In this podcast, I interview Luke, who read my book Bigger Leaner Stronger and did 6 months of Legion’s VIP one-on-one coaching program to finally dial in his training and nutrition, improve his body composition, and get leaner and stronger than ever before. And the best part is he did it while spending less time in the gym, simplifying his fitness regimen, and learning to love the lifestyle. Now, he not only enjoys his training, but looks forward to it every day. Enjoyment is the secret to consistency, which will help Luke continue to make progress and maintain his physique for the rest of his life.
Before finding my work, Luke had a “skinny fat” look and spent 2 or 3 hours in the gym per day. But through educating himself with my book and following the program of his coach, Nick, he was able to get down to 8% body fat, and get stronger than he’s ever been. In this interview, Luke and I chat about . . .
- How he cut his training time in half while drastically increasing his strength
- His cardio routine (even though he doesn’t like cardio)
- The importance of learning to rest more between sets
- How he adjusted his training to navigate lagging muscle groups and joint tightness and injuries
- How he learned about nutrition and how he adjusted to eating appropriately sized portions and meals
- How he learned to love the fitness lifestyle and look forward to his training
- And more . . .
So if you’re looking for a jolt of inspiration and like motivational stories, definitely listen to this episode.
0:00 – Save up to 40% during our Halloween Sale! www.buylegion.com
3:29 – Where were you on your fitness journey before you found my work? Where are you now?
7:13 – What was your body composition before and after my program?
13:51 – Did you find your new way of training more enjoyable?
22:41 – Which stretches did you find most helpful?
25:47 – What is a safety bar squat?
28:24 – Were there any obstacles in your training?
34:53 – What was the quality of the food you were eating before and during my program?
42:16 – How many pounds did you lose when you cut and how long did it take?
43:57 – What was your go-to cheat meal?
48:05 – What are your fitness plans now?
Mentioned on the show:
Save up to 40% during our Halloween Sale! Go to buylegion.com and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% on any non-sale items or get double reward points!
Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching: https://www.muscleforlife.show/vip
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hey there, and welcome to Muscle For Life. I am Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for another episode, which is a success story interview. I do one of these every four to six weeks. I speak with someone who either has read a book of mine and followed the program or. In this case did v i p one-on-one coaching with my team, or simply read articles of mine or listened to podcasts of mine and used them to get into great shape.
And today’s episode is an interview with Luke, who first read my book Bigger, Stronger, and then signed up for six months of my v i p one-on-one coaching and transformed his body. Formed his fitness, transformed his relationship with food and exercise and his understanding of how to get and stay fit. And in six months, Luke cut his body fat in half.
He went from. Athletic looking to pretty ripped, and he gained a significant amount of muscle and strength in his own words. He went from a kind of a skinny fat look to a fit look, a super fit look, you might even say. And in this interview you are going to hear Luke’s story. We’re gonna talk about what he was doing before he found me in my work.
What was working, what was not working, the big changes that he made in his journey, working with his coach. What were the. 20% that really gave him the 80% and some of the key takeaways and big aha moments for him and more. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me do more of it, please do check out my sports Nutrition company Legion, because while you don’t need supplements to build muscle, lose fat or get healthy, the right ones.
Help. And that’s why over 350,000 discerning fitness folk have chosen Legion. There’s that and our 100% natural products, our clinically effective ingredients and doses and our no hassle money back guarantee. And if you check out Legion right now, you can save big on just about everything in our store because our annual Halloween sale is underway.
So head over to buy Legion dot. B U Y L E G I O n.com and for the next few days, you can save up to 30% on just about everything in our store, including our protein powders, pre-workout and post-workout supplements, our fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, fish oil, and more. So skedaddle on over to bi legion.com now and save big before we run out of stock of at least something.
It happens every year. We can never forecast these things exactly. Or before the sale ends and it’s. Luke, here we are. We made it.
Luke: We made it finally. Thanks for having me.
Mike: Yeah. Thanks for taking the time. I appreciate it.
Luke: Yeah, man. Happy to be here.
Mike: So these episodes I like to just keep it casual, open ended conversation with somebody who has found some value in my work, whether it’s books or podcasts or articles or coaching or some combination thereof.
And I usually. I’d like to start these conversations with a little snapshot maybe of where you were at with your fitness before you found me and my work, and then now where you’re at, after finding me and my work and using whatever it is that helped the most. And what has that done for you? In terms of your fitness and that can be your body composition.
It can be body composition plus the kind of downstream effects that happen when you get in better shape. Pretty much every aspect of life gets better,
Luke: Yeah, man. I’ll just, Yeah, I’ll give you background on me. I’ve always been a fitness guy. My dad’s a big fitness junkie. I’ve always wanted to be like him.
I’ve always had trouble. Putting on weight. Six foot five, always been tall and lanky, kind of basketball player body. So yeah, had a hard time putting on weight and I’ve always been into fitness and I always thought I was in my mind at the time, I thought I was, looking good and, cream of the crop.
But, and still I looked good, but I wasn’t always where I wanted to be, so eventually my ex-girlfriend, she bought me bigger, lean, stronger the. I’m just gonna be honest. I do not like to read. That’s not my thing at all. So it was funny, she bought me the book. I’m like, All right, it looks, bigger leaders, stronger.
Those three things sound great, so I’ll give it a go. Ended up reading it, Ended up loving it. I was coming home from work lifting and then reading the book, and I ex-girlfriend’s Who are you? , who were you reading? I’ve never known you to be this guy. Anyway, so I loved the book.
Really changed my mindset on fitness, and I said, why don’t I just. The program, only contact Legion and try out the program and got in contact with him, signed up. And this is what I think you’ll find funny. A week before I started the program, my girlfriend, I was living in the middle of Virginia, knew no one but her.
My girlfriend decided just up and leave, which is fine, but she dumped me. I was a week before starting, so like
Mike: one day to the.
Luke: Just, yeah, just boom. Like just gone. I was like, All right oh I’m about to do this program and it’s just giving me added motivation so it’s go time. So for me, I had a little bit more added motivation, ready to rock for your program, but just thought that was fun.
I thought you might appreciate it. Step,
Mike: step one, get dumped.
Luke: Step one, get dumped. Take the program so that. And I got linked up with one of your Nick smt. I love that guy by the way. Total legend. Not only did he help me with fitness, we’d talk about life and I would tell him about, Hey man, I just got dumped
I’m I can I talk to you about it? He talked to me about it. It was a real help to me. And, I’ll love that guy forever. But one thing that I did wanna tell you the biggest thing I got out of. Bigger, lean, stronger program, and we can get into this later, but I’ll just go ahead and say this one now, is that fitness doesn’t have to be so complicated.
I used to go to the gym for two, three hours, lifting weights, do maybe starting off with a mile on the treadmill, then doing chest and back for two hours. Just ridiculous stuff and never got to where I wanted to be as far as physic. I would had a skinny fat type look. That was always me, cuz I would just do a ton of cardio and a lot of weights and didn’t have proper nutrition.
So taking your program and doing the, the three compound exercises, bench, squat, deadlift, progressive overload. And then obviously down on nutrition, which we can talk about later. Really enhanced my fitness knowledge and just my overall physique, and I still do it to this day, still apply all you know, aspects of that book and that prog and your program to my daily fitness regimen today.
Mike: Now, when people hear that you were training two to three hours per day previously, and then when you. Following the program, it was probably about an hour a day, 45, maybe 50, 60 minutes, No more than 70 minutes. What happened in terms of your strength and your body composition?
Luke: So yeah, it was probably about 45 minutes to an hour.
And I thought, in my mind I’m conditioned, Oh man, I’m not doing enough. That’s how I, and I thought really. So it was tough transition for me there. I
Mike: remember it myself. That was I went through the exact same experience where I didn’t believe it at first. Theoretically, I understand why I’m training this way, but I just have a hard time accepting that this is gonna be better.
I’ll do it for a few months and see, but I was in the exact same place.
Luke: Okay, good. That makes me feel better because I really was, mentally, I’m like, Man, I, I should be doing more. I should be in there for another hour and finally got out of that. But my overall strength, increas.
Like an insane amount. I’ve been stuck at, let’s talk about shoulder press for example. I’ve been stuck at dumbbell shoulder press. 60, 65 pounds and over maybe two months later, I was at, in a calorie deficit. I was at, 70, 75 pounds for four to six reps. Yeah.
And that kind of a, that’s just an example that goes across the board. It, numbers went up significantly. I don’t know why, but I thought maybe, I’ll do 15 to 20 reps of bench press and that’ll get me where I want to go. But really, it’s about progressive overload, but you preach.
People ask me all the time, I preach that all the time, lift heavy and try, try to increase your weight over time. You don’t have to increase it by 45 pounds every week, but try to increase your weight over time and my overall physique changed dramatically. So I started off in a cut. I was too lean for my liking, but I like it that now I know how to get back there if I ever want to.
It’s just far as my overall physique. I was still lean, I was still building, quality muscle and again, just loved it. I loved it that the workouts were so simple, four to five exercises doing basically about a couple warmup sets, three sets, three working sets each. It was awesome and I fell in love with it right away.
And another thing I loved that we haven’t talked about is the cardio section that I don’t like cardio. It’s just not my. I know it’s needed, especially when trying to lean up. But, the 20 minute intervals on the bike, the, high intensity interval training on the bike. I did that three times a week and loved it.
It was quick, it was effective, and it got in and out of there and 20, 20 minutes and I’m done. The other cardio that I loved, which I never did before, was just a simple walk on the off days that I didn’t do the hit. And, I never liked walk and never liked. Anything like that and ended up loving it.
It also was just good for you mentally clears your head. Get out there, and work, if you’re working all day, if you’re sitting at a desk all day, you’re not lifting or you’re already lifted in the morning, just get out there and take a 30 minute to an hour walk and just, decompress a little bit.
Which again, I still do all the time today.
Mike: Yeah, that’s a great cardio routine, I guess you could say is use a couple of high intensity. You don’t have to be long. 20, 30 minutes. Couple high intensity to workouts per week just to burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. Especially if you really don’t like grinding out, let’s say a daily, or let’s say five to seven days per week.
You don’t like grinding out 30 to 45 minute bike rides, even if it’s on an upright bike and you’re like, All right, I’m gonna make a phone call or I’m gonna, I’m gonna multitask cause while I sit here on this bike. I don’t particularly like it. I do it because I end up doing something. It’s either a phone call that I have to make anyway, or like a work meeting, or I just sit and read on my phone.
Things I’m gonna do anyway. I’m like, I might as well just get on that bike and burn some calories while I’m. Doing it, but if that doesn’t work for you or anybody listening instead just doing a few high intensity workouts on a bike or on maybe a rowing machine or in a pool, the point is not banging your joints up by like doing sprints on concrete.
So do something no impact. A few of those per week, burn a bunch of calories, and otherwise just walk. That’s actually a great cardio routine, whether you’re cutting, maintaining. You might even want to keep it up. If you can lean bulk and don’t have trouble gaining weight. I think it’s smart for health reasons, it’s smart for metabolic reasons, and depending on your appetite, it means that you can eat a bit more food and then when you do finish your lean bulk and it’s time to cut, you’re already in the routine of doing cardio, which makes it a little bit easier rather than going from no cardio for six months.
Getting back into it, So that’s a great routine that combines calorie burning, just convenience. And you only have a few of those tough sessions per week and otherwise you’re walking. Yeah,
Luke: and it was easy. To me, I got in a rhythm with it. I did Monday, Wednesday, Friday, hit on the bike, and Tuesday, Thursday walks, I do some walks on the weekend too, but it was, it became just like a, Task that wasn’t, that wasn’t that hard for me.
I ended up enjoying it. My point is, I used to absolutely despise the Hata card. The fact of that I have to do cardio that day. So that changed with me. One thing I wanted to bring up that helped me as well from the book, I used to, before I read Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, I’d have my Apple Watch, and I tracked the calories on that all the time.
So if I went to play basketball, for example, It thinks I’m burning 1500 calories. I was like, Dude, I gotta do this all the time. So I’m like, I think I’m burning 1500 calories playing basketball in 45 minutes. So the having that thought in my mind, I’d go home and eat the house down, and really, Didn’t know that I actually was eating way more than I was actually burning.
Cause I thought that I had done this big workout and that I earned it and that I’m gonna, still be in a deficit cuz I’d done all this cardio when really in fact I was, gaining weight over time. Slowly over time, thinking that I’m about to be cut. That’s really helped me a lot.
I got rid of the watch. First of all, it died on me, but I never bought a new one cuz it’s like I don’t really use the watch only for fitness stuff. That’s, And I don’t use it for fitness matters anymore. Yeah. The
Mike: trick with those. Is turn them back. 900, 500 to 900 calories.
That’s the diet hack. Turn back your calorie tracker, like 700 calories. There you go. . And then you’ll be fine.
Luke: Yeah. Fixed it for you. Yeah, no, that, that was eye opening for sure, man. Like I thought I was burning way more calories than actually was. How
Mike: did your enjoyment of your weightlift, how was that affected by going from, You said previously you were doing a lot of higher rep to lower rep, a lot more strength training.
Did you find. That new way of training more enjoyable, Less enjoyable? More
Luke: enjoyable? For sure. Like I said, I never really liked cardio. So 15 reps compared to four to six is a lot more like cardio than,
Mike: especially if you’re squatting, doing 15, doing sets of 15. Even if you’re not even getting that close to failure, if it’s just getting hard after rep 10, it’s turning into cardio.
Luke: Exactly. Exactly. So I loved it. And I started to see results very quickly because, I had been doing something else that wasn’t working for so long and I started to do the progressive overload training at your program. Applied and truly enjoy. Tremendously. Also I had a direction too, once you have direction and something’s working your program did for me, I was excited to go to the gym every day.
Excited to lift. I had, the app that you guys have is great. I love it. I do. I do a set, if it’s three minutes rest, click the timer. Mike, I think you wrote about it in your book, like you’d read a book, like I’d go look at, I’d read articles on ESPN or something like that, or maybe make a, like a phone call for work or so, I really loved the app was I missed the app.
First of all, I don’t have you programming anymore, but I miss that all the time. , so maybe I’ll have to pay you guys somehow to get some sort of app on my phone. Again, ,
Mike: Ask Nick. It’s not our app, it’s another company, I believe it’s trainer wise and we just use their software.
Luke: Oh, anyways. I enjoyed that. But no, as, as far as your question absolutely changed. My enjoyment, level of fit of lifting. That
Mike: makes a big difference, doesn’t it? I think it’s a very under appreciated aspect of programming this point of enjoyment. Are you liking your workouts? You’re never gonna enjoy every workout, but do you generally look forward to it?
Are you generally having a good time or. Are you generally dreading your workouts? Are you generally having to push yourself through every set? There is no force that’s pulling you ahead, you’re just having to grind every workout every week. Even the grit grits among us can only do that
Luke: for so long.
No, that wasn’t it at all. It was it. I truly enjoyed it and but I want to ask your opinion on this. One thing that I also had to get used to was, Chess day for, you start off with bench press, once you get to your working sets, you wait, what Nick had me do was three minute rest between each set.
And to me it’s I, I’m very adhd. I was like, I gotta get going. Like I gotta get my, a minute goes by, I gotta get my next set. So that was something that had to, I had to really Calm myself down and actually wait the full three minutes. And that was probably the hardest thing I did with training.
Just getting used to waiting three minutes for those compound lifts that the three compound
Mike: lifts that you have us do. Yeah, it just makes a big difference in performance. As there’s a big, one minute would never be enough. You’d be taking weight off of the bar. You’d be missing. Sets, you try, you go for 4, 5, 6, and you’d get two and even two minutes though there’s a big difference between two minutes and three minutes.
I’m sure you played around with this and just came to accept that on those bigger exercises, something around three minutes. And for me, like on squats and deadlifts, I don’t usually go to four minutes, but I might even go to three and a half minutes, maybe four, like if I’m doing sets of eight or 10 on the deadlift and.
They’re getting close-ish to failure, let’s say within a couple reps of failure. That is very difficult. Talk about cardio my heart is racing. It takes a good three and a half, four minutes just for. My heart rate to come down to a normal for working out. It’s not the same as when I’m lying down to go to bed, but it takes three and a half, four minutes just for me to feel ready for that next set.
Physically, our goal again is progressive overload. Our goal is to eventually add weight to the exercise over time if we don’t rest enough. And there, there are a number of studies have shown this, but we can all experience it just ourselves. If you don’t rest enough, your performance rapidly. Declines.
Like you can’t even, again, you can’t even keep the weight on the bar. You have to take weight off just to meet your rep targets. And the problem with that, of course, is yes, you still are, taking these subsequent sets close to failure, but by taking weight off the bar, it’s producing.
Less tension, less mechanical tension in the muscles, and that’s really what we’re going for. We’re trying to just slowly increase the amount of tension that we are exposing our muscles to over time. And adding weight to the bar is a very effective way of doing that. You can also add reps to your training and you have to, as you get stronger, and you should get.
Because it gets very hard to add weight to exercises. You usually have to increase your reps before you can increase weight. It’s almost the last resort of. Progressive overload is adding sets, and the reason it’s a last resort is you can only take that so far until you start falling behind. In recovery, your risk of injury goes up try to do more than 20 hard sets for, let’s say your lower body.
Per week. Heavy sets, let’s say no more than 10 reps per set. You can even work in a variety of rep ranges, but no more than 10 reps per set. Close to failure in each set, try to do more than 20 per week and see how everything feels after after six weeks. So that’s the problem with just adding more sets and even adding reps, you can run into that issue too, where you can only do.
So much. And so you have to get a right combination of those factors. And obviously I talk about that in the book and I talk about that even more in the follow up to bigger, leaner, Stronger, which is beyond bigger, leaner, stronger. And talk about it in that follow up book, more in the context of a more experienced weightlifter.
Luke: I haven’t read that one yet, but that one’s next on the list.
Mike: It’s gonna be very relevant to where you’re at now. People will ask me, Hey, which program should I follow? Or people will say, Hey, I’m following bigger than or stronger. When should I switch To the beyond, bigger than stronger program?
And my simple answer is, if you’re still getting good results from bigger than or stronger. Just keep following it. There’s no reason to change anything, but there is a point where you’re going to plateau, where you’re just not going to be gaining strength, any meaningful amounts of strength anymore, and you know what you’re doing with your diet.
You know that you are recovering well enough, you’re sleeping enough, blah, blah, blah. And at that, It’s time to start working harder. That’s really what it comes down to. So beyond bigger, leaner, stronger, similar to bigger, leaner, stronger it same types of exercises, but it changes the rep scheme a little bit.
So you are doing some higher rep. Up to sets of 10 on the big lifts. But then you’re also doing some very heavy stuff. You’re doing twos, you’re doing threes you’re doing some as many reps as possible. Some am wrap sets with heavy weight and it really just comes down to working quite a bit harder for.
Not very much progress. That’s the reality. When you get up close to your genetic limit for muscle and strength, you have to work tremendously hard to. Progress. Just inch meal just inch by inch. It takes a lot of work and that’s not what most people want to hear and that probably doesn’t sell many books.
But that is the truth. ,
Luke: No, I mean you inspired me that’s my next challenge for sure. Cuz I feel like I am getting there, to that point.
Mike: Now, fortunately, you can still enjoy your training. You don’t have to go back. Yeah, you don’t have to go back to doing two to three hour workouts per day.
And you can still enjoy the workouts. And I would say that so long as you are eating enough food and getting enough sleep and you’re, really recovering, you’re gonna enjoy the program. You’re just going to notice like, yeah, this is quite a bit harder. .
Luke: Yeah. Oh I totally believe it. And another thing I wanted to tell you was the stretching.
Just the basic stretches that, the program had me do, helped tremendously. I would never stretch before I was an idiot, and, it helps prevent injuries, it just makes you feel looser and. More able to lift all around.
Mike: Which stretches specifically for people listening did you find most helpful?
Luke: The one that I love, I’ve always had shoulder issues and the one that I love the most was you get a band and you put it over your head. It’s, I don’t know what exactly what it is, you go behind, behind your shoulders and back over to the front. I don’t know if you can tell your listeners what that is, but
Mike: it’s just simple shoulder rotation.
Sometimes people do it with a PVC as well.
Luke: Exactly. I do that almost every day, just to stretch out my shoulders cuz you know, they get so tight here in the front by your labrum. That’s the best one. And then the other one that I loved was, it’s like a couch stretch for your for your quads and hip flexers just stretches the hell out of those.
And those are simple stretches. But it would just doing the program and having it as a checklist to get it done, helped me actually do it. Not say, Oh, I’ll do it later. Which I never would just get it done right away after the workout. And I felt so much better, number one. And number two, I probably prevented injuries, if I did your program and didn’t stretch, there’s no way I could.
For six months and not, most likely injure something without stretching.
Mike: Yeah, a little bit of stretching goes a long way. And even if it doesn’t reduce the risk of acute injury, which it may not, in some people, it can still reduce the risk of repetitive stress. Injuries, which are annoying and just get in the way of things.
And those are the little nagging issues that, you start with feeling a little twinge in a workout and you just keep going. It’s not a big deal. And then the next time you do. That workout or those exercises, you’re feeling it a little bit more, eh, whatever. You keep going. And then eventually it’s just hurting all the time.
And now you actually have to change your programming. Like now you know, there are three exercises you just can’t do because it hurts too much. And if you do this long enough, That is going to happen from time to time. That doesn’t mean anything is necessarily wrong with your programming or that you’re making any mistakes per se.
There are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of the frequency though, and stretching is one. Also just changing up the exercises that you do every so often. Obviously not every week or necessarily every month, but every couple of months doing different movements that train muscles in slightly different ways, different angles, different ranges of motion.
That helps as well as opposed to. Let’s say back squatting for eight months straight. That’s not necessarily a bad idea, but that is going to increase the chances of maybe your knee starting to hurt a little bit or your back or your hips versus back squatting for a couple of months. Front squatting for a couple of months, maybe safety bar, squatting for a couple of months coming back.
Actually I made the mistake. Going too long without back squatting. This was interesting, so back squatting for a couple of months, front squat for a couple of months, get pretty strong on the front squat too. I’m not sure. I wanna say one RM of like low 300 s, which is not bad given my body weight safety bar squat for a bit and get pretty strong on that.
What does safety bar squat? Anybody listening, if you just search for safety bar, you can see picture of it. But it is a barbell that has a shoulder harness basically think of like almost and it has handles, right? So almost like a rollercoaster kind of seat, right? So you’re holding here, the weights are out here and feels something in between, a back squat and a front.
Is how it feels and that’s how it performs. Like you’re not gonna be as strong on the safety bar as you are on the back squat unless maybe you high bar back squat. I low bar though. It got up to, I wanna say 2 80, 2 75 for maybe sets of eight, and that was all out. That was about, maybe I could have done nine or 10, but that would’ve been it.
So I got decently strong on that, but it then come back to back squat and it had been like seven months or six months because I did a couple months back, couple months of front, couple months of safety, and I was so pathetically weak on my back. I was surprised. I was surprised. My one RM was down probably like 40 pounds just by not doing it for that long.
So now you know, I’ll back squat for a bit, front squat for a bit back, squat for a bit, safety bar, squat for a bit back, squat for a bit, but simply making changes like that can also just. Reduce the chances of things hurting.
Luke: Okay. No, that’s good to know. Yeah, we did that in the program. I actually recall that.
So we did, three months of back squatting and three months of front squatting. When I was doing each, I missed the other, I wanted to do some back squats along with it, but I do, I get the point that, it helps prevent injuries.
Mike: And it also gives your back a little bit of a break too.
Cause if you’re also deadlift, not that it’s bad for your back, I appreciate it sometimes just to have a less back stress. And then that also, then that opens up the opportunity maybe to do some t bar rows or do some barbell rows or maybe some good warnings. Add something else in your program that stresses the back that you actually might not want to do, if.
Deadlifting and like low bar back squatting every week. I’ve run into that. Hey there. If you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome. Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend or a loved one or a not so loved one?
Who might want to learn something new. Word of mouth helps really bigly in growing the show. So if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. Are there any obstacles that you ran into in, in your training, any kind of changes that you had to make along the way?
Even if it were just, even just things that didn’t quite work for you and you enjoyed more, In a different way.
Luke: The only thing that we changed in your program was, again, I’m a tall guy and I’ve always had, lanky legs. I’ve always wanted to build ’em up and I’ve tried tremendously.
And your program’s definitely helped with that. I asked Nick, I said, Man, can we add another, not another leg day, but I need to, I need to do legs. Few more sets in the week and he helped me, mess with the program a little bit and he tweaked it and we added another day.
Just, just because I was doing, five working sets and then maybe a couple leg things on like the deadlift day, a back day. But just adding another day I think helped tremendously just, adding more mass to my legs, even in a deficit, I felt like my legs were getting stronger and more muscular.
And that’s something that, not an obstacle, but something that we changed and I thought, helped
Mike: a lot. Yeah. Yeah. It’s just a matter of volume. It’s like wherever you’re at there is. An upper limit of volume that you can recover from. There is a minimum amount of volume required to make any progress whatsoever, and then usually somewhere in the middle there is an a sweet spot for at least getting, let’s say, 80% of the potential progress that’s available to you without having to push to that upper limit of recoverable volume, which.
It’s very difficult, especially with lower body. What you often find is if you’re gonna push, if you’re an experienced weightlifter, that’s probably somewhere around 20 hard sets per week. You might even be able to push to 25 hard sets per week, and any more than that is just gonna be too much.
But if you do that, what you might find is you’re pretty drained. When you try to go deadlift, you’re pretty drained in your heavier upper body days. You might find also that your sleep starts to get worse, which is a sign that you’re under recovering, and then you might have to dial back volume elsewhere to just make the room for all of that lower body volume.
The program as it is in the book provides probably about 12 to maybe 15 hard sets for the lower body per week, which Is not a low volume approach, but there is a little bit of room to increase that if you want to maximize progress really in any major muscle group, and if it’s appropriate given.
Your experience level, if someone were brand new? I actually wouldn’t even recommend it. I would say, look, there’s quite a bit of research on this at this point, and what it shows is that by doing that 12 ish up to maybe 15 ish hard sets for let’s say your lower body per week you’re, that that’s plenty.
If we add volume, you’re gonna burn more calories. You’re gonna be in the gym longer, but you’re not gonna gain any more muscle and strength to speak. Versus a little bit less volume, so I would say, Let’s find something better to do at that
Luke: time. . Yeah, no I totally agree there. I was about to say what we haven’t talked about, and I probably gained the most knowledge of is nutrition.
Dude, I was eating after I figured out what to do with legion, with diet, and I’ll get that in a second. I thought I knew everything. I thought I was just killing it with nutrition. , dude, I had no clue what I was doing. I was eating so much and just, thinking that, okay, I’m eating all these carbs, I’m eating all this protein at once, it’s really gonna help me in my physique.
And then, man, it really, it was doing the opposite, would eat, Like chicken and rice, I’d have 400 grams of carbs it seemed like on my plate of rice. And this, the chicken quantity was four times of what it actually needed. It needed to be for one particular meal.
Man, I, and also I was just chugging protein shakes all the time. Just, just total had, I had no idea what he was doing. So your program definitely helped. With when I did the cutting. Section of it, which is what we started off with. I was a maniac again, I had a lot of motivation, so I ate probably the same thing for the first three months besides dinner.
Dinner I switched up. But breakfast, there was two options that they gave me. I prepped that. I prepped lunch cuz I was out all day working and then I get home. And I’d eat like some Greek yogurt and blueberries. Go to the gym and have this protein smoothie that you guys recommended, and then dinner, I’d switch it up.
But just knowing what I was eating and knowing, what was actually going in my body made me feel so much better, number one. But also, I just loved that I actually, knew now that. A whole packet of rice, a whole pan of rice isn’t gonna help you out at all. Just eating in one session.
And seriously, I did that all the time. I’d eat a whole roots history chicken, in one sitting. I’m like, Dude, your body can’t even process that much protein one. But I thought I was, I thought I was gonna be so strong. Even if it
Mike: can actually, you might reach the limit.
I don’t know how much he is in a hole. That’s probably over a hundred grams, I would think.
Luke: Oh, I’m sure. I’m sure it is. It has to
Mike: be hundred 50 plus. Yeah that’s a lot. That’s a lot
Luke: I thought was, have biceps in an hour. So no the nutrition plan seriously helped me more than anything really.
Just cuz now I know what I’m doing, I know the effects of a sugary drink, sweet tea from Chick-fil-A, a Chick-fil-A meal, for example, that doesn’t barely, fill me up at all. Or you being big guys, it has a thousand plus calories and one meal that has no nutritional diet and then you’re hungry
Mike: two hours later.
Luke: Yeah, try 45 minutes, bro. , right away. No, man just knowing, how to space it out in five to sometimes six smaller meals that have, that are high in protein and high nutritional value. Man, I, it, I love it. Like it gets me pumped up thinking about it , like that.
Now I got one waiting for me in there, So that, that helped. Probably in the best way.
Mike: And how did it look in terms of the nutritional quality of the foods that you were eating before and then after? Were you eating fairly well before it was just huge amounts and, Yeah.
Luke: Yeah. I had more ch more cheap meals, And I knew then that, that those weren’t really gonna help me.
I wasn’t as disciplined, number one. And yeah, I think what you said it correctly. I just was eating huge quantities. I was eating chicken, I was eating rice, I was eating broccoli. I would eat three times the amount that I would with the nutrition program that I had with Legion, which was a normal size meal.
I didn’t know that,
Mike: was it hard to make that adjustment? Were you really hungry in the
Luke: beginning? I was. So the cutting program, I was starving, like at first. But I started to see results too. As I started to see results, my abs started to become visible. I always had abs that were there, but they really started to pop and become visible.
With this nutrition program and training. But, another thing that I would do was, I’d with chicken, I’d drown it in some sort of sauce. Like I didn’t, I had no idea how many carbs were in ketchup, for example. I love ketchup. I’m addicted to it still to this day, One serving ketchup has what?
Like 27, what is it? 27 grams of carbs or something like that. Something along those lines. I was blown away when I heard that. I always thought it had some sugar, some calories, but the amount of carbs that it, that are in. Just random ketchup. I was shocked and annoyed.
Mike: Yeah. Sauces. Sauces in general.
You, you gotta look like even salad dressings, if you don’t know and you’re not paying attention, you can easily put hundreds and hundreds of calories of dressing on a salad and think that, Hey, I just ate a salad like that. What is that? A couple hundred?
Luke: Yeah, not at all. Not at all. But that’s the biggest difference, man.
Cuz like I would just, I’d eat chicken, rice, but I’d be adding a shit ton of ketchup on top of it or buffalo sauce, or barbecue sauce that has sugar in carbs, et cetera. And just thought it was odd, no harm, no foul, which it’s not a huge deal, but it does make a difference in the long run, especially if you’re trying to cut.
Mike: was, It’s like drinking calories. Yeah. If you have a huge budget so to speak, that you’re working with, it’s okay to drink if you wanna drink a few cups of milk cause you just like milk. Sure. But if you’re cutting and you have, let’s just say 2,500 calories per day. Do you want to be drinking three, 400 calories per day?
Probably not. It just is gonna make you hungrier. It just makes it harder.
Luke: That was the hardest. The hardest thing too was nighttime. My I eat my dinner and I’m so used to eating like two dinners really. Even to this day, I want two dinners and just having that one dinner and just like the mindset of, Oh shit, it’s 8:00 PM like, oh shit, I have nothing left to eat, for the night.
Oh. And I’m like freaking out . There’s nothing left.
Mike: You know what the best late night snack is? It’s just going to bed, ,
Luke: go to bed. You’ll wake up happier, be
Mike: unconscious, and then you’ll be.
Luke: No man, that was the toughest part. My man. I would really love another full dinner. Like it would make me pumped, but I’m like, All right do you wanna reach your goals or not?
And that was an obstacle that I had for sure, that I had to overcome.
Mike: And did you guys do anything in particular to address that or was it just a matter of. Your body had to get used to, because part of the problem is your body just gets used to eating on the schedule that you eat, and it gets used to getting the amount of the volume of food that you give it every day.
And so if you cut that volume in half, for example, maybe even the calories don’t get. Cut in half, but the volume might get cut down, let’s say significantly. It takes some time to adjust. There are no hacks that get around that like you do have to go through that a little bit. If you are going from eating large amounts of food, really filling your stomach to a lot less food, that is much less filling.
Even if the calories are totally fine, it’s not a starvation. So to speak.
Luke: Yeah. I think you’re totally right. It was my body just had to get used to it. I seriously think I was eating 4,000 plus calories a day before and thinking I was probably in a deficit, which my maintenance is probably 2,700, I think it was.
I can’t remember. I had no idea. I had no idea. But, so I bumped it down from 4,000 to 27, and then we cut it down even more as, Went on. So yeah, my body was like, What in the world is going on, dude? I’m so hungry right now. So I, we’ll tell you this, when we switched from cutting to bulking, I was pretty damn pumped.
I was like, Hell yeah. I’m ready to get some more calories in for the
Mike: whole time though, or did you eventually reach a point where you felt like you were force feeding your.
Luke: With the cut. With the cut, I reached a point where I was, my body was okay with it, I eventually got used to it.
Mike: With the lean bulk, I’m saying like, Did you it’s fun. It’s fun at first, but my experience has always been after, especially when you’ve had to bump your calories up a couple times, and now you’re pushing 35, 37, maybe even 4,000 calories a day, just to continue gaining.
Luke: Oh Yeah.
I never got that high with your program, but I might be there right now cause I’m I’m bulking at the moment. But no, I’ve never had a problem with putting food in my mouth, . Even if it’s 4,000 plus. I will say this, when I got to the, I’m probably 2 28 right now, 228 pounds.
With, when I did your cut, I got down to maybe 203 pounds, which I haven’t been that low in high school. You, I’m 28 years old now, so high school, I felt not weak, but with my lifts there at the end, I didn’t feel as strong as I could have been if I had some more calories. Which makes sense.
It makes sense. So I was pumped, start adding some calories back, get my energy levels up, and then, eventually get my strength, the numbers up as. Which
Mike: happened, Yeah, you can’t get around that either. Like after, after a few months of undereating your workouts are not quite the same, but I’m guessing that you were able to preserve most of your strength and you probably were happy with what you saw in the mirror.
Luke: Oh yeah, it was pumped what I saw in the mirror. I just, as far as just moving forward and with my numbers, that was, you need, I needed more calories to keep going that, in that direction. But no I loved how I looked. It was awesome. It just, it required, quite a good bit of effort.
But I got used to it. And like I said I enjoyed the training and then I. The nutrition as well. Even, with my meals, you have a lot of nice, tasty recipes. Dude, I was doing bland, bland, . I dunno how I did it. I was doing chicken bachelor,
Mike: frog eating.
Remember that meat? What was it? Foul, bachelor, frog. ,
Luke: No, I don’t think
Mike: it was a meme had this little nasty looking frog, and it was just like nasty bachelor things that guys do.
Luke: Oh, yeah. That was what I was doing for sure. I’m still doing, I could eat chicken or rice, bland chicken, rice for breakfast.
But anyways all in all, I really enjoyed it, man. I enjoyed everything about it. many pounds did you lose when you cut about 20 pounds? And how long Did. A couple months, not long. I think when I got down to my lowest, it was maybe three months. Cause I wasn’t trying to lose a ton of weight. I was just trying to get leaner.
But I just, with what we had than the calorie deficit that we had, and I told Nick I wanna be aggressive with it. We definitely bumped those numbers down. So I could see those results, but I’d say about three months or, two and a half, three months to get, lose 20 pounds and get to my, I’d say peak cut.
So anything below that would be too much. Any diet
Mike: breaks Or No. You just went straight?
Luke: I just went straight. Just went straight. I was ready to rock like I said. That motivation.
Mike: think that, I’ve been saying this for a while, that if you can be fairly aggressive on a cut and get to your goal faster, I recommend it because you’re gonna enjoy it more.
You might be a little bit hungrier, but you’re gonna see results faster and you’re gonna see the end faster. And in my experience, working with a lot of people, that is more motivating. Making it take twice as long. You’re still hungry. You’re a little bit less hungry, but the results come much slower and you have to be on your diet for a lot longer, which just.
Makes it not only harder to stick to, but also just the more time you add, the more things can go wrong. Yeah, I
Luke: totally agree. I wanted to get to a certain point and sure, I had cheap meals, along the way, but not too many of ’em because, it was tough, but I had to remind myself, you have a goal.
What were your
Mike: go-tos for your Gmails, and did you at least control yourself or did you.
Luke: No, I would, I control myself, but it would it wouldn’t be like a huge quantity, but it would be Zach’s face, wings, and dings plus a sweet tea, like that. That’s my, I love that.
To, to this day. That was my cheat meal. But, I have to remind myself, when, when I was doing the cuts hey, you have a goal and you want, a temporary pleasure, that you’re probably gonna be annoyed with yourself afterwards when you eat this thing. What’s it gonna do for you?
Give you, 20 minutes of pleasure and then you’re, you’re back to, Oh, now I have to go to the gym and work this off. You don’t have to do that, but sometimes that’s how my mind works. But, no, that was it. A couple things like that.
Mike: What were the calories approximately for that meal?
Luke: Oh man. Like thinking about it, I’m pretty sure it was like 1300 to 1500 calories. You can
Mike: make that work though, especially if Okay. On your day when you’re gonna have your cheat meal. I, I tell people this if you can end that day around, Your maintenance calories, if you’re a little bit above it, that’s okay, but if you can just prevent the blowout, if you can prevent the 1500 calories over maintenance type of day.
And so maybe that means, let’s say that, let’s say your cheat meal is your dinner, so maybe that means you eat a bit less than you normally do. Earlier in the day just to create a little bit of a buffer and okay you’re going for, in your case, you’re going for ending your day, eh? 2728, 2900 calories.
All right. Good. You’re gonna have this 1300 calorie meal. Maybe that’s your dinner, your lunch, whatever. And then if you can just figure out how to trim the rest of your meals to make that work, then you know, that’s, I think that’s a very viable strategy. You do that once per week twice per week if you really want to, or feel the need to.
Or maybe sometimes you do it every other week, Maybe, the day comes where you normally would do it and you’re like, eh, I don’t even care to eat it, so I’m just gonna keep. Yeah,
Luke: We actually had to do that, but it’s embarrassing to say, but I told Nick, again, I was a Baxter and a new Baxter at the time.
I said, Nick, I’m dedicated to this program, but Friday night I’m probably gonna go out and try to meet people and have a couple drinks. Do you have any, tequila soda was my drink that I drank, tried to be healthy. And I said, Do you have any advice? Which is exactly what you said, earlier in the day, try to eat high protein meals.
We, we do that already, but with maybe some less, less carbs. And then trying to tailor it around, three tequila sodas that night or something like that, right? So that’s something I tell people all the.
Mike: So that was something you were doing consistently while you were cutting?
Luke: Yeah. I, unfortunately, yes.
Mike: It’s not even an un there are many people who hear that and are motivated by that, where they go. Oh, I can, I don’t have to completely give up alcohol at arm to completely give up Zacksby’s. I don’t have to. Yeah.
Luke: So yeah, you don’t, I didn’t, you don’t have to shut yourself off completely from everything else.
That was big. Cuz I didn’t know if, was embarra embarrassed to ask him like, Hey, what about cheat mills? What about alcohol? He’s Yeah, we, we can work around it. As long as you’re willing to stick with a program. Which I was, and he was willing to, to work with me.
But yeah, man, it was definitely doable and I still hit my goal, still got as lean as I possibly could even with doing those two vices of mine, cheap meals and alcohol.
Mike: And then, did you learn that you’re the only one who cares that much about your body fat percentage? That most people just don’t care?
Girls do not care.
Luke: They don’t care at all. First of all, I’ve, I, never would. Hey what my body fat is . That’s a meme right there. You think all the girls are gonna come up to after getting big ands and lean. It’s, but it’s really all the dudes . You all the dudes are giving me the compliments.
Yeah. It’s o only the guys are noticing your ab veins. Hey man. Looking good bro. , that’s all you get. Oh. It’s hilarious. So
Mike: what are your plans now? Are you lean bulking right now you mentioned?
Luke: Yeah, I’m Lean bulking right now. And I love it. My numbers aren’t, like we kinda talked about earlier, I’m starting to hit that plateau, but by some of my numbers as far as strength numbers aren’t going up as much, but I generally enjoy my training.
I work out in the mornings now and I wake up and I’m pumped ready to go, And I’ll, What am I doing today? I did squats, leg press, lunges, like it’s nothing exciting, but. Truly pump to go and make progress each day. And that’s something that, that comes with, doing a program like yours and just having a fitness, lifestyle and mindset.
It’s really, I used to like going to the gym now. I absolutely love it. It’s a big part of my life.
Mike: That’s great. Yeah. It’s awesome because that’s what it takes to really make it a life. Really, that’s, that, that’s just what it, that’s what it takes. Like I mentioned, if you don’t like it, you can force yourself to do things you don’t like.
But why do that if you don’t have to? If you can find something. It doesn’t have to necessarily be even my program or Exactly. I try to teach people the underlying theory and the fundamentals so they can change. The programming, they can change the workouts based on what they know now, again, to make it tailored specifically to their goals and their preferences and their lifestyle.
Luke: awesome. Yeah, man. Yeah. Again really loved it. I may like I said, I’m gonna, my next challenge is the next book. What is it? Bigger than or stronger. That’s my next challenge. I’ll let you know after I read that one. Yeah, let me know. Let me know on the
Mike: program. I think you’re gonna like it.
Cause again, it’s just, it’s taking what you’re doing and it makes it a bit more difficult. But there’s also a bit more variety now because you’re doing some of the, like I mentioned, you’re doing some of the higher up stuff, which is grueling. I don’t like it, to be honest. I do think there’s value in doing it.
Like I don’t enjoy, I don’t know many people who enjoy doing sets of 10 on the squat and deadlift, but, I wouldn’t either. There’s a good reason to do it. What is fun though is when you get into the heavier stuff, I think it’s fun to do sets of three, to do sets of two.
Luke: I prefer that. Now you’ve made me that way now.
Thank you for that. No. We’re number 10 wrap sets.
Mike: Yeah, I understand. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you think, anything that I haven’t asked you about that would be worth
Luke: covering before we wrap up? No, man. Again, I just wanted to say the best thing that my best advice for other people is that fitness does not have to be that damn complicated.
It’s very simple. Once, get down to the basics of it, comes up with nutrition and it comes down to just progressive over. Couple sets, couple working sets for each main exercise. And that’s it, Man. It’s not hard at all. I, like I said, I was going overboard and now I don’t at all.
Now I enjoy it 10 times as much as I did before.
Mike: That’s awesome. Thanks again for taking time to do this, Luke, and keep up good work and let me know and beyond. I’d love to hear your feedback.
Luke: Appreciate you having me, man. I appreciate.
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