Ep. #1055: Q&A: Skinny Fat Solution, Adduction Machines, Rep Ranges For Calves, Workouts After Baby, & More


Hello, you are listening to Muscle for Life, and I am your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for another q and a episode where I answer people’s questions. People ask me questions over on Instagram. I post a story every week or two, usually on Wednesdays with a little ask me question sticker.

People submit questions, and then I go through. And find ones that are interesting or topical or new. You know, questions I haven’t already answered many, many times before. And I answer them there briefly on Instagram. And then bring everything over here to the podcast because I can answer them in more detail here and share additional resources for people who want to go deeper.

And so if you want to ask me your questions, follow me on Instagram at Muscle Life Fitness and watch my stories. And you will see again every week or two usually on we. The ask me a question, uh, story with the little sticker. Submit your questions and I will review them. And if any of them strike my fancy, then I’ll answer them there and bring the question or questions over here to the podcast.

And so in this episode, I am going to be answering questions like, do you eat any liver or organ meats? What is the ideal number of exercises for a one? Work out, can I still work out if I’m not getting enough sleep because I just had a baby, should I stick to the conventional or the sumo deadlift? What do you think about the Nordic hamstring curl and more?

Dane DC asks, do you eat any liver or organ meats? No, I don’t. They’re very nutritious, but they are not necessary for optimal health and performance, so long as you’re willing to eat other foods that are rich, primarily in B vitamins, iron, zinc, and choline. And I. Don’t really like the taste of liver and other organ meats, and so I choose to get those key nutrients from other foods.

Dilly Dally dance asks ideal number of exercises for a session of one hour. Sometimes I only manage three. Five sets of each H 12 reps per set. Three is good. I would say three to four exercises. Doing three to four sets per exercise. That’s a good general approach. Five sets, so 15 sets in an hour is doable, but you probably are not resting more than two or two and a half minutes in between each set.

Which is probably okay if you are training in a higher rep range, like eight 12 reps per set. But if you were doing some heavier work as well, particularly on some big compound exercises, so if you were doing like fours, fives, or sixes on a squat or a deadlift or bench or overhead press or barbell row, you would do better with a little bit more rest in between those sets, at least three to four minutes.

Probably, and in my higher rep sets, eight to 10, 10 to 12. I like to rest two and a half minutes. Over two minutes. I find that my performance is just a little bit better, but three to four exercises for an hour long workout, three to four sets per exercise that’ll allow you to do a good variety of movements without doing too little or too much of anything.

Specifically Dion Lu. Asks had a baby, can I still work out when tired and not getting enough sleep for recovery? Yes, but I would recommend just one to three strength training workouts per week when your sleep is generally bad, if you do too much, it is just going to make. Things worse, starting with your sleep.

Your sleep will get even worse. And when your sleep gets worse, everything gets worse. Physiologically, psychologically, emotionally, and one to three strength training workouts per week though is enough to at least maintain the muscle and the strength that you have. And you should be able to get at least one workout in per week, one day, where you just feel a bit more rested.

And many new parents I’ve spoken to over the years are able to get up to three strength training workouts, no more than 45 to 60 minutes, three to four exercises, three to four sets per exercise, like I just mentioned, anywhere from let’s say four to 10 or 12 reps per set. And so you really just want to try to do those workouts on days where you feel.

Rested, maybe you didn’t even quote unquote sleep enough, but because your sleep has been so impaired, there are days where maybe you only got six or seven hours of sleep, but you have been so sleep deprived that your body has gotten more efficient with the sleep that it is getting. And so inevitably you’ll have days.

You feel pretty good even though you didn’t sleep as much as you normally would before kids or as would be ideal, and it’s best to do your workouts on those days, but you don’t have to do workouts only on days where you feel better. If you generally just don’t feel very good. You still can train. Your performance is not going to be what it normally is.

If you are regularly having. Sleep. If you just have a random bad night’s sleep, you’ll find that you can perform more or less just as well as when you are well rested. Maybe the workout will feel a little bit harder, but so long as you are willing to push a little bit harder and it’s more mental than.

Physical, you can perform the same, but if you are regularly sleeping badly, your performance is going to decline and that’s okay. You just have to expect that. But good news is research shows that training can effectively counter the metabolism. The. The muscle breakdown that occurs when we are sleep deprived, and that can really ramp up with successive nights of sleep deprivation or poor sleep.

And so by getting in, let’s say, one to three strength training workouts per week. You can counter that effect and at least maintain your physique and maintain your current level of fitness until you are sleeping enough and sleeping well enough to push for progress. All right, Emily Powell, 79 asks, goal is strength on deadlift, stick to convention or sumo.

Okay. Or just personal preference. Do what feels best to you. So when picking between the conventional or the sumo dead, Just do what you are strongest at and what is most comfortable. But generally the sumo deadlift is more technically demanding, even though that sounds a little bit counterintuitive, but it is, and it requires more flexibility than the conventional.

Deadlift. Again, counterintuitive but true. Also, you should know that your hip structure can cause one or the other to be very uncomfortable. You can feel pinching and tightness and pain, and whichever feels best to you is mostly going to be a matter of anatomy, so that’s why you just wanna stick. With whatever feels best to you.

And one other point is the length of your arms and legs relative to your torso matters too in your choice. So for instance, if you have short arms, you’ll probably do better with the sumo deadlift, whereas long arms are better suited to conventional deadlifting. I have strangely long arms, and so for me it’s conventional.

Alright, James, Jordan real asks, missed my last workout of the week. Do it on Monday or start routine over on Monday. Just start over Whenever you miss a workout, if you can’t squeeze it in in that week. So let’s say you are following a. 3, 4, 5 day appointment. It doesn’t matter and you miss one of those days.

If you can’t make it up on what would be normally arrest day, just start over the following week. Don’t try to make up missed workouts in the previous week. In your current week. If you go four days, one week, you missed your fifth day, you couldn’t go on the weekend. Let’s say, let’s say to make it up, don’t do six days of.

The next week, just carry on. As usual, Jo Wessels asks Thoughts on Nordic curls? Uh, it’s a good hamstring exercise. It’s kind of trendy these days thanks to social media, and in some cases it is oversold in terms of its benefits, but it is particularly useful for athletes because research shows that it may increase the length of the hamstrings and it also greatly improves.

The strength of the hamstrings at longer lengths, and those two things can decrease the risk of injury more than hamstring exercises that don’t accomplish those things or don’t accomplish them as effectively. However, I will say the. Nordic curl is too difficult for most people. Most people can’t lower themselves in a slow and controlled manner, and then they have to push themselves up off the floor to finish the rep.

However, of course, you can get stronger at the exercise, but most people have to start with a regression like abandoned Nordic curl. So using a band for assistance and working with that until you can do. Nordic curls properly. John Calvin A say asks hip adductor machine worthless or nah. So this is abduction a D, D, not a B, D.

So abduction is moving a limb or other part of the body away from the midline of the body or some other part of the body. And a B reduction is moving it toward the midline or toward another part of the body. And so to the question then with hip abduction. Abduction doing isolation exercises for those muscles.

It can make sense for athletes in particular because research suggests that strengthening the muscles that those, uh, machines work beyond what you can achieve with just basic lower body training may reduce the risk of injury in some sports that researchers have looked at, including soccer and ice hockey.

And it’s fair to assume that similar benefits would be seen in other sports that. Running around, moving your lower body around a lot, but if you are not an athlete or if you are not somebody who’s playing a lot of sports and playing them pretty intensely, there isn’t a reason to do those exercises. If you’re just kind of an everyday fitness person who’s trying to get in shape or stay in shape.

In some cases, high level strength athletes, and I know. Saying athletes, but let’s say like power lifters. You could say strength athlete, but I’m talking really about like power lifters or Olympic lifters as opposed to people who are running around a lot. In some cases, they will use these machines. They will isolate the abductors and abductors because they become a limiting factor in their primary lifts, in their squad or deadlift or some Olympic lift.

And so that would be another case where those exercises would be called for, but specialized, probably not applicable to most of my listeners. Okay. LUTs asks Best strength training exercises for volleyball players for vertical jump. So this answer is going to apply to vertical jump period, regardless of the sport.

It’s not just for volleyball players, but for anybody who wants to improve their vertical jump. So you want to do a few things. One is you want to get strong, so you want to be doing strength training, heavy squats because you need that foundation of strength to generate the force that is required to jump really high.

And then you also want to be doing some training for explosiveness. And a couple of good exercises for that in particular are cleans or power high poles. So you’re gonna wanna train those. You’re gonna probably gonna train them a bit lighter. Again, with the goal of exploding, moving very quickly. And then finally, the regimen should include a few different types of jumps for specificity, because we’re trying to get better at jumping.

So squat jumps, tuck jumps, depth jumps, broad jumps, or a few variations that should help. Have you ever wondered what strength training split you should follow? What rep ranges you should work in, how many sets you should do per workout or per week? Well, I created a free 62nd training quiz that will answer those questions for you and others, including how frequently you should train each major muscle group, which exercises you should do, what supplements you should consider, uh, which ones are at least.

Taking and more to take this quiz and to get your free personalized training plan. Go to Muscle for Life, show Muscle O R Life show slash training quiz, answer the questions and learn exactly what to do in the gym to gain more muscle and strength. N T A S U asks, did you vote? And he was probably referring to, let me see when this was.

Oh, it doesn’t say. Yeah, this was probably the midterms and yeah, I did. But at this point, I really don’t think we can fix much of anything by just voting harder. I think that is clearly not working. People actually in control of this country of America. Were not and will never be up for reelection, but I keep voting in hopes of being wrong, I guess.

I hope I am wrong in my assumption, but that’s just how the landscape looks to me right now. Ryan Shannon 12 asks, is any curvature of your back acceptable with deadlifts? Your upper back, yes. But that is kind of an advanced technique and it must be practiced and it must be practiced first with lighter weights, and then you have to work up to heavier weights and make sure that the curvature is only in your upper back.

I don’t do it for what it’s worth, if I were trying to deadlift as much. As possible. If I were trying to compete, let’s say, in power lifting, then I would practice it, get good at it, and do it because it does allow you to pull a bit more weight and it is safe. So long as your lower back doesn’t curve.

That is never okay. You always want a neutral spine in your lower back. This user name is B asks, can you be underweight and skinny fat? Yes, absolutely. You can be light, so you can be lighter than average for your height, but have a lot less muscle than average and a bit more body fat than average. So the below average amounts of muscle and the above average amounts, even if it’s just slightly below, slightly above average amounts of fat can.

Equal out to a lighter than average body weight, but a skinny fat physique. And people who are in this situation, they will usually see the excess fat in their stomach area if they are male or in their hips and thighs if they are female. And the solution is simple, fortunate. You just want to focus on gaining muscle and strength in the gym.

And if your body fat levels are too high for the look that you want, you can use your diet to get leaner. And of course that just requires a calorie deficit and you can get leaner and. Build muscle and get stronger at the same time, if you are relatively new to proper strength training or if you are coming back to it from a break, or if you don’t want to restrict your calories initially, that’s totally fine as well.

And some people would argue that it’s probably better to start. At maintenance calories, eat around the same number of calories that you burn every day and just focus on getting strong in the gym, gaining muscle, having great workouts, because naturally, of course, your body composition is going to improve as you put on muscle.

And let’s say you don’t lose any body fat. Your body fat percentage will actually go down, right? Body fat percentage is the percentage of your body weight that is body fat. And if you gain 10 or 15 pounds of muscle and you have gained no fat, then the percentage of your total body weight that is fat has gone down and your physique is going to look a lot different.

There’s a point where you just no longer look. Skinny fat, you start to look fit and athletic and maybe you still don’t have the physique you want because ultimately that is going to require less body fat. And if so, then there is a point where you do need to restrict your calories. But again, when you are just starting out, it’s a matter of personal preference if you don’t mind.

Starting out in a calorie deficit. Some people find it even motivating because they have struggled to lose 10 or 20 pounds of fat for a long time. Maybe they lose it and regain it, lose it, and regain it, or they’ve never really been able to lose it. And to finally lose it and understand how to keep it off is exciting and motivating.

And so in some cases, I would say, great. Let’s do that. Let’s start in the deficit. Let’s train and let’s get rid of this fat that you’ve wanted to get rid of for a long time, and let’s add muscle to the right places on your body. That’s a win-win. However, other people are less concerned about their body, fatness.

And are more excited or will be more excited to add muscle to all of the right places on their body and to have great workouts and to not have to deal with any of the negative side effects associated with dieting, like hunger, for example, less energy. Worse sleep. Not that you have to experience those things in large degrees, but if you have to diet for a few months to reach your body composition goal, you are going to experience some of those things.

To some degree, it is inevitable, even when you know what you’re doing. So, For you, my dear listener, if you are skinny fat and trying to decide where to go, I hope that helps you make a decision. And if it has not and you are still undecided, just know that you can always change your mind. So whichever one seems more appealing.

Just go with it and then see how it goes. Do it for four weeks, and then reassess your body comp. What are you seeing in the mirror? How are you feeling? Do you want to continue with your chosen strategy or do you want to change to the other one? Ya money asks best exercises and rep range for calf growth, in your opinion.

Well, calves are interesting in that research. That they can respond very differently to different rep ranges in different people. So in some people, for example, their calves respond really well to heavier weights, four to six reps per set, five to 7 68, and other people. It is 12 to 15. When they do four to six for calves, they don’t gain nearly as much muscle as when they do sets of 12 to 15 reps and vice versa.

And so the best bet is to just do a variety of rep ranges specifically for your calves. Now, Periodizing your training. Training in different rep ranges is generally a good idea for more experienced and certainly advanced weightlifters. However, in people who let’s say, are in their first two to maybe even three years of strength training, They don’t need to do that.

They can follow what I just lay out in my bigger, leaner, stronger Book for men or thinner, leaner, stronger Book for women or muscle for life books specifically for men and women who are 40 years old or older. The 40 plus crowd, if you follow the simple programming in those. Books you are going to do very well for at least two or three years.

Eventually, though, you are going to make better progress by working in different rep ranges, anywhere from, let’s say, two to 12 reps per set. Depending on the exercise, two reps would be appropriate for maybe a squad or a deadlift or a bench press or an overhead press, but not appropriate for a dumbbell curl, for example.

But in even new people. The calves specifically, if you are not seeing the results that you want in your calves, it would be smart to train them in a variety of rep ranges. So doing a few sets per week, let’s say in the four to six rep range, a few sets per week in the eight to 10 rep range, and a few sets per week in the 12 to 15 rep range.

And for what it’s worth, I’ve been doing. For several months now, and I’ve been training my calves five days per week. Every day that I’m in the gym, I’ve missed a day here or there. So a couple of weeks. It was just four uh, sessions per week, but most weeks for the last several months, probably four months now, three, four months have been five sessions.

And so what I’m doing is. Three sets per session. 15 hard sets, you know, taken very close to failure, right up to failure, usually zero to one. Good reps left in each set, meaning that I could maybe do one more rep if I had to. Sometimes I couldn’t even do one more if I tried. To do one more, I would fail.

And so I’ve been doing that for several months and my calves, which have been notoriously stubborn, for example, in the past, doing six to nine hard sets per week and really pushing in those sets, pushing close to failure. Training in different rep ranges, it didn’t produce really any results. However, now that I’ve gone to a much higher volume and high frequency approach, five days per week, 15 hard sets per week.

And making sure that some of those sets are in the four to six rep range. Some of them are in the eight to 10 and some of them are in the 12 to 15 rep range. I’ve seen quite a bit of growth. It’s pretty, pretty noticeable just in a few months, and so I. Figure that with this approach, probably by the end of the year, my calves will finally be where they should be.

Given the development of my upper body and of my arms in particular, I’m not sure I will reach the body building standard of the circumference of your calves measured at their biggest point, matching the circumference of your arms measured at their biggest point. But I will be close. I will no longer have small calves.

Yay. All right. The final question comes from Franz Meyer, 47 best books to read for starting a new business. Oh, I have quite a few, but the first several and in this order would be the one thing, prophet first, the mom. Test and Ready, fire, aim by Masterson. There’s another Ready, fire aim book out there. At least one other, if not two others, and I don’t remember the authors of all them, but the one by Michael Masterson.

That’s the one. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.

And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you. Uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.


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