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Do you deal with rest-day guilt? What’s with the marketing of essential amino acids?

How can you start waking up earlier? Can HIIT replace the “10,000 steps rule”? How do you calculate your cutting macros if you’re nursing?

These are just some of the questions I’m answering in this Q&A episode.

As always, these questions come directly from my Instagram followers, who take advantage of my weekly Q&As in my stories. If you have a burning question, follow me on Instagram (@muscleforlifefitness) and keep an eye out for these Q&A opportunities. Your question might just make it into a podcast episode!

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.


0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!

1:34 – What is the most you ever benched?

2:50 – Why do people market essential amino acids?

3:13 – Did your philosophy change from 4-6 reps to 8-10 reps?

5:20 – What are the first five steps newbies should take for weight loss and health?

6:55 – What are some ways to become more articulate?

9:07 – Will you ever make an electrolyte powder?

10:55 – I feel guilty for skipping workouts when sick or on off days. How do I deal with


11:57 – Find the Perfect Strength Training Program for You:

12:43 – My knees are cracking when I squat what should I do?

13:51 – Are below the knee rack pulls a good replacement for deadlifts if you have lower

back pain?

14:26 – How do you keep your partner motivated?

14:56 – Best country in the world outside the US?

15:18 – How many workouts per week during a cut?

16:20 – Any recommendations on walking pads or foldable treadmill?

17:27 – Can consuming connective tissue in meat increase collagen levels?

17:48 – How is your high volume calf training going?

19:47 – Got any suggestions on how to wake up earlier?

20:41 – You’re not going to like this, but performance tees please?

22:18 – Can HIIT replace the 10k steps rule?

22:55 – What made you want to write the fourth edition of BLS and what part of the 3rd

edition did you not like?

24:42 – How did your testosterone levels test come out?

26:05 – What is the secret?

26:16 – How do you increase your midi-chlorians?

26:38 – How would you calculate deficit macros while nursing?

Mentioned on the Show:

Find the Perfect Strength Training Program for You in Just 60 Seconds

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


Hello there and welcome to Muscle for Life. I am Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for another q and a episode where I answer questions that people ask me over on Instagram. If you want me to answer your questions, follow me over on Instagram at Muscle for Life Fitness, and every Wednesday or Thursday well, I guess not much in the last month or so because I’ve been traveling and doing other things, but normally every Wednesday or Thursday, I put up a story asking for questions, you know, the little questions sticker.

I get a bunch of questions from people. I go through them and I answer ones that are interesting to me or that I haven’t already answered a million times before. Four or that are topical. And then I bring everything over here to the podcast where I can answer the questions in more detail. And so in today’s episode, I’m going to be answering questions about rep ranges.

Has my philosophy changed from emphasizing four to six to something else, like eight to 10, the first five steps that newbies should take to start losing weight and improving their health? How to become more articulate if I plan on making an electrolyte slash hydration supplement. How to deal with feelings of guilt when you skip a workout or you miss workouts because of illness or travel, or even planned time off.

If cracking in your knees when you are exercising or even just walking up and do stairs or doing anything, is something to be concerned about. How to help motivate your partner to keep going in their fitness and deal with negativity and more. A DRA official asks, what is the most you have ever benched 2 95 for three?

That was many years ago. I was a bit heavier, so right now I weigh about 198 pounds. At that time, I think I was about two 12. That was toward the end of a bulk, so a bit more body fat, a lot more daily calories. I was eating about 4,000 calories per day at that point, and so I had a lot of energy. A lot of carbs to fuel my workouts and I was doing a fair amount of pure strength training.

So I was doing a fair amount of ones, twos and threes more so than I am doing now. But that was my best. Oh, one other thing just to note is that also was benching. Two times per week, which is not optimal if you are trying to maximize your strength on the bench press or the squat or any exercise. If you are an experienced weightlifter and you’re trying to get as strong as you possibly can on an exercise, you probably should be doing it three to five times per week.

Two times per week would be a bare minimum. One time per week is certainly not enough for maximizing your performance on that exercise. That can be enough for gaining muscle, gaining strength. Enjoying your workouts, but not getting as strong as you possibly can on that exercise. Okay. Next up is a question from B D D D D D, a bunch of DS 74, and they ask, why do people still market essential amino acids?

Well, my friend, why do most PE do most things? Oh, that’s right. It’s money. Life really isn’t more complicated than that. Most people are mostly motivated. Buy money. Big Jimmy 6 26 asks, did your philosophy change from four to six reps to eight to 10 reps going to restart the workout? Quick context here.

The reason why Jimmy is asking this is I post workouts to my Instagram stories that I do every week, and sometimes I’m doing four to six reps. Sometimes I’m doing six to eight, sometimes I’m doing eight to 10. And so sometimes people are confused because they will read my book bigger than or stronger.

And most of that program is four to six. You have some six to eight as well, but most of it is four to six, and they want to know why I am not doing that. And so, The really short answer is I am following a program that’s kind of a mashup between bigger, leaner, stronger, and then beyond. Bigger, leaner, stronger, which is in the book Beyond Bigger, leaner, stronger, which is the sequel to Bigger, leaner, stronger, which is the book and program for experienced and advanced weightlifters, and it does involve training in different rep ranges.

You are doing some. Twos, some threes, some fours, some sixes, some eights, some tens. That said four to six is still my favorite rep range. For many exercises, most compound exercises, for example, it doesn’t work great with certain exercises. Think of a side raise or a rear raise. The weight can get awkward.

It’s hard to maintain proper form, but with most exercises, especially compound exercises, four to six, or you could say five to seven, max, six to eight, that range is still my absolute. Favorite, but doing a variety of rep ranges is likely best for intermediate and advanced weightlifters who are trying to continue gaining even small amounts of muscle and strength.

And I explain why in my book, beyond Bigger, lean, or Stronger. So if you wanna learn more about that, check out the book. You can learn a lot from it, even if you are a woman. It’s obviously written for men, but the fundamental principles apply equally to women. And many women have asked if I’m going to do a Beyond thinner, lean, stronger, I do plan on doing that.

It is on my list of things to do. I just haven’t started it yet for various reasons, but I. Would like to do that. Yes, I would like to to get to that sometime sooner rather than later. Okay. Next up we have a question from Bradley five 18. What is the first five steps newbies should take to weight loss slash health?

Okay, some simple. Starting points. One 20 to 40 grams of protein with every meal. Two. No snacking, just meals. Three. Drink water whenever you’re thirsty. Four. Don’t drink calories and if you need something sweet, go with diet soda. That is going to be better. Then sugar sweetened soda or fruit juice, or Gatorade or any other caloric beverage.

No caloric. Beverages. Tea is also great. Green tea. I really like green tea, and you can drink more or less an unlimited amount of it, unlike coffee, but coffee is fine as well, of course. And then number five is try to walk at least 10,000 steps per day, or one and a half to two hours per day because that is going to burn a fair number of calories.

Most of those calories are going to come from body fat. It is going to improve your fitness level unless you are already very cardiovascularly fit. But then if you are, you can actually make those walks more challenging by walking faster. You can make them into rucking sessions where you get a, I mean, you can get rucking gear or you can just kind of make your own, take a backpack, put some heavy books in it, you know, load it up with 20 pounds, 25 pounds, and go out and walk.

Quickly to make the walk more challenging. So those are the five steps that I would recommend for newbies to start losing weight and start improving their health. Okay. C a a 1997 asks, how do you become more articulate? Well, first I think you need to read a lot. That is a non-negotiable. You have to be constantly reading.

And number two, you have to be using a dictionary to learn the proper meaning of all the words. You can’t correctly. Define. I know in school, most of us were not taught to use a dictionary. We were taught to basically guess the meaning of words given the context, and that is a very sloppy way of building vocabulary, because more often than not, we’re gonna be wrong.

By wrong, I mean a spectrum of wrong. So we could have no idea whatsoever given the context, or we could have an idea that is completely wrong, or we could have an idea that is wrong to a certain degree. So maybe we get half of the accurate, the correct definition, but we don’t know that there’s this other half or we could be.

Almost right. I think it’s very important to have precise definitions of terms to use, precise definitions of terms in our own communication. Otherwise, how are we supposed to precisely communicate with others and give them at least the best? Chances of precisely understanding what it is we are trying to communicate.

And so then coming back to being articulate or becoming more articulate, first and foremost, that requires a strong understanding of many different words and how to use them correctly. And the only way I know to do that is to use the dictionary regularly. And then my third tip for becoming more articulate is writing.

Writing regularly, writing a lot, even if it’s just writing for yourself. Working through your own thoughts on things. Because if you can get good at writing, really what you are getting good at is thinking and being able to communicate well. Being able to communicate or articulately requires good.

Thinking, clear thinking. Logical thinking and writing is a great exercise for improving your ability to think clearly and think logically. Charity Lay Smith asks, will you ever make an electrolyte powder? Probably not, because unfortunately, these electrolyte powders, these hydration mixes appear to be the new BCAAs.

They’re trendy, they’re very high margin, but they also appear to be completely. Useless for everyday gym goers and possibly mostly useless even for endurance athletes. And if you are surprised to hear that because you’ve seen companies selling these products, explaining how important they are and how effective they are, and referring to scientific research, you can learn more about my position and the team of people I work with.

To formulate products who know a lot more about this stuff than I do, professors, PhDs, our collective position [email protected], search for electrolytes, and you’ll find an article titled something like Our Electrolytes, supplements a Scam. Give that article a read, and if you disagree and you know of.

Research to support the use of these products that refutes what is explained in the research cited in that article. Please do reach out to me, [email protected], muscle f o r because I would love to see your argument. I would love to make one of these products strictly from a business standpoint because again, they’re extremely popular.

Many customers ask me, If I’m going to make one or say that I should make one so I can make a lot of money with an electrolyte hydration supplement, but currently I don’t think the weight of the scientific evidence supports such a product, and so I’m not making it similar to BCAs or eaas. I wish the scientific.

Evidence were otherwise I really do because it would be great for my business. Okay. Moving on to a question from Dakota s SLT 22. I feel guilty when I skip a workout due to illness or on a scheduled off day. How do I deal with this? Well, I think you can just acknowledge the feeling as normal. It’s not something to feel guilty about it, it’s probably even a positive reaction to having to deviate from a routine that you like and you know is making your health and making your life better.

And then you just can remind yourself that it takes at least three to four weeks of no training whatsoever. To start to lose lean muscle tissue as opposed to just fluid in your muscles. And if you did that, if you did no training whatsoever, you didn’t stress your muscles at all for several weeks or even several months, and you lose some muscle, you will then regain whatever you lost very, very quickly once you restart your training thanks to muscle memory.

So that’s, that’s a worst case scenario. That certainly does not apply to taking a couple of. Days off. Have you ever wondered what strength training split you should follow, what rep ranges you should work in, how many sets you should do per workout or per week? Well, I created a free 62nd training quiz that will answer those questions for you and others, including how frequently you should train each major muscle group, which exercises you should do, what supplements you should consider.

Uh, which ones are at least worth taking and more To take this quiz and to get your free personalized training plan, go to Muscle for Life, show Muscle foor quiz, answer the questions and learn exactly what to do in the gym to gain more muscle and strength. All right, Daniel MTI one asks, Mike, my knees are cracking again when I squat.

Is Omega threes enough or should I do something? Well, first you should know that this phenomenon, crepitus, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong. The the cracking plus pain means that there could be something wrong, something that you need to look into, but if you just have slight cracking no pain, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s any.

Disease or dysfunction. I’ve had this in my knees for as long as I could remember, for example, and have no knee problems, and I’m not worried about it because it’s always been painless, except with the leg extension. Some leg extension machines, they cause more noticeable crepitus and a little bit of discomfort, so I generally don’t use them.

However, in my home gym there is well, Actually not home gym, I mean hometown gym. The gym I go to when I’m at home in Florida, there is a leg extension that for whatever reason, I can set myself up in a way that does not bother my knees, and so I can do that one, but some of them force my body and my legs into a po into a position that just isn’t very knee friendly.

Okay, S n Y 13 asks are below the knee rack, pulls a good replacement for deadlifts if you have lower back pain. Yes, that is, and that’s also good if you struggle to lock out on the deadlift and you want to train that portion of the lift. So if you are serious about your deadlift, you’re really trying to get stronger and you’re limited by your lockout strength.

Like you can get the bar off the ground and you get it up to your knees, and then that’s when it gets really hard and you can’t quite lock it out. Then those slightly below the knee rack pulls are a great way. To train that portion of the lift. Ed Salas asks, how do you keep your partner motivated when it comes to fitness or deal with negativity?

I think the best way to do this is to give compliments, to give encouragement, to help reduce stress, because the more stressed people are, the less inclined they are to eat well and exercise. Try to be positive as, as hard as that can be sometimes as much as you might want to. Nag and criticize. I’ve never found that to work.

James Jordan real asks, best country in the world outside of us. Well, that I’ve been to, I would say Italy, that’s that’s my favorite country that I have visited outside of the US and in some ways I like it better than the US. In some ways. I like the US better, but Italy is a great time. Anyone who does not like Italy, who has been Italy and does not like it, Simply hates fun.

That’s it. Kevin Turner, 1968 asks how many workouts a week during a cut? Well, a minimalistic approach, enough training to just maintain muscle, maintain strength, minimize stress. I would say two to 360 minute training sessions per week. That’s enough to accomplish those goals. Plus maybe eight to 10,000 steps per day.

That’s gonna help a lot. That couple of hours of walking per day can really speed up fat loss when viewed over a longer period of time. A more aggressive approach. So if you really like training, you wanna lose fat as quickly as possible and you don’t mind spending more time in the gym. I would say four to five 60 minute strength training sessions per week.

And. Two, three hours of moderate intensity cardio per week even plus the daily walking if you can or want to do that. Uh, I would not recommend doing more than that though, because you’re probably going to run into issues related to recovery. You’re probably not gonna be able to recover from much more than that, and even that requires.

Above average capacity for recovery, life is good. Faby asks, recommendations on walking pads slash foldable treadmill. I think it’s a great hack to use a word I don’t really like for increasing steps while you’re working. You can also do it with a standing desk or ideally an adjustable desk that allows you to sit or stand.

You don’t have to try to stand all day. If you were to split your day into roughly 50% sitting, 50% standing, or at least 20 to 30% standing, that is probably optimal also, for what it’s worth, I had one of these adjustable desks in the past and I did like using it. However, I did find that for my quote unquote deep work for the work that required more focus and concentration, like writing or.

Working on marketing projects where I really have to think about things. I preferred sitting, for some reason standing it, it was a little bit distracting. I had a harder time entering that flow state or that deep work state. So I would do that type of work sitting and then I would do more. Routine, less cognitively demanding things, standing, like doing email, for example.

Okay, Mark Shannon, 3 57 asks, can consuming connective tissue and meat actually help with collagen levels? And yes, research shows that it can, but you don’t have to eat it with meat if you don’t want to. You can also just supplement with it. Like, for example, two to four tablespoons of gelatin per day is a cheap and easy way to accomplish the same thing.

Max Power Lifts asks how your high volume calf training is going. Got some results. So a little bit of context. What I have been doing, although the last month or so I have not been doing because I’ve been traveling and doing other things. However, for several months I was training my calves four to five days.

Per week, and I was doing four sets per session, so 16 to 20 sets per week. Reps were ranging between four and 10 to 12, and it absolutely worked. I didn’t take measurements, I probably should have, but I can show you before and after videos and you can clearly. See, I’ve gained a noticeable amount of muscle in my calves, and that is just a good example of what it takes with a quote unquote stubborn muscle group.

My calves have always been very stubborn, have not responded well to training, and one of the reasons. For this, and of course this doesn’t only affect me, many guys have experienced this is research shows that the calf muscles are generally abundant in type one muscle fibers, which are better at longer endurance type exercise, not explosive strength exercise.

That’s type two. And those type two fibers also grow a lot. Faster than type one fibers. And so when you have a muscle group like calves, a lot of type one fibers, it can take an extraordinary amount of work to force them to grow. And that can apply though to other muscle groups. We all have these stubborn muscle groups, and if you want to use brute force, which is what it takes sometimes to grow a stubborn muscle group, you want to be training it three to five times per week.

You wanna be doing 3, 2, 6 sets per session. So that’s around 20 sets per week, and those are working sets, hard sets, not warmup sets. You also do want to work in a variety of rep ranges, again, from let’s say four to 12, and you want to be pushing hard in those sets. All of those sets should be probably one to two reps shy of muscular failure hard sets.

Okay, I’m going to probably butcher this man’s name, but ov, sorry brother, but that’s the best I’ve got. He asks, have you got any suggestions on how to start waking up earlier? The easiest way to do this is to do it in small increments, 15 minute increments in particular. So day one, you want to get into bed and out of bed 15 minutes earlier.

Unusual and you continue that until no issues, until it’s easy, until that’s your normal routine, and then you just repeat that process until your schedule has shifted as much as you want it to shift. The mistake that many people make is they try to change it too drastically, too quickly. They try to go to bed an hour earlier.

And wake up an hour earlier. But then the problem is they can’t fall asleep in a timely manner when they go to bed an hour earlier. So then they just end up under rested. And so again, just do it in small increments. Nathaniel 1608 asks, you’re not gonna like this, but performance tees please. I miss the softness.

So context, this person is referring to some, I believe the. The fabric was called modal, if I remember correctly. These are legion, uh, my sports nutrition company t-shirts that we offered a couple of years ago. Very high end. These were expensive shirts. We didn’t make much money in ’em. I think, if I remember correctly, they cost me like 30 to $40 a shirt cuz it’s just very high end material.

I thought it was kind of cool and they were super soft, sweat wicking naturally. I know that they were also infused with silver so they didn’t get too stinky from sweat bacteria and so forth. Anyway, I don’t plan on bringing those shirts back. However, I do plan on completely overhauling legion’s, apparel and merchandise, and that is well underway.

Actually, we are waiting for samples, final samples from the production company for what we have chosen. So that means we’ve chosen the exact. It’s cuts and the exact pieces that we want. And then we’ve designed them and now we’re getting the final final. Like, this is what you’re gonna get if you order a bunch of merchandise.

And so, uh, I think that those samples should be in probably this month, and which means later this year, uh, I should be able to announce all new merchandise and some great stuff for women in particular, which, We never did well with, so I apologize to all of my female customers and followers. I have better stuff coming for you soon-ish.

Nick Matthews fit. Nice name asks, can hit high intensity interval training, replace the 10 K steps rule. Yes, it can, but it’s hard to equate it. Exactly. I, I guess though, if you wanted to make a rough kind of estimate, you could say one hour or so of high intensity interval training per week split into at least three sessions is probably a fair replacement for 10 K steps per day.

But if you wanna maximize. Your health and cardiovascular fitness, you would do both. You would do a fair amount of low or moderate intensity plus a little bit of high intensity. Okay. Patrick Labon asks, what prompted you to write BBLs fourth edition, and what were the things you didn’t like about the third edition?

And so if you didn’t know, I have updated Bigger, lean Stronger. There’s a new fourth edition that is actually live everywhere online now. I haven’t announced it yet because I’m wrapping up the fourth edition of Thinner. Lean Stronger, or, I mean, the work is done. Actually, I’m wrapping up the production logistics of.

Getting the new fourth edition live, the ebook, the audiobook, the hard copy. Once that is done, I’m gonna announce them together. And the reason why I rewrote those books, really I thought it was gonna be a matter of tweaking things, more of a, of an editorial job, a scalpel job. It turned out to be a chainsaw job where I wanted to rearrange entire portions of the.

Book. I wanted to explain things differently. I wanted to tweak the programming a little bit. And all of that came about because I wrote a book called Muscle for Life, which has been out for, oh, I don’t know, a couple years now. And that book is targeted specifically to the 40 plus crowd and to people who are relatively new to strength training and flexible dieting and so forth.

So a different crowd marketed to a different crowd than BLS and tls. But while I was working on Muscle for Life, I realized that I. Could do a much better job with BLS and tls. I could reorganize them, make them more user friendly. I could, uh, explain things better. And I also was collecting up reader suggestions about how I could improve those books through reviews and just interactions with people.

And I had my own list of things that I wanted to change or improve. And so I felt like there was enough work to warrant new fourth editions, and so I did it. Okay, race four kicks asked, is it too personal to ask how your T test went and if you have any plans to do anything based on the results? So some time ago I did a saliva test with Everly.

Well, I think not endorsed by them, but that’s just the service that I used just cause I was curious where my testosterone was at. And if it came in low on a saliva test, then I would’ve followed up with a blood test. But it came back with what I expected. Did so high D H E A levels, because I supplement with it.

I take legion’s vitality every day. So I, of course would expect my D H A to be high. And that also elevates estradiol levels. Estrogen levels, which is reflected in the results. It’s still within the range of normal. It’s not something to be concerned about, but that is also what. Happens when you take D H E A, not a bad thing.

So I expected that. And then I got my free tea, not my total tea from the saliva test, and that was right in the middle of normal, which tells me that my total testosterone is probably also right in the middle of normal. And that was it. I didn’t follow up with blood work because that’s basically what I expected.

No reason to pursue it further and in the future, if my testosterone becomes clinically low, then I would look into what I could do in addition to what I’m already doing to improve that naturally. And if none of that worked, then I would look into T R t rb, stop asks, what is the secret? Here it is.

Everything you want from life is gonna come from the work that you’re avoiding. R p e Poto asks, how do I naturally increase my meor? Uh, this is obvious. You eat raw elk testicles, you tan your Gooch every day, and you have to make sure that you maintain 400 plus milligrams of L D L C levels. That is a bare minimum for maximizing your.

Mior Schmidt. Kelsey asks How to calculate deficit macros while nursing, well, generally breastfeeding burns between 500 and 700 calories per day. Fact, check me on that. It’s a lot. It’s a big number. So that is going to go into your total daily energy expenditure as an average on top of your B M R and your activity.

And while that may sound like a recipe for rapid fat loss, five to six. 700 calories per day on top of BMR and other physical activity. Your average woman doesn’t burn that many calories in a one hour strength training workout. The problem that I have experienced, not firsthand, but I’ve heard from many women, I’ve seen it with many women over the years, is they found that maintaining a calorie deficit while nursing, that cutting wall nursing is very, very hard due to hunger.

They found that they were very hungry. Very often, and in many cases these were experienced dieters. They were trying every trick to minimize hunger, to manage hunger, and it just didn’t work. They were just starving. Often if they tried to restrict their calories when they were breastfeeding and that doesn’t work.

Hunger is our nemesis when dieting, if we can’t get hunger under control. Successfully dieting is almost impossible. And so what many women I’ve heard from and I’ve worked with over the years have done is they saved the cut for after the breastfeeding. Now, one other thing that many women did while breastfeeding that helped them when they were done and ready to cut is they got back into a routine exercising regularly.

So then all they had to do was reduce their food intake once they were done breastfeeding. Well, 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 have 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, uh, 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 you soon.

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