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What are the benefits of massage? Is the pec deck effective at all? Is CLA a dud supplement? Best foods for bulking?

This podcast is a Q&A, but it’s a bit different from the kind you’ll typically find here on Muscle For Life.

In my usual Q&A episodes, I take a question from email or Instagram and then fully answer it in an episode of the podcast every week.

However, over on Instagram, I’ve started doing weekly Q&As in the stories, and it occurred to me that many podcast listeners might enjoy hearing these questions and my short answers. So, instead of talking about one thing in an episode, I’m going to cover a variety of questions. And keep in mind some of these questions are just for fun. 🙂

So if you want to ask me questions in my Instagram stories, follow me on Instagram (@muscleforlifefitness), and if I answer your question there, it might just make it onto an episode of the podcast!

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 – Try Triton risk-free today! Go to and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% or get double reward points!

4:01 – What is your favorite cheat snack?

5:11 – How effective is the pec deck?

5:56 – What is a typical beginner training split?

9:08 – How are you?

9:45 – What are your thoughts on natural immunity?

10:06 – What do you think about collagen? 

14:51 – What are your thoughts on massage? What are the benefits and how often should I get one?

15:51 – When talking about the number of reps, do you mean from technical failure or muscular failure?

19:05 – What do you think about CLA? 

20:31 – How do I learn to hip hinge with no lower back pain? 

21:35 – Are full-body workouts hard to recover from?

22:33 – What are your maintenance calories?

23:04 – What are the best foods for bulking?

Mentioned on the Show:

Try Triton risk-free today! Go to 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, and welcome to a brand new episode of Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for a q and a where I am answering, oh, what do I have here? Maybe 15 or so, 15 or 20 questions that people asked me over on Instagram that I thought were interesting and that I answered over on Instagram, and now I’m answering here on the podcast.

And if you want to participate in. One of these q and a follow me on Instagram at most for life fitness, and then every Monday or Tuesday I put up a and ask me a question sticker story post delio, and I go through all of the questions and I choose ones that are interesting to me or are. Things that I’m getting asked fairly often about or just things I haven’t already explicitly spoken or written about and answer them on Instagram and then bring everything over here on the podcast.

And in today’s podcast, I’m going to be answering questions about beginner training, splits, natural immunity, uh, collagen, collagen, protein versus other types of collagen, the benefits of massage. What reps in reserve means and why I track reps in reserve in my training log, in addition to exercise weight and reps, and why I would recommend you do the same.

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Okay. Let’s start with a question from Aldi’s. Ferre favorite cheat snack? Snack would probably be dark chocolate. I really like good dark chocolate, so anything between, I don’t know, 70 and 90% cocoa with my preference being. Darker, so maybe in the eighties versus the seventies. And in terms of a sheet meal, a delicious pasta is hard to beat.

I make some sort of pasta dish every week these days, every Saturday or Sunday. And so I’ve been trying different recipes. I was doing bolognese for a bit and playing around with that, and then I switched to a vodka tomato sauce, and I’m really. Really enjoying that. It’s pretty easy to make too. It’s mostly just butter cream, tomato paste, and you know, some shallots and garlic and a lot of Parmesan cheese.

It’s so good though. So that’s one of my favorite sheet meals. Some sort of delicious tomato-based pasta, and also a traditional carbonara can be really good. That can really prickle the old processors. Okay, the next question comes from, Anabolic username and they ask, say, cool to see you use the pec deck, because I’ve been doing some pec deck in my current training block.

And so they say they heard it’s ineffective, but it’s one of their favorites. And you know, ironically arm abduction, adduction, so, so bringing your arm in toward. The middle of your body that is arguably more effective for training your PEX than pressing is if you look at what the pecks were designed to do, but the problem is load.

It’s hard to overload the Pex with abduction nearly as safely and effectively as you can with pressing Christina in four asks. What’s a typical beginner training split? I have four days to spare the gym per week. Thanks. Well, basically anything that provides about 10 to 12 hard sets of anywhere from say four to 12 reps per set, per major muscle group per week, and anything that focuses on compound exercises, compound movements, you know, pushes poles, squats, not that you have to bench press or deadlift or barbell back squat.

There are other types of. Pushes poles and squats. Those are good basic movements to think with. If it checks those boxes, it’s going to work well. How that training is split up in terms of upper, lower, or full body or push pull legs or body part even. Doesn’t really matter. So mostly it’s just finding a split that you like.

If you have four days, if you like upper lower, upper lower for example, that’s a nice symmetrical way to do it. Or if you like a push pull legs base with maybe another upper body day in there, or maybe a lower body day or maybe just kind of a full body, you wanna do a bit of everything in that fourth day that can work some sort of hybrid between a body part split and something else could work.

If you want to have, for example, Guys might want to have a chest day where you’re just doing 10 hard sets, let’s say, or eight to 10 hard sets for your chest. Maybe a little bit more for something else. And not that you have to only do that in the workout, but you really wanna make sure you get in your 10 to 12 hard sets of chest and one session because you actually wanna do a little bit more in another session.

You could have a chest day and then you could have a full body day, and then you could have an upper body or a lower body day. It’s totally fine to mix and match your muscles do not care what. Split you follow. They just need to get enough of the right type of training stimulus and the split choice. It actually matters a bit more for intermediates and advanced weightlifters who need to do more volume to make progress, who need to do.

Call it 15 to 20 ish hard sets per major muscle group per week. And when you have to do that much work to continue gaining muscle and strength, you do have to now pay a little bit more attention to how much volume you are doing for the major muscle groups that you most want to develop. You are not going to be able to do 20 plus hard sets per major muscle group per week for all major muscle groups.

You have to start thinking more about specialization. So let’s say. You really wanna work on your arms and your shoulders. Okay? So for one training block, you are doing 15 to 20 hard sets per week for your arms and shoulders. That might mean that you need two arms and shoulders days, like, you know, workout.

One in workout three, or maybe workout four are just arms and shoulders because you have to do a lot of it. And then on your other days, you are training the other major muscle groups, at least with enough volume to maintain what you have so you don’t backslide while you are working on blasting your arms.

Diana Cortes, eh, one of those asks, how are you? Well, the other day I was going for a walk and then a flock of birds flew overhead and I was kind of amused as I watched them randomly squawking and lurching to and fro at the command of the leading bird. And I walked on some bird shit fell near me and I.

Enjoyed the rest of my day, and that story pretty much sums up my relationship with these Quacky Corin times. FD 1993 asks my thoughts on natural immunity. Well, I’ve been saying for some time that my understanding of the. Scientific literature is that it’s robust, it’s durable, uh, no side effects, no boosters, but also no profit, unfortunately.

So injection companies hate it. G Ye or G asks, what do you think about collagen? Well, collagen protein. Is trashed here. Protein simply because of its middling amino acid profile, you are much better off with whey protein or if you want to go plant-based with rice protein or P protein or ideally a, a combination of rice and P protein, collagen protein is not nearly as rich in essential amino acids as those other choices and for body composition purposes and, and really just for.

General health purposes. I mean, the primary reason we are eating protein is to get those essential amino acids that our body cannot synthesize. If a source of protein has a lot of essential amino acids and it is absorbed well by the body, your body can actually use a lot of what’s in the protein. That is a top tier protein.

But if a protein is low in c. Leucine, which collagen protein is leucine is an essential amino acid that stimulates protein synthesis, the creation of proteins, including muscle proteins. And so if a protein is relatively low. Now, of course, collagen protein has leucine, but whey protein has a lot more, and research shows that the ideal dose of leucine in a single serving of protein is probably around three grams.

It’s something between two and four, but three grams seems to be a sweet spot and a serving. Like if you have 30 grams of protein from whey protein, it’s gonna provide about three grams of leucine. So in the case of collagen protein, it has a lot less leucine than whey protein, which makes it less effective for stimulating the creation of.

Proteins, including muscle proteins. So that’s why I don’t sell collagen protein. If I didn’t care about the effectiveness of the stuff I sell, I could just sell one and make money from it. I do get asked fairly often if I’m going to sell. A collagen protein. Why I don’t sell a collagen protein? I wish I could sell a collagen protein.

I wish I were wrong. I wish somebody could reach out to me with good research that refutes everything I just told you and that that shows no, no, no. Collagen protein is just as good for the purposes of building muscle, retaining muscle. As whey protein or as Caine or as egg protein or even soy protein.

And hey, if you are a listener who has that information to hand, if you know something that I don’t know, please do let me know, [email protected] because then I might be able to get behind selling a collagen protein and you’ll help me make more money. But that is my understanding of the literature on Collagen Protein.

Now as far as other types of collagen go, there is type one collagen that has been shown to not benefit joint health. Type two. Particularly under natured type two collagen can benefit joint health. So a lot of collagen supplements out there, they contain type one because that is inexpensive and many people do report noticing that they look prettier when they supplement with collagen hair, skin nails.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of scientific evidence of that, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence and researchers suspect that it might have something to do with the glycine content of collagen and that that in particular could explain why. And this is more women than men in my experience. Why many women in particular do experience noticeable improvements in hair, skin, and nail health, and the look of their hair, their nails, and their skin.

So that’s the type one. And the thing with type two, in particularly with Undenatured, Type two collagen. It’s very expensive, so that’s why you don’t find it in many products. Often it’s just sold as a single ingredient product. I include it in my joint supplement, fortify, and I probably spend too much money on fortify.

Considering the price, it probably should be at least 50% more expensive than it is. But my poor business acumen is your opportunity to get a joint supplement that is absolutely stacked, has all kinds of good stuff in it, very expensive to make. Okay. J Rosen 23 asks thoughts on massage, how often benefits, et cetera.

Um, well, massage can be great for relaxation. It can be great for working out trigger points. Which can then improve your performance in the gym because of less pain. And research shows that massage might also improve recovery, maybe a little bit. It’s unclear. I do get a massage once a week, and I did that in the past for an extended period of time, and then I stopped doing it for a while because it wasn’t convenient anymore.

Now it is convenient, so I’m doing it again, and I will say that, I mean, the person I work with is good. She now understands my body and I, and I do tend to have a couple of trigger points, just recurring issues. And by getting those worked on regularly, I do have fewer aches and pains in the gym. And that of course, then does translate into better performance and better results.

Lena Wellness asks, when talking about number of reps left, do you mean from technical failure or muscular failure? So just for a little context, she’s referring to the workout footage that I share on Instagram where I show people the exercises I’m doing and how many sets I’m doing and how many reps and with what weight.

And I also include my reps in reserve, how many good reps left? Sometimes it’s across all sets. Sometimes it’s just particularly in the fourth set. Because in the case of a, a barbell back squat, I think that’s actually a little bit more useful, is to know how hard should that final set be. Whereas in the case of a biceps curl, I’m going almost to failure every set because why not?

We’re not gonna get hurt pushing to maybe zero good reps left. So that’d be like, you’re failing on the next rep, or maybe one good rep left, but I would not do that. On a squat and maybe under certain circumstances, if I really wanted to push myself, that would not be more than maybe more often than once every couple of months.

So on my fourth and final set of squats, I like to feel like I could have done one or two more reps. Zero or one is pushing it a little bit much for me. And so to get to this question then, when I’m saying good reps left, are we talking about technical failure? So that’s the point where your form starts to break down.

Or muscular failure where you actually can no longer. Move the bar or the machine or the dumbbell, like your muscles will not contract anymore and you have to just abort the rep. Now my answer is those two things are usually one and the same, so there’s really no need to make the distinction. I did make that distinction in the past and in a previous edition of Bigger Than or Stronger, actually talked about the distinction, and at that time I preferred to focus on technical failure.

But in just continuing to do this stuff and continuing to read and work with people, I came to realize that when our form really starts to fall apart, that is usually when we are about spent, when we are going to have to set the bar down or. Dumbbell or, or just end the set because our muscles will no longer do what we want them to do.

And that is especially true with experienced lifters who are good. You know, those of us who have been doing this for a while, we have a lot of practice maintaining good form. Even when the. Exercises when the sets get hard. Our reps don’t really get sloppy until we’re basically at the point of muscular failure, and that’s why they get sloppy because we simply, I mean, think of a, a biceps curl, like an easy bar biceps curl.

Once you get strong, the weights. When the weight gets a little bit heavier, you don’t stand perfectly upright. There’s a little bit of torso motion, but when you get to the point of having to dramatically kind of swing your torso backward, swing your elbows forward or upward, it’s because your biceps are are failing.

You can’t just perform another curl correctly. Okay, next question comes from McManus Katia, and, uh, they ask, what do you think about C? It is a clunker. Most of the data we have on it shows that it does not help with weight loss, and there is one study in particular that suggested it might somehow lead to fat gain.

That said, C L A does serve another purpose. It helps you avoid shoddy supplement companies because if a supplement company sells C, they are either dishonest or ignorant or both, and therefore you should not buy anything from them. Find a company that does not sell C. And again, just like with collagen protein, I wish that were not true and I, I wish somebody could come forward and offer.

A strong, a compelling evidence-based refutation of that because then I would have a reason maybe to sell a C product. But as it stands currently, and I will say that the weight of the evidence is, is pretty significant at this point, and I don’t think there’s gonna be a lot of c l research that I think that it has exhausted its potential in the scientific community, meaning they’ve seen enough.

ELs to not want to invest more time and money into it. I, I don’t think that that position is going to change at least anytime soon. Okay, next question comes from anonymous and they ask, how do I learn to hip hinge without low back pain? No injuries. PT says, I’m fine physically. I would start with rack poles and then I would move to the trap bar deadlift.

And then you can stay there. Actually, and let me be specific. I would move to the high bar trap bar deadlift. Don’t go right into the low bar because that requires more hip hinge. It’s good in that it increases the range of motion and it increases the effectiveness of the exercise, but it requires more hip hinge.

So rack pulls to start, and you can figure out which height works best for you, maybe at your knees, maybe a little bit below your knees. It’s almost like. Doing kind of partial squats to work into a full squat. The rack pull is a great alternative to a deadlift. So start there. Then high bar trap bar deadlift, then low bar position in the trap bar deadlift.

So now you’re getting even to a little bit lower of a position, a little bit more hip hinge. And then you can stay there or you can move to a traditional barbell deadlift if you want to give that a go. After RU 31 asks our full body workouts hard to recover from. Well, they can be. It really depends how they’re programmed.

And if we’re talking about a true full body workout that involves direct volume for all of the big, major muscle groups, so think about like a squat, a pull, a press in the same session. It might be a barbell squat, deadlift, and a bench press all in the same session. That is generally harder to recover from than a kind of pseudo.

Full body workout that is more like a mostly lower body or mostly upper body workout with a little bit of other stuff sprinkled in. So think about a session where you squat, bench press, and biceps curl, for instance. We would call that a full body workout, but it’s not quite the same. That is going to be easier to recover from than the squat deadlift bench press session.

Right. Okay. Ry Stir 2003 asks, what are your maintenance calories? So currently they are about 2,900 and for people wondering about my numbers and things, I’m six two, I weigh about a hundred and ninety four hundred ninety five pounds. I do five hours of weightlifting per week. I do about three hours of moderate intensity cardio per week, uh, two to three hours.

It’s about 30 minutes per day, and that puts my maintenance calories right around 3000, give or take a little bit. Okay. The next and final question comes from ye. Rag a sopa. You have Raj, a sopa, something like that. Best foods for bulking. Well, my favorites are relatively nutritious, high carb and low fat foods and beverages that you can eat a lot of or drink a lot of in one sitting because those foods just help you eat enough calories while still keeping your fat intake reasonably low, and that helps mitigate fat gain.

When I am lean bulking, I try not to exceed 80 or so. Grams of fat per day. Certainly not more than 100, and that might sound like a lot, but if you’re a guy who has to eat 3,500 plus calories per day, when you’re lean, bulking, and you start building out your meal plan, you see that it actually, it gets tricky to keep your fat at, let’s say even 80 grams per day when you have to eat.

Certainly when you get above 4,000 calories per day, because, So many carbs come with some fat, and especially if you want to follow some recipes and you don’t just want to eat like piles of steamed rice every day or entire loaves of bread with no butter, for example. And so stuff like pasta bread is, those two are good.

It depends on the sauces. Of course, you’re gonna have to go with a lower fat. Probably sauce, not low, low fat, but you’re not gonna be eating carbonara pasta every day. Um, it’s going to probably be some lower fat, lighter kind of tomato-based sauce. Bread is a great source of carbs, and if it’s whole grain bread in the eyes of the, the scientific literature that counts towards your intake of whole grains, it might not be exactly the same as.

Oatmeal in terms of health benefits, which is also, uh, one of my favorite lean bulking foods because I can eat a lot of it. I think it’s delicious, especially if you throw a banana in it and throw some nuts in it, if that works for your meal plan. And then for sweetness, I like to add some protein powder.

My favorite protein powder to add is legion’s salted caramel. Whe I think that. Plus a banana, cut up in some oatmeal, boil it all together. Actually, no, no. So I, I’ve, I’ve made that mistake. So what I do is I boil the oatmeal with the banana, also with the nuts, and then I mix the protein powder in afterward.

Cooking with the protein powder makes it too sticky. It, it works a lot better when it’s already cooked, mixed the protein powder in, and then I put some almond milk as well. That is super good. I can eat a lot of that stuff. So, Uh, that’s on the list. And if you want to jam in even more calories in carbs, go with steel cut oatmeal.

Rice is great, of course. Uh, rice milk is a nice way to drink some carbs if you need to do that. It tastes really good in protein powder, like if you use rice milk instead of water, for example. It’s quite good. Fat-free milk is a way to, to get in some, some carbs and calories without getting your fat too high.

And granola and Muc Lee also work well. 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 muscle for, muscle f o r and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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