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Can you successfully cut without counting calories or macros? What are my thoughts on intermittent fasting? Is MSG bad for you? How do you gain strength without size? What’s a reasonable amount of “incompete” protein in your diet? Should you eat fewer calories on rest days? 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:

2:13 – Is it possible to go from 16% to 10% body fat without counting macros ? 

3:26 – Should we weigh food raw? Does that apply to every food? 

3:57 – Favorite overhead tricep movement? 

4:04 – Should I separate my cardio sessions from weights? Can I just do cardio after lifting? 

4:46 – What are your plans for the recession now that we are through COVID? 

5:53 – My form is better with 6-8 reps. Is that still a good rep range for compound lifts? 

6:59 – What are your thoughts on intermittent fasting? 

7:36 – What is your favorite Whey+ and Pulse flavor? 

8:01 – Of total daily protein intake, what do you consider an acceptable amount from incomplete protein sources? 

8:53 – Is walking an effective way to lose weight? 

9:17 – Do I have to eat less calories on rest days, as my total daily expenditure would be lower? 

11:21 – You usually preach 4-6 reps for gaining strength, are you just adding size now? 

14:29 – How can I gain strength without size? 

15:13 – Best non fitness book you’ve read recently? 

16:18 – How bad is MSG for you actually? 

17:13 – Would you rather be stuck in an elevator with a tarot reader or a flat earther? 

17:45 – I’m a forty year old woman who has never strength trained. Is it too late to gain muscle and strength? 

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, and welcome to Muscle For Life. I am Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for another Q and A, where I answer a handful of questions that people ask me over on Instagram at muscle life fitness, come follow me. And I actually answer the questions on Instagram, in my stories, and then come here to the podcast and share more in depth answers.

And so in today’s podcast, I’m going to be answering questions about cutting without counting macros and calories. Weighing food. When you wanna be very specific about your calories and macros, should you weigh it raw or should you weigh it cooked? I’m gonna be talking about cardio and weights. Should you be separating those workouts?

Can you combine them? Rep ranges is six to eight, a good rep range for compound lifts. That’s the question. Intermittent fasting, something that I am always asked about at least 10 to 15 times in every Q and A that I do and more. And if you want me to answer your questions, follow me on Instagram at multiple life fitness and once a week, usually Mondays, Tuesdays, although I did just post it today and it is Friday, I will post in my stories, a story, asking people to ask me questions, the little question sticker.

And then I go and find questions that are interesting to me or that I haven’t already answered a million times before and answer them briefly there on Instagram. And again, bring them over here to the podcast. Before we get into 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? I created a free 62nd 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.

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 muscle F forr quiz. Answer the questions and learn exactly what to do in the gym to gain more muscle and strength. AMA roag asks, is it possible to go from 16% to 10% body fat without counting macros?

So this, by the way is a guy. If we wanted to make this applicable to women, we would’ve to add probably 10% body fat to those numbers. So is it possible to go from 26% to 20% to go from. Athletic, but maybe fluffy to lean in athletic. And that applies to 16% to 10% in men in 26 or so percent to 20% women.

And so the answer is, yes, you definitely can do that, but you are going to have to figure out how to maintain a steady calorie deficit one way or another. And that does get harder to do without counting or planning or just eating the same. Stuff every day that you have already counted or planned and it gets harder and harder as time goes on as well.

Because as you get leaner, you just tend to eat more and move less calories in tends to creep up and calories out tends to creep down. If you don’t pay attention. Andre a card asks, you said these days that we should weigh food raw. Does that apply to everything from meat to rice? Yeah. When you’re weighing food, raw is best because in most cases it’s going to eliminate the moisture.

Variable. It doesn’t apply to all foods, of course, but generally speaking it’s best when weighing food, when you wanna be very precise on your calories and macros weigh it raw so you can figure out the calories and macros and then portion it after you cook it. Sea gob asks favorite overhead tricep movement.

Dumbbell overhead triceps extension. Great exercise. Chad Smith, 6 86 asks. Should I separate my cardio sessions from weights? Or can I just do cardio after lifting? Separating them is going to be best by at least a few hours. If you can, that’s gonna be best for muscle. Hypertrophy specifically, but don’t worry too much about it.

Don’t sweat it. Do whatever works best for you. And you will do fine if you were a competitive, natural bodybuilder and you’re prepping for a show and you’re getting lean and you have to do a fair amount of cardio. And we are really trying to preserve every last ounce of muscle. My answer might be a little bit different, but.

Probably not the case. So again, don’t over noodle. It funk MW asks, what are your plans for the recession now that we are through COVID? Let’s see. I would like to believe that we are truly through COVID, but I think that there is a decent chance that the CVIS in the government and media are gonna start the song and dance again.

After November, the current reprieve might just be politically Expedia. Because so many people including died in the woo liberals have COVID fatigue as they’re calling it, they’re just ready to move on, but let’s not forget that there’s still a lot of money to be made many billions of dollars of profit to be made by beating the COVID drum.

Now as far as the economy goes I don’t really see a problem. Dark Brandon is on the case and the uni party gangsters are choking off energy production. They are sending infinity money and weapons to Ukraine and the inflation reduction act was passed. Hello, inflation reduction. What do you not understand about those words?

Josh Montgomery asks my form is better with 68 reps. Is that still a good rep range for compound lifts? Yeah, that is a great rep range to work in anything up to say 10 or 12 reps per set is going to work nicely for hypertrophy with compound lifts. Once you get above six to eight, you are not going to get as much strength out of that training as you would.

If you were closer to say four or five, But if we’re talking about overall training effectiveness, again, 68 is a very effective rep range, but I will say that anything over six or so reps per set does get very hard on exercises like the squat and. The deadlift, many people prefer to be closer to six than say 12 reps set, simply because it is more fun and it is less painful and it requires less time to do six reps set than say, 12 reps set on a squat or a deadlift, or even a bench press and overhead press.

Linden SEP asks, what are your thoughts on intermittent fasting? This is something that I get asked at least 10 to 15 times in every Q and a I do by the way. And it is still just an overhyped method of meal timing that can help some people better stick to their meal plans. Many people though, do not enjoy it.

And dietary compliance suffers when they try to force themselves to follow an intermittent fasting diet. So don’t. Unless you like it, if you like skipping breakfast, skip breakfast basically is what it comes down to. But if you don’t and another question from Lindon SEP what is your favorite way plus, and pulse flavor.

And if you don’t know what way plus or pulse is way, plus is my way protein isolate and pulse is my pre-workout and my favorite way plus flavors right now. It changes, but right now I’m really liking salted caramel and cinnamon cereal. And my favorite pulse flavors right now are sour candy and strawberry Kiwi.

Okay. M F S wellness asks of total daily protein intake. What do you consider an acceptable amount from incomplete protein sources? Fortunately all sources of protein are complete, even plant protein. Complete, but some, and this is often the case with protein in plants, some sources of protein, they have much fewer essential immuno acids than others.

So most animal sources of protein, for example, don’t have this problem. They are very rich in essential immuno acids. And so then the key is trying to get most of your protein. Let’s say at least 80% of your daily protein from foods that are rich in essential immuno acids, that. Only animal foods, but animal foods, animal sources of protein generally are better than plant sources.

In this regard, Pete bill asks is walking an effective way to lose weight. Yes, walking is awesome. It burns a few hundred calories per hour. It preferentially burns body fat. It puts no strain on your body. It does not stimulate your appetite. And it’s just a nice break from. Sitting inside on a computer or on the phone.

It’s nice to get outside and go for a walk smash sued 98 asks. Do I have to eat less calories on rest days as my total daily energy expenditure would be lower well. If you are cutting or maintaining, you can, if you want to, you can cut a couple hundred calories out of your normal daily intake. At least the amount of food that you eat on your training days.

If you are not training, or you can just work with a daily average that takes into account both your training and your. Rest days. And that allows you to hit your weekly target based on your body composition and your general activity level. I prefer that method because it’s simple and it works. And if you are not sure how to calculate your average daily energy expenditure, head over to lesion and under the learn section of the menu, you will find tools.

And then in tools you will. T D E calculator, total daily energy expenditure calculator, and use that calculator to find out approximately how many calories you are burning every day. Now, if you are lean gaining. So if you are consistently in a calorie surplus, I think it’s at least slightly better to eat a little bit less unrest days.

So you don’t gain more fat than necessary on those days, especially if you have several. Rest days per week. However, I will say, if you are not training at least three days per week, you probably shouldn’t be lean gaining. So if you are training, let’s say five or six days per week, and we are only talking about one or two days.

Does it really matter if you shave 200 calories off those days? No, but chances are, if you have been lean gaining for any period of time, you want to, because you’re just sick of eating all the food. So that’s what I have done when I. Lean gained. Hasn’t been a while, but I very much got sick of what felt like force feeding myself, 3,500 to 4,000 calories per day.

And so it was nice to just eat 3000 or so on my rest days, strength to carry on asks you usually preach four to six reps for gaining strength. Are you just adding size now? Now the reason they’re asking this is because I post my workouts on Instagram at least a few times per week. And I’m often doing sets of 10, 8, 6, 4 2 on compound lifts and often doing sets of 10 to 12 and eight to 10 and 68 on isolation exercises.

Why? First I will say that four to six is a great rep range to work in on most exercises. Sometimes not so much like a sideway or a rear raise. Difficult to maintain good form at that rep range. Something like six to eight is going to be a little bit more forgiving in that regard. And that works very well until you’ve gained, let’s say about 60 to maybe 80% of the muscle that is genetically available to you.

Then, if you want to keep going, if you want to keep getting bigger and stronger, it’s smart to start working in different rep ranges to periodize your training. And there are two main reasons for this one is it’s gonna be better for strength gain. Inexperienced lifters. A number of studies have shown that and generally speaking more strength means more muscle.

And then the second reason is the amount of volume that’s required to continue gaining muscle and strength is. Too much to stick in the four to six rep range. It’s just too hard on your joints. For example, most people find after their first few years of proper training, they have to do 15 to 20 hard sets for a major muscle group per week for it.

To progress for it to get bigger and stronger, and let’s take the lower body 15 to 20 hard sets per week for the lower body. And now let’s try to do all of those sets in the four to six rep range. Now, of course, that doesn’t have to be just like squats and leg press. You can have some isolation exercises in there, but imagine that if you’ve been training for a while, you immediately see that’s a problem.

That is going to beat your joints up. And so then a better approach is to work in different rep ranges, not to only do very heavy weightlifting. You wanna do some very heavy weightlifting, then you wanna do some lighter weightlifting and. Even a little bit of, I wouldn’t say very light, but maybe somewhere around 10 to 12 reps per set.

And so then that is what I am doing in my training. That’s why I don’t follow bigger leaner stronger, because bigger leaner stronger is meant for guys who have yet to gain, let’s say their first 25 to 30 pounds of muscle. If a guy has not gained that yet bigger than or stronger is all he needs, but if he has, and he’s trying to get even more jacked, He needs to make some changes.

And that’s why I wrote the book beyond bigger leaner, stronger SQL to bigger leaner, stronger. And it teaches you some theory that you need to understand to properly program your training. And it gives you a new program that is similar to bigger leaner, stronger, but is periodized differently. Okay. Stuff by stuffy asks, how can I gain strength without size?

Unfortunately, you can’t gain no size. While you are gaining strength, but you can minimize the amount of size that you gain while maximizing the amount of strength that you gain. And the key to that is lower volume training with heavy weights. So if you want a good example of that checkout Wendler 5, 3, 1 program.

That program works very well for people who are relatively new to strength training, and it can help you get very strong without getting as big as you would get. If you were following a higher volume program, like one of my programs. Tejas Klein. Sorry if I’m mispronouncing your name, but that’s the best I’ve got.

They ask best non fitness book. You’ve read recently. I really liked how to take smart notes. That is not a system for everyone, but it is very helpful for writers and researchers and students and people who like to take deep dives into subjects and really understand the. Topic. And aside from that write useful books, I read that recently and enjoyed that and very much agree with the author’s general approach to writing books and to writing books that people are going to like and talk about, and that are going to do well.

And lastly, I’m wrapping up the art and business of online writing. By Nicholas Cole, which I also like it’s longer than it needs to be. It probably could be half the length, but a lot of good, very actionable information for people who want to write online and grow a readership. The JBS family asks, how bad is MSG for you?

Actually, this isn’t something I’ve looked too deeply into, but from what I’ve read from the research that I’ve looked at, there doesn’t seem to be any good reason to be concerned about this. If you are eating a lot of this stuff, your diet. Sucks. Like you’re eating way too much processed food and you should just fix that.

But if you are having some here and there, it’s not going to harm your health, unless something bad happens when you eat MSG, some people get headaches from it. For example, reliably. They eat it. They get a headache. If that’s the case, of course, then don’t eat it. And that’s true of any food. If you eat something, even something that is supposed to be healthy and nutritious and it upsets your stomach, or it causes some sort of non optimum reaction, just stop eating it.

Veil E seven E asks. Would you rather be stuck in an elevator with Aero reader or a flat earth author? I’ve actually. Lived this, I once got a massage from a terror minded, flat earth author. This person pitched me on both of these things, astrology and TA cards and also flat earth. And then they didn’t really like my questions.

I didn’t really like their massage, I guess it wasn’t in the stars for us. One more question from veil E 40 year old woman has never strength trained too late to gain muscle and. No, absolutely not. Not only can you gain muscle and strength you at 40, 45, even 50 years old, you can get fitter than most 20 year olds.

If you want to. It doesn’t matter where you’re at right now, if you are willing to do what it takes. And that doesn’t mean sacrifice all of the foods that you like and grind away in the gym for hours and hours per week, doing workouts, you hate, you can enjoy your diet. You can enjoy your training. You can really make this a life.

And get into great shape and again, get into better shape than many, if not most of the 20 somethings on the beach. And if you want a program that can help you with that, check out my newest book muscle for life, which is intended specifically for men and women who are 40 plus and who are relatively new to proper dieting and proper strength training.

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, muscle F or 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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