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Do cold showers do anything? How long does it take to reach your genetic muscle potential? Should you count the calories from vegetables? How many sets should you do for your arms? All that and more in this Q&A podcast.

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 – Find the Perfect Strength Training Program for You:

2:31 – What is the best temperature to shower in?

4:27 – What are your thoughts on trendy electrolyte drinks?  

9:06 – Is decline bench press a waste of time?

9:51 – What are the benefits of creatine for women?

11:33 – Do vegetarians need collagen?

12:12 – What is the proper rep tempo?

14:47 – What is the best magnesium supplement?

15:42 – Should I count my cruciferous vegetables?

16:40 – How many direct biceps/tricep exercises are necessary in a PPL program?

18:37 – Do you use collars on leg press?

18:49 – How long would it take for someone to reach their genetic muscle potential?

Mentioned on the show: 

Find the Perfect Strength Training Program for You in Just 60 Seconds:

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


Hey there and welcome to muscle for life. I am Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for a Q and a where I briefly ish answer various questions that people have asked me mostly on Instagram, some from email, but mostly from Instagram. So what I do is every week, every Monday or Tuesday. I post a story into my Instagram stories at Muscle for Life Fitness if you want to come follow me and I ask people to ask me questions and then I answer questions that catch my fancy or that I haven’t already answered many times publicly already over there on Instagram.

And then I bring everything over here onto the podcast for those of you who are smart enough to not be on Instagram. That’s the best solution actually. Don’t follow me, just delete your Instagram if you’re on it. That’s my best advice. But if you’re not going to delete it, then come follow me at MuscleForLifeFitness and you can ask me questions if you want to participate in my Q& A series.

And so this time around I’m going to be answering questions about the calories in vegetables. Do they quote unquote count? Grip strength, if I work on my grip strength and if you should work on your grip strength and if so how? Rep tempo, what’s the proper rep tempo and does it really matter? The best temperature for showering?

Do cold showers actually do anything? EMOM training. E M O M. Every minute on the minute training. Should you do it? Decline bench press is that worth doing and more before we get to it? Have you ever wondered what strength training split you should follow? What rep ranges you should work in how many sets you should do per workout or per week?

Well, I created a free It’s a 60 second training quiz that will answer those questions for you and others, including how frequently you should train each major muscle group, which exercises you should do, what supplements you should consider, which ones are at least worth taking. And more to take this quiz and to get your free personalized training plan, go to muscle for life dot show muscle for life dot show slash training quiz, answer the questions and learn exactly what to do in the gym to gain more muscle and strength.

Okay, my first question comes from Juvie over on Instagram. I’m guessing that’s how you pronounce it. JJOOVVIII. And they ask, what temperature is better for showering? Hot, cold, what’s good for muscles? I would say just do whatever you like for whatever reason you like it. Unfortunately, a cold shower is not enough cold exposure to produce any of the physical benefits associated with it.

Cold exposure for that. You need to do something a bit more hardcore. You need to immerse yourself, uh, up to your neck. If we’re going to go in line with research on cold exposure, you need to get in very cold water, like 50 to 60 degree water, you need to be immersed up to your neck and you need to be in that.

Tub or cold plunge or whatever for at least a few minutes, at least three, but probably five plus minutes is best. Also, you should know that if you do that after a workout, it can actually blunt muscle growth because it reduces inflammation levels. And inflammation is not always a bad thing. Acute inflammation is part of the adaptive response that we want to elicit with training.

Now, chronic. Inflammation chronically elevated inflammation levels. That’s a bad thing, but acute like what happens when we train when we leave the gym. We actually have a lot of inflammation in our body. That is part of the process that leads to inflammation. more muscle and more strength. So if you go and jump into a cold plunge pool or just get in some very cold water for five or six minutes and bring those inflammation levels down, you are going to interrupt your body’s natural processes that result in more muscle and strength.

So just something to keep in mind there. Next question from Jordy. Canedo, Canedo, they ask, what is your take on trendy electrolyte drinks? Unfortunately, they are mostly a waste of money. And I say, unfortunately, because I wish it were otherwise. I wish I could sell them. I get people asking me and asking Legion every week, if we’re going to create an electrolyte.

Supplement. If I could make one that I could get behind an electrolyte slash hydration supplement, I could probably make a lot of money. But the research is very clear that these products, they do not improve performance, health or recovery, and they can have a limited use with it. People who are doing very long workouts, especially in very hot environments.

So if you go for multi hour runs and you live in Florida, like I do, and it gets up to a hundred plus degrees in the middle of the day, and it’s humid, so you’re sweating your ass off, then you might be able to benefit slightly from one of these. Supplements a personal example when I was younger, I used to go play volleyball at the beach with friends and we would get out there maybe 11 ish and this was in Florida.

So by 11 in the summer, it’s already blazing hot so. I would be there from 11 to six or seven all day and playing more or less nonstop. There would be some random breaks here and there. I don’t even remember what we would do for food. We probably would take a lunch break or maybe we would just bring.

Protein bars and snack foods. I don’t really remember actually, but it was a lot of voluble hours and hours of volleyball, sweating like a dog. And more than once, if I forgot to regularly drink water, I would get a really bad headache. That happened to me several times by not staying hydrated, just not drinking enough water.

And I also did notice that if I took a few salt and potassium pills, so electrolytes, right. Before I went out. And made sure that I drank a bunch of water, then I would never get a headache. There were times where I would get a really bad headache. This wasn’t often, but I did this for years and it was like Saturdays, sometimes Saturdays and Sundays.

So I was out, I racked up a, a number of trials for this experiment. And even if I did drink enough. Water, then there was a chance that I still could get a headache if I was out there for that extended period of time. But if I took the salt, potassium pills and drink enough water, I did not get a headache.

And when I was even younger than that, I played a lot of ice hockey. And that involves a lot of sweating, obviously, but no heat, and I just made sure to drink water when I played hockey, but I never took any salt and potassium pills, never got any headaches. So if we’re talking about a lot of exercise in extreme heat, a lot of sweating, staying hydrated by drinking enough water, very important.

And there is some evidence to suggest that having some extra minerals in that water can help in various ways. Otherwise, though, there’s no reason to take any of these supplements. So that. Is probably most of the people listening to this. You are probably not doing what I did at the beach in my twenties.

You are probably like me. Now you go to the gym, maybe three to five hours per week. Maybe you do, uh, some cardio in addition to that. Maybe it’s indoors. Maybe it’s outdoors, but it’s probably just a couple of hours per week. And that’s what I do. So for people like us. There just is no need. This is the the weight of the evidence.

No need for any of these supplements. And I’ve spoken with multiple experts on this matter because I had my own opinion, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything based on my understanding of the research because Again, I was hoping I was wrong. I was hoping that somebody who knows a lot more about this stuff than I do could sell me on why I should sell an electrolyte supplement and why I could honestly sell it to you as something that can help you.

But that was not the outcome. The experts I spoke with more or less agreed with my position. And so that’s my position and it’s not going to change unless the weight of the evidence changes. Okay, moving on. Kurt Hammond, 89. Asks decline bench a waste of time. Mostly yes, you can use a bit more weight on the decline bench than with the flat or the incline press, but the range of motion is smaller on the decline press, so that’s going to negate at least some of the potential advantage of that heavier load.

That said, some people do like the decline press because it’s easier on their shoulders. So if flat or. incline pressing is bothering your shoulders, then you could jump over to the decline to give your shoulders a break, assuming that your shoulders feel better or feel good on decline pressing. All right, moving on to a question from Miss.

Cape. She asks, what are the benefits of creatine for women? Quite a few more muscle growth, more strength gain, faster recovery, less soreness, stronger bones, improved cognition, and more. And without bloating, which is what many women in particular have asked me about over the years, because that was once an issue with creatine many years ago.

Uh, but now with better methods of processing, it’s just not, uh, normally. a problem. Some people do find that they feel a little bit bloated when they take creatine. And if you are one of those people, what I’d recommend is breaking up your dosage. So let’s say you are taking five grams a day, which is the standard protocol for body composition, stuff and performance stuff.

If you want to potentially benefit cognition more. Then, uh, with five grams, you can go up to 10 grams that actually might be best for benefiting cognition, but regardless, if you find that five grams in one go or 10 grams in one go makes you bloated, just separate it into several. doses throughout the day.

So let’s just say it’s five grams. You don’t necessarily have to do one gram five times per day, but you could, but you could just do a couple of grams, like maybe two and then three later, several hours later. Or if that even makes you a little bit bloated again, you could just go one, two, one, one, or one, two, two, and separate them by several.

So anyways, creatine is all pros and no cons for both men. And next question comes from anonymous. I don’t have a note here. Do vegetarians need collagen? I’m a vegetarian and take marine collagen thoughts. Well, you don’t need to eat. Eat collagen directly or supplement it, uh, with it per se, but you do need to ensure that you’re getting sufficient nutrition to support your body’s natural collagen production.

So that’s going to be enough protein, enough vitamin C, zinc and copper. So it’s, it’s up to you. I would say that first addressing those fundamental nutritional needs is more important. And then if you want to add collagen. To that, you can, but it’s probably not necessary. Next question comes from Pag01.

RepTempo, what is the proper tempo and does it have an effect on muscle building? Well, I don’t know of any good… Evidence based reason to stray from the simple one ish, zero ish, one ish tempo that I have used and recommended for a long time now. So that’s the first half of a rep in about one second, followed by a very slight pause, followed by the final half of a rep.

The rep in about one second, multiple studies have shown that super slow training is inferior to that approach. And usually the other school of thought is to not use that traditional faster tempo and slow it down considerably to make better gains. But disproven again and again. Now, If you have special circumstances, like, for example, maybe something is injured and you’re trying to work around an injury and you can’t use much weight, and if you slow your reps down, you get a better training stimulus from that lighter load, which is what would happen.

Then that would make sense. But in this case, you’re working around an injury. You’re not healthy and trying to maximize your gains. It would be similar to blood flow restriction training, which is also a useful method for. Racking up some additional volume with less of the wear and tear on your body, but it’s, it’s certainly not necessary.

It doesn’t need to be a staple in any program, and it’s also particularly useful for an injured limb because it allows you to use a lighter load and still generate, um, a good training stimulus, a better training stimulus than you would with that light load and a traditional. Well, in this case, it wouldn’t be rep tempo, but a traditional set, I guess you could say, versus a BFR, blood flow restricted set.

So with the super slow training, you could have a similar effect where if you can only use let’s say half of your normal working weight because of some issue and that doesn’t cause pain and that’s fine and that works, you could slow those reps down and make that more effective than how you would normally train.

But if you’re healthy. I would recommend lifting explosively. I’d recommend trying to move weights as quickly as you can while keeping it under control. Okay. So the next question comes from Rose Bud, the King, and they ask. Uh, it’s probably a he. What type of magnesium is best? Well, mag citrate is a proven winner for supplementation.

Mag oxide is a clunker. That’s the one that I would stay away from because it has poor absorption. And there are other forms of magnesium that are interesting that Are worth considering if we’re talking about supplementation, including with something simple, like a citrate form, and that’s actually something that I and my team over at Legion are looking into because we might be making a magnesium supplement that has a few of these forms, uh, combined, but I’ll talk more about that if it goes anywhere so far, it’s looking promising, but Thank you.

I haven’t, haven’t reached a conclusion yet. Okay. The next question is from Shinkin Broteus and certainly a he asks, should I count my cruciferous vegetables? Yes. The calories, macros, all food. And all beverages, everything that goes in your mouth, all of it counts toward your total daily intake. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it is the truth.

And if you are eating a fair amount of vegetables, which you should be, if you are eating your five to six servings per day, that can add up to several hundred calories per day, depending on what you’re eating. Also, just… As an FYI, don’t bother subtracting your fiber from your carbs because it just adds complexity for no benefit.

Some people, what they think is, well, if I’m eating 10 grams of or 15 grams of insoluble fiber, can I just eat 15 extra grams of carbs that I like? Don’t bother with that. Next question comes from Suzanne Guido fit and she asks how many direct biceps slash triceps exercises are necessary in a push pull legs program.

Well, I like at least half of my arm volume to come from direct training from arm exercises rather than indirect training, rather from pushing and pulling exercises. So for me, that means anywhere from say six to 12 hard sets of. Arm exercises per week, biceps and triceps exercises per week, depending on how much volume I want, depending on my goals.

And so that’s my general recommendation to most people. So if you’re new and you are planning on doing, let’s say 10 to 12 hard sets for your arms per week for your biceps. And your triceps, which is a good goal. If you want to maximize your arm muscle development, at least for the first year or so, and then you’re going to have to increase the volume probably after, well, maybe not after a year, but certainly after two or three years, that’s not going to be enough volume.

You are going to have to bump that up to probably something closer to 15 or 16 hard sets per week to continue gaining muscle and strength in your arms. But. In the beginning there, let’s just say it’s 10. That’s the number that you’re going to be doing. I, if I were programming your training, I would want at least five.

And if it were 12, at least six of those sets to come from biceps curls and push downs and overhead, you know, dumbbell, like overhead triceps presses and skull crushers and so forth. And then. The remaining half or so of the volume could come indirectly from chest pressing, uh, shoulder pressing. So that’d be some triceps, right?

And various types of poles that would be biceps and on to the next question. Tommy Sedol asks, do you use colors on the leg press? Well, no. And for the same reason that I’ve never driven with a face binky on. Okay, last question comes from Travis E. O’Neill, and he asks, in a perfect world, how long would it take someone to naturally reach their genetic muscle potential?

I would say five years on average. Beyond that, not much is going to change, no matter what you do in the kitchen or gym, if you have been fairly consistent for those five years. You don’t have to be perfect, of course, but you just have to do most of the most important things. Mostly right most of the time that is five years of being pretty consistent with your calories and your macros and getting in the gym and doing your workouts and progressing in those workouts that is going to produce the vast majority of muscle and strength that is genetically.

Available to you after that, uh, you can continue to make improvements to your physique and to your performance, but you are definitely going to be into the realm of the final 20%. So in that first five years or so, that’s going to be at least 80 percent of the muscle and strength that you are going to be able to gain in your lifetime and beyond that, you’re now striving for that remaining.

20%. And if you keep working at it, meaning if you keep your dietary programming where it needs to be, so to speak, meaning that you are paying attention to your calories and macros and you are making sure that you are not consistently in a calorie deficit, which is going to prevent any further muscle and strength gain, but you are consistently in At least a slight surplus, like even if you are eating at maintenance, but you are erring toward eating a bit more, not less than you need, and then just correcting for that with occasional little mini cuts.

That’s a very viable way of going about it. So if you keep doing that and you keep working hard in the gym, working harder than you have up until this point, because that is what it is going to be. Take to gain that last bit of muscle and strength that is available to you. It’s going to be the most work for the smallest return in your entire fitness journey.

But if you keep doing that, then I would say by probably year seven or eight, you are basically as jacked as you are ever going to be in your life. Now, that might sound like a bit of a downer, but it’s not because it is much easier to stay jacked than it is to get jacked. So once you get jacked, if you just want to then stay jacked, you could continue what you’re doing.

You could continue with your meal planning and your rigorous training if you just enjoy it. But you don’t have to, you can loosen up with your diet and just go by your weight and what you see in the mirror. And if you see yourself getting too fat, you just, you know what to do at this point, you’re going to be very familiar with portions of foods that you like to eat.

So you might just exclude something like if I want to do a little mini cut, I normally like to eat oatmeal at night. I’ll just leave the oatmeal out because it’s a, it’s a cup of oatmeal measured. Dry, right? So it’s a couple hundred calories. I’m cooking it, obviously, but that’s just to give you an idea of the amount.

And then I usually throw in some nuts and throw in a banana and a scoop of protein powder. So it’s a pretty hardy meal. I can just leave that out for a couple of weeks. If I feel like I’m getting a little bit too fat and lose a little bit of fat, and then I’m right back at my weight. Transcribed Normal daily routine, so you can find a nice rhythm with your diet and then in the gym, you, like I said, you can continue working hard.

You’re not going to really see much of a change in anything, but if you just like working hard in the gym, you can keep doing that. Or you could cut way back. You could go from five days of weightlifting per week, right? So that’s what it took to get Jack to just two or three days, maybe an hour, uh, per session.

So you might just do like an upper lower or might do a couple full body workouts or some other split that you like, and that would allow you to maintain all of your muscle and a lot of your strength and then give you free time to. do something else. And so many people are excited to reach their genetic finish line, so to speak, for their body composition and their strength and power performance.

By then they look great, they’re strong, and they don’t have to work that hard to stay like that for the rest of their life. 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 at 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.

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