idea. Next question, Do you change your macros slash calories during your deload week? I do. I generally just eat a little bit less, so I will eat about 200.

Ish, fewer calories per day. And if I weren’t still doing cardio, when I deload, which I do 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio. I hop on an upright bike for 30 minutes a day five to seven days per week. And if I weren’t doing that, I probably would cut another 200 ish calories or so from my daily intake.

So that would be a total reduction of 400 ish. Which is probably about the number of calories that I am not burning while deloading, because my workouts are shorter and less intense and I’m not doing cardio. But because I am doing cardio, I just cut about 200 calories and. To do that, I’d eat the same stuff.

I just eat a bit less of it. So at night, instead of a cup of dry oatmeal, which I cook, I’m not a savage I have a half of a cup right of the dry oatmeal, which I cook, and my vegetable slot for dinner, which you’ve probably seen on Instagram if you follow me. There is a little bit smaller and maybe I will have a little bit less dark chocolate.

I usually have one to 200 calories of dark chocolate every. All right. Next question. I am working on the BLS program. At which point should I bump up to Beyond bls? And in case you’re not familiar with the acronyms, BLS is bigger than or Stronger, which is the name of my flagship book and program for men.

And then beyond BLS is Beyond Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, which is the sequel to that book, and it is my program for intermediate and advanced weightlift. So bigger than stronger is for guys who have yet to gain, let’s say, their first 25 ish pounds of muscle. That’s really who that book and who that program is for.

But if a guy has already gained 20 to 30 pounds of muscle and is trying to gain the last maybe 10 to 15 pounds, maybe 20 pounds genetically available to him that’s beyond bigger than or stronger, that’s what that book is for and. To answer the question, you change from BLS to beyond BLS when you’re no longer progressing on bls, despite getting the most important things in the kitchen and in the gym, mostly, right?

Most of the time don’t need perfection. Just good enough most of the time. And so what most guys will find is that bigger, leaner. Is good for about their first 20 to 25 pounds of muscle gain that is pretty smooth sailing. It takes about a year and a half, probably for most guys, maybe two years, and progress in the first year is faster than in the second year.

So most guys can gain eh, 15 to 20 pounds or so of muscle in year one, and then about half of that in year two. So as long as you understand the right, as long as you have the right. Patients, then you can know if you are progressing appropriately. And so most guys find that BLS takes them smoothly through their second year, some even through their third, which is about half of the potential gains of year two.

By the way, and those proportions also apply to women. It’s just the numbers are smaller, so the numbers are also halved. Your average woman can probably gain about 10 pounds of muscle in her first year of weightlifting, maybe five to eight pounds in year two. Four ish, let’s say three to four ish in year three, and so on, and so bigger, lean or stronger for the first two years, maybe three years.

And then what guys find. They just can’t keep their one rep maxes moving up on the big lifts. They stall out. Whole body strength stalls out. Maybe they can continue to make progress on different isolation exercises, but if you are not making progress on your squat, On your deadlift, on your bench press, on your overhead press.

If all of those big key lifts are stalled, it’s gonna be very hard to gain appreciable amounts of muscle, regardless of what you’re doing with your isolation exercises. So at that point, when it has been 3, 4, 5, 6 months of stagnation on bigger, leaner, And you have already gained 20 to 25 pounds of muscle.

It’s time to move on. It’s time to move to beyond a bigger leaner, stronger, which is very similar to bigger, leaner, stronger in its programming, at least in its under underpinnings. But one of the big differences is with beyond a bigger, leaner, stronger, you are just gonna work harder, more volume. Some heavier weights, also some lighter weights, so more reps.

It’s just a more difficult program. Okay. Next question. What do you think about vegetable and seed oils? I prefer olive oil. Walnut oil, and avocado oil. I like to use really any of those. I just switch between them based on how I feel when I’m ordering groceries on. My little app, but sesame oil is quite tasty.

I’ll use that sometimes. And in general, you should know that vegetable and seed oils are not as nutritious as olive or avocado oil, but they are not dangerous like many people claim. You can eat them without worry, so long as you are getting enough omega3 fatty acids in your diet, so long as your diet isn’t chocolate block with omega six fatty acids, which vegetable and seed oils are abundant in.

Next question is how should your diet look when you are sick while horse paste? Obviously lots and lots of horse paste. No, I’m kidding. Maintenance calories. So if you are cutting. Go into maintenance mode while you’re sick. It will help you feel better. It may help you recover a little bit faster. Make sure you eat plenty of protein.

Eat what you would normally eat, which should be plenty of protein. Don’t allow your protein intake to plummet because it is not appetizing when you’re sick. I do understand I have been there myself. But I also have just forced myself to eat the meat or eat whatever it is that I needed to eat for protein.

Maybe have a little bit more protein powder than usual. So just try to keep that protein intake up so you can preserve muscle. And research shows that the availability of amino acids is crucial to the proper functioning of our immune system. So if we are not eating, Protein, we are starving our immune system of nutrients.

It needs to help fight off the invaders, and so by eating enough protein, then again we may be able to get better a little bit faster. Next question is, do you recommend using a weightlifting belt when lifting heavy? And the answer is yes, generally, but not for the reason. Generally believed. So many people think that just putting on a belt makes weightlifting safer, that it just reduces the risk of a lower back injury, and that’s not the case.

It is mostly to improve performance, but it has to be used properly. You have to have the right kind of belt and you have to. Properly. And if you wanna learn more about those things, just head over legion, search for weightlifting belt, and you can find an article I wrote. I probably have recorded a podcast on that as well.

Next question is, do you trust any politician? Here are some things I trust more than politicians. Dining with Jeffrey Dahmer, Smoking Bill Clinton’s cigars and tying Anthony Wiener’s shoes. Next question, what body fat to cut and bulk at? So for men, stop bulking when you are between 15 and 20% body fat.

Stop cutting when you are between seven and 10%. And for women, stop bulking or lean gaining as I prefer to call it, between 25 and 30% body fat and stop cutting between 15 and 20%. The next question is, who rules the world? I put up a poll on this one. Illuminati or Aliens and 60% said Illuminati, 40% aliens.

So I think these survey Gods have spoken. The next question is working out fasted. Eh, not unless you like it or are cutting with Yohi being otherwise, I don’t think it’s worth it. You are going to have better workouts. Fed than fasted. And if you wanna learn more about that because there is quite a bit more to learn about it.

If you are currently working out fasted and now you are wondering if you should stop, or if you’re wondering why would you do it with Yohi being head over to legion, search for. Fasted and you’ll find an article called What is Fasted Cardio, and Can It Help You Lose Weight? Check that one out.

Next question is best advice for someone hooked on cardio, running, spin on top of lifting. If you really like the cardio and it’s not ruining your health, if you’re not. Overdoing it in the extreme. I would say keep it up. There are lots of benefits to doing higher than normal, especially in the body building world or in the body composition world, higher than normal amounts of cardio.

Even if it’s not great for muscle and strength gain, and there is a point where it is going to impair muscle and strength gain, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do a fair amount of. and gain a fair amount of muscle and strength. You just have to understand that there is a trade off and once you get over, let’s say about half of the amount of time you spend training your muscles doing cardio, that’s when it can start to get in the way and particularly, If your cardio is high intensity or if a lot of it is high intensity and high impact.

So let’s say you’re lifting weights four hours a week and you’re doing four hours of cardio per week, and one to two hours of that is very high intensity. Maybe it’s playing soccer, it’s a lot of sprinting, there’s impact even though it’s not the same as sprinting on concrete, but it is not as low impact as biking, for example, then that is probably gonna get in.

Of your progress in the gym to some degree, but that doesn’t mean that you are not going to be able to make progress. And if you want to learn more about that topic, concurrent training, head over to legion and search for concurrent, and you’ll find an article that explains all of the details of what I just summarized and gives you some practical advice on how to best combine cardio and.

Next question is, how do you keep staying a badass? I think it’s just a natural consequence of natural immunity. Next up is, which is Best Occlusion Training a blood flow restriction. Those are synonymous or rest Pause sets. Rest pause is easier to implement, but BFR is better for working around an injury.

and some people just like it better, particularly for training their arms. They prefer to do bfr sets over rest pause sets. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about with rest pauses or blood flow restriction, you can learn about both of them [email protected]. I have articles and podcasts on both.

So if you search for a blood flow restriction, you’ll find that rest. Pause. You will find that. Let’s move on. If you don’t have the ability to lift heavy, can you make up for it with more. Yes you can. You can train in higher rep ranges. You can train close to failure. You can do enough hard sets per major MUS group per week.

You will do fine. Can I work out in the evening for fat loss? Yes, absolutely. I actually answered with the Jack Nicholas crazy man nodding his head gif. Yes, you can. How do you make yourself eat when you’re not hungry? I need to eat more carbs. Listen, I’m gonna have to go with tough love on this one because right now there are pure blood Aussies under permanent lockdown who will soon be subsisting off of state mandated soil and shakes and hormone blocking clot shots.

So don’t be an Ingrid. Finish your damn food. Is the hex bar just as good as the barbell for deadlifts? Yes. Yes it is. I actually alternate between the hex bar, also known as the trap bar and the straight bar, the conventional deadlift every four months or so. So I’ll do four months of hex bar, trap bar deadlift, and then four months of conventional deadlift, and I have made nice progress that way.

What are your thoughts on glycerol mono steroid rate? It’s an interesting. Supplement is an interesting molecule to supplement with because it can help you get bigger pumps. Some people I’m thinking of one person he swears by it. He says he gets a much bigger pump if he takes some glycerol before he trains.

Now the downside is most people have to take quite a bit to notice a difference. 15 to 20 grams, and that means 60 to 80 calories because glycerol has four calories per gram. But if that doesn’t bother you and you want to give it a go, then try 15 to 20 grams, about 30 minutes before you train. I hope you liked this episode.

I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.

And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you. Ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for, muscle f o r and let me know what I could do better or just what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode and I hope to hear from.

View Complete Transcript