Are saunas, steam rooms, and cold plunges beneficial after workouts? How can you naturally boost your testosterone levels quickly? What’s the best way to stop snacking out of boredom or anxiety?
In this episode, I delve into these and other intriguing questions from my listeners.
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!
1:34 – Benefits of sauna, steam room, and cold plunge post-workout?
3:44 – Is the stair stepper as effective as the treadmill?
4:38 – How to recomp when feeling too bulky?
7:06 – Should supplements be timed on a fasted stomach?
9:27 – Fastest methods to boost testosterone naturally?
12:46 – Try my upgraded, reformulated sleep aid, Lunar! Go to buylegion.com/lunar and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% or get double reward points!
16:19 – Update on Legion’s new energy drink.
17:31 – How to stop snacking due to boredom or anxiety?
18:13 – Have I considered competing in bodybuilding?
19:38 – Strategies for overcoming fear.
21:36 – Evaluating the pink salt and honey pre-workout trend.
22:43 – Maintaining motivation in diet and exercise routines.
25:10 – Importance of barbells for hypertrophy.
26:40 – Effective exercises for weak biceps.
Mentioned on the Show:
Try my upgraded, reformulated sleep aid, Lunar! Go to buylegion.com/lunar and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% or get double reward points!
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello, this is muscle for life and I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for tuning in today for a new episode, a new Q and a episode where I’m going to answer questions that people have asked me over on Instagram. What I do is every week or every other week, I put up a story asking for questions. I get a bunch of questions.
I answer a bunch of questions there on Instagram, and then I bring everything over here to the podcast and answer the questions in more detail. And so if you want to ask me your questions, follow me on Instagram at MuscleForLifeFitness, uh, MuscleFORLifeFitness. And watch my stories, enjoy the memes. And when you see the ask me a question story, submit your questions.
I try to review everything. Sometimes I get a lot and I can’t even get through all of them. But I do try to review most if not all of the questions and then choose ones that are topical or that many other people are asking about or that I haven’t already. Answered many many times and so on and so in this episode I am going to be answering questions on post workout sauna steam room or cold plunge The stair stepper for cardio versus other types of cardio What women should do if they are feeling too bulky the fastest ways to naturally boost testosterone levels When my energy drink is going to be available Well legions energy drink And many more.
Alrighty, let’s start with TJS 90 who asks sauna, steam room, cold plunge after weightlifting, good or bad. All are fine. So do whatever you like the most. Although you should know that I guess, technically the cold plunge would be the worst option if you were trying to maximize muscle growth because research shows that regularly exposing yourself to very Cold temperatures, cold water, or it could be cold air, like in the case of cryotherapy after training can blunt muscle growth because it reduces whole body inflammation, which can be a good thing.
But in the case of post workout is a bad thing because the inflammatory response. produced by training is part of the physiological process that results in muscle growth. So if you go straight from your workout when inflammation levels are elevated and again that’s a good thing into the tub of ice cold water for let’s say at least three minutes maybe three to five minutes that’s a standard protocol and you are.
More or less fully immersing your body in the water, let’s say at least up to your neck. That is going to reduce that post workout inflammation. And if you do it here and there, it’s not going to matter. But if you do it after every workout, it is going to reduce muscle growth to some degree over time.
Now, that isn’t to say you can’t gain muscle if you do that. But If you are an experienced weightlifter, it’s already really hard to gain muscle. You have to train hard. You have to eat a lot of food. You have to make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, et cetera, et cetera. And you are trying to get as jacked as you possibly can.
I would not recommend cold plunging after your workouts as a regular activity. Now if you want to do it. Outside of, let’s say, the couple hours after your training. So maybe you want to do it earlier in the day or you want to do it much later in the day. Then that’s totally fine. Anyway, so as for sauna steam room after training, again, either of those are fine.
But as for benefits, I personally would go with the sauna. All right, Disorganized asks, I’ve seen some posts saying the stair stepper isn’t as good for cardio as walking on a treadmill. Well, the stair stepper is usually chosen for the lower body stimulus, often for the glutes, and that’s fine, but it’s probably unnecessary and even unproductive if you’re just training your lower body enough, and if you’re training it Correctly, the extra stimulus that you’re getting from the stair stepper should not be making a difference in the development of your lower body because that is going to be driven by your training.
And furthermore, the stair stepper has a significant downside and that is that your muscle endurance is going to limit how hard you can push your cardio. endurance. Whereas with a treadmill or a bike, you can better focus on training your cardiovascular system. Uh, the, the major limiting factor is going to be your cardio and not your muscle endurance.
All right. Hans Mamazni asks 48 year old female consistently lifting, looking slash feeling bulky, building too much muscle. Want to recomp question mark. Well, if you are a muscular woman and you are feeling bulky, the first thing to do is just Assess your body fat level. So if you are above 25 percent body fat, I would recommend dieting down to about 20 percent and then reassessing your physique because chances are you won’t feel bulky anymore.
Now maybe You prefer to be at a higher body fat level. Maybe you prefer 25 to 30%. You like to be a little bit rounder. You like to have a bigger butt. You like to have bigger boobs. And at 25 to 30 percent because of the amount of muscle that you have, you feel bulky. That’s possible. And if that’s the case, then you could look into strategically.
losing muscle to get to where you want to be to look the way that you want to be, but chances are you won’t feel the need to, unless you have just been a very high responder to training and genetically you are made to be big and strong and you’ve gotten Big and strong. And so even at 20%, although now you look tighter, maybe a little bit more athletic, you still feel too muscular.
That is possible, but it is not the norm. It’s the exception to the rule. Now, if you’re not sure how much body fat you have, what your body fat percentage is, what percentage of your weight. Is body fat and you’re not sure how to accurately assess that head over to legionathletics. com search for body fat and then check out the article I wrote called the best body fat percentage calculator for men and women.
And you’ll find a lot of information in that article. You’ll find a calculator, but you’ll also find some different charts and some pictures which. really is all most people need. If you have accurate pictures of different body fat levels in people who are fit in people who have a bit more muscle than the average person who clearly train, you can just eyeball where you’re at.
And then if you do indeed need to lose muscle, at least in certain parts of your body to achieve the look that you want, search for legionathletics. com and then read the article, how to lose muscle mass. You don’t. want and then in parentheses make certain muscles smaller. Okay. We have H feather asks, is there any merit to timing your supplements such as fish oil on a fasted stomach?
Well, generally you want to take supplements with a mixed meal because the fat in particular that you are eating that is in the food that you’re eating is going to help with the absorption of. different nutrients, but there are exceptions of that. So you’ll him being, for example, if you are using your him being because you are cutting, especially if you’re a lean, wanting to get really lean, it can help quite a bit.
You need to take it on a, on an empty stomach. You have to be in a fasted state because if your insulin levels are elevated, it completely negates your him beans, fat burning and fat loss. benefits. And then finally, there are supplements like different amino acids that work equally well, whether they are taken with food or without food, like the type of ingredients that you would find in a pre workout.
So you’re going to take that for a workout, obviously, but you don’t have to ensure that you are fed or fasted if you are using let’s say my pre workout which contains beta alanine, it contains citrulline, it contains betaine and a few other ingredients that again will work equally well whether you are fed or fasted.
And before I move on, I should probably comment on creatine because people often ask about creatine timing. Does it matter when’s the best time to take creatine? Well, it mostly doesn’t matter. It’s just important to take it every day or at least every other day. So let’s say at least three to five days per week, I would say ideally every day.
But if you miss a day here and there, it’s not a big deal because your body’s creatine stores will still be elevated from the regular supplementation. So that’s. That’s the most important point is just taking it consistently, taking enough five grams a day. If you’re just going for the body comp and strength benefits, if you want to possibly enjoy some of the cognitive benefits that are coming out in more and more research, you may need to take more, uh, up to 10 grams a day.
But, uh, dosing aside, consistency is, is the most important point. And as for timing, if you can take it with a post workout, meal that may be the best time to take it to get the maximum amount of body comp and performance benefits out of it. But that is not vital. And it’s not even clear if it’s true. It may be true.
James Jordan, real estate asks fastest ways to boost testosterone right? Free. Well, the first one is to make sure that you are eating enough food for most people. Most men in particular who are going to be asking this question or wondering about this, it’s going to be at least let’s say 14 to 16 calories per pound of body weight per day.
So let’s make sure you’re not consistently in a calorie deficit is the key here. And you want to make sure that most of those calories are coming from a variety of nutritious and relatively unprocessed food. So you’re getting plenty of nutrients that support your body’s natural production of testosterone.
The second point here is to eat a balanced diet, so get about 30 percent of those daily calories from protein, 30 40 percent from carbs, and 30 40 percent from fat. The third point is to include the following things in your meal plan, so make sure that you are eating 1 2 servings of cruciferous vegetables per day.
Broccoli is my favorite. Make sure that you are eating as much beef, fish, chicken, turkey, pork, buffalo, and so on. And so, quote unquote, Meet as you are willing to eat. Ideally, it’s it’s a serving or two per day and no, that is not bad for your health. Now, if you were to eat nothing but red meat for extended periods of time.
That would be bad for your health. I don’t recommend that, but I do recommend regular moderate consumption of meat. I also recommend eating plenty of healthy fats, avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil. Those are my go tos. You do want to get some saturated fat in your diet as well, but you want it to be probably in the range of five to 10 percent of your total daily calories.
And you should get there naturally if you are regularly eating meat, especially if it’s leaner and if you are also eating healthy fats that do often contain a little bit of saturated fat as well. And then there are a few supplements that you can consider adding to your regimen. The basics are vitamin D, zinc and magnesium, and you should probably be supplementing with those for other reasons.
Uh, anyway, however, there are several other supplements that are a little bit more speculative or that have been shown to increase testosterone in men who have low testosterone, but not as much. In men with healthy levels of testosterone. So, for example, the aspartic acid ashwagandha fenugreek tonkat Ali boron DHEA.
Those are all supplements that may or may not help you. You can’t honestly claim or or someone like me couldn’t honestly claim that those are quote unquote testosterone boosters. But if you have low testosterone levels, research shows that one or more of them may help. And they’re not gonna hurt. So the worst case scenario is they just don’t do anything.
And a final and highly underrated tip for maintaining higher testosterone levels is achieving challenging goals. Research actually supports this. Wins that are produced by significant effort can significantly increase testosterone levels. They can also increase neural plasticity. They can improve stress resilience, whereas winds that come easy do not seem to have these types of effects in the body.
So these are physiological rewards for achieving difficult, challenging goals. In addition to the psychological rewards, did you know that studies show that sleeping five hours instead of eight hours per night can increase muscle loss by up to two hundred and thirty three percent? And, reduce fat loss by up to 160%?
And did you know that reducing your sleep from 7 hours to 5 hours for just 4 days can reduce your athletic performance by almost 10%? And that under sleeping also makes it easier to gain fat and even makes you less physically attractive? The reality is this. Your sleep hygiene is like your diet. It is either working for or against you, enhancing or injuring just about every aspect of your life.
And that’s why I just released a new and improved version of my sleep aid supplement, Lunar, which you can find over at buylegion.com/lunar. That’s B U Y Legion.com/lunar. Now, why should you spring for a bottle or three? Is it because you need supplements to sleep well? Or that you can just take supplements instead of implementing important lifestyle habits for sleeping better?
No, of course not, but research shows that supplementation with the ingredients in Lunar can reduce the time that it takes to fall asleep, can improve sleep quality, it can improve restfulness after sleep. It can reduce symptoms of jet lag, it can improve memory function, and more. That is, Lunar is meant to, wait for it, supplement your lifestyle, and help you sleep better.
So if you want to see for yourself, head over to buylegion.com/lunar now, place your order, and check it out. Also, you should know that if you are not happy with Lunar for whatever reason, You can reach out to us and we will give you a full And prompt refund, no forms, no mailing products back to us.
We just give you your money back. Wow, what a concept. Oh, and lastly, in addition to upgrading Lunar’s formulation, which you can learn about over at bilegion. com slash Lunar, Lunar 2. 0, as I’m calling it, is no longer a powder that you have to mix with water and drink, but instead It’s a tasty, chewable tablet that you can suck and snack on.
And the reason we made that change is it helps you minimize your water intake before bed, which can help reduce nighttime wakings. And in case you didn’t know, if you do wake up at night to pee, it is a good idea to restrict yourself to no more Sipping on whatever you drink at night, water, tea, whatever, within a couple of hours of bedtime.
So I go to bed usually around 11 and I start my, my sipping protocol probably around 8 PM. So after 8 PM, I am not taking full drinks of anything. I’m just sipping on something, usually water or chamomile tea, and just enough to satiate my thirst. And as a result of that, simple change. I went from waking up to pee probably two or three times per night on average down to one on average, sometimes zero, and also the occasional two, but almost never three.
Joshua Hageman 8481 asks, timeline on your energy drink. Well, it’s currently looking like April or May. That’s when it should be out. And of course it’s legions energy drink. And if you’re not familiar with Legion, that’s my sports nutrition company, which you can check out at legionathletics.com. And we’ve been working on an energy drink for quite a while now.
And I’m excited to, to get it out there because it is going to be one of the few. naturally sweetened and naturally flavored energy drinks on the market. And as for the formulation, it has caffeine, of course, 150 milligrams per can. It has taurine, clinically effective dose, two grams. It has a clinically effective dose of L theanine.
It has B vitamins, including B12. As well as a clinically effective dose of rhodiola rosea, one of my favorite adaptogens and cdp choline. And so basically as usual, I’ve spent as much as I possibly can on this product, making it as good as I can possibly make it while still maintaining acceptable margins.
And so yeah, that’s, that’s the plan again, April or May, it should be available over at legionathletics. com and also announce it here on the podcast when it is ready. Kale is bullshit asks how to stop snacking to cope with things like boredom anxiety or apathy How about stop buying the potato chips and start buying the kale chips instead, you know, ironically That’s not even great advice because the kale chips that I’ve seen and some of them actually were quite good Do have quite a few calories as well because of the oil that is used in making them So my actual tip is to get and stay busy With literally anything.
That’s an easy, easy way to improve dietary adherence because the idle mind is the devil’s workshop in all that. Idle hands always find their way to the fridge, right? Linden Sepp asks, Did the thought of competing in bodybuilding ever cross your mind? No, not really. It’s just not interesting enough to me to want.
To pay the price that you got to pay to compete, especially to compete naturally. For example, in a case study that I read many years ago with a natural bodybuilder who knew what he was doing, who went about it the right way, who dieted over the course of many months and slowly whittled away his body fat stores.
And of course did a lot of weightlifting, a lot of resistance training and had to do cardio to get that lean because of course he had to. But, I wouldn’t say he abused cardio. Oh, ate plenty of protein, didn’t crash diet, blah, blah, blah. It took six months for him to fix his hormones after the show. So when he stepped on stage, his hormones were obliterated.
His hormone profile was obliterated, which is inevitable. You can’t avoid that. Testosterone is going to be super low, other problems, and it took six months to bring his hormones back to a normal, healthy. Level. And of course, then if you are a committed bodybuilder and you are natural and it’s going to take five or six months of dieting to get back into stage shape, then you basically have to just start dieting again.
So you finally feel better. You finally feel normal again. And now it’s time to repeat the process. Not for me. I have another question here from Lindensep that I wanted to answer. How do you overcome fear? Well, for me, a few things have helped. So one, I try to look for logical reasons to believe in my ability to win.
I try to remind myself of past successes in similar circumstances. I try to find other people who are comparable to me who have won in similar circumstances to where I could plausibly ask the question, Hey, if they can do it. Why can’t I and so forth. I also like to look for logical reasons why fears are unwarranted.
So I look to data. I look to probabilities with COVID, for example, by the end of 2020, there was enough data for me to feel comfortable with the situation as far as my personal health was concerned, because it was already clear in the data at that point that the people who were at the highest risk of contracting a serious illness and possibly dying were already very unhealthy.
Uh, but as I was very healthy, if I looked at that data, it showed that COVID posed basically no risk statistically speaking to me. And so, I wasn’t afraid. I also like to get and stay in action. I think that being thoughtful is good, but it has to support action. It has to propel action, not impede action.
Action. And the reason I think that is important is we overcome obstacles. We overcome difficulties. We overcome fears through action, not thinking that’s the rule. Maybe you could find some exceptions, but that is the rule that is the most effective ways to directly face whatever is causing fear, anxiety, and figure out how do I resolve this?
What actions can I take to negate or to eliminate this? Luke M81 asks thoughts on this pink salt and honey pre workout trend. Obviously it sounds silly, however, I will give the devil its due. The sodium can give you a better pump. The honey can function just fine as a pre workout carbohydrate. In fact, it’s maybe even preferable to other forms of carbohydrate that are more filling because with Honey, you’re not going to feel anything in your stomach.
And I prefer that when I’m training, especially if it’s a, if it’s a more difficult training session, if I’m deadlifting or squatting, I like to have as little food and even liquid in my stomach as possible. I like to feel basically nothing in my stomach because it tends to come up, especially when I’m deadlifting.
And so honey, would work just fine in that regard. However, you don’t need the pink salt. You don’t need the Himalayan salt. You don’t need any special kind of honey. The extra minerals in the salt are fine, but you’re going to get plenty of minerals from your diet if you’re eating well, and any honey will work fine for just providing glucose.
Matthew 1 0 asks, how do you stay motivated with it all diet, exercise, et cetera, day in and day out? Well, my level of motivation to do the various things that I do ebbs and flows. Sometimes I’m more motivated and excited and looking forward to the things. Sometimes I’m less motivated and less excited and not looking forward to doing the things.
And so, I don’t place much importance on motivation one way or another. I don’t consult my level of motivation before taking action or before. Deciding what I’m going to do. Instead, I just stick to my routine. I do the things that I need to do when I need to do them. I don’t think much about what I have to do in the next one, two or three days that maybe I really don’t want to do.
I just take it one day at a time, one action at a time. And I also usually find that once I start something maybe that I really didn’t want to do after about 10 minutes or so of doing it. I get into a little bit of a flow state. I get focused and I find some enjoyment in doing it. And even if that’s not the case, even if it’s just not one of those days, I’m not going to be in any flow state and I’m not going to find any enjoyment in most of the things that I have to do.
Always find enjoyment in having done the thing. So at least there’s that to look forward to. There’s the satisfaction of having done the thing. So it’s similar to training. There are always workouts that you don’t want to do. There are always workouts that are just inordinately hard. Every rep is hard.
Every set is hard. And you just have to kind of rub some dirt on it and grind your way through. Even those workouts, though, always leave you feeling better. You always feel better after you’ve done the workout compared to when you started the workout or when you were doing the workout. And then there is getting enough sleep, because if you’re not getting enough sleep regularly, the RPE of life, the rate of perceived exertion, your perception of how hard everything is, goes out.
Way, way up. And conversely, if you’re getting enough sleep, the RPE of life goes way down. There is a direct relationship between the quantity and the quality of your sleep and the RPE of life. And so, I try to make sure that I am regularly getting enough sleep. Nick v 351 asks, how important are barbells if your main goal is hypertrophy?
I’ve seen a lot of conflicting issues. Info. Well, they are not terribly important per se, but they are very efficient for training and for growing muscle because you can train multiple muscle groups at a time. Now that said, generally, Barbell training is more valuable for hypertrophy in beginners and intermediate weightlifters than advanced weightlifters, mostly because of the sheer amount of volume that’s required for advanced weightlifters to grow, especially in stubborn muscle groups.
And we all have those stubborn muscle groups that just do not respond well to training. And hopefully you have, uh, some muscle groups that have responded really well to training because most of us also have that. And that doesn’t mean though that advanced weightlifter to training shouldn’t be doing barbell work or, uh, can’t productively incorporate barbell work into their training.
Of course, they can, but there is a point where it is not optimal for hypertrophy to exclusively work with Barbells or even mostly work with barbells. When an advanced weightlifter wants to prioritize hypertrophy, it’s probably in very specific muscle groups, their training needs to look much more like a traditional body building routine than a strength routine or even a power building routine.
Pocket Adjunct asks, what are the most effective exercises to build up lagging or weak biceps? Well, you can find plenty of viable biceps exercises online, but there are two common mistakes that I see, and I’m going to answer this question this way. So the first one is Not training close enough to failure and with a small muscle group like the biceps, basically every set should end with no more than one good rep left, meaning you could not do more than one more rep and you can just go to absolute failure.
In basically every set if you want to as well, unless maybe you are hammering your biceps with like 20 to 25 sets per week. Maybe you’re not going to failure in all of those sets, but you still can go to failure in a lot of those sets. And if you’re doing, let’s say, 6 to 9 sets per week, you may need to do more to grow your biceps.
But if it’s, let’s say, anywhere from 6 to 12 sets, you probably can just take every set to failure. Do it intelligently, do it safely. Don’t do, let’s say, barbell curls. and start violently writhing your body around to try to get in more reps once you can no longer lift that bar with good form and the bar has not just slowed down, it has come to a stop.
That’s failure. And then you would end that set. So long as you are. being smart about it. You can train a small muscle group like the biceps to failure very often, much more often than you would train your quadriceps to failure. Then you would squat to failure, for example. So very important to train those biceps intensely.
And you know that you are getting close to failure when the rep speed has slowed down. a lot. So let’s say you start out curling at one second to the top of the curl and then you’re lowering it. And when you get close to failure, it’s going to be like one and a half seconds, or maybe even two seconds to, to get the weight up.
And so if you have not seen a significant slowdown in your reps you want to keep going even if your biceps are burning and It’s painful and you want to stop you are not there yet. Keep going Okay, so the second mistake that I often see is not using heavier weights So I mean, let’s say anywhere from four to eight reps per set now It’s not to say that you need to do every set in that rep range or that you should be doing every set in that rep range, however, I Usually see people training their biceps with much lighter weights, 12, 15, 20 plus reps per set, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but a variety of rep ranges appears to work best with certain muscle groups in particular, including the biceps and the calves.
Research has shown that. So what I would recommend is doing several sets per week and let’s say the rep range of four to six reps per set, pushing right up to failure. Then several sets per week. Uh, let’s say somewhere between eight and 10 reps per set. And then also several sets per week with, let’s say maybe around 12 to 15 reps per set.
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, Mike at muscleforlife. com muscleforlife. 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.