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 three questions:
- If I’m fat will I gain muscle slower when I lean bulk?
- What’s the best way to eat and train during Ramadan?
- Have you ever gotten tendonitis/tendonosis from working out and if so how did you recover?
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].
3:47 – If I’m fat will I gain muscle slower when I lean bulk?
24:39 – What’s the best way to eat and train during Ramadan?
32:13 – Have you every gotten tendonitis or tendinosis from working out, and if so, how did you recover?
Mentioned on The Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello, and welcome to Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for a q and a where I answer questions that readers and followers ask me. If you want to ask me questions that I can answer for you and that may be chosen for future q and a episodes, shoot me an email. Mike Muscle for Life, just f o r.
Dot com and let me know what’s on your mind. I get a lot of emails, so it may take me seven, 10, maybe even 14 days or sometimes a little bit longer, to be honest, to get back with you, but you will hear back from me and you will get an answer. And if it’s a question that a lot of people are asking or have been asking for some.
Or if it’s something that just strikes my fancy and it’s something that I haven’t already beaten to death on the podcast or the blog, then I may also choose it for an episode and answer it publicly. Another way to get questions to me is Instagram at Muscle for Life Fitness. You can DM them to me, although, That is harder for me to stay on top of.
I do try, but the inbox is a little bit buggy and it just takes more time trying to do it, whether it’s on my phone or the Windows app. But there is a good chance you will still get a reply. Email is better, and I also do post, I think it’s every few weeks or so in my feed asking for. People to give me questions, give me fodder for the next q and a.
So if you would rather do that than just follow me on Instagram at Muscle Life Fitness and send me a message, or just wait for one of my q and a posts. So in this episode, I will be answering three questions. The first is, if I’m fat, will I gain muscle slower when I lean bulk? And the second is, what’s the best way to eat and train during Ramadan?
And the third is only when I have a. Four. The first two come from anonymous, but they’re things I’ve been asked many times over the years. And then the third is from Dr. Andrew Gillie Reichman over on Instagram, and he asks, have you ever gotten tendonitis or tendonosis from working out? And if so, how did you recover?
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, Amazon, iTunes, Cobo, and Google Play, as well as in select Barnes and Noble stores. And I should also mention that you can get any.
Audiobooks 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 audiobooks for free, just go to www.buy Legion.
That’s b u y legion.com/audible. 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 Women, and the Shredded Chef for my favorite fitness friendly recipe.
Okay, so let’s start with this first question. If I’m fat, will I gain muscle slower? When I lean bulk, and this is something that I touched on all the way back in the first edition of Bigger, leaner, stronger back in 2012. And at the time I. basically just got straight to the point and said, look, for the purposes of transforming your physique, you’re gonna do best if, and I was speaking to guys here, cause that book is for men.
I was saying, you’ll do best if you start your bulking, your lean, bulking, lean, gaining whatever term you want to use. Your calorie surplus phases relatively lean. I recommended something around 10% and then. Ending those phases when your abs have basically disappeared, so that’s gonna be 15, 16, 17%, at which point, then you would cut back down to around 10% and then you would rinse and repeat until you basically have the body you want at about 10%, and then you have more options as far as maintenance goes.
You could. Keep going and keep trying to gain a little bit more muscle and a little bit more strength with something like beyond bigger, leaner, stronger. Or you could spend less time in the gym, at least with weights. You could drop down to two or three strength training workouts per week to just maintain your muscle and strength, and then you could have more time for other physical or athletic activities that you may want to do more than a few extra weightlifting workout.
And at the time, the two reasons that I gave for that advice were one that it’s just gonna be more enjoyable that way. If you get too fat, then you have to cut for too long eventually, and that’s no fun. And the longer you have to cut for the more, maybe not the more likely, but. The easier it is to fail, right?
The more time you add, the harder it is, the more discipline it requires to be consistent and to stick to your diet plan, stick to your meal plan at least most of the time, which is what you need to do. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to stick to it pretty well most of the time. But you know, doing that for six months is a lot more daunting than just two or three months.
And so that was one reason. If you followed my advice, you would never have to cut for more than maybe two or three months at a time and you’d be able to lean bulk for up to maybe six, seven, or even eight months at a time. Well, actually eight is probably a bit of a stretch, but certainly four to six months.
So that gives you plenty of time to gain quite a bit of muscle gaining. Quite a bit of strength before you have to cut. Of course, then you wouldn’t gain much muscle or strength to speak of while you’re cutting. And so that was one reason for the cutting and lean bulking advice that I was giving and that I have been giving really ever since then.
But the second reason here is what has changed. And at the time, the second reason that I gave was more physiological in nature. I was explaining that I believed, based on my understanding of. Some mechanisms related to muscle building that if your body fat levels got too high, your ability to build muscle would go down no matter how consistently you trained, no matter how well your training was designed, was programmed no matter how well you were sleeping, no matter how much creatine you were taking.
My belief at the time was that. Potential for muscle gain likely went down as your body fat levels went up, and my position has changed on that as I have learned more things and worked with more people. I think that that is probably wrong. I think that your ability to gain muscle is probably not impacted by your body fat levels to any meaningful.
But I still recommend the same approach in the latest edition of Bigger, leaner, stronger, which was updated about two years ago. And I’m actually going through another round of updates right now because I want to put some new material in the book. I want to take some material out that I don’t think needs to be in it, and I wanna make a few little tweaks to the program.
And so even in this, What would be a fourth edition, but it’s not going to be an official release of a fourth edition. I’m just going to update the existing third edition. So in this latest and greatest, bigger, leaner, stronger, I’m still giving the same advice to guys, which is when you’re cutting, go down to about 10%.
It could be 11, it could be. 12. I don’t recommend going lower than that unless you are trying to get ready for a photo shoot or you want to maintain a very low level of body fat, understanding that it’s going to impair your performance and it’s going to impair your ability to gain muscle and strength.
And so again, cutting down two, about 10% and then. Lean bulking up to about maybe 17, 18, certainly no more than 20% body fat. And the reason I still recommend that is the first reason that I gave it allows you to maintain a calorie surplus for, uh, many months, which allows you to gain a lot of muscle and strength.
And then when it comes time to cut, you only. Two months ahead of you. Maybe less, maybe a little bit more, but certainly not more than three and a half, maybe four months, unless of course you are just starting. You have a lot of weight to lose. But once you have settled into this groove of alternating between lower body fat levels, 10 ish and higher body fat levels, high teens ish, you’ll find that.
Probably need more than two or three months to cut to get back to your baseline. So you can start a new phase of lean bulking or maybe some maintenance if you want to be lean for summer. A lot of people like to do that. They will just maintain that lower level of body fat for a couple of months during the summer, and then they will spend the winter bulking and for women listening.
Wondering what those numbers would look like for you. The range is 20% on the low. And 25 to 28% on the high end. So the same principles that I just explained, but the numbers are a bit higher because women have boobs and they have hips, and they have butts. And so with that preamble out of the way, let’s talk a bit more about these physiological aspects of body fatness that I once thought impacted muscle.
Gain more than I now think that they do. So let’s start this discussion with something called a P ratio. And this was first discussed in a series of studies that were conducted by scientists at the University of Queensland back in the late seventies. And it wasn’t until the late eighties though, until a professor named Gilbert Forbes developed the idea.
And shortly thereafter, a lot of people were talking. P ratios. Now, what is a P ratio? Well, it’s pretty simple. When you gain weight, some of what you gain is fat. Some of what you gain is muscle, and if you take the change in muscle mass and divide it by the change in total body mass, you get the P ratio.
So if you gain weight and almost all of it is muscle, then the P ratio would be very, On the other hand, if you gained almost nothing but fat, the P ratio in this case would be very low. And if you are losing weight and almost all of the weight that you lose is muscle. So if you do a lot of cardio and you eat very little protein and you eat very few calories and you sleep poorly, high P ratio, right?
A lot of muscle loss. Now, if you cut correctly, if you use an aggressive but not reckless calorie deficit, you eat. Protein, you do a lot of resistance training, you supplement with some cardio, then you’re gonna lose almost exclusively body fat, and that then would be a very low P ratio in that case. The goal then is to maintain a low P ratio when cutting.
Right? So we wanna lose nothing but fat. Ideally, we would lose no muscle tissue, whatever. So that’d be a. P ratio. And then when we are lean bulking or lean gaining, we want a high P ratio. We want the majority. Ideally it would be all, but we want as much of the weight that we’re gaining to be muscle and not fat.
And in a study that Forbes conducted, He suggested that the body fat level, you start with when you enter into a weight gain phase, when you consistently overeat, has a big effect on how much muscle you gain. Specifically, Forbes said that people with a higher body fat level would have a very low P ratio.
During the weight gain phase, they would gain mostly fat and people with a lower. Baseline body, fat level people who were leaner would have a very high P ratio during the weight gain phase. That is, they would gain mostly muscle mass. Now, as you can imagine, the evidence-based fitness community took a shine to that very quickly.
They glommed onto that immediately because it was based on good research and it was easy to understand and it was practical. And so a training maxim was born. Two training maxims, I guess technically. One is you will gain less muscle when you are lean bulking. If you start with a high body fat level, then the corollary to that would be you will gain more muscle if you start at a lower level of body fat.
There are some issues though with this theory. Most notably, Forbes never meant for his work to be applied to people who gain. And do resistance training. That’s a, a key point there because his research detailed the weight gained by people who were recovering from anorexia. Now, in a subsequent review of the data researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases concluded that once you remove the data from the anorexia studies, there’s insufficient evidence of a relationship between the composition of weight gain and the amount of body fat that you start.
Now that’s interesting, but you may be thinking that there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence in support of these ideas. Bodybuilders have been saying those things for a long time, and of course, many things that bodybuilders have been saying have not panned out in research and have been proven to be incorrect.
Like for example, the need. To eat upward of two grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Unfortunately, for us natural weightlifters, that is not going to be any better for muscle and strength gain than about one gram per pound of body weight per day. Even a little bit less, if only it were that easy, right?
If only gorging on protein were the dietary. Equivalent of steroids, but no, it was not meant to be. Anyway, coming back to P ratios, these ideas about body fatness and gaining less muscle and gaining more muscle have been entrenched in the world of body building for a long time now. And so you might think that there is more in the way of scientific evidence for them and there’s not.
We don’t really have anything concrete beyond what I just shared with you. There’s a lot of speculation out there where people have dug into the data of other studies and then used that data, used the results of those studies to speculate about P ratios. But it’s one of the many gaps of the body composition literature and one of the reasons there are so many gaps.
Is funding. There’s just not a lot of money out there for this type of research. And that, by the way, is why I have helped fund studies related to body composition, like an intermittent fasting study being conducted by Meno Hensel Man’s and Andy Galpin, A Lean bulking study being conducted by Eric Helms and James Krieger, A D H T and creatine study conducted by.
Tinsley, which currently is on hold because of Covid, but we will be resuming hopefully this year. The problem was Grant was afraid that he was gonna have to shut his lab down in the middle of the study at least once because of Covid, and he wanted to make sure. That once we were underway that it was going to be very unlikely that he would have to stop because that makes things more complicated.
It can add costs, and it’s just kind of a pain in the ass. And so anyway, one of the reasons why I’m helping fund those studies is because there’s just not much money out there to answer those types of questions. To answer questions about intermittent fasting and weightlifters about lean bulking and weightlifters about.
Creatine and D H T and hair loss and weightlifters and so anyway, who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to fund a study to help shed some light on this PIO situation. But for now, I don’t want to get too bogged down in the details of a lot of the speculation that’s out there, but I’m not convinced by any of it that your P ratio will be significantly.
Impacted by your body fat level. I don’t think that body fatness will get in the way of muscle gain to any meaningful degree. The amount of fat that you gain when you lean bulk is mostly going to be determined by the size of your calorie surplus and your adherence to your diet. So if you’re shooting for about a 10% surplus, which is what I would recommend, and you are consistently at a 15 or 20% surplus, you are almost certainly.
Going to gain no more muscle, but quite a bit more fat. So in that case then your P ratio will go down. Similarly, if you are lean bulking, and let’s say you do a good job sticking to your meal plan during the week, you’re at about a 10% calorie surplus, and then on the weekends you are in a much larger.
Surplus, you’re in a 20 or 30% surplus over the weekends, and maybe there’s some alcohol as well. And that’s another common mistake that people make when lean bulking and they don’t realize how much that speeds up fat gain. It can be the same result depending on how extravagant, how indulgent the weekends are.
That can be the same as, uh, doubling your calorie surplus throughout the. Now, I’m sure there are at least a few listeners who are wondering at this point what they should do. At least a few guys who are around 15% body, let’s say between 15 and 20% body fat who want to be leaner, but also want to be quite a bit bigger.
Or women, let’s say in the range of 25 to 30% body fat who want to be leaner, but who also do want more muscle definition. And if you’re one of those people, you may be wondering, okay, so should you cut? Should you. Lean bulk. What should you do? Well, as you know, my general recommendation is still to start your lean bulk in your lean gaining phases.
Relatively lean, something around 10% body fat if you’re a guy, 20% if you are a gal. That said, if the thought of doing that is demotivating to you. If you really don’t want to cut, because let’s say you’ve been lifting weights for a while and your newbie gains are behind you, and you know that when you cut, you’re not gonna be able to gain any muscle to speak of, and the idea of being in a slight calorie surplus and having a lot of energy and having great workouts pumps you up and makes you want to get in the gym and train, then I would say do that.
But just be cognizant of the. Fact that eventually you probably are going to want to get down to about 10% body fat if you’re a guy, or 20% if you are a woman. And just know that that is going to take more time when it comes time to do that. So again, if right now you would rather. Just lean bulk and put up with a bit more body fat, but also enjoy the process of gaining more muscle and strength, then do that.
If you don’t mind though, the idea of cutting and if you are new to resistance training, you have the added benefit of being able to recomp, body, recomposition, gaining muscle, and losing fat at the same time. I would say you probably are going to enjoy that the most because I mean, that’s just fun. That’s where you really see big changes in the.
Over time because you’re dropping fat, so you’re increasing your muscle definition all over your body. You’re starting to see lines, you’re starting to see vascularity. If you’re a guy, you probably care about that. If you’re a woman, you probably don’t care too much about that, but for whatever reason, guys like veins, we just do.
And so you’re seeing all that coming in because your body fat level is going down and you’re seeing your muscles change in their shape, and you’re starting to look. Fit and look like you lift. And so that experience is fantastic and very motivating. So again, if you’re new to all of this, you can cut. You can be in a calorie deficit and gain muscle and strength, and you are probably going to enjoy that the most.
If right now your body fat levels are relatively high. However, if you are an intermediate or advanced weightlifter, then you know that you can no longer recomp effectively. You have to either choose to maximize muscle gain by being in a calorie surplus, and that comes with fat gain, or you’re gonna maximize, well, I wouldn’t even say maximize.
You’re just going to lose fat, which requires being in a calorie deficit, which basically halts muscle gain, which halts strength gain. So in your lifting it becomes maintenance. You. Basically accepting stagnation while you cut, and then when you get back to your lean bulking, your lean gaining, you can start gaining muscle and strength again.
Now, one other special case I just want to address real quick before I move on is the skinny fat person, the person who has. Relatively low body fat levels. So let’s say a guy, usually not at 10%. That’s a bit lean, closer to maybe 13, 14, 15% and very little muscle or a woman, uh, between maybe 20 and 25% closer to 25, which is not fat by anyone’s standards in either of those cases.
But when you combine those levels of body fat with very little muscle or too little muscle, it’s not the look most people are after. And so if you are currently skinny fat, if you’re a guy, you probably are going to enjoy starting with lean bulking more than cutting, because while you may like to lose a bit of the fat and maybe you’re gonna lose a bit of the belly fat in particular, and you’re gonna see your abs, you probably are also going to feel very small and frail, and that’s not fun for most guys.
That said, if you don’t care about that and if you really just want to see your abs and get rid of the spare tire, And start from a clean slate, so to speak. Then you could start with a cut. It won’t take you that long again, if your body fat levels aren’t that high, you probably only have six or eight weeks of cutting, and then you can start your first lean bulking phase, and you can be in a calorie surplus for many months and enjoy gaining a bunch of muscle and gaining a bunch of strength.
And of course, you’ll gain some muscle and strength during the cut if you’re new to resistance training or at least a proper resistance training. But you’ll notice a big difference when you are lean bulking. Now, if you are a skinny fat woman, the opposite is generally true. In my experience. Most women prefer to start with cutting.
They prefer to get their body fat. Levels down to a more ideal place and then lean bulk, because many women are just very resistant to gaining fat when they already feel kind of fat. And so that’s my general recommendation for women is start with cutting and you’re gonna gain muscle, you’re gonna gain strength, but start with getting your body fat levels down to around 20%, and then lean bulk.
That said, if you are a woman who doesn’t care, so much about putting on extra fat. If you are more interested in adding muscle to the right places on your body and getting strong, and you’ll worry about bringing your body fat levels down later, then you could start with lean bulking. That’s totally fine.
Okay, that was a lot of talking for question number one. I hope you found it helpful though.
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.
Let’s move on to the next question, which is, what’s the best way to eat and train during Ramadan? So what is Ramadan for people who are not Muslim and who do not know? This is a month where Muslims forego all food and water from sunrise to sunset. And while that sounds like a recipe for losing all of your gains, it’s actually not.
You can make that work. For example, research shows. That consuming all of your calories in an eight hour feeding window every day will not result in any meaningful differences in your body composition and in your strength and in your workout performance, you will do just fine. That’s of course an intermittent fasting diet, right?
A lean gains style, intermittent fasting diet, and it’s not Ramadan. It is relevant research and there is also research on Ramadan that has found that it only has a minor effect on athletic performance. So long as you maintain your normal training, you don’t make any major changes to your routine based on.
The change in your diet, and so long as you eat enough protein and you eat enough carbs to fuel your training and to fuel your body’s repair, so long as you maintain hydration, make sure that you are getting in enough liquids, enough water in particular. Of course, at least that’s the best liquid to drink a bunch of.
And so long as you get enough sleep every day, which for most. Is about eight hours. So if you follow that simple formula, you can do well during Ramadan. You may not have your best workouts, you may not make progress during that month. You may not be able to add any weight to the bar, for example, you may not gain any significant number of reps on any major exercises, but you’re not gonna lose any muscle.
You’re not gonna lose any strength, and you’re not gonna feel terrible in your workout. That said, I do have a few tips for modifications if you’re really into this stuff. If you are lifting weights, let’s say five days a week, and you’re also doing cardio several days per week, and you are pushing hard in your training, I would recommend that you consider.
Dialing your training back to a couple of strength training workouts per week. Research shows, for example, that you can lift just two or three times per week and maintain all of your muscle, and most, if not all, of your strength, depending on what exercises you’re doing. I also would recommend using a weightlifting plan that focuses on the big exercises.
Keep doing your heavy squats and your heavy deadlifts and bench presses and overhead presses and other big compound movements, and keep pushing for progressive overload. Try to make progress, but don’t be afraid to cut out some of the body building stuff that you’re doing. Some of the isolation and accessory work that you have.
Program to add volume to some of the smaller or more stubborn muscle groups or larger muscle groups. Like for example, if you are wanting to really target your back big, big muscle group or your, your lower body and you’re doing a lot of volume, you’re doing a lot of. Compound and accessory work. Again, if you follow a more minimalistic kind of training plan, basic strength training plan, you are probably going to feel better and do better than if you were to follow your normal high volume.
High intensity again, like five day per week plan. Now, as far as cardio goes, you can continue doing cardio if you want, but I would cut any high intensity stuff that you’re doing out and I would. Even lower intensity stuff. I personally would probably stick to walking, which you can do pretty much as much as you want of, and if you don’t walk, but you do the walking equivalent on, let’s say an elliptical or maybe an upright bike, again, very low intensity, I would be able to record this podcast during the type of cardio I’m talking about.
Right? Stick with that during Ramadan and it will just help ensure that you. Energy and you have enough focus to have high quality strength training workouts. That is far more important than burning some extra calories with your cardio. Another tip is to eat maintenance calories during Ramadan. Don’t cut because you are more likely to lose muscle in this period and don’t lean bulk because you are more likely to gain a disproportionate amount of fat.
So just try to keep your calories. Imbalance with your calories out. And if you’re not sure how to do that, if you’re not sure how to calculate how many calories you’re burning, for example, head over to legion athletics.com and on the menu there is an item learn. And if you are on a desktop and you hover it, or if you’re on mobile and you tap it, it’ll drop down and you’ll see tools.
Click on that and you’ll find a tool that will help you determine how much energy you are burning every day. Your total daily. Expenditure and you’ll find a bunch of other useful tools too, like tools to help you calculate how much muscle you can gain naturally and what your basal metabolic rate is and how quickly you should be losing weight and how long it will take you to get a six pack and many others.
And so anyway, maintenance calories and make sure you’re getting in your protein, even if you have to jam it in in a couple of meals. Just make sure that you are eating enough protein, which is gonna be probably around 0.8 to one gram per pound of body weight per day, or if. Overweight, and that’s a lot of protein.
About 40% of your daily calories should be coming from protein, so just make sure to get that in. And then another tip is to train after your morning or your evening meal. Research shows that if you do that, you are going to have better workouts than if you train during the day. When you’re fasting and as far as exactly when you should train, is there a window, so to speak after you eat?
One study showed that there was no difference when participants trained within an hour of eating or up to three hours after. So you can be flexible, but again, try not to train when you are in the middle of your fast. And my last tip is sleep hygiene, which is really a tip I should share all of the time because no matter what you want to do better, Or what you want to improve about yourself or your body.
Getting enough sleep makes it easier. So eight hours per night is what most people need in bed, eight hours. But some people need more sleep. Some people need to be in bed for nine hours so they can sleep, let’s say eight hours. And some people can get by on seven hours of sleep and maybe seven and a half to eight hours in bed.
And there are rare individuals who can do just fine on less sleep on 6, 5, 4, even three hours. Per night, which is total bullshit. I am completely jealous, but which again is very rare. So if you are sleeping, let’s say six, maybe six and a half hours during the week, and then you try to catch up on the weekend and you have gotten used to that and you have told yourself that you do just fine on six to six and a half hours, try sleeping a bit more for a week and I think you will quickly realize.
You maybe could do, okay, maybe you could get by on six to six and a half hours, but you do a lot better with a bit more. Now, coming back to Ramadan in sleep, there is getting enough sleep every night, and you may also want to consider taking a nap sometime in the middle of the day. No more than 30 to 45 minutes.
You want to just lightly doze off for a bit and then wake up. If you sleep for too long in the middle of the day, it can mess up your sleep at night. But the 30, 40, no. 60 minute power nap can rejuvenate you and can also give you a little bump in your post-workout recovery. Okey-dokey. Moving on to the third and final question, which is, have I ever gotten tendonitis or tendonosis from working out?
And if so, how did I recover? And yeah, I did have biceps tendonitis a couple of years ago on my right side and. It got in the way of my bench pressing. I had to stop bench pressing for a while, and I had to stop dumbbell pressing too. Now that I remember, I could do flies. That was fine. I could do dips.
That was fine. And I don’t think any pressing for at least a couple of months, I don’t remember using pressing machines. Uh, pushups I believe are okay as well. So my chest training was very broy for a couple of months while I treated the. Tendonitis and fortunately within a couple of months it had basically fully subsided and I was able to get back to my normal training and fortunately, I have not had it seriously flare up again.
It was a A one and done. I have felt some discomfort in the Bici groove in there now and then, but nothing. Like when it was full-blown tendonitis. And so to share some helpful information. Now regarding the question, let’s first define the terms. So what is tendonitis? Well, that is when a tendon swells after it has been injured in some way.
It’s normally caused by performing repetitive movements, and especially when there’s extra weight involved. It is one of those RSIs, those repetitive stress injuries that is fairly common among athletes. Weightlifters and particularly among weightlifters because we load weight and we do the same types of movements over and over and over and over.
And the main symptoms of tendonitis are pain in the tendon. That gets worse when you move, difficulty moving the joint, feeling a grading or a kind of crackling sensation when you move, uh, the tendon and swelling and you can try to. Through the pain of tendonitis, it can be tempting. I did it. I made this mistake.
I can speak to this firsthand, but it is almost certainly going to aggravate the problem and that is the case with basically any repetitive stress injury. Unfortunately, the key to recovering is to stop doing whatever is aggravating the injury, which is probably something you like to do, like workout or run or play a sport or what.
So, as I say in my books, when you feel pain or strange in the gym, back off, stop doing the exercise. Rest a couple of minutes, try it again if it’s still painful, particularly in the joints, particularly where tendons attached to bones. Pain or strange than do something else. Don’t try to, no pain, no gain through it.
And if you’re dealing with a mild, repetitive stress injury, a mild case of tendonitis, for example, maybe it’s just beginning. Don’t do anything that aggravates it. So in my case, I had to stop bench pressing because I couldn’t find any way to bench press without piss. Off my biceps tendon. I tried bench pressing with my shoulders at my sides, you know, kind of like a closed grip bench press.
Nope. Didn’t work. Incline didn’t work again, if I remember correctly, dumbbells didn’t work either. I was able to get back to dumbbells before a barbell, but I had to give up pressing altogether for at least a couple of months. I believe it was probably six to eight weeks. And I was working with a physical therapist who was doing something called active release techniques, which is just a soft tissue mobilization technique.
It’s basically kind of like stretching and massage. And what we found in my case in particular, is on my right side where I was having problems, my subscapularis was not. Happy. There was a pretty nasty trigger point in there, and tissues were not moving the way that they should have been moving. And the same for my longissimus muscles, particularly on the right side of my spine, as well as the infraspinatus muscle on the right side, and particularly the.
Part of it that is right up against the shoulder blade and working those trigger points helped a lot. I mean, the rest of course is crucial, but I did notice that as the trigger points slowly went away as the work that he was doing slowly hurt less. So did my biceps tendon, the tendonitis also. Went away faster as we worked through those trigger points.
And since then, in the couple of years that have gone by, I have gone back to those trigger points now, and then when I would feel little twines in my biceps tendon when I was bench pressing, I didn’t need to work with a PT for that though. I just grabbed one of the guys who. Works with me when we were all in an office together, and he would take a massage gun and hit my longissimus muscles, hit my infraspinatus, and hit my subscap with, uh, the pointy cone like tip, and it didn’t feel very good.
But it kept the biceps tendonitis at bay. It kept it from ever really becoming an issue again. And if you wanna learn more about recovering from injuries and dealing with pain and trigger points in particular, which are pretty interesting and are pretty easy to find and work on yourself, check out the interview I did with Paul Ingram from pain science.com.
It probably went up about a year ago, so you’re gonna have to search the podcast feed. Just go looking back for Ingram, I n G R a h a M. So anyway, coming back to tendonitis, treating tendonitis, icing can help too. I noticed a market improvement when I started icing the bici groove area of my right shoulder every day.
And I’ve come back to that now and again when I would feel a little bit of something going on after a heavy bench press session, for example. And the icing has helped prevent it from turning into anything serious. Compression clothing can help as well because it can help bring down inflammation. So depending on where the affected tendon is, if you can get some compression clothing on top of it, that can help and.
If you try treating it yourself and it has been a couple of weeks and you have stopped doing whatever is causing the problem, and you’ve been icing and you’ve looked for trigger points that might contribute to the pain, and you’re not really seeing any improvement, then I would recommend finding a physical therapist and find a physical therapist who has.
With a lot of athletes who ideally specializes in athletes. For example, the guy that I worked with, he worked with a lot of baseball players, so he was familiar with all the wacky things that can happen with shoulders. He also had worked with a lot of CrossFit people, high level CrossFit athletes who have, you know, jacked up their body in, in so many different ways.
Now better than treating tendonitis is not getting it in the first place. And a few tips for that is making sure that you’re doing proper warmups for your workouts. Don’t skip warmups or condense them to maybe just one set and then jump straight into your heavy lifting. Head over to legion athletics.com and search for warmup and check out the article that I wrote on how to warm up properly.
I also recommend performing regular mobility exercises or stretches. If you need to, and all of us probably need to do at least a little bit. I’ve spoken a number of times about the imbalance in my hips that was causing problems with my SI joint and how once I discovered that and corrected it, I haven’t had any major issues.
I’ve had some soreness in my SI joint, but. Nothing like how it was previously. And if you wanna learn about that, head over to legion athletics.com and search for yoga and you’ll find an article I put together where I share, it’s about 10 minutes or so of stretching I do every day. And it’s just a handful of yoga poses and I, I share both lower body and upper body.
Yoga poses that can help us weightlifters that address some of the common problems that US weightlifters run into. Another tip is making sure that your workout programming is balanced in terms of pushing and pulling, that you are doing relatively the same amount of volume for your pushing and pulling.
What you don’t want to be doing is a shitload of pushing and very little pulling that’s not good for shoulders. It’s not good for posture. It. Cause problems, especially when the weights get heavy and you get a lot of reps under your belt when you’ve done a lot of volume over the years. I also recommend being smart with your volume.
No more than 20 hard sets per major MUS group per week, and that’s really a ceiling you probably don’t need to do. More than 15 or so per major muscle group per week, and you probably won’t be able to do that much for every major muscle group. You’ll be able to do up to maybe 15 or 16 for your big, major muscle groups, and then you’re gonna be doing probably less for some of the smaller.
Muscle groups, like your arms, your biceps, and your triceps, for example, which are going to benefit, of course indirectly from your heavy pushing and your heavy pulling. But it would be probably a mistake for most people to do, let’s say 15 hard sets of pushing and pulling per week. So Peck training, you know, and back training and try to do 15 direct hard sets.
Biceps and triceps on top of the pushing and pulling. You also want to make sure that you are getting enough rest and recovery, so that means getting enough sleep. That means taking at least one or two days off the weights per week and not doing any majorly vigorous physical activities on those. Days.
It also means de-loading appropriately if you are not de-loading. If you don’t know what that is or if you de-load very rarely. Head over to legion athletics.com, search for De-Load, and you’ll find an article and a podcast that I wrote and recorded on it, and make sure that you are including deloads in your routine and also avoid training to muscle failure.
Too often you don’t need to. To the point of muscle failure or even technical failure where your form starts to fall apart, those things can be the same, but muscle failure can follow technical failure by maybe a rep or two, so your form starts to fall apart, but you can kind of muscle fuck your way through at least one or two more reps, at which point the bar is no longer moving, right?
That’s muscle failure, and so you want to avoid that. You don’t need to reach that point at all in your training to make progress. No matter how experienced of a weightlifter you are, you don’t need to go past the point of one to two good reps left in the tank. But if you want to do it here and there, save it for your accessory exercises, do it on your biceps curls, do it on your hamstring curls.
Do it on your dumbbell side Raises. Don’t do it on your squats, on your deadlifts, on your overhead presses, or even on your bench presses. You just don’t need to. Alright, well that’s it for tendonitis. Now, tendonosis is different. It’s more serious than tendonitis. Tendonitis is acute rights, so short-term problem.
There’s inflammation in the tendons. It can go away in a couple of days, maybe a couple of weeks, or in my case it was a couple of months, but it probably could. Went away faster. If I would’ve known in the beginning what I knew at the end, if I would’ve known how to exactly address what was going on, which is what I figured out over the course of the couple of months, and then it rapidly improved.
Now, in the case of Tendonosis, the problem is chronic and it’s not. Related to inflammation, there is actual degradation occurring in the tissue, in the tendons, and if you don’t treat tendonitis and you keep aggravating it, that can become tendonosis. And as the problems are similar, they’re also treated similarly.
But in the case of tendonosis, it’s more rigorous. So of course it involves resting the affected tendon, but it may also involve. Taking a break every 15, 20, 30 minutes from work. If it involves a repetitive task that involves the tendon that is damaged, you might be applying ice several times per day. You might be wearing a brace or tape to support the affected tendon.
You might be doing light stretching exercises several times a day, and the list goes on. My best. For treating Tendonosis is to see a good physical therapist, work with an expert and let him or her help you get back to a healthy tendon. Alrighty, well that is it for today’s episode. It ran on a bit long, but I hope you liked it.
And if you’re still listening, you probably did. So thanks again for joining me today and make sure to join me next week to hear about fixing the five most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies. My buddy and fellow podcaster Chase Tunings life lessons learned during lockdown during the Cove, and another installment of book Club.
I haven’t done that in a bit. It occurred to me I should do another one. So I’m gonna be reviewing a branding book that I really liked called The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, and then there’s gonna be another q and a where I talk about plant-based. Alternatives, gaining strength, but not size and fitness for shift workers.
All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or. Wherever you’re listening to me from, in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility.
And thus, it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and happier as well. And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live. Simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for life.com.
Just muscle f o r life.com and share your thoughts on how I can do this better. I read everything myself, and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. Even if it is criticism, I’m open. And of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.
That is the best way to get ahold of me, Mike, at muscle life.com. And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.