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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.

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:

Mark Rippetoe on the Right (and Wrong) Ways to Squat

(Originally published 4/6/2018)

What Do I REALLY Think About People on Steroids?

(Originally published 7/7/2017)

Motivation Monday: The Number-One Reason to Read (Is Not What You Think)

(Originally published 10/15/2018)

And we’ll be starting with number one, Mark Rippetoe on the right (and wrong) ways to squat.

Lastly, if you want to support the show, please drop a quick review of it over on iTunes. It really helps! 


3:30 – Mark Rippetoe on the Right (and Wrong) Ways to Squat

8:43 – What Do I REALLY Think About People on Steroids?

14:14 – Motivation Monday: The Number-One Reason to Read (Is Not What You Think)

Mentioned on the Show:

My New Book Muscle For Life

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


Hello there. This is Muscle for Life. I am your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today. And quickly go ahead and subscribe to the show in whatever app you are listening to me in so you don’t miss new episodes. And so you can help me boost the rankings of the show so then other people can find it as well.

Have you ever wondered if it is too late to get fit? The human body does change in undesirable ways as it gets older ways that do indeed conspire against our health and fitness. But that doesn’t mean you have missed the fitness fair. It only means you just can’t get fit the way you used to. So for example, when you were younger, you probably ate what you wanted.

You probably lived how you wanted, and you probably enjoyed the body you wanted. Now that is a recipe that just doesn’t work anymore and it’s never going to work. More and more research is showing, however, that while aging is not optional, genetics affect lifespan and longevity far less than most people believe.

Simply put what appears to most influence how we age isn’t. Time, but lifestyle, we get heavier and weaker because we stop exercising and we overeat too much. Our joints fall into disrepair because we way too much and we move too little, and we develop disease and dysfunction because we allow our bodies to stagnate and sour.

So while we cannot change our chronological age, studies show that we. Reverse our biological age and we can restore much of the vigor of our younger years. In fact, more or less, every negative aspect of aging can be mitigated by proper exercise, especially proper strength training, diet, sleep, and supplementation.

And if you want to. How to do that. Then head over to, muscle f o r life and preorder my newest book, which is called Muscle for Life, and it is a science based blueprint for eating and exercising that. Anyone can follow at any age and any fitness level, men and women, all ages, all abilities.

Again, that is All right, so this episode is another installment of the best of. Muscle for life, which means you’ll be hearing handpicked artisanal mors from three episodes. One is an interview I did with the one and only Mark Ripe to on the Right and Wrong Ways to Squat. The other is a monologue.

On what I think about people on steroids called What do I really Think About People on Steroids? And then the final is a motivational episode, a monologue called The Number One Reason to Read is Not What You Think. I know I’m not very good at click bait. I try though. I try. All right, so let’s start with the highlight reel from the episode I did with Mark Ripe to on the right and wrong ways to.

Let’s talk about the width of the stance, like a narrow, more narrow stance versus a wider stance. We coach a position that is about, and this works for the, for 98% of everybody, we use a position where heels are at about shoulder width. So if you draw a line. Vertically down from your shoulders to your heels, that’s how wide your stance will be.

And then we use a stance angle of 30 to 35 degrees. And the reason for this is because it. Produces conformity with our criteria. It uses more muscle mass. And by that, just to clarify, you’re talking about the position of the feet, right? Yes. The stance is heels at shoulder width, toes out at 30 to 35 degrees.

And then when you squat, you keep your knees in line with your feet so that. And knees and femurs are parallel, and the paralleled nature of that alignment at 30 to 35 degrees of external rotation requires that your hips engage all of the musculature that produces external rotation. Now all of that musculature is the three big glute bell.

As well as the internal, the physical therapy muscles. I like to call ’em the piriform is the operators, the Gelli and the quadratus guy in there. I think he’s the quadratus Luum, but I don’t really care. What I care about is that all of the muscle mass that produces external rotation, it’s called into the squat.

It’s involved in the exercise if external rotation is a part of the execution. So we intentionally choose a. That produces external rotation, thus involving the external rotator muscle mass in the exercise. And you’d mentioned earlier that your femurs were long relative to your tibi. So if a guy is going to have an anthropometry that produces a more forward knee relative to his toes, cuz that’s really what we’re talking about.

Then I don’t see a point in elevating the heel for him because he’s already and the reason we might want to elevate a heel is to get more quadricep into the movement pattern. All right. A guy with that anthropometry, with your anthropometry is already using a whole bunch of quad anyway, because below parallel, his knees are gonna be more forward than the guy with short fevers and long tibs.

Now the guy with. Femurs and long tibia. At the bottom of a squat may very well see his knees behind his toe at the same depth that you’re at two completely different tibia angles, and as a result, person like that might find that a one, even a one inch heel on his lifting shoes helps him squat more weight because it more thoroughly activates the quads and adds that muscle mass in a little bit more to the squat that his anthropometry is interfering.

The most common error we see in squatting is the tendency to try to squat with two vertical back because it’s normal for most people to think that squat is legs, squat is hips. The squat is a hips movement, and in order to get the most out of the hips and thereby accidentally get the most out of the leg, the back angle must be more horizontal than most people want it to be.

And this is why we put the bar down low and why we have to continually remind people to bend. Present your hips to the floor, present your chest to the floor, point your nipples down. There’s several different ways to work with this back angle. Cause if your back’s too vertical, you can’t drive the hips up out of the bottom.

And hip drive is an inherent part of every heavy squat, whether you want it to be or not. There are no videos available of people squatting heavy weights without an initial hip. Without the use of the hips as the way to get out of the bottom, whether you’ve been taught not to do that or not, that’s what you do, and it makes absolutely no sense to ignore that perfectly reasonable way to improve your ability under the bar to think correctly about what it is you’re going to do with that movement pattern.

As a result, hip drive is the primary feature of effective squatting, and there are all of the stuff that goes into driving the hips up needs to be the. That you as a coach get very good at getting out of your lifter. And there’s many ways to interact with lifters. Those are our coaches that lift. But squats are all basically the same.

Squats are hips out of the vibe. They may all look different because of anthropometry bar placement, all that other stuff, but the human body squats one way. Okay. That is it for the takeaways. The most interesting takeaways I thought from that episode, and if you liked them and you want to go listen to the full episode, it was originally published in April of 2018, so you can go back and find it.

Okay, let’s move on now to the snippets, the featured snippets. From What do I really think about People on Steroid? What do I really think about people that take steroids? And the simple answer is I really don’t care. It doesn’t really mean anything to me. I’m a libertarian at heart, a classical liberal type of person that believes that people should be able to think the things they want to think and believe, the things they want to believe.

And. Say the things they wanna say and generally just live the way that they wanna live, so long as they’re not actively harming others or society in general. And so when it comes to steroid use, my initial thought is if someone wants to do that, it’s their body. So go ahead and do it. Similarly, if they wanna drink alcohol, go ahead and drink alcohol.

If they want to use recreational drugs, go ahead and use recreational drugs. Now, I don’t personally think those are all great choices, especially when you look at long term health, but I also think that people should have the right to choose what they want to do with their bodies. Professional athletes are always looking at how do they advance their skills a little bit further?

How do they push their bodies a little bit harder? Get a little bit more performance outta their bodies. How do they shore up their weaknesses a little bit better? And in pretty much all cases, in all sports, if you can just improve your overall athleticism or your recovery, that’s going to t.

Into being better at your sport. And so you have these people that, in most cases they’ve been playing these sports their entire lives. They’ve put in thousands of hours of work. They’ve been dreaming of making it big and making a living, playing that sport since they were little kids. And they get there and then they realize a few things.

One, they realized that everyone else is also. Very good. Much better than, anything they’ve seen up to that point. And they realize too that a lot of these people are also using drugs that give them considerable advantages. And three, that if they want to keep up, they probably have to use drugs as well.

And so many of them choose to do what they have to do to remain competitive at that level. And it’s understandable again, given those circumstances. And then also adding in the potential of millions and millions of dollars of money. I think most of us would probably choose the same. Similarly, if we were in Hollywood and someone came to us and said, Hey, we want you for the next Captain America movie, but you need to gain 30 pounds of muscle in six months.

And we also need you to be lean. So you know what that means, Yes or no? I don’t know how many of us would say no. Now let’s answer a question that I’m asked fairly often, and that is, why am I not on steroids? You can probably glean some of the reasons based on what I’ve already talked about in this podcast.

But it is a good question still, Like I said earlier, because if I were on drugs, I could probably gain another 10 or 15 pounds of muscle fairly easily, which would look pretty impressive on my physique. I could stay leaner year round, I could eat more food, I could look drier and harder, and ultimately I could use.

To sell more stuff. I could use it to probably mainly build my following on social media a lot faster and get more people to buy my books and buy my supplements and so forth. So it is a good question. The first reason is I generally actually just stay away from drugs on the whole, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t use recreational drugs.

And in case you’re wondering why I stay so drug-free. There are a few reasons. One, I think it’s a good strategy for optimizing long-term physical and mental health because generally speaking, especially as you get older, the fewer drugs and medications you have in your body the better off you’re probably gonna be.

So there’s that. There’s also just the fact that I don’t really feel the need for, or the compulsion to chase the chemical release. Is provided by drugs. A lot of people, they use drugs as a sort of crutch or coping mechanism in their lives because it helps them, feel better about things or run away from their problems.

And. That just that doesn’t really hold any appeal to me. I am much more the person that is, I would be, I’m more interested in facing up to my problems and facing up to the things that I’m not happy about and figuring out what can I do about those things to improve conditions so I can truly feel satisfied about, my circumstances in.

Another reason why I’m not on steroids is I don’t care enough about being super jacked to want to gamble with my health. I’m happy with my physique the way it is. I, it’s something that’s sustainable. I enjoy my workouts. I think that I can maintain it for the rest of my life so long as I. Don’t, sustain any major injuries.

And if you add steroids into the mix, you’re now looking at there are side effects inevitably. Some are worse than others. It really depends on what you’re taking, how much you’re taking, how you’re cycling it, and just how your body responds to drugs. And that’s it for the review of what do I really think about People on Steroids?

If you want to go listen to the whole episode, that one was published in July of 2017, and now let’s move on to the final episode. Featured in this episode of Muscle For Life, the best of Most for life, and that is the number one reason to read is not what you. To expand his research efforts. In 1930, O’Connor created the Human Engineering Laboratory at Stevens Institute of Technology, and he worked diligently to gather data on skills specific to various professions as well as general data regarding learning and.

Soon after that, he launched a research project to determine which traits or talents were more important than others in becoming successful and advancing in one’s career. And it was during this investigation that he made a very unexpected discovery. What O’Connor found was that a person’s vocabulary level was the best single predictor of long term success.

In all disciplines and endeavors that he analyzed. In other words, an understanding of not only general language, but of the words specific to the activity was the most important factor that separated the unsuccessful from the successful. Now this discovery sparked in O’Connor a fascination with language and its connection with skill and success.

In another study, he found that a person’s vocabulary directly correlated with how far they rose in an organization. For instance, presidents of companies scored among the highest in vocabulary of those people He test. In his later writings, O’Connor concluded that the understanding of words was a major key to unlocking human potential.

The number one reason I read is to expand my vocabulary. I’ve found that the more words I learned, The better I’m able to understand life and the world around me, and the more ideas I’m able to command and connect in my mind. And so what this means is when I’m reading, I spend a fair amount of time in the dictionary checking and clarifying the meaning of words.

In fact, I would estimate that about 30%, 20 to 30% of the time, I spend reading is invested in the dictionary, reading definitions, making sample sentences, and reviewing etymologies, and yes, I do this regardless of what I’m reading, whether it’s an article, a book, or even a tweet. Every word that I can clarify and I can learn is like a gem that I can add to my collection and thereby increase.

Understanding and wisdom, and yes, this process can be very annoying at times. Sometimes I would just like to blaze through whatever I’m reading and move on to something else, but I stick to it because of the significant and wide ranging dividends it pays. Now paying close attention to your understanding of words has another very practical benefit.

It forces you to slow down and absorb and analyze what you are reading or listening to word by word, sentence by sentence, as opposed to sailing through sentences and paragraphs, believing your understanding and retaining more than you really. And in fact, research shows that this is probably one of the reasons that people tend to remember more of what they read in print than on a screen.

Most people tend to read digital content faster. So if you want to upgrade, not just your ability to comprehend and retain information, but the foundation of your entire intellectual operating system, so to. Get a dictionary. The new Oxford American Dictionary third edition is my personal favorite, and start using it liberally.

Alrighty if I haven’t convinced you to read more, please go and listen to the full episode, which was published in October of 2018. 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. Ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for, muscle f o r and let me know what I could do better or just 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.

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