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I’ve recorded hundreds of episodes of Muscle for Life on a huge variety of things related to health, fitness, and lifestyle, ranging from the basics of diet and exercise like energy and macronutrient balance and progressive overload and training frequency and volume to fads like the ketogenic and carnivore diet and collagen protein to more unfamiliar territories like body weight set point and fasted cardio.

Some episodes resonate with my crowd more than others, but all of them contain at least a few key takeaways that just about anyone can benefit from (that’s what I tell myself at least).

And as cool as that is, it poses a problem for you, my dear listener:

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Well okay, some people do make the time to listen to most or even all of my podcasts, but my wizbang analytics tell me that while many listeners tune in on a regular basis, they don’t catch every installment of Muscle for Life and thus miss out on insights that could help them get a little better inside and outside the gym.

People have also been saying they’d like me to do more shorter, multi-topic episodes, like my Q&As.

And so I got an idea: how about a “best of” series of podcasts that contains a few of the most practical and compelling ideas, tips, and moments from my most popular episodes?

This way, people who are new to the show can quickly determine if it’s for them or not, and those who enjoy what I’m doing but don’t have the time or inclination to listen to all of my stuff can still benefit from the discussions and find new episodes to listen to.

So, in this installment of The Best of Muscle for Life, you’ll be hearing hand-picked morsels from three episodes:

1. Mark Rippetoe on the Right (and Wrong) Ways to Bench and Overhead Press

(Originally published August 31, 2018)

2. How Many Calories Do You Really Burn Every Day?

(Originally published April 22, 2019)

3. My Top 5 Takeaways from Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

(Originally published March 18, 2019)

And we’ll be starting with number one, Mark Rippetoe on the Right Ways to Bench Press.


5:25 – Mark Rippetoe on the Right (and Wrong) Ways to Bench and Overhead Press

15:18 – How Many Calories Do You Really Burn Every Day?

21:56 – My Top 5 Takeaways from Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mentioned on The Show: 

Mark Rippetoe on the Right (and Wrong) Ways to Bench and Overhead Press

How Many Calories Do You Really Burn Every Day?

My Top 5 Takeaways from Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Shop Legion Supplements Here

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


Hello and welcome to the latest and greatest episode of Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews and thank you for joining me today. Now, I have recorded hundreds of episodes of Muscle for Life and I’ve. Talked about a huge variety of things related to health, fitness, lifestyle mindsets, ranging from the basics of diet and exercise, like energy and macronutrient, balance and progressive overload, and training frequency and volume to fads like the ketogenic and carnivore diet and collagen protein to more unfamiliar territories like body weight, set point, and fast.

Cardio and some episodes resonate with my crowd more than others, but all of them contain at least a few key takeaways that just about anyone can benefit from. At least that’s what I tell myself. That’s what helps me sit down in the chair every day and do this, and as cool as that is. It poses a problem for you, my dear listener, especially if you are new here, and that is, ain’t nobody got time for that.

We’re talking about probably a thousand plus hours of content at this point. And while some people actually do make the time to listen to most or even. All of my podcasts, my Whizbang analytics tell me that while many listeners tune in on a regular basis, they don’t catch every installment of Muscle for Life.

Thus, they miss out on insights that could help them get even just a little bit better inside and outside the gym. Because if you just get a little bit better, consistently enough, that can add up to big results in the long. And people have also been telling me that they would like me to do more shorter multi topic episodes like my q and A’s and says You episodes.

And so I got an idea. How about a best of series of podcasts that contains a few of the most practical and compelling ideas, tips, and moments from. My most popular episodes going all the way back to the beginning. This way, people who are new in particular can quickly determine if this is the droid they’re looking for, if this podcast is for them or not, and then those who are regulars and enjoy what I’m doing, but just don’t have the time or inclination to listen to.

All of my stuff, and I do understand that I don’t take it personally. , you can also then benefit from the discussions and the episodes that you are not listening to in full. And you can also find new episodes to listen to without having to give an hour of your time to determine whether it was worth it or not.

So here we are with the best of muscle for. You’ll be hearing handpicked morsels from three episodes. The first is an interview I did with Mark Reito back in August of 2018 on the right and wrong ways to bench and overhead press. Then we have a monologue I recorded back in April of 2019 titled, how Many Calories Do You Really Burn Every Day?

And Last is a book. Episode published in March of 2019. That has my top five s from the book, Flo from Mahaley. Chickson. Mahaley. Yes. That’s really his name. Also, if you like what I am doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world, and we’re on top.

Because every ingredient and dose in every product is backed by peer-reviewed scientific research. Every formulation is 100% transparent. There are no proprietary blends, for example, and everything is naturally sweetened and flavored. So that means no artificial sweeteners, no artificial food dies, which may not be as dangerous as some people would have you believe.

But there is good evidence to suggest that having many servings of artificial sweeteners, in particular every day for long periods of time may not be the best for your health. So while you don’t need pills, powders, and potions to get into great shape, and frankly, most of them are virtually useless, there are natural ingredients that can help you lose fat, build muscle, and get healthy faster.

And you will find the best of them in legions products to check out everything we have to offer, including protein powders and protein bars, pre-workout, post-workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more head. To, b y And just to show how much I appreciate my podcast peeps, use the coupon code M F L at checkout and you will save 20% on your entire first order.

So again, if you appreciate my work and if you wanna see more of it, and if you also. All natural evidence-based supplements that work. Please do consider supporting Legion so I can keep doing what I love, like producing more podcasts like this. Okay, let’s start with the highlights from the interview I did with Mark Reito on the right and wrong ways to Bench and Overhead press.

Back to the bench press for a few more questions. Um, grip width, what are your thoughts? Well, my thoughts on grip width are, uh, derived from what are we trying to do with the exercise? If we’re trying to bench press as much weight as we can, then what we want to do, like if we’re at a meet, then what you want to do.

Is, uh, probably going to be a little bit wider grip width than what you would do is if you’re, if you are trying to just use the bench press as a, as a strength exercise. And the reason I say that is as follows. Yeah. How come? Just, just to clarify, to clarify that the I P F rules state that the maximum permissible legal.

Competition bench press grip width is 32 inches and whatever that is in centimeters. All right? Now, if you’re 104 pound female and you’re, you know, four 11, the rule does not. Stipulate that your grip width is any narrower than the super heavyweight guy weighing, you know, three 30. But the difference in anthropometry is going to turn those two lifters into completely different creatures performing that movement pattern.

Uh, a 330 pound man, uh, with a 32 inch maximum width grip is gonna be very close to vertical forearms at the bottom. 104 pound female at four 11 may be able to get the barbell out of the rack. , uh, un shrug her shoulders without even bending her elbows and then shrug back up into a lockout position having moved the bar an inch.

And obviously those movements are not comparable, right? One is a different thing than the other. Yet both of ’em are considered bench presses by the I P F. So in my opinion, For training purposes, we want to use the longest range of motion around the shoulder, which means that the grip you take yields a vertical forearm when the bar touches your chest.

I think that the primary thing that a person ought to be doing when they bench is to abduct the shoulder blades and get the chest up, and the reason you want to do that, Is because it, uh, it’s kind of a complicated mechanical thing that we, we cover in the book. And I can, I can summarize it probably, uh, for you here by just saying that if you have your.

Shoulders, shoulder impingement is the, is the issue. I’m trying to think of the best way to introduce this topic. Shoulder impingement, uh, occurs when you have an extreme amount of abduction at the humerus with regard to the G glenohumeral joint. Um, if, if, if you sit up in your chair right now and raise your elbows up straight to the.

Then when you’re. Elbow approaches. When you’re, humorous approaches about, just just to introduce people listening, that is ab abduction, right? Moving away from the middle. Yeah, moving away from the middle. And ad you’ve probably heard of ADU is in. Yeah, abduction is in. So when your elbows are down, laying on your latch, your ad deducted, and when they’re.

At 90 degrees to the side, they are ab ducted. At approximately 90 degrees of abduction, you are going to feel a sensation in your shoulder, and that sensation is produced by the entrapment of the rotator cuff tendons. Between the head of the humerus and the inferior aspect of the acromioclavicular joint.

And I would, I would say, if people wanna see this shoulder, if they wanna visualize just, just, just Google AC joint and you’ll see, uh, and there’s an illustration in, in the book that perfectly illustrates this point. Okay. So what we recommend as far as a bench press, Uh, per angle at, from humorous to the, to the midline of the body’s about 70 degrees, cuz that removes all the impingement.

What that does do though is drop the elbow down relative to the shoulder and this produces a moment arm that has to be dealt with that exists between the barbell and the shoulder joint. And. The price you pay for reducing that moment arm through, uh, elbow position is you’re gonna impend your shoulders and bench presses sometimes are hard on the, on the shoulders because of this.

So we recommend 70 degrees of abduction instead of 90. The mechanical price you pay for that is that there now exists a little moment arm between the barbell and the shoulder joint that you have to overcome when you press. That’s why. The bar path in the bench rest is not a straight vertical line. It’s a curve and it curves from the chest back up to the shoulders because the lockout position is directly over the glenohumeral joint and the bar contact on the chest is down below that.

So there’s about a three inch moment arm there that’s gonna have to be, so it’s kind of like a little bit of a of a, of a J kind of motion. Let’s talk about the hip drive. That’s obviously one of the things on my list. Um, cuz that’s often misunderstood, right? And it’s, I find it a little bit tricky to get used to.

It is, again, it’s complicated and the way we teach it at the seminar is we have, uh, we’ll have the person stand there with their hands on their hips. Just arms a kimbo, hands on your hips and we’ll, we’ll tell, we’ll tell you to tighten up your abs and your quad. So that there is a band of tension from your chin all the way down to the floor.

You’re, you’re tightening the anterior front, just the front of your body, the hole, the abs, quads, everything just tight. And then you’re going to push your hips forward into that tension if you stay tight. It is the equivalent of drawing a. Because you’re pushing into the tension, and the further you push into that tension, the more resistance you meet.

And what you have to learn how to do is push into that tension to create a rebound. All right? Now, if the bar is sitting on your shoulders and you go from a straight vertical line down the ebb. And the, and the thighs into a curve. Then the position of the barbell will drop a little bit about an inch, just because you went from a straight line to a curve line.

You see the geometry of that, right? Right. So what you’re going to do is stand there with a bar in your hands. You’re gonna push your hips quickly. You’re gonna push your hips forward, the bar is gonna come down, and then as the hips come back out of the tension, the bar jumps up a little bit, so you’re gonna create a little bounce in the position of the bar.

The bounce is caused by the change in the length of the vertical line caused by the curve. As you push into the deal, into the, into the tension of the hips and ebbs right. As you, as you put an, from that ConX position back toward us. Right? Exactly. And then the bar jumps back up. So what you do is, in the way we teach this, and it’s easy to learn if you, if you teach it like this, we put the empty bar in the hands and we make the bar jump up a couple of times.

And then we say hips and press. So you’re gonna catch the momentum as the bar comes up off the shoulders and press through it and lock it out. And once you do it, once you do it once like that, you say, oh, okay. And then, and then the timing is easy. Now you have to make sure you’re not unlocking your.

Because you leak power out of unlocked knees, right? And you have to make sure you’re not doing it down and up. Push press. This is a, this movement turns a forward and back, a horizontal hips movement into vertical bar movement.

All right. Well, that’s it for the featured bits from the interview I did with Mark on How to Bench and O H P, and if you want to go listen to the whole interview again, it was published back in August of 2018, so you can just go find it and listen to it. Okay. Let’s move on to the next highlight reel from a monologue that I recorded on how many calories you burn every.

The gold standard, scientifically speaking for measuring energy expenditure is a method called indirect calorimetry, and this involves measuring the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide that you inhale and exhale, and from this calculating your energy expenditure. And this method is very accurate because there is a direct relationship between how your body uses these gases and how much energy it is burning moment to moment.

And the reason there is a relationship there is your cells need both oxygen and carbon dioxide to create energy, which is why you need to breathe to stay alive. And only small amounts of what you inhale are used for intergeneration, though most of the gases. Exhaled and how much of the oxygen and carbon dioxide are exhaled depends on how much energy is needed.

So the greater the energy demand at any moment, the greater the need for these gases, and therefore, the difference between how much of each of these gases are inhaled versus exhaled is a reliable yardstick for energy product. . So the less of these gases that’s exhaled, they’re greater the energy production.

And this is what scientists eventually figured out and they figure out how to measure it and how to quantify it. And the result is this indirect calorie retry. Alright, let’s talk about workout machines. How accurate are the calorie readouts on these machines? Now, many people, when they go into their cardio workouts, they have a target for the number of calories.

Burn, which makes sense. And they rely on the machine readouts to know when they’ve achieved their goal and they can end their workout. Unfortunately, most of these machines overestimate the number of calories that you are burning in your workouts and by a lot, which is not surprising me, thinks that’s probably not a mistake.

Because it is definitely encouraging to see a big number and makes you want to keep using the machine. A good case in point here is a study that was conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco’s human performance Center, and researchers found that on average stationary bicycles, overestimated calorie expenditure by 7%.

Stair climbers were over by an average of 12%, treadmills, 13% in ellipticals by 42%. That’s that’s no. How can you figure out how many calories you’re burning through exercise and other physical activity, which of course you need to know to be able to calculate how many calories you’re burning every day because again, you have your basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy that it costs to simply remain alive.

If you were to sit in bed all day and literally not move. It would still cost a fair amount of energy to keep all of your organs working and keep everything going. And that amount of energy would be your baso metabolic rate. You take that, you add in all the energy, you burn through physical activity, and there is your total daily energy expenditure.

But how do you get there? Well, the easiest. Method that is very accurate is a system based on what’s called a metabolic equivalent of task or m e t. So think of an m e t, like a calorie, but instead of measuring the amount of energy, That is required to heat one kilogram of water, one degree Celsius, which is the amount of energy that is contained in a calorie, at least when we’re speaking about calories in food, which technically are referred to as kilo calories, but we just call ’em calories.

An M E t is the amount of energy that an average size person will burn while sitting still for. Minute and different activities are assigned different m e t scores. So walking at a slow pace for a minute, for example, burns about double the amount of energy of sitting still, and thus has an m e T score of two vacuuming is is on the list of things.

Quantified and as it’s more vigorous than walking at a slow pace. It’s listed at 3.5 Metts and so on. And you can find the M e T scores of wide variety of physical activities in the compendium of Physical Activities tracking guide. If you Google that, it will come up. And once you have that guide, here’s how you can use it to figure out how many calories you’re burning.

So the first step is you gotta understand the basic m e t equation. So the math that is used to determine calorie expenditure here is simple. You have calories burned equals metts times your weight in kilograms times, hours of. So that is the equation. And the second step is to find the m e t value for the activity that you wanna measure.

So let’s take weightlifting for example, that’s listed at six Metts, and make sure you pay attention to the activity intensity as well. Because many activities like walking have more specific entries with different M E T scores. So walking up and down stairs, for example, has a higher M E T score than strolling around the.

So the third step here is you plug the m e t value of the activity into the equation. So let’s say that you weigh 80 kilograms or about 175 pounds, and you lift weights for one hour, and you want to know how many calories did you burn. So here’s the equation, then you have. Six Metts times 80 kilograms times one.

So again, that is the weightlifting M E T score, which is six, which is an indication of how difficult it is times your body weight and kilograms 80 times. The duration in hours, which is one, and you do that math six times 8,480, so you burn about 480 calories per hour of weightlifting that you do.

Okay, so those are a few of the juicy tidbits from the monologue titled, how Many Calories Do You Really Burn Every Day? Published back in April of 2019, in case you want to listen to the whole episode. And that leaves the final episode that we’ll be covering in this episode of The Best of Muscle Life.

And it is my top five takeaways from Flow from the book Flow by Mahaley Chickson Ma. If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world.

All righty. Let’s get to the featured book, which is Flow by Mahaley. Chien. Mahaley. Yes, that is a tongue twister, and it is a high time that I reviewed this book because it is one of my all-time favorite self-development books, one that I constantly recommend to people who ask for book recommendations for living a better and more fulfilling life, and to underst.

Why do something for me? Close your eyes and think back to an instance where you were doing something that made your consciousness feel harmoniously ordered, that absorbed all of your focus and attention, and that dissolved your awareness of time worries. Even yourself. So maybe it was playing an instrument or spending an evening with loved ones, or coding a website, cooking a meal, driving a car, whatever.

Chicks and Mahaley refers to these. Occurrences as optimal experiences and the psychological and emotional state they produce as flow. And this book is a scientific investigation of these phenomena and how to increase their frequency and intensity in our lives. Alright, the second takeaway. Contrary to what we usually believe.

Moments like these, the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times. Although such experiences can also be enjoyable if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits. In a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen. So my note here is that we all. To be happy, but what does that mean exactly and how do we achieve it? So for me, the surest route to happiness is twofold. One, making progress towards specific articulated and achievable short and long-term goals.

And two, experiencing a sense of mastery and control along the way, which is produced by concentrating on tasks, overcoming challenges. and executing intentions. Now, what is conspicuously missing from that list, of course, is the actual achievement of goals and desires, because for me at least, this provides a certain measure of fulfillment, but also dissatisfaction as a new list of wishes.

Dampens the. In this way, I actually find more enjoyment and pleasure in doing the work than having done the work. So this takeaway that I just shared also gives some insight into why I enjoy most work for its own sake. For me, work is an easy way to get into a flow state where my attention is fully absorbed by something that I feel is meaningful, something that aligns with a vision of the future.

I want to. And something that can provide tangible feedback as cheeks and Mahaley says elsewhere in the book, quote, goals justify the effort they demand at the outset, but later it is the effort that justifies the goal. Final takeaway, number five. Quote, it is true that life has no meaning. If, by that we mean a supreme goal built into the fabric of nature and human experience, a goal that is valid for every individual, but it does not follow that life cannot be given meaning much of what we call culture and civilization consists in efforts.

Hmm. Typo consists in efforts, consists of efforts probably people have made generally against overwhelming odds to create a sense of purpose for themselves and their descendants. It is one thing to recognize that life is by itself meaningless. It is another thing entirely to accept this with resignation.

The first. Does not entail the second any more than the fact that we lack wings, prevents us from flying from the point of view of an individual, it does not matter what the ultimate goal is provided. It is compelling enough to order a lifetime’s worth of psychic energy. So my note here is, well, it starts with a, a quote from Fight Club, something Tyler Durden said.

He said, you have a class of young, strong men and women and they want to give their lives to something. Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don’t need. Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they really don’t need. We don’t have a great war in our generation or a great depression.

But we do. We have a war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The Great Depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression, and that I believe is a prescient and. Remember that was, and that was published back in 96, I think. And also a poignant social commentary with a point.

Unless we fully align our energies to goals and purposes that matter to us, we will always feel disconnected from ourselves and others and reality. No amount of trinkets, indulgences, or substances can change this. In the book, in Flow Cheeks, Mahali shares another Thomas Carlisle quote, which is blessed as he who has found his work.

Let him ask no other blessedness. That resonates with me and is relevant to this last takeaway. I think that we all must strive to find and hold onto our work for as long as we can. Not to reach the peak, but to justify the climbing. Well, that is it for some of the finer moments of my top five takeaways from Flo by Mahaley Chicks and Mahaley.

And if you wanna listen to the rest of the episode or the whole episode, you can find it by going back to March of 2019. And that’s also all I have. For you in this episode of Muscle for Life. Thank you for listening. I really appreciate the support and I have a lot more good stuff coming, so definitely keep an eye on your podcast feed.

For example, I have a monologue coming on the best time of the day to lift weights, and I have an interview I did with Mike Isra on how to customize your weightlifting routine to make it maximally effective for your body. How to determine, for example, if one exercise is better for you. Then another. All right.

Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you did and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in. Because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search.

Ability, and thus it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and happier as well. And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for

Just muscle f o r and share your thoughts on how I can do this better. I read everything myself, and I’m always looking for constructive feedback, even if it is criticism. I’m open to it and of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.

That is the best way to get ahold of me, Mike, at multiple And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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