Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on YouTube

Should women use different rep ranges from men? What’re the best hamstring exercises? Should women use heavier weights? What’s my skin care routine and why is my workout playlist so good? How much protein you can absorb and digest in one meal? Should you take EAAs? How do I maintain energy levels throughout the day? Is setian a good source of protein? All that and more in this Q&A podcast.

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 – My free quiz to answer all your diet questions:

2:44 – Why are you doing 8-10 reps instead of 4?

6:18 – In TLS you suggest 8-10 reps at 70% of 1RM. Is there a problem with women doing 4-6 reps?

8:00 – When should I start cutting and start lean bulking?

9:15 – What are the most effective mass building exercises for hamstrings?

9:30 – How is your playlist so awesome?

9:48 – Have you dealt with acne?

12:25 – How many midgets can you incapacitate in a UFC ring before they overcame you?

12:50 – How much protein can your body take at once?

13:37 – Is Legion developing a monkey pox vaccine?

14:01 – Do you directly train the lateral head of the triceps or just the long head?

14:26 – Is it okay to get around half of daily protein intake from protein powder?

15:03 – Are squat shoes a good investment for a strength athlete?

15:31 – Is it necessary to take essential amino acids if you are taking protein shakes before and after your workouts?

16:27 – How do you personally maintain energy throughout the day?

20:21 – Is seitan a good source of protein?

21:39 – Can you please reiterate your stance on intermittent fasting and what are the best Legion supplements to assist?

24:17 – Until when is 4-6 reps viable for muscle building?

25:38 – What is the gold ratio for muscle size proportions?

27:02 – Out of 100, how messed up is the world right now? 

27:49 – Why do you include how much BCAA’s are in your Whey+ if you don’t believe they have much benefit?

Mentioned on the Show:

Take this free quiz to get science-based answers to all of your diet questions:

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


Hello and welcome to Muscle for Life. I am Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for another Q and A episode. A lot of good questions in this one that people have asked me over on Instagram at Muscle for Life Fitness. So what I do is every Monday or Tuesday, I post a story asking for people to ask me questions.

The little, ask me a question sticker, get a bunch of questions. Answer a bunch on Instagram. Bring a bunch of them over here on the podcast. Answer them here on the podcast with even more information, cuz I can only put so much in Instagram story. And so if you want to ask me questions, follow me on Instagram.

At most Fly Fitness. Look for that story. Every week or so and ask me questions. And in this episode I’m gonna be answering quite a few questions. I’m gonna be answering questions about rep ranges for men versus women, why I generally recommend women start with more reps per set than men, like in my books, bigger than or stronger and thinner.

Leaner, stronger. And speaking of rep ranges, I also. Answer questions regarding women using heavier weights, like I talk about in bigger, Lean, Stronger. Is that a good idea? Not a good idea. I also talk about the four to six rep range in particular, and why emphasize that rep range in bigger, lean, stronger, and why eventually though, you should start working in different rep ranges.

I have a question here about hamstrings, the best hamstring exercises, my workout playlist, which you’re gonna love. There’s something on this playlist for everyone, and I share a link to the playlist here. In this episode. I talk about my skin and how I had acne when I was younger and what I did not do about it.

And then what I have done is I have gotten older how much protein your body can digest and absorb in one’s sitting. And more before we begin, how many calories should you eat to reach your fitness goals faster? What about your macros? What types of food should you eat, and how many meals should you eat every day?

created a free 62nd diet quiz that’ll answer those questions for you and others, including how much alcohol you should drink, whether you should eat more fatty fish to get enough omega-3 fatty acids. What supplements are worth taking and why? And more to take the quiz and get your free personalized diet plan.

Go to Muscle for quiz muscle o r Life show slash diet quiz. Now answer the questions and learn what you need to do in the kitchen to lose fat, build muscle, and get. Rv me X Z asks, How come you are doing eight to 10 reps per set instead of four? I just got done with bigger lean Stronger.

So this is somebody who is following me on Instagram or Facebook, where I post workouts to my stories every couple of days, and they have noticed that I am not following my bigger, leaner, stronger program, which mostly has you working in the four to six rep range. In some cases it’s six to eight because four to six is just.

Unwieldy with certain exercises, and so they are confused. But the answer is quite simple. I’m following my Beyond bigger, leaner, stronger program, which is the sequel to Bigger, Leaner, Stronger Intended for experienced weightlifters, and I break down the program and the theory behind the program, and of course explain exactly how to do it and give a year’s worth of workouts, blah, blah, blah.

In my book. Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, which I would recommend to anyone who has read bigger, leaner, stronger, and done it at least for a bit, and is now wanting to learn about how things change as you transition from a novice to an experienced weight lifter, and what kind of changes you eventually have to make to your training to keep making progress.

And although. Beyond Bigger, Leaner, Stronger obviously says that the book is geared toward men. Women can read it, and all of the basic principles apply to women. The programming though, the workout programming is probably not what most women want in that. Like bigger, leaner, stronger. There’s a large emphasis.

The upper body because it takes a lot more time for us guys to get the upper body we want than the lower body. And with women it is usually the other way around. Their priority is their lower body and they can get an upper body that they’re happy with a lot. Faster than a lower body. And I have not written beyond thinner, leaner, stronger yet, but I will, I definitely will get to it.

I just am chipping away at all the many things that I have to do these days, but I do get. Women reaching out fairly often asking for that book because they want to know what they should do when thinner, leaner, stronger, is no longer producing the type of results that it once was, and that’s inevitable because.

As you get stronger, as you get more muscular, as you become a more experienced weightlifter, you have to work a little bit harder in the gym than you do with thinly or stronger to consistently continue making progress. Some people who are very. High responders to weightlifting can probably just follow thin, leaner, stronger, and in the case of men, bigger, leaner, stronger indefinitely, and get the exact body they want and really have no reason to do anything else other than just wanting to try other things just for fun, which is totally fine.

But for bottom line results, they might not need anything else. But most people are going to find that after probably two or three years of consistently following the. Leaner, stronger slash thinner, leaner, stronger methodology. Their progress is going to slow down to a crawl. And there are some simple changes they can make to get the needle moving again.

And that’s what beyond bigger, Leaner, Stronger is all about. And what beyond Thinner, Leaner, stronger will. Be all about Shelby Bell asks In thinner, leaner, stronger. Do you suggest eight to 10 reps at about 70% of one rep max? Is there a problem with women doing the bigger, leaner, stronger four to six with 85%, one rep max?

In theory, no. That’s fine. Women can start. With heavy weightlifting, just like men can. However, practically speaking, it doesn’t tend to work well in my experience, especially with women who are new to strength training or resistance training because women start with a lot less strength than men do, and they usually.

Find it difficult and even intimidating to start with heavy sets of fours and fives and sixes on a squat, on a deadlift, and on a bench press. For example, I’ve heard from many women over the years who had to start with dumbbells because a 45 pound barbell was. Heavy. They could only do a few reps with a 45 pound barbell.

So they would start with dumbbells, maybe 10 or 15 pound dumbbells, doing sets of, say, eight to 10 reps, build their strength up with dumbbells and then transition over to the barbell bench press. So that’s why I generally recommend that women start with a little bit. Weight something around eight, 10 reps per set, around 70 to 75% of one rep max.

That’s usually how those numbers correlate. And then just work their way into heavier weightlifting if they want to do that. Some women don’t and they like working in the eight 10 rep range. Other women, like many men, find it more fun to train with heavier weights, so that’s just something to discover for yourself.

Ben Forehand asks, When should I stop cutting and start lean bulking? I have no way of measuring body fat percentage. Eh, let’s just keep it simple for men. When you can clearly see all of your abs, it’s time to stop cutting, because if you keep going, you are just going to run into more and more of the negative effects associated with dieting, hunger, lethargy cravings, bad mood, and And for women, when you can clearly see muscle definition in your core, not to the level that I just described for men.

For men, this is full six pack. You really are just pinching skin on your stomach. For women think that, but a little bit less ripped. So there is going to be. Clear definition in your core muscles, you’re gonna see some lines, but not ab vascularity. You’re not going to see ab veins, for example.

Whereas a man starts to see that probably around 8% body fat in their lower abdomen area. And then somewhere around probably five or 6% is when veins can be seen all the way up their abs. I do not recommend women. Ever getting that lean unless they’re competing because it’s not healthy. Okay. Sea Hobbs asks Hamstrings looking for the most effective mass building exercises.

All right, let’s keep it simple. Romanian deadlift, barbell back squat, Bulgarian split squat, seated hamstring curl, and the glute. Ham Rays. Dan Y DB seven asks, How is your playlist? So awesome, the inclusion of Marilyn Manson. I agree. Of course, my workout playlist really does based the Turkey. And if you wanna check it out, head over to Muscle for

I am in pur to asks, Have you dealt with acne in the past? Did you used to follow or do you currently follow a skincare routine? Yeah, I had fairly bad acne for a few years as a teenager. It started probably at 14 is where I. Started to get pimples and then maybe 15, 16, it was fairly bad on like on the sides of my face mostly.

And then it just resolved itself maybe around 18, 19, 20. But when it was bad, I. Didn’t do anything I should have. I should have looked into drugs probably because it really was a bummer. I’m not naturally a self-conscious, introverted type of person, but it made me very self-conscious, especially if I was really broken out and people would stare.

And so when I see people with skin problems, I can empathize because. The implication is that they are dirty or they just don’t take care of themselves. But that is not true at all, or at least it is not necessarily true. I guess it could be true. There are some people out there maybe who don’t even take showers and who roll in dirt all day and have that skin, but.

That is generally not the case. It is usually not caused by lifestyle factors at all. It is often a hormonal thing, especially with younger people. So anyway, now I have some scarring on both sides of my face from the acne, and I’ve done a microneedling and PRP treatment or two, and that helped a little bit for a little, but the scoring on my face is not bad enough for me.

Care really. And so I didn’t bother going back for the microneedling in PRP treatments every six months or so, like they recommended to minimize the visibility of the scarring. I would maybe consider doing a laser treatment if it were safe and longer lasting. Maybe just a one and done, but I haven’t looked into it again because I really just don’t care that much.

And as for my skincare routine, and I don’t really have much of a routine, I wash my face with some face wash that my wife likes from a company, Willa, I think W E L E D A. It’s like some foaming stuff. And I recently started using a few skincare products my wife gave me, but I don’t know if they really do anything.

Moisturizing, I guess makes sense, but I’m dubious about the rest, especially the marketing claims, and especially coming from the supplement world. All right, moving on to JD Mason. Eight. How many midgets could you incapacitate in a UFC ring before they overcame you? Sweetie, first thing, don’t say the M word around me.

And second, don’t be fooled by their stature. Because those little guys and gals, they can weigh up to 150 pounds and they are perfectly positioned for headbutting the baby balloons. John Chale asks, How much protein can your body take at once? Realistically speaking, as much as you actually want to eat for men, let’s say 80 to a hundred grams in one sitting can be processed just fine.

Maybe more. If you are a very big person, maybe less if you are. A very small person, but generally speaking, that’s I think a reasonable range for men and for women, it’s probably at least half of that. So 40 to 50 grams at least, can be easily digested and absorbed in one sitting. So again, eat as much as you.

Want. I doubt you are a guy who likes to eat 150, 200 plus grams of protein in one serving, or a gal who likes to eat half of that amount. Josh Gonzalez, n y l. What’s up Josh asks. Is Legion developing a Monkeypox vaccine? No, but I really want to make sure that everybody knows I support the current thing.

I think we should mandate monkey masks for all. I just want to be governed harder. Daddy. J Salom 12 asks, Do you directly train the lateral head of triceps or just the long head? I like to alternate between exercises that emphasize the long head, like a push down or a dip, and those that emphasize the smaller lateral and medial heads, like the skull crusher and overhead extension.

Most of your size though, is going to come from the long. Remember that Luke M 81 asks, Is it okay to get around half, 40% or so of daily protein intake from protein powder? Yeah, that’s probably fine, but that’s about the most I would personally recommend and personally. Eat. Otherwise, your stomach will probably start to shriek at you and your poops will probably get messy.

And also remember that many sources of protein are also good sources of other nutrition. So if you eat two little whole food protein, that can lead to an inadequate intake of certain nutrients. Makin Kaho asks Our squat shoes a good investment for a strength. Absolutely worth the investment. I would say for anyone who takes their training seriously.

You don’t have to be a strength athlete or a strength competitor. If you are somebody who squats heavy weight every week, you are going to feel more stable. In squat shoes, and that is probably going to help your performance. I squat better in squat shoes without a doubt. Menage 24 asks, Is it necessary to take essential amino acids?

Supplement if you are taking protein shakes before and after. Your workouts? No. Taking EASs is never necessary so long as you are eating enough protein. To use a simple analogy here, taking EASs when you are eating enough protein is like watering your lawn during a storm, and that also applies to BCAAs, and that, by the way, is why Legion, my sports nutrition company does not sell EASs or BCAAs, even though we get asked about them all of the time.

There just is no reason to take those supplements. I wish there were a good reason. I would take them myself. I would sell them. I could make millions of dollars a year. Not personally, but Legion could make millions of dollars a year, could do millions of dollars in sales easily if I could justify selling BCAs and EAs.

Patrick Lavin asks, How do you personally maintain energy throughout the day, afternoon, coffee slash naps, et cetera? I have espresso in the morning, so it’s probably four or five shots of espresso. 400 ish, three to 400 ish milligrams of caffeine. It’s hard to know exactly because the caffeine content of coffee beans can vary quite a bit, but let’s just call it 400 ish milligrams of caffeine.

And that’s it for my daily. Caffeine. I like to have it just early in the morning and then nothing else. And one of the reasons for that is I’m a light sleeper as it is, and if I have caffeine, really anytime in the afternoon there’s a fair chance that it is going to disrupt my sleep. And speaking of sleep, for me, the key to having high energy levels throughout the day is just getting enough sleep.

And 10 years ago I was able to, Six and a half, seven hours max. Probably closer to six and a half on average every day, and I did that for, I don’t know, five to six years, and I had great energy levels all the time. I could do whatever I wanted in the gym. I could do whatever I wanted with my diet. I could get super lean.

I could have caffeine and yohi being at 7:00 PM and do fasted cardio and sleep totally fine. Feel totally fine. But now that I’m not as good of a sleeper, I wake up anywhere from probably one to three times per night, sometimes to peace. Sometimes I just wake up, I can fall back asleep, but you lose a little bit of your sleep efficiency when you’re waking up.

Now I find that I need to get around seven and a. Eight hours of good sleep every night to feel good. And that usually requires being in bed for an extra hour, so eight and a half to maybe even nine, nine and a half hours to get that sleep. And now if I don’t get enough sleep, I really feel it. Whereas when I was younger, sometimes I would have a bad night’s sleep, and let’s say I only slept four or five hours.

Basically wouldn’t even notice it. Now, I simply couldn’t function on four to five hours. I could not do my daily work the way that I do it on four to five hours per sleep. An article that let’s say would normally take me an hour to write would. Probably take three hours to write. It’s that bad. However, what I’ve found is if I don’t sleep enough, a nap can really make a big difference.

In fact, that’s the only way for me to feel fresh and snappy. I have to take a nap. And the nap that works for me is I set a timer for 45 to 60 minutes, and realistically, I’m only asleep for probably 20 to max 30 minutes because. It takes me a little bit to fall asleep in the middle of the day. I can nap and I’m not a great napper.

I guess I can’t just pass out in five minutes, even if I’m feeling a little bit tired. And so let’s say it takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep and then I’m asleep for a little bit and then I wake up and usually can’t fall back asleep. But just that 20 to 30 minutes of sleep makes a huge difference, a disproportionately big difference actually.

It’s surprising. And so that’s what I. If I have a bad night of sleep, I usually will feel okay in the morning. So I get through some of my most important work, right then when I’m feeling good, and then come probably 12 o’clock or so, I’m not feeling so great anymore. Take a nap. Now I’m feeling better.

Go to the gym, continue on with. Now, if you don’t have 45 to 60 minutes to nap in the middle of the day, but you have, let’s say 20 to 30 minutes, try it out. If you can get to sleep, even if it’s just for 15 to 20 minutes, it can make a big difference. Rago Coley asks if Satan, which is not Satan, not s a t a n, Satan, s e i t a n, if that is a good source of protein yeah, it’s not bad.

As far as plant based protein goes, tofu is pretty, pretty good as well. And in case you’re not familiar with Satan, it is made from wheat, gluten often used as a meat substitute. And if we are talking muscle building, All sources of plant protein based on all the research I’ve looked at fall short of animal derived protein.

As far as essential amino acids go, that’s normally the case. Animal protein is normally more abundant in essential amino acids, and particularly in leucine, But even in cases where the essential amino acid profiles are matched and leucine is matched, animal protein does seem to produce more muscle growth.

Plant protein, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get jacked with plant protein or that plant protein doesn’t support muscle building. It does, but I would say if you are trying to get as jacked as possible, as quickly as possible, you want to probably get most of your protein from animal sources. All right, Ra KP 19 asks, Can you please reiterate your stance on intermittent fasting and the best legion supplements to assist?

Sure. So intermittent fasting is fine if you like it. For most people, it’s just skipping breakfast. If you like to skip breakfast, if you are not hungry in the mornings, for example, and you like to eat fewer larger meals, then it can work well, But. It doesn’t usually work well for bulking, even for people who like it because of how much food you have to eat to successfully bulk.

So that’s gonna be somewhere around 110% of your total daily energy expenditure on average. And that isn’t too difficult at first, but after a couple of months, even if you’re eating 5, 6, 7 meals per day, it gets hard. You really do feel like you. Overfeeding yourself. You are force feeding yourself, and especially if you don’t naturally have a large appetite.

Even if you do though people with large appetites find a couple of months of bulking, they are sick of eating food. And if you have a normal appetite or you have a lower than normal appetite that. Effect is even more severe. And so then when you add intermittent fasting into the mix, now you have to eat all that food in just, let’s say three meals per day.

And that makes it even more difficult to eat. Enough food. Those meals can get nauseatingly large, especially the last meal of the day I’ve been there. Maybe I didn’t get to the point where I was nauseous, but I clearly remember the last time I really lean bulked and my final meal, it was like almost a second dinner, was a big bowl of pasta, and I love pasta.

That’s one of my favorite. Treat meals, so to speak, is a really good pasta. And even that I had to force myself to eat it. I had absolutely no desire to eat that food. I was simply putting it down. And as far as cutting goes, if can work well, if again, you are not hungry in the morning because then you get to.

Larger meals, fewer but larger meals, and that can help with hunger and cravings. But on the other hand, if you are generally hungry in the morning or you just like eating breakfast, then IFF is going to make cutting harder and it’s going to make lean bulking harder and maintenance harder. And a lot of the purported health benefits and body composition benefits and performance benefits.

Intermittent fasting are overblown and based on cherry-picked research. Okay, So Sunny everywhere asks until when is four to six reps viable for muscle building? Four to six reps per set. And the reason they are asking this is because four to six reps is the focus of my bigger, lean, Stronger program, which is my most popular book and program.

That rep range is always viable in theory, but not in practice. When the volume requirements rise to, let’s say, 15 to 20 hard sets for a major muscle group per week, so let’s say your lower body is lagging and you now have to work harder than you do on your lower body and bigger than or stronger, which has you doing?

12 or so hard sets for your lower body per week. Okay? You need to do 15 to 16 now. And if you were to try to do all of those sets in the four to six rep range, you would just put too much stress on your body, too much stress on your joints, in particular, your risk of injury might go up. And therefore, for that reason, and a few other reasons, it’s smart to start working in.

Rep ranges when you become more experienced as a weightlifter and you have to work very hard to continue gaining muscle and strength. And if you want to learn more about that in particular, check out my book Beyond Bigger Lean or Stronger, I explain it in detail in that book, Steel TP asks, What is the golden mean slash ratio for muscle size proportions again?

So this is the. Theory, and I think that it is more right than wrong, but it’s a theory that men can make their physique more attractive by improving their muscle proportions according to a formula known as the GR ideal. And this states that your flex arms in calves should be two and a half times larger than your non-dominant wrist.

Your shoulders should be 1.618 times larger than your waist. Your chest should be six and a half times larger than your wrist can be your non-dominant wrist as well. I don’t remember if it needs to be that specific, but let’s just say non-dominant wrist and your upper leg should be 1.7. Five times larger than your knee or the average circumference of both of your knees.

And if you want to learn more about this subject and play around with a calculator, head over to legion and search for Ideal Male Body and you will find an article called How to Build the Mathematically. Male body according to science. Now, as for women, unfortunately, I don’t know of any similar data points for women, only for men.

Thomas Colvin, 96 asks out of 100, how messed up is the world right now? In the context of history I’ll give us like a 20 out of 100. Currently because for all of the honks of clown world, and there are so many hos and so many new honks every day and louder honks, remember that we still do have it so much better than any of our ancestors.

By a country mile there is. No actual comparison between how we live now and how our ancestors lived just a few hundred years ago. We still live in an absolute bed of roses for now. Israel Levine asks, Why do you include how much BCAAs are in your way? Plus, if you don’t believe they have. Benefit.

BCAAs themselves are crucial. They are essential amino acids. Leucine is one of them, and that is the essential amino acid most responsible for muscle growth, for muscle protein synthesis, for kicking our body’s muscle, building machinery into gear, so to speak. But BCA supplements are useless.

If you’re eating enough protein because the protein provides more than enough BCAAs. Now, as for why I call out how much BCAAs are in a serving of my weight plus protein and I do the same thing for all of my protein powders, my casing protein powder, my plant protein powder that’s only because people were always asking about that, presumably to judge the quality of the weight protein, which is not bad in theory, but you have to remember that such claims are not regulated.

Any government agencies, so you can say whatever you want. Now, in my case, I back up my claims by sharing lab testing reports for not just my protein powders, but all of my products. So you know that you are getting what I say you are getting. But if a company does not share lab testing reports, you really don’t know.

You are trusting the. 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 o r 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.

View Complete Transcript