I’ve churned through over 150,000 emails, social media comments and messages, and blog comments in the last 6 years.
And that means I’ve fielded a ton of questions.
As you can imagine, some questions pop up more often than others, and I thought it might be helpful to take a little time every month to choose a few and record and share my answers.
So, in this round, I answer the following four questions:
- Why haven’t you sold out yet?
- What is your current take on intermittent fasting?
- Does isometric exercise work?
- How much does time under tension contribute to muscle growth?
If you have a question you’d like me to answer, leave a comment below or if you want a faster response, send an email to [email protected].
Recommended reading for this episode:
- The Definitive Guide to Intermittent Fasting
- Why Time Under Tension is Overrated for Building Muscle (And What Matters More)
2:32 – Why haven’t you sold out yet?
14:26 – What is your current take on intermittent fasting?
19:12 – Does isometric exercise work?
20:47 – How much does time under tension contribute to muscle growth?
Mentioned on The Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hey, Mike here. And if you like what I’m doing on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please consider checking out my VIP one on one coaching service, where we can help you get in the best shape of your Life. My team and I have helped people of all ages, circumstances and needs.
So no matter how complicated or maybe even hopeless you might think your situation is, we will figure it out and we will get you results. Every diet. And every training program is 100 percent custom. We provide daily workout logs and do weekly accountability calls. Our clients get priority email service and discounts on supplements and other products and the list of benefits goes on and on.
So to learn more. Head over to www. LegionAthletics. com slash coaching. That’s L E G I O N Athletics dot com slash coaching and schedule your free consultation call. I should also mention that there is usually a wait list and new slots do fill up very quickly, so do not wait if this sounds even remotely interesting to you.
Go ahead and schedule your call now. Again, that URL is legionathletics. com slash coaching. Hello, my friend. It is time to answer people’s questions. To answer questions that I’ve been asked via Instagram, DMs, and email mostly. So how this works is people ask me questions, which I answer, and then I note down some of the more interesting ones, or the ones that I get asked more frequently, and answer them publicly as well.
In these q and As, and so if you want me to answer your questions privately and possibly publicly in the next q and a, then either follow me, me on Instagram and send me a DMM muscle for Life Fitness is my handle, username, whatever the term is at Muscle for Life Fitness, or send me an email [email protected].
Alright, so here are the questions I’m gonna be answering today. Why haven’t you sold out yet? That’s the first one. What is your current take on intermittent fasting? Next one. Does isometric exercise work? And lastly, how much time, how much does time under tension contribute to muscle growth? So the first one, why haven’t I sold out yet?
This is actually something that I’ve been asked, I’d say every month or two for a couple of years now, as people have seen my things grow, seen Legion grow and seen my, my book sales grow and so forth. And it’s either why haven’t I sold out yet? Or when am I going to sell out? And the answer of course is I haven’t been offered enough money yet.
Duh. I mean, everyone has their price, right? So George Soros, if you happen to be listening and you could use a fitness czar for the new world order, let’s talk. I’m your guy. Hail Satan. Okay. Okay. The real answer why I have not sold out yet and don’t plan on selling out, which I could do, for example, a very easy way to sell out would be to cut.
The costs of legions formulations down. So legions cost of goods hovers around 60%. That’s very high by normal business standards for businesses that sell stuff. You want your cost of goods around 40%. That’d be considered good. And if you can get it down to like 30%, that’s very good. So by normal business standards, legion’s cost of goods is way too high.
A business consultant would say, what are you doing? You’re bad at this. Get that number down. The problem is supplements are not like T shirts you can make a t shirt and have a really good margin and have people buy the t shirt and like the t shirt and be totally fine with the entire transaction. The t shirt works exactly as described.
It sat there on a rack and you liked how it looked and you liked how it fit and so you bought it. Now supplements are different. People are buying them for different reasons and you have to promise real benefits and real results. People are not Spending hundreds of dollars a month on products thinking that they’ll probably do more or less nothing.
Maybe there’s a small chance they’ll do a little bit of something some of the time. And to produce supplements that can deliver enough benefit to warrant the expense, you just have to spend a lot of money on them. Good ingredients are expensive. Good doses are expensive. So much so that if a supplement Has a markup of greater than three to four times.
It’s almost certainly a subpar product. And in some cases to produce really good products, you need a markup of two times. So just doubling your money. If something costs about 20 to produce, such as my whey protein isolate, whey plus costs me when you factor all the expenses in to get one of those from the manufacturer to you costs me about 20 and we sell them for, I think 40, maybe it’s 45.
Now we have to raise some of our prices. I’m not sure if we’ve raised that yet, but I think it’s about 40 right now. So you hear that and you go. Okay. Well, you’re doubling your money. You’re producing it for 20 and you’re selling it for 40. That’s pretty good. Right? No, that’s terrible. By business standards, by normal business standards, that is horribly unprofitable.
Again, someone from the outside looking in, not understanding why I can do that and make it work. Which really comes down to my marketing expenses and my advertising expenses are way, way lower than my competitors, because I’m able to drive a lot of interest through stuff like this, through recording videos and recording podcasts and writing books and writing articles, but normally.
You don’t have that. Most supplement companies don’t have someone like me willing to do that for less annual income than I could get just shilling for somebody else. Now, there are other reasons why I’m doing it, not just the immediate cashflow. There’s obviously long term value I’m building in the business.
And I like that. I have real products that I can stand behind. But again, when you look at the short term view, the short term financial view, it really doesn’t make sense. Because again, by normal business standards, you want to have at least a five times markup. And that’s considered not very good. You, you should think twice about selling something that only has a five times markup.
You really want to get into the eight times plus range. That’s the solidly profitable range. So something costs you 1 to produce and bring to market. Uh, excluding marketing costs, but to make it available for purchase, then you want to be able to sell it for at least 8. That’s considered good. And again, there are a number of reasons for that, and there’s a lot of logic and a lot of thought and experience behind that recommendation.
And it takes into account things like middlemen, the costs of wholesalers and distributors, for example, which you normally need to work with to get your product. To market, which I don’t work with. For example, I’m just direct to consumer so I can cut all that cost out and just put it into the quality of the product itself.
And that’s what I have to do just to sell good products. I don’t think I’ll ever see a six times markup and a good product, unless maybe it’s like a vitamin D pill and people are willing to buy my vitamin D pills. Maybe then, but a true proprietary formulation, not proprietary blend, but a formulation, a unique formulation that’s created by my scientific.
advisory board, not some off the shelf formulation. I’ll never get to six times because the ingredients are just too expensive and the doses are too expensive and to meet that high standard of very good. Not okay. I want my products to be very good. It just costs a lot of money. For example, take my multivitamin triumph.
When it’s all said and done to produce that and get it to you, it costs me about 18 to 19. So then by. Normal business standards. I would have to sell that for anywhere from 120 to like 150, 160 for it to be solidly profitable. And there aren’t many people out there who are going to be spending that kind of money on a multivitamin.
Anyway, that’s just to give you an example of how I could sell out. I could… Systematically work down my cost of goods by just removing ingredients slowly. No major changes, lowering doses, removing ingredients. So maybe over the course of the next year or so I’ve reduced my cogs by anywhere from 20 to maybe even 40 percent without too many people really noticing what’s going on.
Now, if I were to do that, it could. I mean, literally millions of dollars straight to me, that’s money I could just take out of the business if I wanted to. And so back to the question, why am I not doing that? And the answer is mostly something that I covered in a podcast that I recorded a couple weeks ago called eight ancient laws for happier and simpler living or something like that.
And that is, I really do believe in doing the right thing, even when it costs you something. I believe the right thing is simply treating consumers the way I would want to be treated. And that means producing really good, high quality products that can be honestly sold and that are backed by good scientific research.
That’s how I would want to be treated as a consumer. And so that’s what I’m doing because I feel like that’s the right thing to do, even though it’s costing me millions of dollars personally. Now, why, why do that? When I could just as easily rationalize cutting corners to make more money, I mean, I could, I could start listing off probably 10 different ways that I could try to tell myself that doing that is okay, or is even the greater good, but none of that would change the fact that I still would instinctively and inherently No, what is right and what is not right and know that I wasn’t doing the right thing.
And so then I would have to continually apply pressure to keep that submerged because anytime I started to look at it, of course, cognitive dissonance would kick in and I would start to feel uncomfortable. And so then I’d have to try even harder. To suppress that instinctive knowledge that I would have and you do that enough and you really start to lose your sense of right and wrong.
That signal gets lost among all the noise. And I’ve seen this happen firsthand in a number of people, uh, over the years, I’ve seen them compromise their integrity for money and I’ve seen how it. It played out over the course of years, in some cases, 10 plus years. And the results were never pretty. Their lives were in shambles in the end, one for one.
And I don’t think that is a coincidence. Uh, again, this is something I’ve spoken about and I’ve written about elsewhere. And I’m already rambling quite a bit, so I won’t rehash it here, but I really do think that if you do your best to do what is right and what you know is right, then you can expect to be repaid in kind by the universe, by your God, by whatever form of spirituality you might believe in.
Now, on the flip side. I can make plenty of money, more money than I need being honest and doing the right thing and treating people the way I would like to be treated, creating good products, creating good services, taking care of customers, making things right when we make mistakes. And so why not just do that?
And one other thing of note is I want to be A good example, my business is to be a good example of the growing conscious capitalism movement where the primary goal isn’t just to make profits at the expense of everything. The primary corporate goal is not to just as Ken Galbraith said, engulf everything, but instead to foster Healthier and more functional people, markets, and societies, and to do that profitably, but where there are more metrics and there are qualitative metrics, not just quantitative profits.
And so for example, that is why this year Legion is going to be switching to 100 percent recycled plastic. And we are going to partner with a charity. We haven’t picked the exact one yet. We have a couple that we’ve narrowed it down to, but we’re going to be partnering with a charity that works to clean up plastic waste around the world.
I particularly like a couple of charities that are doing this in the ocean. And we’re going to look at offering refill bags. So you can have a recycled plastic way plus bottle, for example, that you keep and you can recycle it yourself when you’re done and get a new one, or you could keep it. And by a bag, which obviously has less of an environmental impact and then refill your tub with the bag.
I really like that option personally, and I will be surveying it around soon. I just have to finish the rebrand redesign that we are in the middle of toward the tail end of and this recycled plastic initiative and this charity set up. So once all that is done, I’m then going to. Look at refill bags. I think it’s a cool option.
I don’t know how many people will take me up on it, but I think it’s worth offering. Okay, that was a long answer to that first question. Let’s move on to the next question. What is your current take on intermittent fasting? Well, uh, the research is ongoing. There is a new IF study coming out every several months now.
And there are several interesting ones underway, including one that I have helped fund. And I also provided protein powder to that’s being led by Dr. Andy Galpin and Menno Henselman’s. But as of right now, the weight of the evidence is the results of intermittent fasting. As far as body composition goes are just unimpressive.
If you are expecting to lose fat faster or gain muscle faster with IF, there’s nothing inherent in it that would suggest, and this is again with our current literature, there’s nothing that suggests that it’s going to make any sort of significant difference. You have to keep in mind that a lot of the research up and up until now that has been done on IF has.
been done with obese, non lifting people. And even those studies have showed that when calorie deficits are matched, if the eating window is eight hours or 15 hours, it doesn’t produce different results in the way of fat loss or muscle gain. And if you look at the bit of research that has been done on IF with resistance trained individuals, it’s more or less the same.
You see no more fat loss than traditional dieting when calories and protein are matched. No more muscle gain. You do see muscle retention not being a problem. So that was once a thing where people were concerned that if they used intermittent fasting when they’re cutting, they were going to lose muscle.
I think we can say. Definitively, that’s not the case, but there is no good evidence currently that there is any inherent benefit. The benefit would be if you like intermittent fasting. And some people do, some people like really just skipping breakfast is what it comes down to. They stop eating after dinner, or maybe they have one last protein snack at, you know, maybe 9 p.
m. And then they don’t eat until
Some people just like that and it helps with compliance, mostly because they like, or I’d say usually in my experience, because they like eating fewer, smaller meals when they’re cutting, because they find that more satisfying than taking their regular meals. Restricted calories and spreading them out over four or five or six meals starting at 7 a.
m. Now, as I mentioned, there is a study underway that I’m looking forward to reading once it is published. And that’s why I’m helping fund it. And that is the study that Dr. Annie Galpin and Menno Henselmans are doing on a lean gains style of intermittent fasting. With resistance trained individuals and looking at muscle growth in particular in a number of different ways.
So who knows, maybe we’ve been missing something. And those are two really smart guys that might be able to tease that out. We’ll have to see. Now, as far as intermittent fasting and health goes, it’s a lot of the same. You have a lot of claims of increasing longevity through autophagy, for example. And that is something that I recorded.
rather long podcast on some time ago. You can find it in my podcast feed if you just search for autophagy. But the bottom line here is there do seem to be some interesting effects, but there are a lot of confounding variables. And it is disingenuous to say that there is conclusive evidence that fasting regularly is going to greatly enhance your health.
And your longevity and especially if you are also exercising regularly, eating well, maintaining a healthy body composition, sleeping enough, you know, doing the fundamentals, the things that we do know for a fact, enhance your health and enhance your longevity. Hey, before we continue, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please consider checking out my VIP one on one coaching service.
Now, my team and I have helped thousands of people. of all ages, circumstances, and needs. So no matter how complicated or maybe even hopeless you might think your situation is, we will figure out how to get you the results you want. Every diet and training program we create is 100 percent custom. We provide daily workout logs and we do weekly accountability calls.
Our clients get priority email service, as well as discounts on supplements, and the list goes on and on. To learn more, just head over to legionathletics. com slash coaching, and if you like what you see, schedule your free consultation call. Now there’s normally a wait list to work with our coaches, and new slots do fill up very quickly.
So if this sounds even remotely interesting to you, head over to legionathletics. com slash coaching now and schedule your free consultation call and let’s see if our program is a good fit for you. Okay, the next question, does isometric exercise work? Now, in case you are not familiar with isometric exercise, it is simply exercise that involves contracting your muscles, but not lengthening or shortening them.
So there’s not a range of motion, just contraction. So for example, with traditional exercise, let’s say with your biceps, you are going to start in a lengthened position and you’re going to contract and then you’re going to lengthen and contract. And the contraction and the lengthening are two different types of stresses that you place on the muscle with isometric exercise, though, you might contract to the top and just hold there.
Until you can hold no longer. For example, that would be an isometric exercise, one rep, basically that you just hold up there, or in the, in the opposite case, you might, let’s say, load a barbell and hold it in a fully lengthened position. And start to contract a little bit, just enough to where your biceps are noticeably contracting, but they’re still in a lengthened position.
You’re not at the top of the rep and you just hold there for some period of time. That could be another version of an isometric biceps exercise. So how effective is this? Well, the specificity principle applies here. Meaning that isometric exercise can help you get stronger in that position that you’re training, but that isn’t necessarily going to carry over to the traditional exercise.
So for example, if you want to get better at the squat. You’re going to have to squat. You can’t just isometrically contract your leg muscles and then expect that to immediately transfer over to the squat and immediately make you stronger on the squat. That said, you can profitably include some isolation exercise in your training in the form of paused reps, which is something that I’m going to be recording a podcast on this week.
So if you’re interested in that. Keep an eye out, or I guess an ear out. And what this comes down to is in a paused rep, you deliberately pause for a couple seconds at a certain point in an exercise. And then you finish the rep. Now the points at which you pause are normally the sticking points in an exercise.
The points when it is particularly hard to keep going. So in the squat, for example, that’s when you’re in the hole and you are transitioning. From lowering to raising. That’s you have several inches there that are very difficult. And so when most people do pause reps on the squat, that’s where they’re pausing because they’re trying to increase their strength, particularly at that point in the lift.
And it also helps them work on their technique because even a slight wavering from side to side or front to back can make it harder to effectively transfer that force into the ground and get. Up when the weights are heavy and you are, you know, deep into a set. Anyway, that’s something I’ll be talking more about in the podcast on Paws Drip.
So I’ll just leave it at that. Back to isometric exercise. Another good use of isometric exercise is for strengthening your grip. So barbell holds, plate pinches. Those are isometric exercises that work if you need to or if you want to improve your grip. Isometric exercise can also be useful if you are working through or working around an injury that prevents you from being able to use a full range of motion.
And isometric exercise can be useful for core training. So for example, planks, good core exercise, isometric. All right, next question. How much does time under tension contribute to muscle growth? So this is one that I’ve been asked many times over the years, even wrote an article on it some time ago, which I’m going to be updating soon.
And I may just record a podcast on this specific point, but to summarize here, all right, so you’ve undoubtedly heard the bodybuilder adage that muscles don’t know, wait, they only know tension. And so if you just increase your time under tension, you can increase muscle growth. You don’t necessarily have to increase intensity, load weights that you’re lifting.
And that sounds pretty cool because then theoretically you could use lighter weights, which would be easier on your joints and safer, you know, lower risk of injury and just slow your reps down. For example, increasing the time under. Tension and gain muscle just as effectively as traditional training, which would entail, of course, faster reps and heavier weights.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t pan out. A number of studies have shown that traditional weightlifting results in more muscle growth than super slow training, slow rep training. Why is that? Well, while the time under tension crowd isn’t entirely wrong, that your body does need to be exposed or your muscles do need to be exposed to greater tension over time to continue getting bigger and stronger, what they miss is that It’s not the duration of the tension that matters nearly as much as the amount of tension being produced in the muscles.
In other words, to achieve progressive tension overload, which is the primary mechanical driver of muscle growth, you have to force your muscles to contract harder over time to produce more tension, more force, not simply produce the same amount of tension. for longer periods of time. And we know that the most effective way to achieve progressive tension overload to increase those levels of tension being generated in the muscles is to add weight to the bar, lift heavier weights.
And so, focusing too much on time under tension is a case of missing the forest for the trees. Instead, what you should do is use a traditional training tempo of 2 1 2, you know, 2 seconds down, slight pause at the bottom, or even no pause at the bottom, and 2 seconds up. And just focus on adding weight to the bar.
Um, on getting stronger on increasing your whole body strength over time. And eventually when that becomes very hard to do, when it becomes very hard to add even 10, 20 pounds to a lift, when that might take, you know, upward of a year, you can better increase the amount of training stimulus, the amount of tension being produced in the muscles by just doing more sets, adding volume, not taking your current volume and slowing down the reps.
And by the way, if you are curious how exactly to go about that, how to program that little shameless plug for a book that I am wrapping up, which is the new second edition of Beyond Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, which is meant for intermediate and advanced weightlifters. It’s the sequel to Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, which is meant for people who are new to weightlifting or new to proper weightlifting.
And in that book, Beyond Bigger Than You’re Stronger, you are not only going to learn the theory of what it takes to break out of the rut that you inevitably fall into as an intermediate weightlifter. And if you have been in the gym lifting consistently for, More than let’s say three years, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Everything moves along until eventually it slows down and it slows down more. And then you find yourself really just treading water and not knowing what to do. You know, it’s a similar phenomenon of when you were new. Not knowing what to do and you hear about all these different training techniques and all these different methods and all these different ways of programming and exercises.
And you then hopefully find your way to the fundamentals, the 20 percent that deliver 80 percent of the results. But what do you do when those fundamentals no longer seem to be producing results? Well, oftentimes then you go back to trying a bunch of weird stuff. Now, fortunately, the fundamentals still work.
You don’t need to abandon them. You don’t need to make major changes to your programming, but you do have to change the right things and you have to change them correctly. There are many wrong ways to respond when you get stuck in a rut as an intermediate weightlifter, and there are only a few right ones.
And one of the key ones, and I’m going to be talking about this at length in beyond bigger, leaner, stronger, and the program itself is going to reflect this. One of the key ones is volume. The amount of volume, the amount of hard sets per major muscle group per week, you can look at it that way. There are different ways to look at volume.
And in certain contexts, uh, certain ways are more suitable than others. But in the context of this discussion, hard sets per major muscle group, hard working sets per major muscle group per week works just fine. And so. So nine or 10 hard sets per major muscle group per week. So long as you are taking those sets close to technical failure.
So they’re actually hard. That’s enough. When you’re new or new to proper weightlifting, you will do great doing just that. But eventually that’s not enough volume. To continue making progress that becomes maintenance volume, regardless of what you do with your intensity, for example, regardless of how much weight is on the bar and regardless of the different rep ranges that you might be working in and how you’re periodizing your training.
If you’re not doing enough volume, if you’re not doing enough hard sets per major muscle group per week, you are going to get stuck. And again, to put a number to that, I would say most intermediate. Weightlifters need to do upward of 15 or 16 hard sets per major muscle group per week, regardless of the rep range.
And there are reasons to work in different rep ranges, but regardless of that, that’s, I’d say a fair estimate of how much volume it takes as an intermediate weightlifter to continue making progress. Anyway, those are things that I’m going to be talking about in this new second edition of Beyond Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, which should be out this summer.
I am more or less done with the manuscript, and it’s in the hands of the editor, and we’re working through that. And there are some odds and ends that need to, to get done some bonus material stuff. It’s going to come with spreadsheets that are going to allow you to very easily program your workouts. And it’s going to come with meal plans and all the key takeaways neatly summarized and other, uh, nice things.
And so there’s, there’s still a bit of work to be done before I can release it, but I do think this summer is doable. I’m going to say probably later in the summer, but this year for sure. And I do think late summer, that’s what I’m tentatively targeting. Hey, Mike here. And if you like what I’m doing on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please consider checking out my VIP one on one coaching service, where we can help you get in the best shape of your life.
My team and I have helped people of. all ages, circumstances, and needs. So no matter how complicated or maybe even hopeless you might think your situation is, we will figure it out and we will get you results. Every diet and every training program is 100 percent custom. We provide daily workout logs and do weekly accountability calls.
Our clients get priority email service and discounts on supplements and other products, and the list of benefits goes on and on. So to learn more, head over to www. legionathletics. com slash coaching. That’s l e g i o n athletics dot com slash coaching and schedule your free consultation call. I should also mention that there is usually a wait list and new slots do fill up very quickly.
So, do not wait if this sounds even remotely interesting to you. Go ahead and schedule your call now. Again, that URL is… Legion athletics. com slash coaching. All right. Well, 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 visibility and help more people find their way to me and to the podcast and learn how to build their best body ever as well. And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and whatever app you’re using.
To listen, and you will not miss out on any of the new stuff that I have coming. And last, if you didn’t like something about the show, then definitely shoot me an email at Mike at 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 soon.