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Some people—my favorite people—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 do at least a little better inside and outside the gym.
That’s why I do “best of” episodes that contain a few of the most practical and compelling ideas, tips, and moments from the more popular episodes I’ve published over the years. This way, you can learn interesting insights that you might have otherwise missed and find new episodes of the show to listen to.
So, in this installment of The Best of Muscle for Life, you’ll be hearing hand-picked morsels from three episodes:
Ben Pakulski on Meditation, Consciousness, Focus, Spirituality, and More
(Originally published 4/29/2019)
The Easiest Cardio Workout You Can Do (That Actually Works)
(Originally published 5/31/2018)
Book Club: Alexander the Great by Philip Freeman
(Originally published 10/27/2017)
And we’ll be starting with number one, Ben Pakulski on meditation, consciousness, focus, spirituality, and more.
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4:11 – Ben Pakulski on Meditation, Consciousness, Focus, Spirituality, and More
11:48 – The Easiest Cardio Workout You Can Do (That Actually Works)
15:15 – Book Club: Alexander the Great by Philip Freeman
Mentioned on the Show:
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What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello, and welcome to Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for another installment of the Best of Muscle for Life, which is basically a handpicked selection of the juiciest. More souls from some of the more popular episodes I’ve recorded over the years. And I do these episodes because some people, my favorite people, of course, they listen to most, or even all of my podcasts.
But my analytics tell me that while many listeners do tune in on a regular. Basis, they don’t catch every episode, and thus they miss out on insights that could help them do at least a little bit better inside and outside of the gym. And so I had the idea, why don’t I do these best of episodes where I share some of the most practical and compelling ideas.
Tips and moments from the more popular episodes that I’ve done over the years and these best of episodes, they do well and so I keep doing them. So in this installment of the Best of Muscle for Life, you are going to be hearing handpicked morsels from three episodes. One is an interview I did with Ben Polski on Meditation Consciousness Focus.
Spirituality and more. And that was originally published in April of 2019. And then there is a monologue called the easiest cardio workout you can do that actually works. And that was published in May of 2018. And then a book club episode, which I need to do a new one of. I’m gonna make a mental note.
It’s been a bit, but anyway, this one was on the book, Alexander the Great by Philip Freeman Before we sink our teeth into it, Many people think that if they just eat well, if they eat enough nutritious foods, they don’t need a multivitamin. And while there is truth there, we don’t need to take any supplements.
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Use the coupon code muscle at checkout and save 20% or get that 10% cash back if you are an existing customer. Try. Triumph, risk free and see what you think. And let’s start with the highlight reel of the interview I did with Ben Polski. I started meditating in 2007, so I was aspiring to be a professional bodybuilder.
I wasn’t professional at the time. And I had a guy who came into my life kind of by accident. He was actually a therapist, a a physical therapist. And, uh, you know, I’m laying there on his table. He is doing some manual work on me, and, uh, you know, I’m telling him about my life and telling him about the problems I’m having, the stresses I’m having, and how people are, you know, rubbing me the wrong way.
You know, there’s certain people in, in everyone’s life who rub you the wrong way. And he goes, well, Why do you let them do that to you? And I was like, what do you mean they’re not doing anything? You know, it’s, it’s them. And I’m getting a little snappy and defensive and he goes, well man, you know, maybe that’s saying more about you than you realize.
Maybe the fact that you let other people influence you is something you should think about. And I was like, you know, tell me more about that. You know, asking questions. And he’s basically like, well, Ultimately, someone outside of you shouldn’t be able to influence who you are and how you act and the person that you are, ultimately the person you bring to the world.
So he mentioned this thing about meditation and, and you know, controlling your emotions and controlling your reactivity stuff and becoming more responsive and rather than reactive. And I was really my first kind of exposure to that thought process. Up to that point in my life. I was 25, 26, I just kind of existed.
You know, I hadn’t been aware of the reality that there was an opportunity to respond, uh, rather than react. And he’s like, whoa, why don’t you try this? You know, like, Try to try to meditate. And so he gave me a, a book by Wayne Dyer and, uh, sat down, read the book. I wasn’t, you know, that much of a student at that time.
I’d been through university and such, but my, my passion was body building, so I thought all I had to do was lift weights and eat protein. So I read this book and, you know, ultimately that changed my life and made me realize that. No, no one or no thing outside of you should influence who you are and what you bring to a situation.
And that was just my weakness as a human. And as I started to dive more into this meditation thing, I realized that I had the ability to not only control my thoughts, but control my actions, uh, control my words. And to me, that’s such a powerful place to come from, right? Like I am in control of everything that comes outta my mouth.
I’m in control of everything that goes through my mind, in the way that I act, the way I react or respond. Like you sit down and write books. You sit down and read books. You sit down and have a conversation with someone who’s an employer, even your, your spouse, like the ability to be there and be present and be focused and not distracted, and not picking your nose and not scratching the itch, and not mo and not fidgeting, but actually being able to be there and be present in, in the conversation or the situation is, Maybe the most powerful gift or the most powerful power that anyone could bring to a situation, man, like the reason you’re a successful business guy, Mike, is cuz you have focus and the ability to train that focus is superpower.
The way I teach muscle building is a very mindful process. You have to be present, you have to be focused. You, it’s an internal focus. Like I’m focused on what’s happening inside my body. I’m connecting with my body. Most people train completely disconnected, right? They turn the music as high as they can.
They become true, absolutely mindless about it. So they’re going through the motions mindlessly. So as, as much as um, you know, op, uh, exercise, like many things in life can be a meditative focused opportunity. Most people dis use it to disconnect. Rather than connect. And I think, you know, for me now, training is meditative man.
Like my 99% of their, 90% of the time my eyes are closed. I don’t have music in my ear. I’m ultimately meditating and connecting with my ability to feel my body connect with my body. Um, but again, like I said, most people don’t do that. Most people do the exact opposite, and I really suggest that most people at least try.
That’s what meditation is for me. It’s like this daily, um, inventory of my body. Like what am I doing? Like, am I clenching my jaw? Okay, well let’s stop doing that. Am I furrowing my eyebrow? We’ll stop doing that. You know, like, and it’s just like, oh, I can start paying attention and realizing I can control it.
It’s powerful, man. Yeah, I pay attention to my facial expressions as well. Cause you know, there’s research on that that if, uh, simply smiling or frowning will affect your mood. Generally speaking, of course, it’s not everybody all the time, but that’s just like a good rule of thumb if you’re sitting there frowning.
Uh, if you just start smiling, force yourself to smile. You will probably feel better immediately. Man, I don’t even open my eyes in the morning until I smile and I’ll, until you get my routine. It’s kind of funny. I’m, and I’m very blessed to have, you know, three young kids who are just amazing. Um, and so before I even open my eyes, I do three minutes of gratitude in my bed and, and I start with things that are close to me.
So usually it’s my wife and then it’s my kids and it’s my house, and then it’s my business, and then it’s my employees and my team. And you’re going through this kind of circle that’s ever expanding circle, and you do your three minutes. And by the time you’re done, that man, I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude.
My first emotion is always a massive smile, and then God. Things are good, man. Like rather than starting the day going, oh fuck, what do I have to do today? I haven’t even got outta bed before. I put my myself into a state of going I’m, my life is really, really blessed no matter how shit things are. After that, you still started your day with this massive smile.
You can end your day with this massive smile and then all of a sudden, Hey man, what happens in between? I can’t always control it, but I can certainly control the way I start and the way I finish. Um, and I mean, chances are what I’ve noticed is the things that happen between start to go a little bit more positively when you start and finish your day with that positive sense of gratitude, an altered state of consciousness, meaning, you know, you’re in a state of meditation and you leave your body and so you’re ultimately awake, aware of your body, but you are not your body.
So outside, so you’re saying that’s like a specific example of something that we were, you were like, holy shit, what? Yeah. That’s an Alton state, right? So, yeah. Um, like that would be a similar experience that you may have if you’re taking a psychedelic like this, this exiting of, of your physical body and realizing that you’re this energetic being that lives in a body.
You are not your body. You live in a body and you’re like, you step outside your body, you watch your body and it’s sitting there. You’re like, oh, okay, this is interesting. Why is this happening and how can I explore this a little bit more? And then, you know, the idea that. You know, what happens when your body goes away?
Who knows? But does the energetic being that lives inside it go away? Or does that just change forms? You know, who knows? I dunno. The answer. We could, we could claim. That’s a little bit, um, you know, out there a little bit woo woo. But like, I don’t fucking know the answer. I don’t think anyone will ever know the answer.
It’s just about your beliefs. So, um, you know, explore it. Why not see, see what happens. And I think the idea of having creative exploration of these altered states is, Very interesting. This idea of this physical body is, is a physical manifestation of energy and the energetic being that exists inside of it exists without the body.
So when I go to sleep at night, what goes to sleep? My body goes to sleep. My consciousness still lives there is still awake. It’s still, uh, you know, you still can access consciousness when you’re asleep. So you can actually train yourself to ultimately be completely conscious while your bo physical body sleeps.
They proven it. So now that, that’s gives us a good. Uh, idea that, hey, maybe this consciousness actually could exist without this physical form. So, okay, well if that’s the case, maybe when, then after this body, uh, tires out expires, the, the, the mitochondria can no longer produce energy. Uh, Um, well, where does consciousness go?
Maybe it could continue to live on, you know, maybe it needs to find a new being to exist in. Maybe it needs to, maybe it can exist in a different dimension, in a different realm. Who knows? Um, you know, with our five senses, we’re limited to what our five senses can feel and sense. So maybe there’s things that exist beyond our five senses, and that to me is just a fascinating exploration.
And that’s why I believe now the journey has to be within, man. That’s the only thing worth exploring is this, um, internal. Dialogue with yourself about who you really are, uh, at your core and what is fulfilling to that being, and how can you provide greater value to this, to the species to humanity.
That’s it for the featured snippets from the interview with Ben Mikulski, and if you liked what you heard and you wanna listen to the whole thing, you can find it in April of 2019 if you just go back in the feed and find it there. Okay, now let’s move on to the highlights from the easiest cardio workout you can do.
That actually works if you are sick of doing cardio that makes you sick. And if you want to know how to lose fat and get fitter, the. Quote, unquote, easy way than this is for you. And even better, you’re not gonna need any special equipment, gadgets, or skills for this. You’re not going to need to track your heart rate or time your intervals or log your miles and you’re gonna do something that you’ve been doing your entire life.
Now I’m talking about walking. Of course, walking is the easiest cardio workout that you can do that does work. And while walking is no high intensity interval training, as far as fat burning goes, as far as effectiveness goes, it does deserve more attention than it generally gets. And the reason why is walking is a great way to burn more energy and thus burn more fat without placing any stress on the body, without impacting your recovery from your more intense workouts.
If you walk for an hour, you’re gonna burn, let’s say, somewhere around. 300 calories. It might be a bit higher, but we, we will be conservative in say, 300 calories per hour of walking, and if you were to walk three to four hours per week while you are cutting, that’s an additional thousand ish calories per week burned.
That’s pretty significant. That’s 4,000 calories per month, which is going to be an additional. One half to probably three quarters of a pound of fat loss per month. This is also something to keep in mind when you are traveling or when you’re on a holiday and you’re going to be eating a lot more food than usual.
If you can walk for a few hours per day, you can buy yourself a lot of calories that you can eat, so to speak. Again, a few hours of walking is an additional thousand calories that you can eat just to stay at maintenance. Unlike many forms of exercise, it places very little stress on the body. In fact, research shows that walking can even counteract.
The effects of stress and reduce cortisol levels, which is going to make for a better all around cutting experience. And studies show that this is especially true if you go walk in nature, that walking in nature surrounded by nature as a. Particularly calming effect on the body, which is interesting. Now, another thing I like about walking is that it minimally impacts muscle gain, and studies show that cardiovascular exercise does directly impair muscle and strength gain to one degree or another.
There is an interference effect, and the magnitude of this effect depends on how much cardio you are doing, what types of cardio you are doing, and when you are doing it, but. It is there in all cases, in a case of cycling and rowing, and of course in walking and swimming’s another good one as well. You have very little tissue damage that results from these workouts, which means less tissue that needs to be repaired on top of all the tissue that needs to be repaired from your resistance training workouts if you want to augment your fat loss with as little added stress to the body.
That’s what walking is for. And that’s it for that episode, for the featured bits from the easiest cardio workout you can do that actually works. And again, that was published back in May of 2018, in case you want to listen to the whole thing. And let’s finish up with the highlight reel of the book club episode for Alexander the Great by Philip Freeman.
Yes, it’s true. Alexander and his Macedonians killed a lot of innocent people, but writing him off as a psychopath is just too simplistic. First and foremost, he was a man of his times and he was no better or worse than pretty much every other general in the ancient world, including. Celebrated figures like Hannibal and Caesar.
And furthermore, as Freeman explains in the end of this book, you can make a compelling argument that Alexanders escapades actually laid the foundation of Western. Culture specifically in later years. The Romans were so fascinated with Alexander’s exploits that they developed an intense interest in Hellenic philosophy and literature and disseminated it far and wide from the sands of Syria to the shores of Britain.
Quote toward the end of the march when officers and men alike had all been given up hope of escaping the desert live. Some scouts found a small spring with only enough water to fill a single helmet. The patrol was so thankful that they had found even this, that they brought it before Alexander, who is as thirsty as anyone.
As wretched as his own state was. However, he knew his men were suffering even more. Therefore, just as he had done in the desert crossing in Tre four years earlier, Alexander refused to drink when his army could not. He took the helmet of precious water and poured it on the ground in full view of his army to the parched men for their king to share in their suffering in this way.
Meant more than the water soaking into the sand. They were so heartened, cesan. It was as if they had each drunk every drop that he poured on the ground. So my note here is that Alexander proved again and again that he simply wouldn’t ask his men to do anything that he himself wouldn’t do. And he even went as far as intentionally enduring as much pain and suffering as they did, and often more.
He conducted himself as a first among equals in a body of free men, not as a divine Lord to be worshiped with elaborate rituals and pomp, which was very common in those times, and especially in the Persian Empire, which is the first of his major conquests. Now, these I think, are hugely important leadership lessons.
I’ve actually written and spoken about. These points before, but they bear repeating. If you want people to work hard and make sacrifices for you, then you yourself have to work at least as hard and make sacrifices that are at least as difficult and meaningful as what you’re asking of your people.
Alexander always looked at difficult and. Even seemingly impossible situations differently than everyone else, and even his best generals, he believed that nothing was truly impossible, that there was always a way out or through and onward. And that explains why he was willing to make monumental gambles.
Again and again in his campaigns. Now, what I personally took away from this little anecdote here is just how powerful that sense of forward motion is. Alexander viewed even the biggest obstacles and predicaments with a. Sort of contempt as if nothing could really stop him from achieving his objectives.
So my point here is I think that if we could learn to look at our own troubles in the same way as Alexander did, then we could be far more effective in all aspects of our lives. Alright, the third and final takeaway, why did Alexander insist on taking such risks? Why did he insist on doing such daring?
Things well because that’s what True men did. Now, whether you agree with that statement or not is neither here nor there because I think there’s a deeper significance to this story. You see, these days, many people’s actions are mainly dictated by what they want to have and sometimes. Many times what they want to have in that moment.
You know, the, the things and experiences that they think are gonna make them happy or satisfied. Now, decades of psychological research has conclusively proven that this is a horrible plan, and it’s more or less guaranteed to backfire, but we can save that for another discussion. The same research has shown that a much better way to go about living is first deciding who.
We want to be what fundamental and guiding principles matter most to us, and then figuring out what we need to do to embody those values and become that person. For example, in my case, my core values include achievement, commitment. Consistency, creativity, education, enthusiasm, and responsibility. And I consciously use these principles to guide me through my life.
You know, I wanna be able to confidently say that based on my actions, not my words or my intentions, but my actions, that I am the type of person that values those things. Most, and as a result of going about life that way, while I have definitely had my share of ups and downs, I’ve also been able to keep things on a generally upward trajectory by making a lot more good decisions than bad.
And I expect things to continue improving so long as I stay true to who I want to be. If I were to abandon those principles though, and start living for the types of things that many people fantasize about, money, fame, physical pleasure, and the like, then I would become the type of person that I really have no respect for, which would most certainly lead to my downfall.
I keep this in mind when I am tempted to go astray, and it has really helped me maintain a pretty even keel. 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. Ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike 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.