Notes health

Section 1: Fundamentals (Bigger, Leaner, Stronger)

Michael Mathews starts the book by outlining all the key definitions you need to know. One of the reasons why it’s so easy to be misled by bad information about nutrition and fitness online is not knowing the definitions. When you are unaware of the key definitions, you make it easy for “experts” to trick you.

Key Definitions


Saturated Fat: Found in animal fat products (Ex: cream, cheese, butter).

Unsaturated Fat: Found in both animal fat and vegetable fat products (Ex: Avocado, olive oil, nuts).

Trans Fat: Artificial fat, not common in nature. (Ex: fast food, ice cream, baked goods).


Element: A substance that cannot be broken down into smaller parts by chemical reaction.

Compound: A substance made up of 2 or more elements.

Molecule: The smallest particle of a compound, that still exists as that substance. Cannot be broken down without changing its original substance.


Protein: Naturally created compounds that are used to grow and repair body and to build cells and tissues.

Amino Acid: Small Units of Material used to build protein.


Carbohydrate: Molecule made of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, is a source of energy for animals.

Simple Carbohydrate: A form of carbohydrate that the body can break down quickly into glucose. Usually tastes sweet. (Ex: fructose in fruit, lactose in dairy, sucrose).

Complex Carbohydrate: A carbohydrate made up of a chain of simple carbohydrates linked together. Takes the body longer to break it down into glucose.

Starch: A complex carb, added to food to thicken it.


Metabolism: A series of processes that break down molecules from food to release energy, which is used to build new cells, fuel existing cells.

Anabolism: Metabolic process in which energy is used to make complex substances (ex: tissue) from simpler ones.

Catabolism: The production of energy from the breakdown of complex molecules such muscle or fat into simpler ones.

Hormone: A chemical made in the body that gets transported by the blood or other bodily fluids to cells and organs to have an effect.

Insulin: A hormone made in the pancreas that is released into the blood when you eat food. It causes muscles, organs, and fat tissue to absorb nutrients which come from good, and either uses them or stores them as body fat.

Index: A system of listing information in an order that allows one to compare it easily to other information.


Glycemic Index: A scale that measures the effects of different carbohydrates on blood sugar level.

Fatty Acids: Molecules that make up fat cells. Some fatty acids are needed to build parts of cells and tissues in the body. Fatty acids have double the calories per gram as do carbs or proteins.

Essential Fatty Acids: Fatty Acids that are vital for proper bodily function and must come from food (body cannot synthesize them). Humans have two essential fatty acids: alphalinolenic acid and linoleic acid.

Cholesterol: A soft, waxy substance found in most body tissues, including the blood and nerves. Cholesterol is necessary for survival, it is used in building cells and vital hormones in the body. Too much of it in the blood is bad and increases risk of stroke and other disease.

Myths about Training

Myth 1: More sets = more growth.

Too many sets can lead to overtraining and muscle fatigue, lower levels of anabolic hormones, higher levels of catabolic hormones, and sometimes muscle loss.

Myth 2: You need to Feel the Burn to Grow

Muscle burn is the build up of lactic acid. It’s not burn that drives muscle growth, it’s progressive overload.

Myth 3: Focus on Isolation Exercises

Compound exercises are the most important: Bench Press, Squats, Deadlifts, Military Press. Isolation exercises are not worthless, and they can complement overall development, especially for developing smaller muscles like the shoulders, biceps, and triceps, but they should not be the emphasis.

Myth 4: Constantly Change up your Routine to Confuse Muscles

It’s not true that you need to confuse your muscles. If you keep changing your routine, it will be harder to track progress over time. Repeated movements with increased weight over time is what is proven to increase muscle, not variability.

Myth 5: Lifting like an Idiot makes you stronger

There are people at the gym who lift too heavy, and they end up throwing around the weights when they’re done, accompanying this feat with a loud grunt. This is not only ineffective, but dangerous. Stick to weights you can manage to avoid injury.

Myth 6: Train like a Wussy to be Stronger

No matter how long you try, if you don’t face up to heavy weights, if you never challenge yourself enough, you will never get bigger or stronger.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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