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In this episode, I sit down with Dan, who achieved remarkable results through Legion’s one-on-one coaching program. 

In just 3 months, he shed 20 pounds, significantly reduced his body fat, and saw more muscle definition than ever before.

Though he previously experimented with various fitness routines like P90X and Body Beast, Dan’s newfound success is rooted in his consistency with nutrition tracking and meal planning, along with a tailored workout routine that accommodated his hip arthritis.

In this interview, Dan opens up about his past challenges, including alcohol consumption and diet compliance, and how making changes in these areas contributed to his success. He shares insights into transitioning to a lean bulking phase and offers practical tips for others starting their fitness journeys.

Tune in to hear Dan’s story and learn how personalization in training and diet, combined with a mindset focused on long-term sustainability, can lead to transformative results.


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

2:22 – What prompted Dan to try the Legion one-on-one coaching program?

10:16 – How does Dan manage cheat meals and alcohol consumption?

12:44 – What was Dan’s experience with reducing daily alcohol intake?

20:37 – Want 125 quick, easy, and delicious “fitness friendly” recipes? Get The Shredded Chef:

23:46 – What did Dan’s training routine look like during the coaching program?

33:09 – Why did Dan include yoga in his fitness routine?

34:15 – Did Dan make any changes to his training when starting his cutting phase?

35:26 – What alternative exercises worked well for Dan?

37:17 – Has Dan noticed differences since beginning his lean bulking phase?

43:39 – Has Dan made adjustments to his training program and its volume?

49:44 – What key principles has Dan learned to enhance his workout effectiveness?

Mentioned on the Show: 

Want 125 quick, easy, and delicious “fitness friendly” recipes? Get The Shredded Chef

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


Mike: Hello, hello, I am Mike Matthews and this is Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today for a new episode in which I sat down with Dan, who signed up for my sports nutrition company Legion’s coaching program, one on one coaching program, and in just three months of coaching, Dan lost 20 pounds and gained a significant amount of muscle and strength.

Really, really remarkable results and a testament to just how effective proper strength training and flexible dieting are when you know what you’re doing, when you have well designed training plans and meal plans, and when you have. the right support when you have somebody like a coach who can help you stay on track, stay consistent, not be perfect, but just do the most important things mostly right most of the time.

And as is usually the case with our one on one coaching clients, this was not Dan’s first attempt to get and stay into great shape. In the past, he had done various routines. X, Body Beast, and others. And he also had some hip arthritis that needed to be accommodated that we had to work around to ensure that he could reach his goals without suffering.

So you are going to enjoy today’s episode if you want to hear Dan’s story and how he overcame the obstacles that were in his way on the program, including alcohol consumption and diet compliance. As well as, not only how Dan dramatically improved his fitness in just a few months, but how he developed a lifestyle that allowed him to do that, and will allow him to continue doing that into the future for the rest of his life.

Get into great shape and stay that way for the rest of his life. Because that is my goal for you. That is the ultimate goal. Get into great shape, stay that way. For the rest of your life. Hello, Dan. Thank you for taking your time to come and talk to me this afternoon.

Dan: Hey, Mike. Thanks for inviting me on your show.

It’s, it’s my honor to be your guest.

Mike: Oh, well, uh, I appreciate it. And I appreciate it again, your flexibility, people listening. We had a couple of scheduling snafus, but here we are. And, uh, here we are to talk about your fitness journey, Dan. And I like to start these interviews with just getting hearing where you were before you found me and found my work and in terms of your fitness, what was working?

What was not working? What had you tried previously? What goals are you still trying to achieve? And I’d love to hear how that venture led to us, uh, doing this interview.

Dan: Yeah, sure. So my relationship with fitness goes back to when I was 16 and I was the skinny kid in class. I convinced my parents to buy me a solo flex machine, which was all of the rage back when I was 16.

And I started to see some moderate results from that. And since then, I’ve. Really been hooked on weight training and strength training and over the course of my adult life. I’ve tried everything I’ve tried the p90x series the body beast DVDs Switch to the online one on one coaching as well as just sort of the online subscriptions that you Purchase, and I’ve trained a lot just on my own from reading books and trying new things out.

Some of it has worked and some of it hasn’t worked. And there’s also been substantial periods of my life where I haven’t done any weight training, uh, for one reason or another. And I, I found myself in January of this year, really at my highest weight ever. I had gone maybe six months without weight training, without eating diligently.

And I had never been at that particular weight. So I started reading, decided I’m going to get back into the fitness program. I started reading some books. I found muscle for life, the audio book spent a lot of my time, a lot of time in my car, and I listened to your program and it really intrigued me. And it’s something that.

Struck an interest. And I’ve read other books where I’ve tried out and has not succeeded, but I liked the, the format of the muscle for life program. And I signed up for the three month one on one VIP training course. And I had. Fantastic results. The best results I’ve had from any of the programs I’ve, I’ve tried.

Mike: And what are those results look like for, for people listening?

Dan: Yeah. So I went, I dropped about 20 pounds. I start off about one 90, so not terribly heavy, but for me, it wasn’t. My normal rate is around 180 or 170. And I got back down to 170 and even below that shortly after the program ended, I lost about 5 or 6 percent body fat.

I changed scales in the middle of the program because I wanted one that was more accurate. So it’s hard to compare exactly, but I can tell just from looking in the mirror and I gained significant strength, which was relatively easy to do because I hadn’t worked out for six months. So I had. An easy time of regaining the strength that I had built up before, but then I built up even more strength.

And the biggest result for me was actually seeing more definition than I’d ever seen before. And a lot of that has to do with the diet aspect of the program. And I should say, I’ve never been involved in a program before where I followed a diet format this strictly. And that’s obviously a big part of the reason for my ability to see some definition in my before and after pictures.


Mike: can you talk a bit more about that? Um, dietary compliance point? Because as you know, now that I mean, consistency is that’s 80 percent of the other game, whether it’s in the kitchen or it’s in the gym, it’s being consistent. You could say within, um, the constraints of what works, you can be very consistent with things that just don’t work and you’re nowhere.

Right? But so long as, uh, you have a diet that is, that is set up properly and so long as you have a training program that’s set up properly. Generally speaking, the most consistent person is the one who’s going to win. So it sounds like you were able to be very consistent and that’s where a lot of people fail in achieving their fitness goals is they might even have a decent diet program or decent training program, but they can’t stick to it well enough to get the results they want.

Dan: Yeah, and that was something that I really was worried about going into this program because until now I’ve never charted macros before I don’t eat terribly. I don’t snack. I don’t have I have three meals a day and they’re reasonably healthy, but I don’t track the macros. And then I would also drink alcohol and I never even accounted for that in terms of how that affected my body composition until this program started.

And I’m not a cook. I have some staple meals that I can do, but I generally over the course of my life would either eat out or order in and again, reasonably healthy. But you never really know what you’re what you’re getting when you when you eat out. Um, I was fortunate that I have an amazing girlfriend who is a great chef and she is a Much more into fitness than I am.

And she’s been charting macros for years. I’ve known her for 17 years. We’ve been together for six, and I’ve always wondered why she’s charting her macros even before the rap. She was, she was doing it. And so she helped me with my macros. She made meals for me. She weighed out the food. I had that huge advantage.

I don’t know that I know I wouldn’t have had the same level of success without her helping me with my meals. And that was a big part of it. I would eat the same thing for breakfast. And lunch, and that’s just kind of the way I have always been. And then at dinner, I’d have some moderate protein based meal usually with maybe a little bit of carbs in there, but having her help me through this process and she’s now herself doing your program as well was a big help to me.

Mike: And you mentioned there that you’re eating so the same breakfast, the same lunches, and it sounds like you leave yourself some flexibility for dinner. Uh, where it’s not the exact same foods, but you have kind of a template that you’re following.

Dan: Yeah, that’s exactly right. It’s chicken and it’s steak primarily, uh, with a little bit of seafood mixed in, but I can have chicken five nights a week and be fine with that.

And there’s different varieties and different ways to cook it, throw in some pasta just to mix it up every now and then, but I do leave my. Some flexibility, uh, every night for that, uh, for the most part. And then the breakfast I would just do, I do eggs, scrambled eggs with a little bit of breakfast potatoes.

And every day I do a lunch, I do a Caesar salad with grilled chicken. And that’s kind of the, I can chart those out. I know exactly how many calories, how much protein are in those meals. And it makes it easier for me at least to track my macros, which is something I’d never tried before.

Mike: And I’m assuming those are also meals that you like, that you choose to eat those foods because you like them.

And every day, uh, You, it’s not a chore forever becomes a chore. You would change. And the reason I’m kind of asking these leading questions is for people who are newer to all of this, if they hear all the same food every meal of the day, or pay the same breakfast and lunches, sometimes people are concerned that.

Well, okay. Maybe if you’re like a food is fuel fitness been at it. That’s easy to do, but if they don’t see themselves, if they see themselves, maybe it’s a bit more of a foodie or they just, they just like more variety in their diet. Often they see that as an obstacle that would prevent them from being able to do what you’ve done.

Dan: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. In fact, when I started the program, they created a custom meal plan for me based on what I liked and didn’t like. And I made revisions to it. And then they sent back a revised meal plan, which I followed in, in general principles and some of the food types I would, I would take advantage of, but yeah, I.

I’ve always enjoyed the same thing for breakfast and for lunch. I did modify it a little. I used to do maybe a, an egg and cheese sandwich. And I went from that and just cut out the bread and just did scrambled eggs with a little bit of potatoes instead. But I, I do like those, those meals.

Mike: Yep. Makes sense.

And and what about treat meals or cheat meals? What about your off plan eating? And also you mentioned alcohol. Sometimes those things go together. Um, how did you handle those over this three month period?

Dan: Yeah, I really did not have any cheat meals. And that’s one of the things that I probably regret. And I think part of it was I was seeing such great results from following the program that I didn’t want to have any setbacks.

And in the past, when I have had cheat meals, I felt physically not well, unless it’s just something like a piece of pizza or something like that. I would have maybe before like a hockey game just for some carbs, but I really didn’t have a lot of cheat meals. But I’ve also been never been a person to snack or eat cookies or brownies or drunk food.

I just that’s just been in my DNA. So it’s been a little easier for me. But my yeah. Crutch was the alcohol, and when I first started tracking my macros, I was not even including the alcohol in my daily calorie count, and I was wondering after a week if I wasn’t really seeing any loss of weight, and I realized, Oh, obviously this is common sense, but it didn’t occur to me.

I’ve got to add the alcohol into my daily calorie count. Count and it’s two, three. I was a wine drinker.

Mike: Yeah. I was going to ask, is it, is it wine? Because that’s the unfortunate conclusion that people who like wine have to come to is like, all right, I don’t have to not drink wine, but I have to figure out like, how do I, how do I fit my my love of wine into a meal plan that gets me to where I want to be.

Dan: Yeah. And that was very challenging for me at first. And I would drink pretty much every night, one glass, two glasses, or even maybe three glasses of wine. And I just sitting at home watching, watching TV and it was a terrible habit. And I, and I knew that the only time that I drink wine anymore now is when I’m out to dinner or some other special occasion.

And I. I no longer just drink it during a normal weeknight. What I have done is I haven’t cut out alcohol completely. I’ll have like a light margarita or I’ll substitute with a couple of light beers or drink nothing. But the wine to me made a huge difference. Once I cut that out, I saw my body weight go down and all that all those calories in the sugar.

And I just I felt a lot better and more energetic. So it’s been, it’s been a side benefit of this program that I really wasn’t anticipated. I didn’t go into this as a, as a way to quit drinking wine. It just so happened that that worked out.

Mike: And, and how was that transition for you psychologically or emotionally?

Was it, was it an easy transition because it was in service of a goal that you felt strongly about, or was it a bit tough at first to figure out or to go from drinking one two, three glasses a day down to an amount that, that worked, that satisfied you, but didn’t get in the way of your body composition goals.

Dan: It was easier than I expected it to be given the fact that it was such a routine part of my daily habits. But what I decided to do is not. Just limit myself to one glass of wine because I knew that that would be difficult to do. So I cut it out entirely, except for those times when I’m out to dinner and instead just substitute with either nothing or with one or two much lower calorie drinks.

Um, and I, it was easier than I was expecting.

Mike: And and that is a smart way of going about it. Many people will do the same thing. I mean, that’s that’s fairly common with alcohol. If somebody knows that they just really like it and it actually will be easier to just not have it at all and just save it for the, you know, one or two little special outings per week.

And but some people will do that with with specific foods as well. Like they know that although they could eat 200 calories of ice cream after dinner as their little treat. It’s not, I mean, I’m, I don’t find 200 calories of ice cream satisfying. So I just, I wouldn’t bother with that because I’m going to have to eat at least half of the pint just to be satisfied.

So if I only want to give 200 calories to a, to, to some sort of treat, it’s not going to be ice cream. And so this is just an example for people listening of as you go through this process, you you learn. You learn some of the, there are some things that are not negotiable, energy balance and mapping issue about some of these things, then a lot of things are negotiable, and then you learn for you what specifically works for you.

And this is a good example where some people, they might be totally fumbling, just keeping it at one glass of wine, maybe they, maybe they’re going to finish it. No worries. And other people, they just know, nah. Uh, this is probably not going to work well for me. It’s better for me to just cut it out and cutting it out altogether might sound too difficult for the other person.

So there is always a bit of trial and error, just on an individual, you know, case by case basis, the same thing goes for cheat meals or treat meals. Some people, that’s something that I remember that myself when I first was learning about energy balance and street balance and seeing it working. And I can’t believe the first time I also, I remember that.

There was like a powerlifter bodybuilder guy who was explaining, he introduced me to these concepts many years ago, and then I started to read about them in science literature and elsewhere, but I remember texting him. His name was Steven, uh, because my wife wanted to go get sushi and I hadn’t had a quote unquote cheat meal.

I’d probably been cutting for 6 or 7 weeks at that point. And I’m texting you, I’m like, is it, is this, is it okay if I go get sushi? I’m like, yeah, I don’t, I don’t really want to, like, I’m on a good roll here. And what if I just order a couple of rolls? And so, you know, he was laughing, Mike, just, just go enjoy yourself.

Don’t worry about it. So I understand that. And so with GBL, sometimes people, they prefer to just minimize them all together. Because for example, if they go to a restaurant, they really like. And to really enjoy themselves. Maybe that means appetizer, entree, dessert, and you’re at a few thousand calories now, and they might just rather skip it.

So as you, as you are. The fact that you’ve worked these things out for you, what’s great is, um, I think as you’re seeing, you’re putting together a, have a personalized lifestyle, something that is not just a 30 or 90 day crash that you can just force yourself through or a challenge of some kind, but it sounds like you’re fit.

You’re working out something that you can follow. Indefinitely, not, not that you need to cut indefinitely, but you now understand what you need to do to lose fat or to maintain your body composition. And you can just help work within.

Dan: Um, yeah, it totally has been a lifestyle change and an eye opener on both the diet side of it and the weight training side of it.

I learned a lot of valuable information that I didn’t know before. And Now it is much more of a just a habit. I don’t have to track my macros every day. I did initially, and now I have a generally good idea. And then when I went from the cut stage to the bulk stage after my program ended, that was my next desire.

I did start tracking much more closely because now I had a new daily. Goal to meet and it’s that’s that’s far harder for me to follow the bulk stage than the cuts. The cut stage for me is easy. I can skip meals and not have an issue with it, but it’s hitting that bulk calorie goal every day. That is really challenging for me, but that’s why I track the metrics and it makes it a lot easier to do.

Mike: And that’s a good tip is tracking or planning when you are making a significant change to your diet. So as you’ve experienced, if you want it to just maintain, you probably understand food portions. Now you understand roughly what a proper amount of the foods that you’d like to eat, what that looks like, and you can just do that.

But if you want to go from, let’s say cutting to maintaining, or you want to go from maintaining to cutting or maintaining, both of your cutting to bulking, it’s smart to track or plan. It’s for a period just to recalibrate your, um, understanding of what in a proper amount of food looks like over the course of the day and even in each meal.

Like what, what is your dinner supposed to look like? And then once you get it dialed in as experienced, you can just eyeball it in and be close enough. Although some people, they like to continue tracking and way measuring, which I think is fine. Um, I’m glad you said that though, just because the last couple of interviews where people have moved, they just chose to continue, um, weighing and measuring everything.

And I, I commented in those interviews just so people understand that you don’t have to do that. You can’t want to, but there is a point where you will become familiar enough with your meal plan that you can, you can do it by feel, but then when you make that change, um, it’s smart, especially when it’s going to be difficult.

And I understand I haven’t, I haven’t. Committed to an extended meatball in a long time, but I’m similar in that it’s kind of fun for the first week or two, uh, maybe three. And, and then it’s the, the disgust phase, uh, where I am just force feeding myself basically, and I’m always full and I have great workouts.

I mean, that’s cool. I don’t know if you’re experiencing that yet, so that’s nice. Uh, but all the, all the eating is not so nice when you have no appetite and you’re I am like at a 10 out of 10 of fullness and I still have to eat 1500 calories today.

Dan: Yeah, yeah, it’s very challenging. And I resort to a lot of protein bars, protein shakes, cashews, peanuts, nuts like that.

Anything that I can sort of digest, but it’s been, I’ve never tried it. Cut phase and then a lean bulk phase. I thought that was something that bodybuilders did before show and it’s not it’s something that everybody can do and you can, it mixes up your, your diet schedule and also your workout schedule and you see different results.

So this is the first time I ever really done a lean bulk workout program and it was very Fun at first, for sure, just to try something new and now I’m trying to stay on that same track.

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Let’s, uh, let’s talk about your training. Let’s first, let’s talk about the cut phase and I’d love to hear about, um, so far, how it’s going in your, in your weed bulking. Um, so when over this. Three month period, right? We lost about 20 and then you were able to gain back some muscle and strength. Obviously that you had the benefit.

You mentioned it being a bit detrained. So you had that detraining effect, which is kind of similar to like newbie gains for somebody who’s new to weightlifting. Your body’s very responsive. But what was your training schedule like over that three month period?

Dan: So I did four days of weight training, one day of yoga and then one day of cycling.

And yeah, I did that because I didn’t want to bite off more than I can chew. In retrospect, I could have easily done five days of weight training. To me, that’s the most enjoyable part of the program. Yoga is, is nice and cycling is nice, but the weight training was very manageable. So I had four days of that.

And, um, the workouts were 55, 57 minutes. They weren’t grueling at all. I wasn’t knocked out after the workout. I could still go back to work and I didn’t dread going to the gym. It was actually something I look forward to because the way that the program is designed, you do heavyweight for four to six reps.

And then you have three minute breaks in between sets. I had never done a workout program that way. It was always, you got to do 15 reps at first, and then you work your way up to wait and you take quicker breaks. So I timed my breaks.

Mike: Was that weird? Did you feel like you were just sitting around a lot and be like, is this, is this going to work? I’m sitting around more than I’m working out.

Dan: Three minutes is a lot to just sit on the bench. And I try not to get on my phone and read email. I.

Mike: Yeah, I know, because then you get into the email and then now it’s a five minute break and then I understand that.

Dan: And your head goes off in the wrong spot. So I have a different timer that I would use, but I had the phone because the app that I needed was part of my phone.

Um, so I did have the phone there, but the three minutes I stuck to it. And then what I did notice was when it was time to do my set, I was hyper focused. In a way that I’ve never been before and I said, okay, I have four or six reps to do here and I would just I would cut out everything I had on those four to six reps.

Whereas when I was taking a minute and a minute half break, it was just you weren’t as focused. So that break not only enables your body to push more weight, pull more weight, but it allows you also your mind to be more focused when it is time to get up and do it. Do a set.

Mike: Yeah, yeah. Proper proper rest times between sets can be a real game changer.

Yes. If you’re going from, let’s say, a war circuit training kind of style that there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s, it’s probably better called exercise than training because training implies a methodical kind of systematic approach, uh, with with, um, clear system of progress. Whereas when, when you shorten those rest periods enough, you’re, you’re going to move a lot and you’re going to sweat, but.

Yeah. You’re not going to gain much muscle muscle and strength over time training like that, just because of the physiology of clay, you actually need to take enough time. So you can give enough effort in those hard sets, and you can push clubs to failure and recruit a lot of, you know, muscle and produce large amounts of tension.

And so that’s just, I think. One of those that’s probably if I think about if I think in the gym and people who are newer and just trying to figure this stuff out, I would say that’s a pretty common mistake is not taking enough rest only one minute and then trying to do even sets of six or eight and then they’re having to strip weight off the bar and by the time they get to their final set, they might have half of the weight on the bar or on the machine that they started with.

And then also, I don’t know if this was was it was this way for you, but another yeah. Eureka moment that many people experience on the train side. Things is. What a fart set is like set intensity, pushing close to failure in those sets. And if you push close to failure and understanding how hard that actually is, that you don’t need to do as many sets.

You don’t need to do a two hour workout. If you’re really training hard enough, you actually can get. The same results, even better results with a one hour work out. So long as you are training close to failure, you’re really pushing on those sets.

Dan: Yeah. I never knew that. I never knew the part about the breaks or the need to really push to failure.

I would just kind of go through the motion, even in a lot of the programs that were well regarded that I had done. And I’ve been doing this for a long time and I never realized how helpful those three minute breaks were. And nor did I. A lot of this program is based on your one rep max, and that’s, you have to figure out what that is, and then you start off with some warm up sets at 50 percent and you increase.

I never really measured my one rep max before. I would just put up weight on the bars and do it until I felt like I had gotten a burn, and then I would set the bar down. But now I had some sort of structure in terms of each set, and it allowed for the Progressive growth and the ability to add more weight and more reps.

And that’s because I was actually paying attention to my one rep max, which is an important part of the program.

Mike: Yep. Yeah. And for people listening, um, you can use a calculator for that. You don’t have to actually test your one or, um, I mean, you can’t, if it’s Part of a program and if it’s appropriate, but, uh, I, I don’t do it anymore just because there’s a, there is a point where there’s, there’s a little, at least a little bit of risk associated with going through a true one RM on it or on a squat.

I don’t think it’s worth it. You can just use calculator. There’s one [email protected]. The people that’s, you need the tools. There’s a WM you can put in your performance on a given exercise. Wait, let’s say what, what’s, what can you do for five reps or so? And it’ll be pretty accurate in most people.

So just, just a little asterisk there.

Dan: Yeah, that’s what I did. I did use the calculator. I didn’t try to test my own max. I work out usually by myself, so I wasn’t going to try a bench press, but I also know just from my history of working out more or less what my max is on it, you know, on the, on the major lifts and I had a good idea, but I did use the calculator to make those adjustments.

Mike: Yep. Makes sense. And so during this cutting period, you were doing, um, for weightlifting. Workouts per week, a yoga workout, a cycling workout. I just want to want to point for, for people listening that you weren’t doing very much party, which again, some people are surprised to learn that you can, you can lose.

Uh, I mean, you lost fat, not, not muscle. You can’t gain strength and gain muscle definition. And I’m, I’m assuming you can notice some muscle size and lose muscle at the same time. Right? So you lost 20 pounds of. I mean, there’s, you could say, okay, well, some of it was probably, you’re losing some intramuscular fluid.

Sure. But the majority of that weight that was lost was fat. And that was with minimal cardio, one cardio workout per week.

Dan: That’s right. Yeah. And that was a surprise to me as well. And it was a 20 or 25 minute bike ride around my neighborhood, which was an enjoyable part of the program. And that was, that was it for cardio.

And like most people I’d rather weight train and then do cardio. And that was one of the reasons that this program. Interested me to begin with when I read muscle for life was that particular part of the program?

Mike: Uh, yeah, I I understand. I mean I I get on this a few days per week back here and see i’m doing four days per week right now And I don’t mind it because I can just multitask because it’s, I’m not writing around.

So if I have to make a call, whether it’s a work call or a personal call, right, I can do it on the bike because it’s going to be probably a five or six out of 10 intensity, um, or I’ll read them or I’ll do something. But I like to take time. Uh, so, uh, cardio is great for, for health. It’s great for cardiovascular health. It’s great for longevity. There are good reasons to do it. Um, but it is highly overrated as a fat loss activity. It can help by increasing energy expenditure. But it is not necessary to lose a lot of fat, and it’s not going to help as much as we’d hoped.

But when you look at how many calories are in a chocolate chip cookie, and then you look at how long you’d have to go run outside to burn just the calories in the cookie, you realize that, oh, it’s, It has limited util.

Dan: Yes. Yeah. That’s one of the things that I’ve seen firsthand from being in this program.

And, uh, one of the modifications that, that I made with my trainer was I play ice hockey in a men’s league and I would just substitute that out for the cycling. If it given, you know, what day of the week I had a hockey game on, and that’s obviously a more enjoyable cardio, uh, activity than, than riding, riding a bike and intense.

And it was a. That was my one cardio workout of the week is going out and playing ice hockey.

Mike: That’s great. And, uh, the yoga was included, uh, for people wondering why, why the yoga, just something you enjoy, or is it, is it for flexibility?

Dan: We did it for flexibility and I hadn’t had a lot of yoga experience.

I’d done some, but never any formal training. And the initial yoga program that was suggested for me was too difficult. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t. Stretched a certain way that that the pro and so we made a modification and I was given a much more basic yoga program to follow, which I really enjoyed. I did get some relief out of it and some flexibility increase out of it.

Um, I’d rather be weightlifting, but it was a nice break from that schedule.

Mike: Is that something that you have maintained now that you’re legal?

Dan: I have not. I am doing Yeah, I’m not doing that anymore unless it’s just if I’m at a hotel on a work trip or some other reason and I need something to do. I’ll work in a yoga session, but now I’m doing more weight training.

Mike: Um, when you were cutting, did you have to make any modifications to your training program? Uh, were there any obstacles that That you had to overcome that wire, kind of some of these individualization type things, or was it pretty smooth and straightforward, just copy book throughout?

Dan: No, I had a couple of obstacles.

One of the obstacles I had is I did have a couple of work trips and a vacation, um, in the middle of this program and I would do my best to find a hotel with a gym, but it didn’t always have the equipment that was needed. So I would let my trainer know ahead of time. I’m going to be out of the town for these 3 days.

There’s not going to be a leg press or a squat rack at my hotel gym and we would make modifications just for that short term break. So I could at least do something to follow the schedule. And then another obstacle that I had is I have some program. Arthritis in my right hip, probably from playing hockey and taking hits over my life.

And there were certain activities or sets that I just couldn’t do the squats, the deadlifts. We would just make modifications to those. And that would, that would solve the problem. Most of the time.

Mike: Out of curiosity, what are some of those, like, what are some of the substitution exercises that have worked well for you?

Just for anybody else, you might be having some solutions.

Dan: Yeah. So I got one of the safety squat bars instead of the traditional squat bar with the pad on it. I got a safety squat bar. It makes it a lot easier to do the squats.

Mike: That’s a great, I wish more gyms had safety bars. My gym does, but in my experience, most gyms do not.

Dan: Okay, yeah, and then the other was the Romanian deadlift was suggested as a substitute instead of the traditional deadlift. I guess just, you don’t have to go all the way down, uh, as far, and, and that was a big, and then there were some minor tweaks to the, my foot placement on the leg press. Uh, if I just tweaked my feet pointing out a little bit more, it would help relieve the stress on my hip during that exercise.

Mike: Makes sense also for, for people listening, you can kind of Jerry reg a safety bar with, um, a regular bar and straps, like just lifting straps. So anybody, if you want to try it out and you can find videos online, I just said, it’s pretty simple, but it’s a proper safety bar. Works a little bit better, but you can, you can get at least halfway there in terms of the field with a traditional barbell and, and straps as well.

Yeah, that makes sense. So now with your lean bulking, it sounds like you’ve added, uh, a day of weightlifting, so you’re doing fives.

Dan: Yes. Five days and I’m still playing hockey. So if I’m not, if I have a week off from hockey, I’ll try and get out on the bike and do a loop or so in the, in the neighborhood, but five days of strength training.

Mike: And how long have you been lead bulking for Dan?

Dan: About three weeks.

Mike: Okay. So what have you noticed? Have you noticed anything yet in terms of workout performance or, um, more, more energy?

Dan: Yeah, I’ve definitely noticed more energy in the gym. I think the workouts are a little more intense now. I don’t know if that’s psychological because I was expecting that to be one of the benefits from the lean bulking.

That’s really it. So far I have gained a couple of pounds and I’m trying to keep an eye on my body fat to make sure that the percentage of body fat going up. is 50 percent or so less than the total overall weight that I’m gaining. I’ve always had an issue gaining weight, at least healthy weight. Um, so it’s it’s a challenge for me to keep an eye on those metrics.

So it just doesn’t all come out as body fat increase.

Mike: Yep. And that’s, that’s just, um, it’s just a matter of, of being conscientious with your calories, really, as you know, there’s actually, there’s some research that, that Legion helped fund that is, um, it’s wrapped up and I believe it’s in peer review now, uh, on lead bulking.

And one of the key takeaways is that it would appear that. Uh, a 10 percent calorie surplus or larger does not produce more muscle gain than a 5 percent calorie surplus. Now, what’s tricky about 5 percent calorie surplus is it can be difficult to maintain that because there’s just just a small margin for error.

You really do have to. Pretty accurate with your intake, because if you’re not that 5%, it could actually be maintenance calorie speed and be a slight deficit because you just didn’t realize that you didn’t get those extra 200 calories and you’re supposed to get, or it might be a 10%. But the takeaway there is, let’s just say being somewhere around 5 percent on average over your daily energy expenditure.

He’s probably the sweet spot for most people. Um, it’s possible that in the experienced weightlifters who are training very hard, who are trained. Probably, uh, somewhere close to their maximum recoverable capacity, they might be able to gain some more muscle with a larger surplus, let’s say a 10%. But it seems with the data coming out of this study that for most of us, 5 percent or so is just going to be the, the standard kind of lean bulky surplus.

And so it’s, it’s that, and it’s just staying patient, really.

Dan: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I believe I read an article from your website on the science of lean bulking. I’m not sure if it’s that article that you’re referring to, but before I started this program, I did pull that article from your website and it gave.

Gave me a great overview of what to expect and how to get there. And it was a very helpful article.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. So this research is, um, it’s coming after I wrote that article, but it’s really in alignment with that article because that was, that’s been my position for some time now, just based on other research, but, um, there’s just more research coming.

That is, I would say, high quality data specifically on this point, whereas previously there were studies that we could make extrapolations from, uh, but weren’t necessarily set up to answer that specific question. So it doesn’t doesn’t change anything that’s in the article, but it’s, uh, it’s just, it’s good confirmation.

That does really seem to be how it works. And, uh, as for the additional energy and workout performance in my experience, this is, um, this is something that many people seem to experience and I actually don’t. I’ve looked into the literature to find a good explanation for it. And it’s, it’s probably a number of things.

I couldn’t point to like one or two or three studies said, Hey, this kind of explains it, but it does seem to take a few weeks, usually it’s like two or three weeks of a consistent surplus to really start to notice the. Additional, um, strength, the additional energy and the additional recovery capacity, uh, when, when you start lean bulking, uh, which is kind of interesting, but then when you sounds like you are starting to notice it, it’s definitely, definitely not in your head.

There is a, it’s a physiological mechanism for sure. And for people who haven’t leaned bulk yet, it can be pretty surprising if you’re just used to maintaining, especially if you’re used to just staying lean and maintaining, which means that you’re used to consistently under eating rather than overeating.

Because that’s really what it takes. If you just want to stay lean, it could be pretty surprising for people who do it for the first time, commit to that surplus and then there are months in and they’ve already added, you know. 10 percent to all of their big lifts and their workouts now are feeling like the, the, how they perceive the effort goes way down.

So what was previously a hard workout is like kind of easy workout now. And so, That’s at least the payoff for all the force feeding that you have to do.

Dan: Well, that’s good to know because I said I’m three weeks in, so it sounds like I’m getting very close to realizing those benefits a little more fully than I have.

Mike: Yeah. And then you just got to commit, you got to commit, I would say to minimally probably three months and, and really ideally you run it as long as you’re billing to run it, uh, because you are going to gain. Muscle and strength faster when, when you’re in that slight surplus. So there is a point where eventually maybe you’re just sick of eating, maybe your body fat Um, is acceptable.

Maybe even after six months, you’re like, yeah, you know, I’ve gained some body fat, but I’ve gained a fair amount of muscle and strength. I like this, but you just start sick and be eating. That was what it was for me last time. I just, I just tapped out because I couldn’t do the second dinner anymore. Just, uh, that was, it was just too much.

Um, but ideally, ideally you could get to at least three months and. Probably closer to if you, if you can go somewhere three upward of even six months, I’d say that’s a very, uh, that’s a, especially you see it closer to six, that’s a very productive lean bulking phase.

Dan: Good. Yeah, that’s, that’s good to know.

I wasn’t really sure how long I was going to be into this particular phase, but that’s good to know.

Mike: And on the training side of things, um, have you made any adjustments in terms of how much you’re training volume or exercise changes of any kind? Or are you more or less following the same program?

You’re just going to perform better now on, you know, the same workouts.

Dan: I am performing more or less the same program as I was before. I I’m following the, the one year muscle for life book that you put out. And what I did is I started off in phase two of that program. So the exercises are slightly different in some respects, more or less, it’s still four to six sets.

With three minute breaks, but there’s slightly different exercises. And then during my one on one program, I did make certain tweaks to certain X. Cause there’s some exercises like everybody that I just really enjoy doing more than others. Like I love doing the decline bench press and that wasn’t. In there, but they put it in there for me because that drives me to the gym.

Same with cable crossovers. And so there’s certain exercises that I did enjoy that with guidance, I substituted in, so I still follow those substitutions on the new program. And I, even during the first phase, there were days where I had a little extra energy. And I would add in an exercise with the trainer’s approval, because sometimes it’s counterproductive to do that.

But some days I just felt like I wanted to put in a little more and just put in, add an exercise in.

Mike: Those are great tips, including exercises that you enjoy, even if there, there might be, let’s say a slightly more optimal exercise in the case of the decline bench press, not a bad exercise. Um, there are, there are maybe you could maybe make, if you want to quibble, you could make an argument that any client bench press is maybe a little bit more productive in certain ways.

It really doesn’t have the decline bench press is an effective exercise. Um, as far as. What I would just generally recommend, um, generally recommend more flat benching, flat pressing or incline pressing. But if you really like the decline bench press, that’s a reason to do it. And the same thing with a cable crossover or any other exercise, so long as there are some exceptions like a behind the net press, I would generally not recommend.

Just because it puts your shoulders in a compromised position, you’re not going to be able to lift much weight, uncomfortable for most people. So there are some exceptions, but the rule is if you like exercises, certain exercises, and if you look forward to doing put them in your program, because then that comes back to the consistency and the adherence that we discussed earlier in the podcast.

And it sounds kind of silly, but the reality is. Having that workout, that, that chest workout set up the way that you like it, that might be the difference on some days of going to the gym and doing it and not, and then if you apply that to every other workout, and then you stretch that over the course of months and years, you can achieve results.

Thanks. Considerably better results with the workouts that you like.

Dan: Yeah, that makes sense. And I’ve always liked the decline bench press and I work it in conjunction with the incline I’ll either do incline press or incline dumbbell press, and then there’s always a flat bench component to it, but the.

Decline for me has always been the exercise where I can press the most weight and it’s obvious why that would be, but so I would always, I’ve always enjoyed that, that exercise, but we did it in moderation and with the help and guidance of my, my trainer.

Mike: And then, and then you also mentioned doing a little bit more when you feel up to it.

And, and that’s also just, I think, good general advice because, um, it takes, it takes a lot to get close to anything that. Truly be called over training a lot more than most people listening probably have ever done. I mean, like many hours of weightlifting per week, large calorie deficit, many hours of intense cardio consistently for months.

Um, and some people they do that, but, but most people don’t. And so in the context of our conversation. I think it’s, it’s perfectly appropriate when you feel up to it and you feel the energy and you’re just into the workout and you want to do, uh, an extra set or two or three, even now, if you were doing that, I mean, again, if you, if you let that get out of control, it may not be to overtraining, but it may lead to excessive soreness that is kind of annoying and to actually get the hip things, or, um, maybe.

Yeah. You know, a little bit of excess wear and tear on joints, especially if you’re kind of tired and your form now isn’t great, you’re kind of fatigued, but you want to do it anyway, I would say those are Thank you. More exceptions rather than the rule. Generally, if you’re coming to the end of a workout, you’re feeling good, your job to a little bit more and do a little bit more, if that happens fairly often, that can be slightly better results.

And even if it didn’t mean slightly better results, if you had more fun in the workout because of it. That is a, that actually is a positive. So that’s, that’s going to help stick to the program and that’s going to help just the positive association of, I like going to the gym. I like doing my workouts.

Dan: Yeah, I think that’s a great way of putting it in the past. I never had added sets to prescribed workouts before, but because I was getting results and I was enjoying the workout and they were manageable, they weren’t grueling, I felt like it was, I was empowered to add an additional. Set in every now and then, um, not on a regular basis, but just on those certain days.

Mike: Make sense.

Um, you had mentioned earlier in the interview that on the training side of things you had learned some key principles and you have learned some important information that major training more effective that you didn’t know. Previously, we may have already covered that, but I just wanted to come back to it in case there was anything that we didn’t cover that.

That really clarified things for you or, or be a difference in how you went about training.

Dan: A lot of it we’ve covered it’s strict. It’s sticking to the program of limited reps, longer breaks and limited sets and not. Overdoing it and sticking to that one rep maximum. If I were to do it over again, there’s a couple of things that I would do differently, not necessarily.

Mike: Which was actually to be one of my questions.

So thank you.

Dan: It was kind of getting there. I would, I would have done a full body composition professionally conducted. Uh, test. Um, and they have one. I’ve noticed like a block from where my office is. So it would have been very simple to do. I started off because I didn’t know how this program was going to end up.

I had started it off, didn’t know what the results were going to be like. I didn’t know how much I would like it. So I didn’t really get a good measurement of my body composition or even just measuring my, you know, body. And I would have also Taken better pre program photos.

Mike: That’s why, that’s why multiple times I try to encourage people, like just take the pictures, just, even if it’s just for you and maybe, maybe, maybe you’ll just delete them and that’s fine.

Dan: It was hard to do. And now looking back, I wish I had better ones to compare. Um, but at the, again, at the time I didn’t know that I would ever even have to look back at them. I wasn’t sure how the program was going to turn out for me. And then three, four weeks in, it was time to submit to my trainer progress photos.

And all of a sudden I started seeing results, but I didn’t have great original photos. So I would, if anybody’s starting the program, those are two things that I would, I would suggest, well, maybe not the. The body composition, but I would have gotten a better scale initially because I had a, just an Amazon cheap scale and I don’t know how accurate it is.

And then I used one at my gym, the in body measurement scales, and I got all this incredible feedback and I, you can buy like a home version for a lot less money and I bought one of those and it gave me a lot. Better data, I think so. I probably should have started with that and it would have allowed me to chart my progress on the body fat a little closer because that was ultimately my one goal.

My primary goal was to reduce my body fat. All else being equal. That was what I wanted to do first and foremost, and I was able to do that.

Mike: Yeah, I do understand. It’s fun to kind of memorialize it with, uh, with some some hard numbers and in the habit pictures. But of course, you were able to see fairly I’m sure it sounds like in the first month you’re looking in the mirror and you’re like, Oh yeah, this is this.

And I’m sure your girlfriend was like, Hey, this is, this is happening and you’re noticing in your clothes too. And, uh, then you get to that moment, which I’m, I’m sure you experienced. I remember when everybody goes through this seems to have that moment where it clicks, where they realize, Oh, this is all I have to do.

I just have to keep doing this. And then I get to my goal. That’s it.

Dan: Yes, it was very simple. And I did notice results over the first month or so. And even I noticed definition in my abs like I’ve never noticed before. And it wasn’t as if I was spending 30 minutes doing core exercises as part of this program.

It was I was doing dedicated Ab workouts or exercises twice per week, one exercise per day, and it wasn’t grueling and that’s all it took that. Of course, the diet was a huge part of that, but it wasn’t 30 minutes of killer core exercises, and I got better results on my core than I ever have before doing those other programs.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, just doing the more difficult exercises, the squat, whether it’s a safety bar squat, any type of squat, just doing any type of hip hinge, doing any type of overhead press, heavily engage the core muscles, so even that plus diet is often enough. Now, in some cases, probably more with men than women.

We want more defined abs in particular is usually like the rectus abdominus muscles in some guys when they lose the body fat, those those muscles are pretty large and prominent and that’s just the way it is. And in some cases, though, they can be less defined, in which case. Doing some direct ab training, uh, can help bring those muscles up faster.

And so it’s, it’s, um, never, never a state to include direct ab training, but as you’ve experienced, the key is the diet and the key is really everything else that you were doing. It’s you just to get the apps, right? It’s like, we got to get rid of the fat and then you’re already probably 80 percent there.

Maybe you, you want your abs to be a little bit more again, developed. Like you want those muscles to think out a little bit more and a little bit more substantial and. You could just keep doing the compound exercises and probably would get there, but you’ll get there faster with the out training. So I think that’s, that’s the best reason to include direct training.

Dan: Yeah, and it was enjoyable doing it as well. And when you see the results, you’re just going to keep doing what you’re doing if you’re getting results. Totally.

Mike: Well, that was, that was all of the questions I wanted to ask you. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you before we wrap up that I should have asked you or anything else that you’d like to share before we finish?

Dan: I guess the last thing I would say would be, this is a program that Struck me as intriguing because I’m a, I’m a very busy person. I have, I’m a lawyer, I have my own law practice. So I manage my firm as well as practice cases. And I’ve had other commitments in my life as well as everybody does. And it’s one of the few programs where it fit in well with my lifestyle.

I could dedicate an hour easily four days a week to weight training. 20, 30 minutes for yoga. So that was my concern going into any program really is whether I’m going to be able to stick to the program given my work schedule and my other schedules. And I need a schedule. I need some sort of schedule. Uh, for workouts in order for me to meet my goals and get to the gym.

If I’m just kind of winging it on my own, I’m just never going to get there because of my, my other schedule. So that’s what really did it for me is that it was a set schedule. I could follow it to the T it was only an hour. It wasn’t grueling. I could get on with my life when it was over. And that’s, I think why this program worked for me better than other programs have.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. And I, I understand it’s the same, same for me. I mean, I I’m just, I’m just maintaining at this point, but, um, I still, I still appreciate everything you’ve that you’ve experienced and you’ve laid out. So I think it’s great. It’s great to see other people figure it out because now you can do it for the rest of your life.

The way that you’re doing it, you really don’t have to. Make any major changes, things will get better. And then there’s a point where progress will be just being able to continue doing what you’re doing because you get to a point, you gain so much muscle, you gain so much strength, and you’re not going to do that forever indefinitely, just bigger and stronger.

Uh, but then the win is you could be 60 years old and you’re still training. More or less the same way that you’re training now, maybe with slight modifications, but that alone, I think is, is almost a form of progress. And so I think it’s, I think it’s cool. And it’s cool to see it all come together, you know?

Dan: Yes, it is. And hence the name muscle for life. It’s very suiting.

Mike: Exactly. That was intentional. Well, um. This was, this is a great discussion, Dan, I, again, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to, to talk with me and, uh, keep up the good work.

Dan: All right, you too.

Mike: 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. It’s 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 at muscle for life. com, muscle F O R life. com. 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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