Bigger Leaner Stronger Book Review

Bigger Leaner Stronger Review.  An Amazon Best seller –but does this book live up to the hype? What did we learn from reading it?  And should you buy it?

Overall Rating: 6/10.  Bigger Leaner Stronger (Amazon Link) has a reputation for being a game-changer.  The one book you that will open your eyes and provide expert insight into what you are doing wrong and how you can build the body you have always wanted.  And while most of the information that Matthews provides is accurate, it’s all incredibly well known.  It’s a super beginner book to be sure.  Even so, there are better beginner book on the market than this one.

Positives: this book is a good for a young person going to La Fitness who has no experience on how to work out. Bigger Leaner Stronger covers nutrition, basic exercises, and supplements.

Negatives: Bigger Leaner Strong is completely derivative in its information. There is no original research or information in this book.  The majority of this book is just reiterating generally understood weight training principles.

Page Filler:  There are way too many pages talking about “this excuse” or “that excuse” for not exercising.  Matthews doesn’t provide original responses to overcome any of these excuses, nor is he is a psychologist to actually provide you information.  My Bigger Leaner Stronger Review is only a 6/10 because of the poor editing.  Writers, your reader’s time is valuable, don’t waste it with page filler.  I’ve read a lot of fitness books, 116 fitness books cover to cover.  Bigger Leaner Stronger took me only 30 minutes to read through its 494 pages.  That should tell you how much of this book is page filler and derivative information.  The First 50 Pages is nothing but a lot of general information. Lots of statements on what not to do. Not terribly informative.

My problem isn’t with what Matthew’s says, it’s that it takes him 1100 words to answer very simple questions (See Myth and Mistake #1).  

If I had a penny for every person I’ve spoken with who wanted to lose weight but didn’t want to have to count calories … well, you know the rest. This is about as logical as wanting to drive across the state without paying attention to the gas tank. Could you do it? Maybe. But it’s going to be a lot trickier and more stressful than it should be.

Now, I won’t be too hard on these people because they often don’t even know what a calorie is. They just don’t want to be bothered with having to count something or worry about whether they can “afford” one food or another, and I can understand that.

According to the laws of physics underlying this principle, if you give your body a bit more energy than it burns every day, a portion of the excess energy is stored as body fat, and thus you gain weight slowly.

That’s why research has shown that so long as they’re eating less energy than they’re burning, people lose fat equally well on high-carbohydrate or low carbohydrate diets.

Everything Matthew’s writes on his Myth and Mistake #1 is correct, but it can be said much more succinctly.

Is Watching Calorie Intake Important?
If you want to improve your body composition, nutrients are very important.  Foods with more nutrients, less sugar, and less saturated fat are better.  If you just want to reduce body weight, reducing your calorie below your current energy expenditures levels is sufficient.  But be careful, because your metabolism changes in responses to food intake, sleep, hydration, and exercise.
Paul on Nutrition

That’s 60 words.  And like Matthews, I still didn’t tell you exactly what to eat.  I just gave you general background information — not terribly useful.

Nutrition: Bigger Leaner Stronger Review

Michael Matthews on Nutrition: good advice in general. I agree with Matthews comments that there are way too many branded diets. Matthews recommends a diet that is too high in protein. The highest safe amount of protein one should eat is about 30% by grams. Otherwise, the advice he provides is generally correct.

Supplements: Bigger Leaner Stronger Review

Michael Matthews on Supplements: one of the best explanations of the important supplements on the market I have read. Very unbiased and accurate.  The supplement section was the highlight of Bigger Leaner Stronger.  Here’s a sample from his discussion of creatine.

Creatine is a substance found naturally in the body and in foods like red meat. It is perhaps the most researched dietary supplement in the world of sports nutrition; it has been the subject of more than 200 studies.

The most common method of creatine supplementation found in the literature is a “loading” period of 20 grams per day for five to seven days, followed by a maintenance dosage of 5 grams per day.

No, there’s no scientific evidence that long-term creatine usage is harmful, so no, there’s no reason to cycle on and off it. It’s not a steroid.

Good succinct, researched information is hard to find.  Matthew’s advice on supplements is good enough to justify the price of the book — if you were buying the book for advice on supplements.  But if you are looking for a well-researched chapter on supplements, Matthew’s does a great job.

Training: Bigger Leaner Stronger Review

Michael Matthews on Training: Matthews explains a very basic beginner-level program. The problem with the program is that 95% of people cannot perform these exercises properly without a personal trainer.  Complex movement like deadlifts and kettlebell swings should be done with a personal trainer.  I don’t know how many clients Mathews had trained when he wrote the exercise section, but I train 1000s of people a year. Weight lifting with free weights takes a lot of knowledge and very good mobility. If you can’t afford a personal trainer, you are better off with machines. Machines work very very well if you are working out by yourself.

Bigger Leaner Stronger Review Summary

Matthews’ book is like talking to a personal trainer for a few hours. This hypothetical trainer has ordinary knowledge and is able to provide you general advice. Unlike some of the books he references (Supple Leopard & Starting Strength), there is nothing particularly powerful about Matthews book. Those books are amazing.  I also have a particular disdain for the wall of weight loss pictures he lines up in the front of the book. Do you ever notice that you never see people get worse in a before and after :-)?  It doesn’t matter that you had 20 people get results on your system… what matters is how the average person does. On the plus side, the book is a very easy read. I finished it in about 30 minutes. The table of contents is very good as well.

Pricing for Bigger Leaner Stronger Book

On Amazon, the paperback version is $16 and the ebook version is $8.

Golden Nugget from my Bigger Leaner Stronger Review

The Golden Nugget in my book reviews is the single most salient point or tip I learned from a book.  In Bigger Leaner Stronger, Matthews says,

Diet isn’t 70% of body composition, or 80%, etc. It’s 100%, along with hydration, attitude, and a solid training program.

Bigger Leaner Stronger, Page 75

That’s a great way of stating this principle, and I use that same language with new clients.

Where Does Matthews Miss the Mark?

He grossly underestimates the benefit of cardio training and its impact on weight loss. I suspect Matthews isn’t good at or doesn’t like cardio. He goes to great lengths to try and justify not doing it. I don’t like doing it either. But, one thing is for certain, it makes a massive positive difference on your health and certainly improves weight loss. Also, his suggested diet has too much protein and not enough healthy carbs/fat.

Well, it’s true that weightlifting injuries are on the rise, and this is most likely because the number of people doing it is also on the rise. Mass movements like CrossFit don’t help either, as a bad instructor is all it takes for a large group of people to dramatically increase the risk of injury.*  That said, as with any physical activity, the occasional ache or strain is inevitable, but if you do certain things wrong, you can get hurt, and it will probably involve a joint like the shoulder, knee, or lower back.Matthews. P226.

I take personal offense with his statement that CrossFit is unsafe. CrossFit certifications are some of the best in the industry.  CrossFit movements & weight lifting exercises are perfectly safe when performed correctly.  The paper he cites… isn’t relevant to his point.  The paper was also published in 2007, CrossFit didn’t even really start mainstream until 2006.  Like many things, CrossFit takes time to learn, and maybe Matthews didn’t want to put in the effort. I don’t see that Matthews has any CrossFit certifications.  I hire and interview hundreds of coaches a year. CrossFit produces the best and safest coaches I have seen — bar none.

Bottom Line: Should you Buy Bigger Leaner Stronger?

If you are in high school, can’t afford a personal trainer at a good boutique gym, I would say go for it. If you have a real job, then I would say no. If you have read a few books on lifting weights, this book probably won’t add to your knowledge (it did not add to mine.) However, Matthews’ chapter on Supplements is very good and worth looking at.

Should You Trust My Review of Bigger Leaner Stronger?

I bought Bigger Leaner Stronger with my own money and reviewed it without any financial influence positive or negative.  If my review seems harsh, it’s because with the effort Matthews has put into marketing this book, I expected more.  This goes to tell you something, you can sell a lot of books if your marketing is amazing.  I mean just look at his Bigger Leaner Stronger on Amazon.  Matthews is good at marketing this book, I thought I’d get a six-pack just from buying it.

Certifications: I have 30 certifications in mobility, CrossFit, yoga, and personal training.  I own Alexandria’s leading personal training gym, and have been coaching athletes for over a decade.

Knowledge-Base: I have read and reviewed 116 books on Powerlifting, Weight loss, CrossFit, and exercise.

So yes, I have plenty of context from which to judge this book.  Some of my reviews have earned 9 or 10 stars.  In my professional opinion, Bigger Leaner Stronger Review only earns 6/10.  And if you disagree with my review or you enjoyed it, please let me know by adding in a comment below.

*Matthew’s cites, to Kent C. Berridge, “The Debate over Dopamine’s Role in Reward: The Case for Incentive Salience,” Psychopharmacology 191, no. 3 (2007): 391-431. as support for his statement about CrossFit being unsafe.

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