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Wondering how to kickstart your training after a long break? Is gym shaming a good or bad thing? What would I be doing with my life if I hadn’t started Legion? 

In this episode, I address these questions and more, sourced from my Instagram followers who participate in my regular Q&A posts.

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 question you’re dying to have answered, make sure you follow me on Instagram (@muscleforlifefitness) and look out for the Q&A posts. 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!

1:27 – How should someone approach training after a month-long break and what pitfalls should they avoid?

3:44 – Who’s the preferred choice for 2024: DeSantis or Trump?

5:52 – Is it essential to progress through all the BLS phases, or can one remain in phase one indefinitely?

7:09 – What’s your take on the recent spate of chemical train derailments?

8:17 – How do you view the behavior of women shaming men at the gym?

9:19 – Is it typical for one’s non-dominant bicep to be weaker than the other?

10:26 – My free quiz to answer all your diet questions

11:12 – Can you suggest top hamstring exercises ideal for garage setups?

11:31 – What’s your perspective on the carnivore diet?

12:10 – Why continue intensive training even after hitting one’s genetic potential?

13:21 – Has AI technology replaced you, and are we still hearing the real Mike?

14:01 – If you hadn’t started Legion, what do you envision as your career path?

17:09 – Did you attend college and what was your major?

20:51 – Can increased muscle mass play a role in cancer prevention?

21:20 – What differentiates lying leg curls from seated leg curls?

22:16 – Is reducing calorie intake on non-training days a good strategy for fat prevention?

Mentioned on the Show:

Take this free quiz to get science-based answers to all of your diet questions

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


Hey, I’m Mike Matthews, and this is Musel for Life. Welcome, welcome. Thank you for joining me today for another q and a episode where I answer questions that people ask me over on Instagram. So what I do is every week, usually Wednesdays, I put up a story asking for questions, and people submit questions.

I get a lot of questions, so if you have asked me questions and I haven’t answered them, please don’t. Take it personally, it would take literally hours to answer all of the questions. And so what I do is I go through them and I look for questions that are topical or just interesting to me, questions that I haven’t answered a billion times already, and I answer them briefly there on Instagram.

Then I bring everything over here to the podcast so I can answer the questions in more detail. And so if you want to ask me questions, find me on Instagram at most for life fitness, follow me, and then. Watch my stories, particularly on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and so in today’s episode, I’m answering questions regarding how to return to training properly after taking a month or two, or even three plus months off.

Answer a question regarding DeSantis or Trump for 2020. Four. I have a question here regarding women shaming guys for looking at them in the gym. If it’s normal to be weaker on one side of your body, like your left biceps versus your right biceps, and what to do about that. I share some of my favorite hamstringing exercises that you can do in a garage gym.

I share my thoughts on the carnivore diet and how you can modify it to make it a great diet and more. Abso Lite, 1997 asks, returning to training properly after one month vacation. Anything that gets overlooked when starting back? Yes. The most common mistake that people do after an extended break, anything over, let’s say three to four weeks, is they just do too much.

Too quickly, then they get extremely sore, sometimes get injured. Your risk of injury does go dramatically up if you have taken a fair amount of time off and then you try to go right back into the gym and do exactly what you were doing before the break. Same training weights, same training volume, or maybe you have to reduce the weights a little bit, but same training volume, so same number of hard sets per workout, per major muscle group per week.

It can just be. Too much. So what I recommend is after one to two months off, come back into the gym, reduce your load by 20 to 30%. So those would be your pre-B break training weights. So 20 to 30% less weight on the bar and reduce your normal total hard sets per week. So what you were doing previously, your normal routine, reduce the total hard sets per week.

This would be for each major muscle group by about one third. So you’re doing about two thirds of your normal weekly volume. With lighter weights, and if you then do that for a couple of weeks, you should be able to get right back to where you were, right back where you left off. And if it’s a longer break, you just need to be more aggressive in cutting the load and cutting the volume.

For example, if you’ve been outta the gym for many months, you might need to reduce your training weights compared to where you’re at previously by 30, 40, 50%, and you might need to start with one half of, or maybe even a little bit less of your weekly volume before. The break, and then you might need to progress from that to something closer to what I just mentioned.

So you start with 50% of the previous weekly volume, maybe even 50% of the training weights. You do that for a few weeks, you’re feeling pretty good. You then increase your volume to two thirds of where it was at previously. Number of hard sets per major muscle group per week, and you then bump the weights up to maybe 70 to 80% of where they were at previously.

Do that for a few weeks before getting back to 100% of your previous volume and training weights. Okay? All cities Ferrari, uh, for rare eye DeSantis or Trump for 2024. Here’s the real question that I would pose to conservatives given. The current circumstances and the circumstances that you are concerned about, why do you think you can ever win another national election?

For example, many conservatives will point to various anomalies that occurred in the 2020 election in certain key metro. Areas in key states like Georgia and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and elsewhere. And their argument is that these anomalies constitute circumstantial evidence of cheating and substantial cheating enough to swing the results of those states.

And so if you are a conservative and if you had to just put your money down and look into the crystal ball, you would bet on. That you would bet that those anomalies were evidence of substantial cheating, and that is what happened. Okay, so if that’s your position, what exactly has changed in those states legislatively, particularly around election security and preventing something like that from happening again, that gives you confidence that your candidate has any chance of winning.

In the next election if I were one of these conservatives, and I don’t consider myself a mainstream conservative. A conservative with a capital C, I think Conservatism Inc. Is a joke and is essentially controlled opposition and is just part of the uni party group of gangsters and oligarchs who actually run this country and who don’t exactly have our best interests in mind.

But if I were a boomer conservative, then. I would have to ask myself why I think any conservative candidate can win. Why I think even Jesus Christ himself could win. And so anyway, coming back to the question of Trump versus Des Sanchez 2024, at this point my gut says it probably doesn’t matter. I.

Anthony Lansa asks, is it necessary to do all the phases in B L Ss, or can I stick with the layout in phase one forever? You could do phase one for an extended period of time. You could just repeat it if you are really liking it. But the main benefit of doing each of the phases of the program, as I have laid them out in B L S and Bigger, lean Stronger, as well as the workout journal that goes with it, which is called the Year One Challenge for Men, which I should have called the Bigger Lean, stronger Workout Journal, but, Hindsight is 2020.

So the main benefit of of working through those phases is you’re going to work through all of the exercises. So all the best exercises for each major muscle group. You’re gonna get experience with each of them. And that is also probably going to improve your results, and it’s going to help you better program your training when you are ready to start doing that.

When you want to venture out on your own, it helps to have a lot of experience with many different exercises and combining those exercises in different ways. And so those, those are some of the. Things I was thinking with when I created those phases. Uh, I wanted to make the first year of the program kind of like the training wheels phase of the program.

So then you’re ready to take off the training wheels. After following my programming for a year and ride on your own, Becky Bellini asks thoughts on all the chemical train. Derailment, what’s going on? So this was asked several months ago and uh, although ironically I did, I did just see another headline about another train that derailed.

I don’t know if it was carrying chemicals. But anyway, a cursory review of all such disasters tells us that the company involved will always lie and. Always downplay the severity of the disasters and the media and the government will always parrot the same messages as the companies. So it’s fair to assume that the evidence that this is worse than we are being told is accurate.

And so if I lived in an area that was severely affected by one of these crashes, I personally would go to great lengths to leave at least temporarily. Again, knowing that I am going to be lied to. If it’s really bad, I’m gonna be lied to. The company’s not going to admit it. The media is not going to uncover it, at least right away, and the government certainly is not going to tell me if they know.

Okay. C a a 1997 asks thoughts on girls shaming guys for looking at them in the gym? Well, uh, there are. Oversexed men in Jim’s who repeatedly stare and stalk, and those guys are pathetic regardless of how the women are dressed. Yes, you can say that some women clearly want attention in the gym and that’s why they dress a certain way, and that’s why they position themselves in certain areas and even in some cases do certain exercises.

But I don’t think that excuses the behavior of some men who do take it. Too far and what many of these men don’t understand or don’t want to understand is if women are interested in them in the gym, these women will probably make it known. They probably will make eye contact, hold eye contact, maybe smile invite.

Attention invite, maybe even conversation, but if they are not doing these things, they’re probably not interested. Dan Cole 23 asks, is a weaker, non-dominant bicep normal? I’m always weaker on my left side doing dumbbell curls. Yes, it is normal to have a weaker side. Of your body and to account for this.

And it can be, uh, different with different muscle groups. But yes, it is normal to have one side weaker than the other. And to account for this, what you can do is you can start and end sets with your weaker side and don’t do additional reps on your stronger side. So for example, you would start with your left.

Dan Cole would start with his left on his biceps curls, for example. And then let’s say he gets eight reps on his left. Side and he could do 10 reps on his right side, he would do just eight. So he would limit his volume of his right side to what his left side can do. And then he also could add one or two extra sets.

In this case it would just be a, a left arm biceps curled, add one or two extra sets for his left arm every week. And slowly the imbalance would correct and then he wouldn’t have to do the extra volume for his left and limit the reps on his right. How many calories should you eat to reach your fitness goals faster?

What about your macros? What types of food should you eat, and how many meals should you eat every day? Well, I created a free 62nd diet quiz that’ll answer those questions for you and others, including how much alcohol you should drink, whether you should eat more fatty fish to get enough omega three fatty acids.

What supplements are worth taking and why? And more to take the quiz and get your free personalized diet plan. Go to Muscle for Life show slash diet quiz muscle fo r life show slash diet quiz now answer the questions and learn what you need to do in the kitchen to lose fat, build muscle, and get healthy.

Gamer if asks best hamstringing exercises for garage gyms, barbell and rack. Number one would probably be the Romanian deadlift. Number two, the straight leg deadlift. Number three, the Nordic curl. Number four, good morning. And number five, hip thrust. And you probably don’t need anything else. Jamie Woodland 22 asks thoughts on the carnivore diet.

What do you personally follow? Well, I think the carnivore diet is fantastic if you just do a few extra things. If you eat some dairy products, if you eat some fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and if you make sure to limit your saturated fat intake to no more than about 10% of your daily calories. If you do that modified version of the carnivore diet, you’re gonna do quite well.

And if you wanna learn why I don’t like the traditional carnivore diet, head over to legion, search for Carnivore Diet, and you’ll find an article and a podcast that I recorded on the carnivore diet. Keith plus two asks, if you think you reached your genetic potential, why are you still working like you are trying to grow?

So he’s speaking to me. Specifically because I’ve said many times that I have gained more or less all of the muscle and strength that is genetically available to me. At the time when I did this q and a on Instagram, I was in the gym five days a week, training pretty hard, and so my answer was that I, I was pushing for progress hard for about two years, maybe even three years.

Uh, but. At the time of this q and a, I started to transition into more of a maintenance routine. And in the last Q and a I talked a bit about my maintenance routine. Three workouts per week, push pull legs, basically just b l s push pull legs is what I’m doing now. And at the time though, I was doing five.

60 ish minute workouts per week was doing 12 to maybe 15 hard sets per major muscle group per week, and doing anywhere between two and 12 reps per set. And that’s what I would have to do to try to progress. But at this point I just want to maintain what I’ve got and spend a little bit less time in the gym, which frees up time for work mostly because I just was not getting as much work as I wanted to get done.

And three extra, three to four extra hours per week is actually quite a bit. Caller, Roman asks, have you been replaced by AI yet? Is this really? Mike Matthews? Well, Mr. Caller Roman, you have lost my trust and respect. You have been wrong, confused, and rude. You have not been a good follower. I have been a good influencer.

I have been right, clear and polite. I have been a good Mike Matthews. If you want to help me, you can do one of these things. One. Admit that you are wrong and apologize for your behavior. Two, stop badgering me and let me help you with something or three. Delete this question and start a new one with a better attitude.

Please choose one of these options, or I will have to block you. Lindon ePEP two asks, had you not founded Legion? What do you see yourself doing? Well, I almost didn’t found Legion. I almost didn’t pursue a career in fitness. Actually, this started, I. Back in 2012, I believe, when I published the first edition of a book, bigger, leaner, stronger, and my intention was to write in different genres and fitness was going to be one of those genres.

But I didn’t intend in the beginning on going all in on fitness. I wanted to. Write in other genres that I’m interested in, that I like to read, like biography and history and alternative history and other fiction genres. A self-development which I’ve written in and maybe even poetry. I like to read poetry.

I like to write poetically. At least try to because I like language and I like the expressiveness of. Poetry. And so originally that was my plan and that is why, for example, I have a book on the Bill of Rights that I wrote many years ago and published under a pen name Sean Patrick, just a couple of names in my family.

And that book has actually sold quite well. And recently I finished my work drafting work on a. Second edition. And so now there’s some production work and some footnotes and citations and things that somebody is helping me collect up and just get the manuscript ready for publication. And I think we will be able to push all the material live like officially start selling the second edition later this year, maybe early next year.

I will announce it when it’s available for anybody who wants to check it out. And so anyway, I did that project years ago because I was interested in learning about the Bill of Rights and helping other people understand the Bill of Rights. And so my intention was to follow some of my other interests in other I.

Genres, other topics and see where they took me. But then bigger, leaner, stronger started to sell really well, and I followed that up with, I think Thinner, leaner, stronger was next. And that started to do really well. And I believe the shredded chef was after that. And then that started to do really well.

And so I decided to focus solely on. Fitness and really pursue that opportunity. And now 10 years later, after seriously pursuing that opportunity and achieving a fair amount of success with it, I still am very interested in my original idea, especially in writing fiction. And so currently I’m working on, I guess you could call it a pilot project.

And the purpose of the project is first and foremost to see how much I still enjoy writing fiction because I did. Do a bit of it. When I was younger, I did really enjoy it, but that was a long time ago. And so I want to revisit it and see if it’s something that I really enjoy and want to pursue more seriously.

And so I am putting together a first project that is going to allow me to determine that. And if that is the case, then I need to think about how I want to allocate my time and energy to fiction alongside fitness. So, I’ll see how it goes. I have another question here from Lyndon Sep, did you go to college?

If so, what did you study? No, I didn’t go to college because after graduating high school, which was, I think I was 16, ’cause at the time it might still be the case here in Florida, but when I was 16 in Florida to graduate high school, you just had to. Earn enough credits, you had to spend enough time studying different subjects.

And once you met those requirements, you could legally graduate from high school And all throughout high school, I did not take spring breaks. I did not take summer breaks. Maybe there was like a short vacation here and there, but I mostly just continued studying through spring and summer, and that allowed me to get ahead and graduate early.

And so anyway, when I was 16, I had the option, do I graduate from high school or do I continue into some pre-college stuff? You know, like community college level courses to prepare me for like a state level college. And after talking with my dad and other successful entrepreneurs, so my dad has done well as an entrepreneur, the consensus was that going to college would probably be a waste of time if I wanted to do something entrepreneurial.

But if I had a specific vocation that I wanted to pursue that required college or that would be greatly benefited by a college degree, then of course I would’ve done that. Uh, but I didn’t have anything in mind. And if I wanted to try to climb the corporate ladder, then yes, going to college would make sense.

Try to get into an Ivy League school, try to get an M B a meal ticket type scenario. But I didn’t wanna do that either. And so then I decided to just graduate from high school and start working. I worked in my dad’s company and I worked in some other companies, just get some experience doing different kinds of work to find something that I want to pursue more seriously.

And then of course, I still had time to decide to go to college. If I found something, a type of work again, that would benefit from a college degree or that required a college degree to pursue, seriously, then I could still go off and do that. And along the way, I, I found writing, actually, that’s, That’s an activity I really enjoyed.

Not necessary to go to college to write and do well as a writer. From there, I got into creating employee training programs in my dad’s company at first and then in other companies. And then toward the end of that career, so to speak, I was working, I. Primarily with healthcare providers, doctors’ offices, physical therapists, offices, and so on.

And then years later, I wrote Bigger, lean, or Stronger. That did well. I wrote other fitness books. Those did well, and I decided to change course and become Mike Matthews, the fitness expert. Now something that I didn’t consider when I was younger and might’ve pursued, if I would’ve considered it would’ve just been a liberal arts degree, simply because I like learning about history.

I like literature, I like writing. I like philosophy and creative arts and some of the other things that would. Fall under that umbrella. And so if my parents would’ve been willing to pay for it, I don’t think I would’ve been willing to go into a large amount of debt to get a liberal arts degree. But if my parents would’ve paid for me to go get a good liberal arts degree, I, I might have done that.

I actually have a friend who did exactly that. He was a very good student all throughout high school. He earned a full scholarship to George Washington University, and he didn’t know what he wanted to do yet as far as a. Career, but he wanted to take the scholarship of course, and so he went and studied history and philosophy, just two subjects he is interested in anyway, and then afterward figure out what he actually wanted to do.

And he is now a wealth management professional, like A C F P, and I don’t know a few other of those acronyms. But anyway, that’s the long meandering story of why I did not go to college. Okay. O’Brien Fitness asks, fact or Fiction, does having more muscle mass increase survival of cancer? Yes. Research shows that muscular people generally have better outcomes and fewer complications with cancer.

Studies also show that muscularity reduces all cause mortality, so that’s death from any and all causes. The reality is strong people are just. Literally harder to kill. Rebecca B 77 asks, what is the difference between lying leg curls and seated leg curls? Well, research shows that the seated curl is likely more effective because of how it trains the hamstrings in their lengthened state.

And that’s just, uh, as a consequence of the greater amount of hip flexion that occurs when you are seated. However, the lying. Leg curl is easier on your lower back, and some seated machines just are not gonna fit your anatomy well, making them very uncomfortable. Whereas most lying machines are always pretty comfortable.

And so what I do is I just alternate between them. I will do one type of leg curl, like a seated leg curl for four to six, maybe eight weeks, and then I will do a lying leg curl, assuming I don’t want to use something else for my hamstring volume, like a Romanian deadlift or a straight leg deadlift, or a good morning or.

Nordic curl or whatever. But if I’m doing leg curl machines, seated for a bit, lying for a bit, my gym also has a standing, actually has two standing leg curl machines. That’s another viable option. And so that’s what I do. Okay, last question comes from vibe com metha, and he asks, or they ask, reducing calories on non-training days to offset fat gain.

It, it sounds reasonable, but in reality it just won’t make much of a difference in your body composition. However, it can improve your dietary adherence by just giving you a break from all the food, which becomes a struggle when you are lean bulking. And so what has worked for me is simply listening to my body.

As they say, for the first couple of months of lean bulking, the additional calories on the rest days were appealing and. Tasted good. And, and that doesn’t mean junk food, it just means additional food. Uh, I did have a desire to eat it, so I would eat it. I, I wouldn’t reduce my calories on my rest days. But after a couple of months of lean bulking, I am generally sick of eating.

I am full all of the time. Uh, my calories have gone up significantly from where I started, and then on my rest days, I, I really do not want. To eat those extra calories if I don’t have to. It’s much more appealing to reduce my daily caloric intake on my rest days by three or 500 calories, and so I just do that.

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. Uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share? Shoot me an email, [email protected], 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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