[00:00] Introduction/Nanovi/Joovv Light/Casper Mattress
[06:19] About Mike Matthews
[10:16] Mike's Current Workout
[19:39] On Using Light & Heavy Weights
[32:51] On the Hex Bar & Sleep
[38:29] BiOptimizer/Health Gains
[40:24] On Clean Eating
[53:24] Mike's Morning Routine
[1:00:48] On Supplements & Fitness Products
[1:05:43] Mike's Daily Supplements
[1:15:44] Summarizing Mike's Supplements
[1:19:22] End of the Podcast
Ben: Hey you guys, what's up? You hear that? That's like a funny sounding bubbly noise. Well, that's because I'm sucking hydrogenated air into my nose. See I just flew back from Iceland, I was speaking at a longevity conference in Iceland. This is Ben Greenfield by the way if you don't know what podcast that you tuning into. Anyways, so I flew back in and I landed this afternoon, and as I am prone to do, I like to experiment with all manner of little biohacks to fix up my body. So what am I doing right now?
Well I have to fill you in, these are not commercials. This is just interesting information for you. A), I am breathing this hydrogenated air with the device called the Nanovi, NANOVI. Kind of an expensive device, but it generates reactive oxygen species that repaired DNA. If you want to check this thing out, I don't have a discount code for it, but I do have a special link for it where you can actually get it. It's called the ENG3, the ENG3. Maybe it could be called Nanovi, that's a mouthful. The ENG3, you need to check this out. It's like one of the most cutting edge ways that you can repair DNA and get fast recovery and regenerate tissue, bengreenfieldfitness.com/eng3.
I'm also blasting on the other side of my body. I popped a bunch of niacin, used this stuff called Cardiolipin which causes a full body flush, and so I'm sitting here jammed in between two giant near infrared panels while my far bred sauna heats up. So when I'm done recording this for you, I'll go hop in the sauna after I've preheated my body and my collagen levels with these things called the Joovv light. So you can check those out at Joovv light at bengreenfieldfitness.com/joovv, JOOVV. I am defusing rosemary, essential oil in to my office. I'm smoking in my vaporizer, a little bit of organic Norwegian shag tobacco with a couple drops of pine, essential oil, added to it, and this is a little bit TMI, but also down on my crotch, I have a pump. A, yes, penis pump. That's there because I just did a platelet-rich plasma injection into my dick, and they told me I needed to use this thing for ten minutes a day for thirty days in a row, so yeah. I'm recording this for you with my pants shacked down and a giant pump attached to me, and I feel quite, quite odd right now.
Okay, that all out of the way, today's podcast is with another interesting guise if that was interesting enough for you. I got a guy named Mike Matthews. This dude talks about macrodieting, Hex bars, can't miss supplements, is clean eating a waste of time? He's got a lot of interesting info, you'll like this guy.
But first this podcast is brought to you by a mattress, and this specific mattress is one of the most comfortable mattresses you'll ever get on because it's a marriage between foam rollers for ideal firmness and then a little bit of sink, and a little bit of bounce, and they have a one hundred night trial with free mil house returns if you're not happy. They have over twenty thousand reviews, an average of 4.8 stars per review. It's quickly becoming the internet's favorite mattress based on Amazon, and Google, and reviews from this company, Casper. Designed, developed and assembled in the USA. You go to casper.com/ben, and use promo code “Ben”, and that's going to save you fifty bucks off your purchase, casper.com/ben, and use promo code “Ben” to save fifty dollars off this obsessively engineered mattress at a shockingly fair price. Okay, I got a couple of minutes left on my pump, so I'm going to stick around, but I'll leave you here with Mike Matthews. Enjoy today's episode.
Hey, it's not often that I give stuff away on the podcast, but during today's episode, Mike and I talk about these things called Legion supplements, some of the sweet supplement products that Mike's company makes, so we figured we just give them away for free to you for being at a listener of the show. How cool is that?
How do you do this? Head over to my Facebook page right now, and everything that you need is right there on the Facebook page. If you can't find it, then you need to work on your Facebooking skills. So go to my Facebook page, and the URL for that is facebook.com/bgfitness. That's facebook.com/bgfitness. You can also check out his stuff with the discount code. Just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/legion, LEGION, bengreenfieldfitness.com/legion, and you get a ten percent discount code when you use code “Ben”.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“Clean eating” is kind of sneered at, because what it generally means is very restrictive dieting. So it doesn't mean just eating a lot of nutritious foods, it means not eating a lot of foods that are deemed unclean or unhealthy.” “After your newbie gains are behind you and you start getting into that, now you're a beginner-slash-intermediate, and as you move from intermediate into advanced, the correlation between strength and size becomes much stronger and then really your whole body strength becomes the best predictor of your total lean mass.”
Ben: Hey folks, its Ben Greenfield, and my guest today is a best-selling fitness author. He has books like “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger” and then also, I assume this one is written a little bit more for the females out there, “Thinner, Leaner, Stronger”. He is the creator of an extremely popular blog. Notes you can check out over at muscleforlife.com. He has a supplement company called Legion Athletics, and he's been helping literally thousands of people build muscle and lose fat for a very long time, and his work has been featured in a lot of popular outlets, Bodybuilding, Esquire, Men's Health. The list goes on and on, and the list has some very interesting core beliefs. For example, some of the snippets that I have found on this website include lifting light weights for high reps is basically a waste of time. If your routine doesn't revolve around heavy lifting, you're doing it wrong. He also says getting lean, and even super lean, does not require hours upon hours of grueling cardio or crash dieting that leaves you starving and miserable all day. He says that if you know what you're doing, you can get twenty to thirty pounds of lean mass in your first year of training regardless of your genetics. He says pretty much every machine in the gym should be avoided, and most exercises are horribly ineffective. He says the idea that you have to constantly change your workout routine, your body will adapt and plateau is a lie, and he also says how much you eat determines the effectiveness of your diet, not what or when.
So, a lot of controversial ideas this cat has. His name is Mike Matthews, and he is believe it or not, you probably guessed this, he's on the line with me right now. He's on the call, he's on the podcast, he's right here with us, and I just found out he's expecting a tiny baby, what like any day now, Mike?
Mike: Well yeah, but first, you're pretty good at that, man. I like it. (laughs)
Ben: I practice.
Mike: So yeah, the due date is the 17th, but based on my wife's experiences the first time around, she thinks that it's kind of imminent, so she's around here in Florida. She delivered our son here in Florida. We were living here at the time, and it went really well with a midwife, and she wanted to repeat that. So we now live in Virginia, but we were headquartered in Florida right now waiting.
Ben: Are you going to do the whole home birth thing? In a water tub with turtles at the bottom of it?
Mike: You got it. Not at home, but at a birthing center with a midwife, and she's going to do a natural number two. Natural birth, so she's a trooper.
Ben: That's the way to go. I actually just interviewed, probably by the time this episode gets released, a gal named Genevieve, also known as the Natural Mama on YouTube. She gets millions of views, and she's big into these birthing centers as just the way to go. So it' a cool thing. About the same time that your wife then is popping out a human child, my goats are giving birth. I have two Nigerian dwarf goats who are large with child right now, or large with kid as I suppose the term would go.
Mike: That's exciting.
Ben: Yeah, it is. Honestly because when goats get knocked up and have little babies, they also produce copious amounts of milk. These tiny little cute Nigerian dwarf goats produce a ton of milk which my wife will make into cheese and milks and dressings and yogurts, and so we'll have plenty of goat milk to go around.
Mike: That's so selfish of you, Ben.
Mike: Getting them knocked up so you can get their milk.
Ben: Well you know, it's the cycle of life. I'm a human, they're goat, so I win. But they do have a good life. They play on their little tires out in the yard, and they eat lots of scraps of human food. Toffee and Caramel are their names, and they're quite well taken cared off.
Anyways though, let's talk all things fitness, dude. I know that you work out a lot differently now than you used to, and there are some photos of you, and I'll link to your website. By the way for those of you listening in, just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/mikematthews. If you want to see how Mike looks like because he obviously practice what he preaches, he's a pretty jacked dude, but your workout now, from what I understand, is relatively different than the way that you used to train. Can you walk me through the cycle of your training and what you've learned that you've taken away as the most important gems when it comes, especially to training?
Mike: Absolutely, so I got into weightlifting as a teenager. I was seventeen. I grew up playing sports, and that was my thing for a long time, and then when I was done with that, and meaning I was done with school and I didn't really plan on taking it beyond that, still wanted to do something with my body. So I was like weightlifting, also girls like muscles. I like girls, so that also works too, but I just got into it doing magazine workouts and whatever kind of nonsense that was popular at the time which was mostly at these long, two-hour arms days and stuff like that, where it's super high volume, usually isolating one muscle group and then usually with machines and dumbbells. Not too much barbell work, least not a lot of emphasis on it. A lot of high reps stuff, fancy rep schemes, muscle confusion, blah, blah, blah.
So on the whole, the training was kind of convoluted really where the focus was maximizing volume and also then trying to use drop sets and super sets and giant sets and blah, blah, blah, so that was then.
Ben: Which actually takes a lot of time, and that approach works 'cause a lot of bodybuilders get freaking swole if that's your goal, which I know that really not a lot of people's goal nowadays, but it works. You have to spend copious amounts of time in the gym though to work a muscle to exhaustion. That's what I found when I was a bodybuilder.
Mike: Definitely, and I mean if you're going to talk bodybuilding though and especially talking about super jacked bodybuilders, then drugs have to enter the discussion of course as well and genetics which really changes just how one person can follow one type of routine, and if they have top tier muscle building genetics, and a lot of good drugs, they're going to respond far better than someone of middling genetics with no drugs. So there's also that to consider, but yeah. There's the time efficiency as well. Why would you want to spend two hours just training your arms when if your routine was programmed better, you could spend the majority of your time training all of the big muscle groups with compound exercises and maybe throw in a little bit, maybe you're spending thirty minutes a week on your arms if you need to increase volume on, let's say. I've been working with a lot of guys, for example biceps do seem to be a common stubborn muscle group that just requires a bit more volume to get them to where most guys want them to be, which is also probably at least partially just psychological 'cause most guys just want big biceps.
Ben: Yeah, not if you rope climb though. Once I started rope climbing, my arms, I barely have to do anything aside from just rope climb and pull ups, whereas like game busters.
Mike: Yeah, I mean did you get there like that though?
Ben: Well yeah, because I was a bodybuilder, and then I catabolized essentially all my muscle while competing in Ironman triathlon, or to a great extent a lot of my muscle, but what I'm convinced of is that when you're doing something like a rope climbing protocol, then I also focused on this with my pull-up protocol, you're lowering yourself a lot, so there's a ton of eccentric muscle damage that occurs and a pretty significant hypertrophy or growth response to rope climbing, so I find that pretty good for the arms. But now you're lifting, from what I understand, for low amounts of time frequently. Is that correct?
Mike: Yeah, so I'm training. Right now, it's five. I've been doing an excess reduce, so it's five to six days a week, and my workouts are a bit shorter so they're usually forty-five minutes to sixty minutes, and they are built around the big compound movements of squat variations, deadlift variations, overhead press, bench press variations. That could be barbell or dumbbell, and then my main goal I would say on the whole is to improve my strength on those big lifts over time, but as you know I've been doing this type of training pretty consistently now for about seven years, so strength progression is hard to come by, and so there's also then of course over reaching in terms of volume at higher intensity with more weight and periodizing it in waves like that. So my workouts are getting progressively harder in terms of heavy weight and adding volume, and then backing off and rinsing and repeating that while slowly adding weight to the bar over time, and yeah. It is slow at this point. I think I've added maybe if we're looking at working sets, I've maybe added fifteen pounds. No, I'd say probably ten pounds to my deadlift in the last year.
Now to be fair I'm not training specifically to increase my deadlift. That's just what has come with a symmetrical whole body approach as opposed to I'm going to pull three days a week, and I'm going to make about eighty percent of my training about maximizing my deadlift. See my training has changed a lot in that regard, and my workouts are a lot more enjoyable, which is something not too many people speak about. It might be something I would be worth writing a little article or something on is looking at my workout previously, the long, just blitz one muscle group type of workouts with all different types of exercises and even rep ranges, rarely doing very heavy stuff because if you're doing a lot of your work on let's say a dumbbell fly. You can't go very heavy on a dumbbell fly or else you're going to hurt yourself as opposed to a bench press or a dumbbell press. If I compare the workouts then, I won't even have the time to do it now, but to my workouts now, my workouts now are all so much more enjoyable which just helps me get into the gym and do what I need to do.
I think there's something that can be said for that. People say the best diet is the one you can stick to. In some ways I think the best training programs are also the ones you can stick to, even if let's say in a given training program, we're scientifically speaking, maybe it wouldn't be optimal. Maybe it could be optimized, but if that gives you a workout plan you don't enjoy doing, I would say I would rather have something, and this isn't really a commentary on what I'm doing now. It's just in general 'cause I get people asking a lot about if trying to create what they perceive to be the scientifically most effective way to train, but if that man’s you're sitting at the gym doing workouts you don't really like to do, I would argue that's probably not the best way for you to train.
Ben: Yeah, I like to train like a video game. I mean that's my thing now is I'll either do a parkour cat where I’m running from a bench two or three to a pull-up bar to a D-bar back to a bench over a while, or else training around the obstacle course or laying out a whole bunch of different apparatuses in a row, like this morning's workout. I had a hex bar, I had a kettle bell, and I had some monkey bars, elastic band and then my heavy bag, right? I'll do circuits and I have a big smile on my face half the time because I'm playing with a whole bunch of different things and throwing a lot of variety at my body, which I actually want to talk to you about 'cause I know you don't feel that's actually necessary or even efficacious throwing all these metabolic curve balls at your body. But yeah, I enjoy it while I'm working out like that, so I have all these little routines that I do that I just enjoy. I enjoy doing intervals instead of sitting in an indoor bicycle doing my intervals, which I'll do occasionally, especially in the winter. I like riding my bike to the river doing all my intervals. Jumping in the super cold Spokane river, swimming across it, swimming back and then doing intervals on the way home, so it's like all my workouts are literally just like that, almost like video games, and in some cases I do indeed have a spear in my hand or I'm carrying a bow, and I'm throwing it in a little accuracy test along the way, stuff like that.
So yeah, I agree that life is too short to have a frown on your face doing a workout. Frowny face workouts aren't a huge addition to your level of enjoyment in life in my opinion, so good workouts without a huge amount of mental torture, but I wanted to ask you one thing that you say that's kind of controversial, and you probably know this, Mike, is this idea that you say if you're lifting light weights for higher reps, it's basically a waste of time?
At the same time, there's a lot of research out there by guys like Brad Schoenfeld and Alan Argon and Bret Contreras that have looked into the fact that it appears that the time to fatigue, or time under tension rather, is a pretty important component of gaining muscle or of hypertrophy, not granted to build strength or to build power, but in terms of getting a nice body, improving aesthetics, etcetera, it appears that light weight or body weight to failure can be just as good as heavy weight. What's your take on that, and why do you say that heavy weights are so necessary?
Mike: So first, I would say that I've tempered that position since even publishing “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger”. I still stand by that, especially for people that are new into working out, they're much better suited taking a strength training approach, but I'm also not big on just binary thinking, so I would say for somebody new, yeah going into the gym and doing a bunch of high reps stuff. To say that it's a waste of time is maybe a bit of a sensationalistic type of statement, but let's say there are much better ways to use the time. So to get to your question, yes. There's no question that you can make your muscles bigger. I know what research that you're talking about, and under certain conditions, yes. You can definitely increase muscle size by just working in higher rep ranges and going more on the metabolic stress end of the spectrum as opposed to the progressive overload or muscle damage in terms of the three pathways of muscle growth, so to speak. Time under tension, I wrote about that I think about a year ago and was reading up on it quite a bit at that time, and I would say that we have research. We know that super slow training isn't any more effective.
For example, training that really emphasizes time under tension isn't more effective for hypertrophy than just stand at rec tempo, and there were five or six studies that I sited in that article if anyone wants to read it. It's on my website, Muscle For Life, just search for time under tension, and the key takeaway there is that if you are doing everything else right in your training time under tension kind of just takes care of itself. Now that's said there probably is something there for people that are more like what we were talking about earlier with bodybuilders that are trying to squeeze out every last ounce of muscle hypertrophy and everywhere on their body as opposed to the average person that isn't, they're just getting started. The average guy probably needs to gain twenty to thirty pounds of muscle to have the type of physique that he wants.
If he wants to be a bit bigger, if he wants to be my size, a little bit more, maybe it's forty pounds, but they're not looking at trying to get on a stage and gaining the amount of muscle that requires, and it's also when you're talking about intermediate and advanced weightlifters trying to get as big as possible. You have to be increasing your volume and you have to be pushing your volume to very, very high levels, and you can't do that with just heavy, heavy weights because your body is not going to be able to take it. As you know, your nervous system is going to get trashed, your joints are going to get trashed, so a lot of what you see now is this “power bodybuilding” type approach where you have your heavy strength training, but then using either lower weights and higher reps to increase volume without the systemic overload, without the systemic stress, or even some rep stuff like rest pause that’s a good way as you know to push. I'm now doing it myself, I do rest pause with my shoulders in particular 'cause it's a good way to get a little bit of additional stimulus for hypertrophy without the added stress that comes along with the heavier weights.
Ben: Rest pause being what? For people listening in and never had that style before?
Mike: Yeah, sure. So there are a couple of different protocols, what I do is pretty simple. So I do it every week right now with my side races 'cause as a natural weightlifter, basically your shoulders are always too small. That's just life. So you take a weight that you can do ten to twelve reps with, at more or less failure at ten to twelve, and then you put the weight down. You rest for, the protocol I'm doing is ten seconds, so you're just counting. At about seven seconds, I'm grabbing the weights again, and then you're doing a set of three to four which is going to be close to failure if it plays out with you, Mr. and Mrs. Listener as it plays out most people, and then you're resting again ten seconds. Well your next sets starts at ten seconds, so you rest six or seven seconds, grab the weight again, and doing three to four additional sets to failure like that, so that's called Rest-Pause training. I wrote about it again, there's some research on it, and there's no question it's similar to Blood Flow Restriction training has a similar effect. It's just easier to do than wrapping bands around your arms or whatever, but you can't do it with squats or deadlifts 'cause you'll die.
So it's commonly used for the limbs, so some people like to do it on leg extensions or side raises or something for biceps or triceps or whatever. But another thing you can consider is something that Greg Knuckles had spoken about, and he's written about it. He actually came on my podcast recently and broke it all down is that in the beginning, so he takes somebody new. There isn't that much of a correlation between strength and muscle size and that because our bodies are so hyper-responsive through resistance training in the beginning, they can do high reps. You can do kind of anything. Yeah, you can just do a bunch of push-ups every day and a bunch of pull-ups, and you are going to see your body change.
You are going to gain some muscle, you are going to gain some strength, not as much strength as if you train differently of course, but if you were to train differently, if you were to focus on strength, you will also gain size. Probably depending on what you're doing, it could be at the same rate, and so in that period, you might look at it and be like well, who cares? You don't have to lift heavy weights, you can just lift lighter weights and gain, more or less the same amount of muscle, but where that correlation really starts to come into play is after that honeymoon phase, after your newbie gains are behind you, and you start getting into that. Now you're a beginning-slash-intermediate, and as you move from intermediate to advanced and whatever, the correlation between strength and size becomes much stronger, and that then really your whole body strength becomes the best predictor of your whole body muscle, your total lean mass.
So to that point, that's why I still think that okay, so if you start out as a newbie lifter, and you're doing a bunch of high reps stuff and maybe you're doing what I did. High rep stuff and kind of fancy rep schemes and a lot of burnout sets and a lot of time under tension. So forth seeing your body change, that's basically what I did in the beginning, and I gained I would say fifteen pounds of muscle on my first year which is not great, but it's not bad. Also though I had decent muscle building genetics. I've never been naturally very strong, I had to work very hard to gain strength, but I did a DNA Fit test, and so I have one particular genetic marker that's associated with just high levels of recover, so they said they see that in a lot of elite athletes, and I have another genetic marker. I don't remember the names, but I have another genetic marker that's associated with high testosterone levels. So you combine those, but otherwise, my body's made for endurance. I would never be a good strength athlete.
Ben: Yeah, that's the interesting one is the DNA analysis of power versus endurance responders and how that fits into this equation. One is the ACTN3 gene, that sprints gene is what it's better known as. A lot of people who are elite power athletes have that gene and respond extremely well to power training. Then there's the ACE gene, the angiotensin-converting enzyme gene. It's the one responsible for the slow-twitch muscle fibers, and the better result's I believe from the endurance training, and I think I'm not sure. Actually it's the PPAR gene that's responsible for also response to endurance training, but what you mentioned, that whole recovery deal. That's an interesting one too because certain people from a genetic standpoint produce higher levels of endogenous antioxidants, and so they, like you, might be that person that responds really well what it appears you're doing now which is frequent. You're lifting what, Monday through Friday now, five days a week?
Mike: Yeah, and sometimes just a Saturday or a Sunday, depending on how I'm feeling. You know what I mean?
Ben: And I'm very similar, I recover very quickly, but I can't handle monster workouts that well. My body just falls apart the next day. I test my heart rate variability, it gets very low, and I don't have the gene necessarily to allow me to really bounce back as quickly from the extremely difficult workouts versus shorter, more frequent workouts. That's the way that I roll, but big part of this is just getting your freaking genetics tested to figure out whether you're a power versus and endurance responder, and that helps advise you on both the frequency of your training and then also whether you are going to go with the high weight, low rep versus the high rep, low weight type of approach. So it's interesting, there's a lot more to it than what old school bodybuilders would perhaps profess to be the case.
Mike: Sure, no I agree, and I would add though just for everybody listening 'cause I've been asked this fairly frequently after I did that test, and I had somebody from DNA Fit on the podcast just to talk about because there were some things that were interesting like I had an incredibly high sensitivity to carbs, in a good way meaning that my body can deal with them very well and also a very high sensitivity of fat, and so the guy's name is Andrew. I always thought it was interesting. It was an unusual type. I guess I have unusual genetic in a few different ways, and so he was breaking some stuff down which is interesting, but for people listening, I would say that if your goal is to, let's say maximize your potential in terms of athletic performance of one kind or another, yeah. It might make sense. I mean you have to do more than just get your DNA tested, but you'll want to really educate yourself deeply. Either that, or you'll need to work with somebody who's deeply educated, who can take that information and can turn it into practical programming as opposed to just okay 'cause I also don't think it's as black and white as oh well, based on these genetic markers, which in some cases we understand more about some of them than others obviously, you probably would respond better to higher rep. And I'm speaking from experience here working with actually thousands of people, I've seen a lot more guys and girls that can just stick to the basics of what we know.
For example, we know that training with doing a lot of work in the eighty to eighty-five percent of your one rep max range, when that's your training, you’re working set range where you're doing a lot of barbell work, you get stronger, period. Regardless of your genetics, even if you're a low responder, and yes we know that. Some kind of people don't respond, I don't care what type of weightlifting they do. I'm sure there are people listening like that, and Ben, you've come across a lot of people like that. Some people are high responders to weightlifting, period. It doesn't matter any type of weightlifting, and some people are just low responders. It doesn't mean they can't get to where they want to be, it just means that they're going to have to work a harder. In some cases, it may take twice as much work. Regardless of how you want to define that work, just work in the gym for person A to gain as much muscle as person B, simply because of genetics. Of course, then there's also biomechanics. Some people's bodies, they're able to lift weights, and they're able to then get real strong, real fast just 'cause they have mechanical advantages which is something I don't have. That's why I wouldn't be a good strength athlete. My legs are too long, my feet are too long, and my humeri are too long. I had a little bit of an advantage on deadlift, but my long legs negate it a little bit as well. Pressing, I have to press [censored] for a mile. You know what I mean?
Ben: Now, by the way speaking of deadlift, I'm not sure what your opinion is on this, but one of my favorite new tools that I've added to my home arsenal is a hex bar based on this research. It was in a Journal of Strength and Conditioning, I think where they compared the hex bar to a whole bunch of other forms of deadlifting found greater peak force and better peak velocity and better peak power, and there's even a correlation between hex bar and I think it's three times your body weight on a hex bar is extremely correlated to things like sprint speed and running efficiency, and it's just a super cheap bar. You can buy it off freaking Amazon, but what's your opinion on the use of something like a hex bar?
Mike: Yeah funny you know, I actually just posted about that on my Instagram 'cause I was doing hex bar and I alternate.
Ben: Oh nice, great minds think alike baby.
Mike: Absolutely, I'm a big fan of the hex bar. Also I like it because it's easier on the back, it's easier on the hips, but you don't lose the effectiveness of the exercise.
Ben: These are to activate the glutes too, in my opinion.
Mike: Yeah, that's true, and a lot of people they look at it in a kind of weird squat, but it's really not. I mean it's a hip hinge movement. It's a deadlift, it's a legit deadlift. I like conventional pulling as well, so I will alternate. On average, I'm deadlifting every week although my sleep has been a bit funky in the last couple of months, so some weeks if I'm feeling a bit under-recovered, on my pull days, I'll drop the deadlift. I've missed a few weeks, but I like to alternate. Go two or three sessions with a barbell and then two or three sessions with a hex bar. I also like it with the hex, it's a bit more quad dominant obviously, and it's something I recommend frequently if people are having trouble, and it requires less mobility, of course. So if people are having trouble with the conventional deadlift whether it's just standard or sumo which I don't like sumo. I much prefer the hex over sumo. Another thing we should mention is that it's easier on your grip.
Ben: Yeah, that's true although if you want to really work your grip, you can just wrap a hand towel around the bar and turn it into a fat grip if you want to enhance your grip, which is important for all those obstacle course racers listening in of course. That's one thing that you need, its grip strength along with good efficiency and lactic acid buffering capacity. Those are the three keys to be a good obstacle course racer. Have a girly grip, you got to be able to start running very soon after you've already conquered an obstacle, and then you've got to be able to run with efficiency. Those are the three keys that I tell people who ever want to go and check out the Spartan race, just a random factoid there for you.
You mentioned your sleep is funky by the way, Mike. What are you referring to? Just the fact that you have a baby on the way?
Mike: No, let's see. So I was fine, I was waking up in the middle of the night for no good reason for a couple weeks. I mean to be fair, I don't necessarily have planned deloads in my routine. I don't go on deloading every six weeks. I just go until I feel like it's time to deload, and that's usually the first thing that I notice, and it's of course 'cause the body's getting over stressed, and so that's the first place I usually notice it. So I was starting to notice my sleep getting a little bit funky, so I took a few days off and it felt fine. Now I'm back and going again, but I'm taking a couple of days off this week too 'cause I was like alright. I kind of don't like deloading, I prefer working out, but I know the importance of it, so that seems to be it. Otherwise I sleep fine, and I usually sleep six, six-and-a-half hours and that's it. I wake up, that's my body's thing. If I fall behind, then I need to catch up, but that's my normal routine.
Ben: That's a little bit low. For me personally, especially after interviewing this guy named Dr. Nick Littlehales on the show and talking about the number of sleep cycles that most athletes do best with for performance and immune system strength and also their nervous system resilience. Your heart rate variability, which I measure every day, it's somewhere between thirty-one and thirty-five sleep cycles each week. Meaning that by the end of the week, you should have amassed that many sixty to ninety minute sleep cycles, and you can track the number of sleep cycles that you go through using a sleep tracking device. I use this ring to track my sleep, and for me, what I'll do is about seven hours of sleep per night and then I throw in a nap to fill in the gap, and my personal physician, he's one of these Eastern medicine practitioners. He's big into Chinese clocks, circadian rhythm, acupuncture, meridians, all this jazz, and I asked him do I have problems with some kind of chi flow or my spleen or my stomach or my blood or something like that, that I have this urge to fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon. He's like nope, I'm the same way. It's just that extra sleep cycle that you can give your body, and we see that in cultures across thousands of years. They just take that mid-afternoon CS, do I push the reboot button, split the day in two, and dude that works very, very well for me is to do that in addition to the seven hours of sleep per night. I swear by it, and I feel so much better towards the end of the day.
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Ben: Do you at this point still adhere to this idea that you say that clean eating isn't the key to weight loss or muscle gain, and if so, I'm curious what you mean by that.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely. So by that, I just mean if we're just talking body composition, and especially body weight, what you eat isn't nearly as important as how much, and by how much, we're talking calories, we're talking energy in, energy out, and if you want to go one level deeper, we could say macronutrients, but even when you start getting into macronutrients meaning okay, where are those calories coming from in terms of protein, carbs and fat, that then takes us more into the territory of body composition. For example, we know of course that high protein dieting is better for gaining muscle and retaining muscle than low protein dieting. But if we're talking strictly body weight, let's just say the first step they wanted to get to is I want to get to a certain body weight, a healthy body weight, and I want to stay there, all they need to know is calories at that point. Now that isn't to say that food choices don't matter at all because, of course, our body needs nutrients in addition to calories and macros. So on the flip side of that, I would say that I am not a rabid IFYAmer.
Ben: IFYAmer meaning if it hits your macros, no matter what the quality of the food is. If you're eating the correct carbohydrate fat and protein percentages, then it doesn't matter. You could eat Twinkies or cheese or you could eat kale and grass-fed beef.
Mike: Yeah, and then you could just look at the mirror and be like oh, I have abs. People, you see a lot of that on social media, and people go through phases, I guess, and that's like the adolescent phase of dieting, right? When you've learned that oh, you can eat like [censored] and still look good, and some people feel liberated. So they’re going to say that tonight I'm going to eat a thousand calories of ice cream and coco puffs or something, and it kind of blows their mind that they can do that and then not get fatter essentially. Of course the bigger picture is that's not a diet. A lot of people, they play those macro gymnastics games. Their diets on the whole are actually really bad, and they either have nutritional deficiencies or are developing nutritional deficiencies that are going to cause major problems at some point. It's just when you're twenty-one, you're invincible and you can do anything, you know what I mean?
But the first thing people need to learn, absolutely, is energy balance and the importance and the preeminence of energy balance because if you don't get that right, you will probably always struggle. If you're struggling with your weight now and you don't understand how the laws of thermodynamics play out in the body, how the metabolism really works and if you're not in some weird situation where you're morbidly obese and you have metabolic syndrome or you have some rare disease or whatever, you're just a normal person that isn't happy with your weight, the first thing that you need to understand and really experience is just what I'm talking about, is energy in versus energy out and how that affects body weight.
Ben: So what about the components that go above and beyond body weight when it comes to things such as inflammation, hormonal status, micronutrient deficiencies or excesses as the case may be, I mean, do you think that with this whole approach of clean eating, not necessarily being the key to weight loss and maybe it is just restriction of calories that you run into an issue with things like for example, elevated HRCRP or a high-amount of oxidized cholesterol particles because you don't care where your fat comes from an extra virgin olive oil versus canola oil, etcetera.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely, and this is something I wrote about recently and posted on social media recently, funny enough. Actually on the grand scheme of things, I would rather cause in the fitness, especially in the weightlifting space, the body composition, I wouldn't say bodybuilding because you have a lot of people that wouldn't consider themselves bodybuilders, but more they're just concerned with their body composition. “Clean eating” is kind of sneered at, because what it generally means is very restrictive dieting. So it doesn't mean just eating a lot of nutritious foods, it means not eating a lot of foods that are deemed unclean or unhealthy or whatever, and in even with the foods that you're “allowed to eat” versus not allowed to eat can include things that don't make sense either like take the Paleo approach where if you're strict or whatever, you're not supposed to eat a potato. How does that make any sense? Potatoes are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat or a sweet potato or whatever because somebody says that Mister Caveman didn't eat it, even though now we know scientifically a lot of that's just basically mythology, and I like the Paleo approach as high protein. I like that it encourages you to at a lot of vegetables, plant-based foods.
Obviously, I mean I'm sure you saw the recent review from AHA on saturated fat where again, they're just saying, “Hello everybody. This is not a good idea. You should not be getting forty percent of your daily calories from saturated fat, just FYI, and especially certain people are more genetically predisposed to heart disease than others, and if you are one of them, you are increasing your risk of serious health problems at some point.” So yes, what I espouse is you could say it's flexible dieting, but it really looks a lot more like cleaning than your average, if it fits your macros type of, “look at all the shitty food that I can eat, but I still have abs.”
That's very much not my thing personally and not what I promote. What I promote is getting the majority of your calories, I would say at least eighty percent of your calories from nutritious foods. And that means relatively unprocessed stuff like yes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good sources of protein, and good sources of fats. Saturated fats, fine, but keeping it, let's say ten percent of your daily calories are less and going more for monounsaturated fats. I mean, it's not hard to stay away from the vegetable oils if you are doing that because a lot obviously of the vegetable oils that most people consume are just in pre-packaged junk, crappy foods. So if you are shopping around the periphery and that type of approach of cooking your own food, your intake of vegetable oils is probably pretty low, and even on sugar. Yeah, we know that if you're eating more than twenty to twenty five grams of table sugar per day? It's bad. There's no question.
Ben: Although granted, so is excess fructose. I never liked it when I hear fruits lumped in with vegetables, like fruits and vegetables when in fact fruit is nature's dessert. I have fruit maybe once every two days or so and seeing piles and piles of it on the permit of the grocery store on those big boxes. It's far different than what we in more ancestral format might have had access to, and then the thing with the whole grains. Same thing, whole grains yeah, but whole grains that have been soaked or sprouted or fermented or treated in such a way that they're not a freaking Snickers bar for your blood sugar and a gut bomb in terms of lectins and gluten and all of these components that should've been deactivated but weren't. You know what I'm saying?
Mike: Yeah, totally, and honestly, you've gone even a bit deeper than I have in that regard. When I say whole grains, me personally, I might have some Ezekiel bread. I like oatmeal, I like rice. It's pretty simple in that regard, and honestly it's very possible that my diet can even be further optimized with things like what you're talking about, and it's something that I guess with the people that I'm speaking to, a lot of my crowd, they don't even know. Again if we go back to energy balance, they're starting at complete ignorance, so it's a bit of a process to work them from that to understanding the fundamentals of the human metabolism, and then let's get their diet in to a place where, let’s say they've gotten the eighty percent out of it, and yes. It could be further optimized, but whereas before their diet was maybe running at fifteen percent in terms of really providing the body what's needed to support. I mean not just health, but performance, and now we've boosted its way up, and that's the sweet spot for me in terms of education. And of course, gluten is something I have studied a bit about, but in terms of eating sprouted foods, even fermented foods. Of course I've heard things, I just haven't myself done enough research to feel that I have a strong position one way of another other than I know that yes, it's healthy. Now how necessary is it or how much of a difference is it going to make in the context of doing more or less everything else, right? I don't know, but that would be a different discussion that you could probably film me in on more than I could provide anything to that conversation. You know what I mean?
Ben: Yeah. Gluten’s totally natural. I mean it's a protein you're going to find in a lot of grains and seeds and nuts and the fact is it's only in really concentrated amounts that I have an issue with it. You've breaded a crop for high yield and it's concentrated the gluten, or you're eating something like wheat by essentially doing what is the equivalent of picking it in the field and stuffing it in your mouth which is a great way to create a crap ton of gut distress versus doing what my wife does. She buys non-genetically modified wheat here locally, like red wheat from the produce that hasn't been sprayed with a bunch of crap, and then she ferments it, right? She just ferments it overnight, she makes a nice sourdough, and the fermentation predigests the gluten, so there's not a lot of gluten in it. It lowers the glycemic response. It's a very ancestral way to make a bread, and we have sourdough bread like once every couple of days. We have this huge big warm loaves of gluten-infused sourdough bread, and it's far less bathroom decommissioning than a regular loaf of wonder bread or any other source of gluten. So yeah, it kind of depends. There's this lava unless you have freaking Celiac disease. It's kind of a lava of minimizing your exposure and training it at natural amounts.
Mike: Yeah, and we know that gluten sensitivity also, there is something there. You have Celiac, of course, but there seems to be something else going on. It's not an area that I specialize in. I've just kept up a little bit on the research, and it's something what I generally tell people is. So if you're eating something whatever it is, if you're eating a glutenous food, a food that contains gluten and you don't feel good after, your stomach gets upset or something's off, you should stop eating that food.
Ben: Yeah, you should stop eating it at least temporarily, but there's actually a really good book about this called “Eat Wheat”, and it goes into the fact in most cases, it is poor lymph fluid drainage and poor movement of your lymphatic system and also leaky gut, increased gut permeability as being the two underlying factors that cause someone to have gluten sensitivity. So you heal up the lining of the gut with things like colostrum and L-glutamine and bone broth and less stress, more sleep, and then in combination with that enhance the strength of your immune system by using things. You know, I mentioned acupuncture and working on certain meridians that enhance lymph flow.
Ben: Yeah, this guy who wrote the book, John Douillard, he talks about G-force based exercises like rebounding trampolines, deadlifting, vibration platforms. He talks about sauna, he has these special teas with nutrients like marshmallow root and licorice and what's another one that he has in there? I'll put a link to the book itself in the show notes, but yeah. It's a really good book. It’s basically those are in the fact, but yeah, gluten sensitivity is a thing, but it's not like you're stuck with it for life. You treat your body naturally, you get your lymph fluid fixed, you get your gut permeability fixed, and then you can get away with a lot of these foods.
I have a few other questions for you, Mike. The first is a lot of the more fit, better informed people that I have on this show have some kind of a morning routine, whether that be writing a diary or whether it be some form of special stretching or sun exposure or some kind of a “I can't miss smoothie or shake or coffee recipe.” Do you have any kind of morning routine or parts of your morning routine that you would say are unique or that you just can't miss?
Mike: Yeah, I mean nothing unique. I'm pretty basic [censored] in that regard, so I wake up early. My alarm's at 6:15, I usually wake up though before it, so maybe I'm up at 5:35, 45, 6, kind of depends on when I went to bed and when I just naturally wake up, and then I've been doing cold showers for about six months now and just took it up on a whim. I didn't look all that much, pun intended. I mean, I looked at a little bit of research. Circulation, which may help with recovery related things, it might improve immune function but the things I've noticed is one, it wakes me up and I've come to enjoy it actually, and my skin has gotten softer, so I've noticed that. But again it's something that I've just come to enjoy mainly because it just wakes me up and gets me going. I feel good and energized after, and I've tried journaling, and I just don't really feel like I got anything out of it. It didn't make me feel any better, any worse, and I generally feel pretty good. So maybe I'm coming from for whatever reason, journaling just wasn't for me. I tried different things like more free flow type stuff. I've tried the five-minute journal and one other, so that got dropped out.
For me it's getting up early, cold shower, and then I like to work out first thing in the morning, so that's really the thing for me that I just don't want to miss. And my performance would be a bit better later in the day for sure, and I've tried that for the reasons of having food in you, and later in the day your hormones, testosterone is a bit higher, cortisol's a bit lower. There are advantages to working out later, but I prefer working out first thing for several reasons. One, I just find it's a great way to start the day. It gives me some momentum, and I start the day feeling physically and mentally energized and like I've already accomplished something. For even just doing a workout, for what it's worth. It just puts me in a good state of mind, and obviously there's just the chemical benefits of you just feel good after a workout, and then it's done and nothing else will get in the way whereas if I try to work out later, it' depends on what's going on at work, at home or whatever. You might have to miss. So my morning routine is nothing really to write helm about in that regard, but I am a big believer of routine and of habits, so I very much do the same stuff every day, at least during the week, and then there's some variability on the weekends. But I found that being very disciplined, I guess you could say, or just being very systematic with how I've spent my time has helped me tremendously in terms of just overall output for the amount of time worked.
Ben: Yeah, and for your morning nutrient intake, you have a standard breakfast in the morning?
Mike: Yeah, so I'll have some fruits. I'll have a banana. I'll have a vegan protein powder that I like. It's primarily P-protein, but it has some other vitamins and minerals and other nutrients added to it and some other proteins as well. So I'll have a protein shake with a banana before I workout. Mainly just obviously for energy availability and spare a little bit of glycogen performance out of my workouts, and then I'll go to the office and usually have whey protein as my post-workout with some fruit again. On the fructose point, and I wrote about this a while ago, and at the time I had wrote a bit on it and come to the conclusion that given the difference of how high fructose corn syrup is very different, of course, chemically than the fructose you find in fruits, even if it's just for nothing else, than the fiber that fruits provide, and so I eat probably two servings of fruit a day. I'll eat a banana, I'll eat an apple and maybe some blueberries as my normal daily intake and to cause problems at least my conclusion at the time was you'd have to eat a shitload of fruit to really cause any sort of metabolic issues of what we see in people that are eating a lot of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup. It's, of course easy, you can hit a hundred grams of fructose a day really fast if you're drinking sodas and eating sugary delights, but that's fairly hard to do with fruit. I mean you can do it, but you have to try, you know what I mean?
Ben: Yeah, and the ratio of fructose to glucose is much higher in high fructose corn syrup than in fruit. I personally, because your muscles actually lack the enzyme necessary for taking fructose from fruit and converting it into muscle glycogen. So I'll typically target my fruit intake when I know my liver's glycogen stores are empty which means the two times of day when fruit or fructose would do the least metabolic damage from conversion into triglycerides standpoint would be a), waking up in a fasted state in the morning or working out in a fasted state and then having fruit afterwards, or in the afternoon. This is when I'll have red wine which is my main source of fructose during the day. It'll be post-afternoon-slash-evening workout 'cause usually I'm working out after having not eaten for three or four hours, and my liver glycogen stores have been tapped into, so that's generally what I'll do.
Although I should throw in there that for example, I've got some heat for this 'cause I've just developed an energy bar, for example, that's sweetened with organic honey, and the reason I chose that is it's a non-insulinogenic sweetener, meaning it's not going to spike your insulin levels. It's not going to cause issues with insulin sensitivity, and so when you're consuming fructose another time that it could be acceptable is when you actually don't want to spike insulin 'cause one time that I'll have something like an energy bar might be if I'm on a long plane ride. I'm sedentary, I don't necessarily want a huge spike in insulin, but as long as you're in a hypocaloric state or you're not eating less calories, something like honey is actually pretty good energy source because it's not going to spike insulin, so it does kind of depend. It's a four hundred, five hundred calorie energy bar sweetened with a fructose source.
It's probably not a good idea because you are going to get a lot of triglyceride conversion regardless of the insulin response whereas a lower calorie type of bar sweetened with insulin is not as big of a deal, and I also wanted to ask you, Mike, speaking of bars and supplements and stuff like that is your own supplement protocol. I mean, I know you have a supplement company. I know that guys who own supplement companies are pretty well informed when it comes to some of the supplements.
Mike: Eh, not so much. Not as much as you might think.
Ben: Yeah, depends on who owns it if it's a kid with a neck beard in his mom's basement sourcing stuff from China and selling it for very high margins on the internet versus guys who actually research this stuff. I realize there's a difference.
Mike: I mean there's a lot of them, especially on Amazon. There are quite a few big brands on amazon that, I don't know them personally, but I know that two Indian brothers who have never lifted a weight in their lives, and I guess not that it matters that they're Indian. I'm just thinking of a brand in particular, and that's who owns it. A big brand on Amazon, probably I would say a million to a million and a half a month in sales, but it's just a marketing play. The guys who own it, they're not into fitness at all. They don't care about anything related to health or fitness. They just know they can make money, and of course accordingly their products, their formulations are bad. It's just a money play, but there's a lot of that in the supplement space 'cause if you're a good marketer. Now I would say you have to be a very good marketer, but they got into it at the right time and whatever.
Ben: One of my friends, actually several of my friends do very, very well on Amazon selling everything from kitchen gloves to Marijuana grinders, and that's how you make money on Amazon is you find stuff for an inexpensively as you can on Alibaba, or you find some other Chinese source. You order it, and really the game on Amazon is you have catchy titles and good descriptions, and you have mechanisms set up to solicit reviews, which ranks you very high on Amazon. Once you've done all that, the quality of the product is not really considered much at all by Amazon. And all these supplements that you see top ranked on Amazon, they're top ranked because of the reviews and because of the title and because of the search engine optimization.
Mike: There you go. There's behind the scenes shenanigans. I wouldn't say collusion with Amazon, not that but there's a lot of black hat stuff that people do that allow them to launch products into the stratosphere very quickly and hold really high rankings. I mean we, just through my travels, have met some people that do well for themselves, but they're part of these Amazon mastermind groups, private of course. It's not like you just don't work. I mean there are people that are pushing upwards of a hundred million dollars a year on Amazon selling random stuff, so there's a whole another level of gaming Amazon basically. I will say that I avoid all the black hat stuff because Amazon, they don't like it, and they slowly but surely figure out what people are doing, and people do end up getting banned. If you get banned for the wrong thing, you're gone. You're not coming back, and I know stories from people that overnight went from seven or even eight figure businesses to gone, and in one case in particular, it wasn't even fair. It was because he was soliciting reviews, but he cleared it with Amazon. The sash that he was using, he actually reached out to Amazon, and he even showed them his e-mail and just said “Hey, I just want to make sure that this is cool, that I'm doing this. You can see I'm not sensitizing the reviews, it's just a point of customer service as well, and he was told absolutely no problem.” He does it, and then I don't remember the inner room, how long that he was told that now. I don't know him that well, I kind of know him through people, but the last thing I heard is his account was shut down, and he was trying to fight to get it back, and that was a multi-million dollar year business.
Ben: Yeah, and even if you're not on Amazon, the same thing can be said. You know, I have other friends who are in the testosterone business, for example, and the testosterone enhancing supplement business is huge, and for them again, they source things as inexpensively as they can from China, and then they draw corollaries between those herbs and research that you might find on say reputable websites, like examine.com for example, and say “Hey, got all this in there, so it must work”, when in fact it's crappy, metal laid in herbs that have been sitting in big bins in China getting sprayed with ethylene oxide for years and they get shipped over then they throw a bunch of FDNC blue food coloring and all sorts of other fillers in there, and encapsulate them and send them out to your house and promise exploding erections, and it's a very lucrative business.
Mike: Will big, big biceps.
Ben: You know this. Yeah, very lucrative business, but fought with one really crappy products that are hurting a lot of people or wasting a lot of people's money or creating expensive urine. But in your case when it comes to supplements, are there any supplements that you say that you would just take your round or that would be kind of similar like your morning routine? Like can't miss things that you would make sure that you get into your body each day?
Mike: Yeah, so I would say, and this is ironic at someone that sells supplements and one of the first things that you find over our website, it's just education people that you don't need supplements at all. You don't need any. You threw just exercise and training.
Ben: That depends though on your definition of supplements, right?
Mike: Sure, that's just what I was about to say. You have to understand though a lot of the people that are coming to finding their way to my work for the first time are really thinking with body composition, right? So their biggest problem right now is not how they can optimize every physiological process for maximum health and longevity. They're overweight, they don't feel good. All they want to do right now is get their body into better shape so they can look and feel better, so in that context, you don't need supplements. You don't need whey protein powder, you don't need creatine, you don't really need anything. You just need to know how to eat right and know how to exercise right, and you can get there.
Now that said, supplements being by nature supplementary, they can add to the foreign motion. There are certain supplements that can help you get there faster. For example, whey protein, it's convenient, and you're going to have to eat unless you're very, very overweight. You're going to have to eat somewhere around 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. Sure, you can get there at Whole Foods, but it is nice especially if you are busy, like a lot of people are. If you're at work, it's nice to be able to just put a scoop or two of whey protein into a mixer and drink it. I particularly like it for post-workout supplementation, just because chemically speaking it's suited for that. Otherwise I prefer a slower burning, like if I'm just going to have a random scoop of protein just 'cause I need to get it in, I would prefer actually my P-protein, my vegan protein, but that's just me being whatever. It's not that big of a deal.
Creatine is another example, we know it's the most researched molecule of all sports nutrition. It works on the whole, some people of course don't respond to it, but that's the case with any supplement. It helps you gain muscle and strength faster. It helps with recovery, I don't see any reason why anybody shouldn't. If they're resistance training and they care about gaining muscle and strength, five grams of creatine a day, it’s cheap. I just don't see any reason why you wouldn't want to add that in. You could also say something maybe if we're talking about gaining muscle. Particularly you could say something for beta-alanine. There is some evidence it hasn't been reproduced, and we don't quite understand the mechanisms yet, but there is some evidence that it can directly increase muscle gain similar to, in terms of effects, creatine is more so but similar. There's some evidence that citrulline can help your body deal with higher workloads, like larger workloads, larger amounts of workout volume, so that can help you get more out of your training.
So I would say me personally though, what I care most about is I have whey protein 'cause it's convenient. Creatine, because there's no reason not to, and I still am trying to make at least minor improvements in my physique and in my performance over time. Nothing stays the same, right? So it's either gain better or gain worse, so I try to keep it getting at least a little bit better, and creatine helps to some degree with that. I'm personally more interested in supplements that improve health, and improve longevity, and improve the various physiological processes that enable us to not just work out in the gym hard, but also do our deep focus work better and just perform better in general in life.
So I have a multivitamin, it's not just vitamins and minerals, but there are fourteen other substances you can say that are in there. Many of which that people will buy separately like CoQ10, ashwagandha, rhodiola, bacopa monnieri, even aged garlic extract. All that point the effect of doses too, which a lot of people say that, but a big part of how I sell supplements is educating. It's not just trying to hype people up and overpromise, but really breaking down every ingredient and every dose and citing research that people, and I have a lot of people that follow me that are very educated, and that's one of the things they very much appreciate, and these are people in some cases, they're in academia or they have one foot in academia and one foot just in private sector, and so they have access to journals, and they check this stuff out and they really appreciate the amount of thought and intentions that has gone into my products. And it's not just me that came up with these formulations and I continue to work with some very smart people that know a lot more about this stuff than I do honestly.
Ben: You mean formulators?
Mike: Exactly, but there are a lot of formulators in there that are underwhelming that I've come across, and then there are some that are very, very good, and one in particular. I can't say who it is. He's actually going to be joining my team officially next month, but as of right now, I can't say because his current work obligation, it's fine that he does work behind the scenes, but he can be publicly connected with a supplement company, but that's going to be changing soon. So a lot of people, and I'll tell you, when we get off, you'll know who he is. A lot of people know who he is. So I've worked with him and then several other people, and we've put a lot of time and thought into creating the best possible product and then that's how we start with the multivitamin. Forget price, who cares? What's the ultimate multivitamin? What's the multivitamin that you wish you always had essentially? In that case, I think what we produced initially, it came back at seventy dollars a bottle, my cost.
Let's look at what's driving this one, and then okay. We can cut this one ingredient 'cause that's twenty dollars a bottle. For example anthocyanins, I don't know if you've ever looked into trying to put those in a supplement, but they're way too expensive. Fairy dust it, if you want a good dose of anthocyanins, its thirty dollars a bottle. So those got to go, I think it was what else? There was sesamin, also sesamin we're trying to work that in, super expensive. Then it's a matter of looking at weighing the cost versus benefits of each ingredient, but then we work it down to a point where we're very happy with the product, and we can sell it at a reasonable price and with a good margin. So my multivitamin costs me fourteen dollars a bottle to produce. Not very many supplement companies are willing to spend fourteen dollars. Actually none are because that product will never be in GNC, for example. They can't because you know how the game works. It's just the markups that are needed are not there, but I can sell directly to consumers and make a good margin, run a business.
Even in the business, we're looking at a gross margin of forty to forty-five percent and a net of ten to twelve percent right now, and that's because we're in a heavy growth mode, and over time those numbers will move up, but it's not the type of numbers that you necessarily see, especially on the gross because most supplement companies need to keep their cost of goods very, very low because they have to spend anywhere from thirty to fifty percent of revenue on marketing. I spent fourteen percent of revenue on marketing because I don't have to. I can leverage my platform as an author in my websites, and also we have very good customer service and really take care of our people and help them out, and then we produce a bunch of content and do a lot of stuff that allows us to acquire customers a lot more inexpensively, you know what I mean? So that was the intention going in was let's build a better business and do it right and make really good products and stake our chances on that as opposed to the more traditional which is create a shit product and just spend a ton of money on marketing. It's a churn business. You know that your customer lifetime value is low, but you're just in full customer acquisition mode, 24/7 basically. That' just a shitty business in my opinion.
Ben: Well obviously you've got a ton of different supplements that you've worked on, and I'll link to those in the show notes along with your pretty extensive library of books that you've written. Some of the other things that we've talked about like genetic testing for power versus endurance, that “Eat Wheat” book that I mentioned, the Hex bar deadlift, a whole bunch of other resources from this episode. If you're listening in and you want to learn more about Mike, or check out his website and his writings. You can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/mikematthews. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/mikematthews, and you can check out Mike and everything he has over there.
Mike: Thank you. Oh, let me just interject, Ben. So on the supplements, and I don't know your thoughts on this, so I would say just to answer your initial question, I like protein powder 'cause it's convenient, I like a multivitamin to fill any holes that might be in my diet even though it's good and also provide stuff that you can't really get in your diet and I would say probably a vitamin D if I was just giving general recommendations which I take myself because I know that my body needs a bit more than the two thousand I use that's in my multivitamin. And then fish oil because I don't eat fatty fish, and it's just hard to get enough Omega-3. When people ask me, yes I do have quite a few supplements. I have a green supplement that's considered a luxury. It's a great supplement, it has stuff like spirulina and rieshi mushroom and maca and things that you don't get in your diet unless you supplement with them, but as a core, especially people that are wanting to improve their body composition or just athletic performance, protein powder's convenient. Creatine, I don't see any reason, why not? Multivitamin, fish oil and vitamin D are my standard recommendations.
Ben: Yeah, for me it would be, and we can wrap up with this, creatine, fish oil if I haven't been eating much fish or taking in many Omega-3s or if my diet has been very high in Omega-6 fatty acids, and then a cover all multivitamin, something that is basically a shotgun to recover your bases. That's well formulated and it has things like adequate amounts of vitamin D, methyltetrahydrofolate instead of folic acid, adequate amounts of vitamin K to balance out the vitamin D, all those little things that a lot of multivitamins neglect, and if I had to throw one other in there, it would be some form of gut support to a lot of our things like enzymes, probiotics, little colostrum. So it depends from individual to individual based on your blood work, your biomarkers, etcetera, but usually for me it's a creatine, a fish oil, a multi and then something to help out the gut a little bit, so those would be the biggies.
So folks, plenty more that Mike and I could get into, but we're out of time so head over to bengreenfieldfitness.com/mikematthews to access the show notes, to leave your questions and your comments and your feedback for Mike and I. We'll be sure to get back to you, and in the meantime, Mike. Thanks for coming on the show, man.
Mike: Yeah absolutely, thanks for having me. It's been a while, it was nice to chat again.
Ben: Yeah, word for sure. Alright folks, well until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Mike Matthews signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
Mike Matthews is a bestselling fitness author of books like “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger” and “Thinner, Leaner, Stronger“. He is also the creator of the blog MuscleForLife.com and the supplement company Legion Athletics. His scientific approach to building muscle and losing fat has helped thousands of people build strong, lean, muscular, and healthy bodies, and his work has been featured in many popular outlets including Bodybuilding.com, Esquire, Men’s Health, Elle, and many more.
Here's a small sampling of a few of Mike's core beliefs about getting into the best shape of your life:
- Lifting light weights for high reps is basically a waste of time. If your routine doesn’t revolve around heavy lifting, you’re doing it wrong.
- Getting lean, and even super lean, does NOT require hours upon hours of grueling cardio, or crash dieting that leaves you starving and miserable every day.
- If you know what you’re doing, you can gain 20-30 pounds of lean mass (yes, muscle) in your first year of training, regardless of your genetics.
- Pretty much every machine in the gym should be avoided, and most exercises are horribly ineffective. Which brings me to the next point…
- The idea that you have to constantly change your workout routine or your body will adapt and plateau is a lie. I change my routine once every 2-4 months and consistently get stronger month after month.
- You don’t have to exercise for more than 1 hour per day, 5 days per week to be in peak physical condition. I personally lift weights Monday through Friday for about 45 minutes, and do 3-4 cardio sessions per week, with each session running about 30 minutes. And I do the cardio mainly because I enjoy it.
- HOW MUCH you eat determines the effectiveness of your diet, not WHAT or WHEN. No matter what you’re doing with your diet, you can always work in cheats and indulgences and achieve your goals.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Why Mike now works out far less than what he used to, and gets better results…[10:45]
-Mike's opinion on the research that high reps, low weight actually works for hypertrophy…[14:20 & 20:00]
-Why both Ben and Mike like the hex bar for deadlifting…[32:50]
–Why Mike says clean eating isn't the key to weight loss or muscle gain…[40:30]
-The can't-miss components of Mike's morning routine…[53:50]
-What Mike's diet and supplement regimen looks like, and the four supplements he always takes…[57:10]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
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-HealthGains – Text the word “GAIN” to 313131 to receive $250 off HealthGains' HGH, testosterone or sexual health services at their Aventura, Florida location.
-BiOptimizers – Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/biOpt to automatically get 10% off your order of Masszymes and P3-OM probiotic.