Muscle For Life Podcast: Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Get Healthy

Mike Matthews: Bestselling Health and Fitness Author, & co-founder of and Legion Athletics

Podcast Overview

Hey! My name is Mike Matthews and I'm a bestselling health and fitness author, and creator of My mission is to empower people to take control of their health and fitness by following a healthy, enjoyable lifestyle that not only gives them the body they've always wanted, but enables them to live a long, vital, disease-free life.

Podcast Episodes

What Do I REALLY Think About People on Steroids?

If you’ve been kicking around gyms for a while now, you’ve probably noticed that steroid use is becoming more and more common.

Just here in the U.S., at least a million guys and gals of all ages turn to the sauce every year to get bigger, leaner, and stronger faster, and these numbers only seem to be going up with time.

This isn’t surprising, really, considering how many juiced guys and gals dominate the fitness social media scene, how much of a difference the right drugs can make, and how easy it is to get your hands on anabolics (you can buy ‘em on Amazon, FFS…).

And so I’m asked about steroids. A lot. And so I thought I’d make a podcast to answer the questions that I get most, like…

  • What do I think of people who take steroids?
  • Why am I not on steroids when it could probably help me make more money?
  • What are good and bad reasons to take steroids?
  • How can you tell if someone is on steroids?
  • How dangerous are steroids, really?

5:02 - What do I think about people on steroids?

6:27 - Are there good and bad reasons to take steroids?

18:49 - Why am I not on steroids?

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Eric Helms on the Simple Science of Making “Lean Gains”

In this episode I have Mr. Eric Helms back on the show, as promised a bit ago, to talk about how to “bulk” properly. In other words, how to gain as much muscle and as little fat as possible.
In case you don’t know Eric, he’s a member of the 3DMJ coaching team and is himself a professional natural bodybuilder and strength athlete, as well as an author and credentialed scientist with a number of peer-reviewed papers under his belt. 

I’ve referenced his work quite frequently in my own writing, so it’s a pleasure to interview him and pick his brain about the science of making gains. This time we’re talking about how to gain muscle quickly without just getting fat.
As you probably know, some fat gain is inevitable during a proper bulk, but most people make a handful of common mistakes that not only sabotage their efforts to gain muscle but set them up for a long, grueling post-bulk cut that, in many cases, more or less wipes out the progress they made.
The good news, though, is when you know what you’re doing, you can gain significant amounts of muscle without gaining large amounts of body fat, and it’s not as hard as many people think.
Eric breaks it all down in this interview, where he explains the big mistakes that many people make and then the simple science of making “lean gains.”
So if you want to know how to gain strength and size without packing on pounds of fat, you definitely need to listen to the interview.

Here it is...

5:34 - What are some of the common mistakes people do when trying to gain muscle and strength?
8:57 - Can you keep your body fat at a specific percentage and still gain muscle?
11:13 - What is your advice on mini bulk cycles?
17:05 - What are the common training mistakes when bulking?
25:40 - What is the proper diet and nutrition when bulking?
39:15 - What are the common diet mistakes when eating at restaurants?
45:21 - How do things change on the training side when bulking?
50:50 - Are there any differences in exercise selection when programming a cut verses a bulk?
1:00:08 - What supplements do you recommend for strength and muscle mass?
1:08:50 - How can people connect with you and find your work?

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Layne Norton on How to Avoid and Overcome Weightlifting Injuries

In this episode, I interview Dr. Layne Norton, who you’ve probably heard of, but in case you haven’t, he’s a professional powerlifter, bodybuilding coach, and host of his own podcast, Physique Science Radio, and really is at the forefront of the “evidence-based fitness” movement.

I’ve had Layne on the podcast before to talk about contest prep, maximizing fat loss, reverse dieting, and a few other topics, and people loved the interview so I wanted to get him back on to talk about the bane of every weightlifter: injuries.

Now, contrary to common belief, weightlifting isn’t nearly as dangerous as many people think, and especially when you’re using good technique, progressing intelligently, and generally taking good care of your body.

That said, if you lift weights for long enough, you’re going to experience at least a minor injury, even if it’s only a soft tissue problem stemming from repetitive use. And when it does happen, it’s going to frustrate the shit out of you, because as anyone that has gone through it knows, it quickly derails your plans and sometimes forces you to train suboptimally so you can recover. 

I wanted to get Layne on the show to talk about this, because as a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter, he has a lot of wisdom to share on the subjects of preventing and healing both minor and severe injuries. He himself has gotten hurt in ways that most of probably never will, and so he has had to go a lot further than most of us into rehab, recovery, and rebuilding his strength and performance.

As you’ll see, Layne covers a lot of ground in this interview, ranging from common mistakes that people make that lead to injuries to simple indicators to watch for that precede injury, how to know if you’re fully recovering from your workouts, how to rehab and work around injuries, and more.

Here’s the show…

12:51 - What is your history with personal injuries?

14:52 - What are some common mistakes that lead to injuries?

25:51 - What are some signs and symptoms that can help determine if someone is pushing themselves towards an injury?

29:56 - What are some preventative lessons you have learned with technique and form?

36:31 - How can someone tell if they are not recovering properly?

43:10 - After an injury, how can you continue to train properly?  

49:26 - What are the advantages and disadvantages between conventional deadlift and sumo deadlift?

52:13 - What are some alternatives for dead lift if you are injured or recovering?

55:00 - What are some alternatives for bench press if you are injured or recovering?

56:21 - What are your tips for treatment options and getting through injuries?

59:11 - What is Avatar Nutrition? 

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Donata White on How to Get the Most Out of Every Day

If you’re like a lot of my readers and listeners, you more or less always feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that you want to do.

You might even feel that your life is totally out of balance and walk around in a constant state of anxiety about what you’re doing, not doing, should be doing, shouldn’t be doing, and so forth.

Well, I know how that goes, what with writing a new book, running several businesses, raising a family, and so forth, and while there are deeper discussions that can be had about purposes, priorities, and perspectives, a great place to start on the problem is simply time management. 

In short, if you make a few simple changes to how you spend your time every day, you might be shocked at how much more you can get done and how effortless and enjoyable it can feel. As you’ll see in this interview, this is really low-hanging, common sensical stuff that, for whatever reason, very few people actually do.

And to break it all down for us, I’ve recruited personal trainer, attorney, and time management coach Donata White to explain how we can get far more out of the 24 hours that we get every day than we’re used to or even thought possible.

As you’ll see, she outlines a simple productivity strategy that starts with asking yourself a few questions and learning to prioritize your time, and then moves into implementing a few basic but powerful productivity strategies like time blocking, minimizing transitions, eliminating distractions, and more.

We also talk a bit about how all these things apply to health and fitness, namely meal planning and building a sustainable exercise routine.

So, if you could use more productivity and less stress in your life, I think you’ll find this interview helpful.

Here it is...

8:54 - What is your personal story that led you to create good time management practices?

12:02 - What is the first step of creating good time management practices? 

15:15 - What are the common mistakes people do that eat up their free time? 

22:30 - What is time-blocking and transitions?

28:25 - What are some meal-prepping tips to create even more free time?

32:41 - How are people underestimating their transition times? How can transition times improve?

40:00 - What are the benefits of good time management practices? 

49:52 - What are the best apps and services that help time organization?

57:56 - How does your health and fitness affect your time management?

1:00:50 - What are some practices people can do to help them focus more on their current task?

1:09:53 - How can people connect with you and find your work?

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Greg Nuckols on the Best Way to Get Jacked

There aren’t very many people in the fitness space who I think everyone should follow, and my guest on this episode, Greg Nuckols, is one of those people.

I’ve been reading his work for about a year now and really appreciate what he’s doing. When I have a question, his site, Stronger by Science, is one of the first places I check for an answer before venturing off into literature.

As you can guess, I was really excited to get him on the podcast to talk about what he specializes in: the science of getting bigger and stronger.

And specifically, I wanted Greg to address a hot topic these days, and that’s the relationship between gaining strength and size.

In other words, does maximizing muscle strength also maximize muscle size, or as many people say, is strength training rather poor for making your muscles bigger.

I get asked about this all the time and there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so I thought this would be a worthy discussion, and as expected, Greg knocks it out of the park.

As you’ll see, he breaks down the relationship between strength and muscle growth and gives simple, practical insights that you can immediately apply to your training to get bigger and stronger, faster.

Greg also touches on a number of other interesting topics such as how motor learning affects our progression in the gym, how important adequate sleep is to muscle growth, how to manage personal expectations and break through plateaus, and more.

So, if you want to get stronger and gain muscle as quickly and enjoyable as possible, then I think you’re going to like this interview.

Here it is...


5:15 - What is the relationship of building muscle mass to building strength? Is there a ratio? How does it change from beginners to veterans?

11:43 - How do our motor skills influence our strength gains?

22:55 - What advice do you have for beginners on gaining full body strength?

27:47 - What advice do you have for intermediate and advanced lifters to continue building muscle mass and strength?

30:27 - How does your sleeping habits affect your muscle mass?

35:35 - What are some psychology studies on how your personal expectations affect the results of your strength?

43:25 - What advice do you have for intermediate and advanced lifters who have hit a plateau on building muscle mass and strength?

46:35 - How can people connect with you and find your research?

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Scott Carney on the Surprising Benefits of Cold Exposure

In this episode, I interview the investigative journalist Scott Carney about something gaining more and more popularity these days: cold exposure.

You know, taking cold showers and ice baths, running around outside in your underwear during the winter, and so forth.

This “biohacking” craze started with one man, Wim Hof, who has done some pretty mind-boggling things with his body like climbing Mount Everest in just a pair of shorts, and even better, has taught others to do the same.

Scott’s latest book, What Doesn’t Kill Us, which I highly recommend you read, started as a mission to debunk Wim’s claims. After four years of research and personal experimentation, he realized that they’re not only true, but they raise bigger questions about what we’re really capable of physically, mentally, and, spiritually.

That, of course, is what this interview is all about. Scott shares with us the details of his almost surreal journey with Wim, and how he learned to use cold exposure and simple breathing techniques to boost his physical health and performance and, like Wim, climb a mountain in just his shorts without dying of hypothermia. Scott also breaks down how you and I can benefit from this new and exciting field of research.

And speaking to that, I myself have already taken the plunge, pun intended, by doing 3 to 5 minute cold showers every morning, and I’ve come to really enjoy them because of how I feel after - awake, energized, alert, and ready to get to the gym.

So, here’s the interview...

5:29 How has your life changed after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?
10:06 What benefits have you noticed after achieving the physically impossible?
13:52 What are some of the things you can accomplish when the body, mind, and soul work together?
23:10 In comparison to our ancestors, what are some physical abilities we have lost as we have evolved?
27:07 Is technology ruining our biology?
29:14 What are the benefits from breathing exercises and cold showers?
32:40 What are the most recent scientific findings on the Wim Hof Method?
35:07 What are some breathing exercises our listeners can start doing and what are the benefits?
42:20 How can people connect with you and find your work?

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Shawn Stevenson on How to Get the Best Sleep of Your Life

In this episode I interview Shawn Stevenson, author of the popular book Sleep Smarter and host of the The Model Health podcast. He’s also a super smart and super nice guy so I was excited to get him on the show to talk specifically about the subject of sleep. While I’ve written a bit about it on Muscle For Life and Legion, I haven’t really dived into it here on the podcast.

Everyone knows that getting enough sleep is important, but not everyone knows just how important it really is, especially for us fitness fanatics. Sleep insufficiency has been linked to car crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors. It increases the risk of chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, and cancer, and it dramatically reduces our quality of life and productivity. Research shows that inadequate sleep can slow down weight loss, lead to weight gain and muscle loss, and reduce testosterone levels.

The bottom line is that your sleep hygiene is like your diet - it’s either working for you or against you, regardless of whether you realize it.

In this interview, you’re going to learn all about what good sleep hygiene really is, and what you can do start doing tonight to get some of the best sleep of your life. That doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping more than you already do. In fact, you may even be able to sleep less, but feel more rested every day. You can get there by improving the quality or efficiency of your sleep.

If you have your sleep efficiency is really dialed in, you shouldn’t need to spend more than 6 to 6.5 hours in bed every night, and in this interview, Shawn explains why and how to get there.

If any of that sounds interesting to you, then I think you’re going to enjoy the interview. Here it is.

8:50 - How many hours of sleep do you need per night? How does sleep affect your body's ability to recover?

17:40 - How do you know if you're sleep deprived?

18:50 - Can you make up for lost sleep with taking a nap?

20:34 - What are some strategies for getting good sleep?

25:10 - What is cortisol and melatonin, and how does it affect our sleep?

29:45 - How does light from our cell phones and tv's change our sleep patterns?

34:09 - Does caffeine and pre-workout affect your sleep?

38:22 - How can we change our bedroom environment to allow better sleep?

46:26 - What's the best room temperature to sleep in?

52:27 - What are the benefits of getting proper sleep?

58:33 - Does eating a meal near your bed time affect your sleep?

1:00:52 - How can people connect with you and find your work?

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How Nick Cheadle Uses Social Media to Build a Thriving Fitness Business

Social Media Strategies That Help Build Your Brand with Nick Cheadle

In this episode I interview Nick Cheadle who's a fitness influencer and entrepreneur who has built a huge following on Instagram, I think it's like 600,000 people now , and then leveraged it to build a thriving coaching and education business.

I wanted to do this interview because I'm often asked about how to use social media better, how to get more out of it, how to make more money from it, how to build a bigger following, and so forth, and honestly, I don't have great answers - at least I didn't, I have some better answers now, thanks to the interview. But I didn't because I'm notoriously bad at social media. Honestly it's just a matter of time, I put a lot of time into other things that help build my businesses and following, but not very much time in social media.

Nick, on the other hand, is very good at it, he puts a lot of time in social media, so I wanted to pick his brain on a whole host of things like: how he proves to people that he's worth following, how he has gone about crafting his personal brand, his personal message, how he sells things without being annoying, what types of pictures tend to do best, and how he creates them, how he drives engagement and why that's so important, and much much more.

So if you're interested in learning in how to get more recognition in business through social media and through Instagram in particular, then you should definitely check out the interview, I think you're going to find it helpful. So with that, here it is.

5:31 - Take us through the timeline from when you started to now. Any key lessons?
13:26 - Why do people follow you?
18:06 - What is your message/brand?
22:27 - How do you avoid feeling too "sales-y," or like someone pushing his material on others?
33:33 - How much work goes on behind the scenes?
34:52 - Do you have any web apps that you use?
37:57 - Would you plan out your Instagram posts, or is it off the cuff?
43:59 - What camera do you use?
48:15 - Which photos of yours generate the most engagement?
56:53 - What are some tactical things that have helped you grow your following?
01:01:22 - Why is it important to get engagement?
01:08:48 - Where can people find your work?

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Helping People, Building a Brand, and My Biggest Lessons Learned


This episode is a little different as it’s me being interviewed for another podcast called The Business of Coaching Podcast.

It’s run by a super nice guy named Miles, who heads up a company in the UK that helps coaches--mainly life and business coaches--get more clients, get better results with them, and so forth.

I want to share the interview with you because it’s not about health and fitness. Instead, we talk about a variety of topics ranging from business, to personal growth, happiness, money, fame, and more, and I’d love to hear what YOU think about the discussion.

I plan on branching out and producing more content along these lines because more and more people are asking to hear my thoughts on these things these days and they’re subjects I enjoy to read and speak on, so it’s a win-win.

So much so that I’m actually am working on a new book that’s going to be my “playbook,” so to speak, for achieving happiness, success, and fulfillment in life. And I know that sounds like every other self-help/development book out there, but I promise that mine is going to be unique. It’s not going to be another uninspired rehash of the same old shit explained in the same old ways.

You know, create a vision, set goals, work hard, develop good habits, don’t give up, help others, blah blah blah. It’s not that those are bad ideas per se, but in the end, it comes down to implementation. It’s what you can DO with the information that matters, not how it makes you feel while you’re reading it.

That’s why I want to produce a book that isn’t just insightful, but it is PRACTICAL. That doesn’t just give you titillating ideas but shows you exactly how to USE them to improve your life.

Anyway, I’m kind of on a tangent at this point, so I think I’ll shut up and get to the interview, where I share a few of the ideas that are in the outline for this book. Again, please do let me know what you think about any of what we talk about in the interview. Just shoot me an email at

7:50 Tell us about your personal and fitness journey

26:30 What fuels your need to help people?

35:24 What is your vision for the next 10 years?  

1:02:47 What has been your biggest lesson in building your own brand? Can you give advice to people who are building their own brand?

1:28:55 How can people stay in touch with you?

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Bret Contreras on Understanding Nutrition & Exercise Science

In this podcast I interview Bret Contreras, who’s a scientist, author, coach, and one of the leaders of the evidence-based fitness movement AND an all-around cool dude to boot. If you’ve heard of him already, you probably know him as the “glute guy” that can teach you everything you need to know about building a great butt, and while that’s true, that’s not what I wanted to talk to him about because, well, I figured he might enjoy a change of pace. So, in this interview, I chat with Bret about nutrition and exercise science and get his thoughts on all kinds of things ranging from what makes for good and bad science, how to become more scientific in your thinking, his favorite researchers and labs, how to reconcile conflicting studies, and more. I wanted to do this interview because more and more fitness “gurus” are appealing to science to sell their ideas and wares these days, and it’s getting harder and harder for everyday people to distinguish the hucksters from the genuine articles. So, I hope you find Bret’s thoughts insightful. Here’s the interview...

5:01 - What science is good and what is bad? How do we improve scientific literacy?

17:39 - What is the process of trying to become more scientific?

27:17 - What have you learned over the years about getting in shape? What have you been wrong about?

32:44 - How do you become more scientific?

36:29 - Who are the best researchers, the best labs, and the best journals?

43:57 - What do you do when studies are conflicting? What's involved in study design?

49:44 - Where does knowledge in strength and conditioning come from?

1:00:52 - Where can we find your work?

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