Bigger Leaner Stronger – Book Review

bigger leaner stronger michael matthews

If you are new to lifting weights and eating well then I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This is exactly what you need to do to gain muscle. For the advanced trainers – you won’t learn much you don’t already know. However, laying it out in such a practical way might highlight a part of your regime that’s fallen off track. It has around 220 pages of high quality content. If you have a good grasp of the basics you could learn everything simply from the summaries at the end of each chapter. I read it all in a day and will continue using the principles for life.

Book six is …

Bigger Leaner Stronger by Mike Matthews

Bigger leaner stronger
Bigger Leaner Stronger: Michael Matthews

PRO TIP: Take notes! When you read a book, use a blank sheet of paper as a bookmark. Write down any interesting facts and information from the book. This condenses a whole book into 3-4 pages of key notes that are important and relevant to you.

My Notes

  • There is no need for 95% of supplements on the market, they don’t work!

  • Magazines and websites over-complicate everything to pad out their money-generating content. The truth is you could summarise everything in 20 to 30 articles.
  • Getting in shape is not about a number on the scale, it’s ultimately about Body Fat % and how you look in the mirror.

  • It can take 2-7 days to fully repair muscle after a workout.

  • The 5 Biggest Fat Loss Myths: Not counting calories at all. Using cardio to lose fat. Fad dieting. High rep weightlifting. Trying to “spot reduce” fat.

    four laws of healthy fat loss

  • Junk food triggers a dopamine release that forces our body to act upon impulse.

  • Dopamine triggered by one action leads us to be more likely to take subsequent actions, making it harder to say no to temptation.

    “When we consider how over-targeted and over-stimulated our dopamine neurons really are, it’s no surprise that the average person is an overweight procrastinator hooked on ice cream, video games, TV shows and social media”

  • The more stressed we are, the harder it is to make sensible diet decisions.

  • Having obese friends and family members dramatically increases your chances of becoming obese too.
  • Define your ideal body – find pictures of those with your ideal physique and use them as motivation Bodyspace.

Section 3: Diet

  • Seven Aspects of Nutrition: Calories, Protein, Carbs, Fat, Water, Vitamins & Minerals, and Calcium.
  • One gram of Protein per lb body-weight per day is a bodybuilding staple.
  • Best choices of protein are meat, dairy and eggs. Second to those are legumes, nuts, peas, broccoli and spinach.
  • A diet high in soy reduced sperm count in men and increased estrogen, so avoid soy!
  • Some say there’s a limit of protein you can absorb in one meal of around 30-40 grams. This is a myth.
  • The danger of sugar is that it’s fast absorbed and leaves you hungry soon after, even in high calorie doses.
  • High, long term intake of simple carbs has been linked to increase risk in heart disease and type II diabetes
  • If you’re overweight and don’t exercise, you shouldn’t eat a large amount of simple sugars every day as your body can’t handle it.
  • Avoid Trans fats at all costs.

    Low-carb diets inhibit testosterone, increase cortisol (stress hormone) and make it harder to gain muscle and strength


seven mistakes made gym

Chapter 14 – The “Diet”

  • It is difficult to build any muscle while in a fat loss calorie deficit. The goal while on a fat loss diet is simply to preserve muscle.

  • More body fat also drops testosterone (male hormone) and raises oestrogen (female hormone).

    The more body fat you have, the more “fat storing” effect carbs have in a diet.

  • Cheap sources of nutritious food: Eggs, Chicken Breast, Almonds, Low Fat Cottage Cheese, Protein Powder, Avocado (really?!), Oats, Black Beans, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Fruit, Sweet Potato
weight training

Section 4: Training

  • Train 1-2 muscle groups per day, set of 4-6 reps for nearly all exercises.

  • Do 9-12 Heavy Sets per workout.
  • 50-70 reps performed with each major muscle group every 5-7 days is best for natural lifters
three laws muscle growth


  • You don’t need BCAA’s if you get sufficient protein pre and PWO from whey etc.
  • Take Creatine monohydrate at the same time as carbs to increase effectiveness, 3-5 grams post workout.
  • Glutamine is only good for anti-stess or anti-fatigue, not building muscle.
  • Fish Oil increases muscle protein synthesis, reduces muscle soreness, inflammation, anxiety, blood pressure, depression and risk of stroke. It also improves memory and cognitive performance, and speeds up fat loss!
  • 1.3-2.7 grams of omega-3 a day i.e. check ingredients to see how much fish oil provides that
  • Most important supplements in order: Vitamin D, Multi-vitamin, Fish Oil, Protein Powder, Spirulina, Creatine (and Caffeine for fat loss)

As you can see i’ve made really comprehensive notes on this book. While there’s nothing incredibly technical it is a fantastic overview of the core concepts. This is almost identical to the notes I made at undergraduate level in Sports Science. For the beginner to intermediate lifter with less than 3 year experience, you will find a lot of useful information in this book. If I had this available when I first started lifting at 16 years old it pains me to think how much stronger and leaner i’d have been in my twenties.

About Fraser_9to5 204 Articles
Site owner. I'm a graduate in Sports Science and have an MSc in Sports Biomechanics. I set up 9to5strength in 2015 as a resource for people interested in strength training, nutrition and fitness. I consider myself a fitness blogger and enjoy creating YouTube videos and trying out workout programs.