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Q&A With Mike Roussell - What The Readers Want To Know!

I've created this article series entitled 'What the Readers' Want to Know' to share with all the readers. Commonly asked questions can get accurate answers right here. Learn more…

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Answers. Everybody wants their questions answered. For a long time if you wanted your weight training and nutrition questions answered you just asked the biggest guy at your gym what he did. Then came the internet.

The Internet is the best and worst thing to happen to bodybuilding and fitness. It is the best because it allowed for tons of people to share information about training and nutrition all across the world.

The problem with the internet is that it allows ANYONE to post and share information regardless of their qualifications. This has led to a countless numbers of internet guru's dolling out information as if it were gospel but in reality the "guru" is only squatting 135lbs and gets a bulk of their nutrition from Burger King.

Well the time for change is now. As a reader you deserve better. You deserve quality answers that are based on research, experience, and results - not hype.

I usually have a consistent stream of questions from readers flowing into my inbox each week. Some questions are good and some make me wonder if the people actually read the articles I've written.

I've created this article series entitled "What The Readers' Want To Know" to share with all the readers the most thought provoking, interesting, and practical questions and answers that filter in and out of my Outlook Account each month.

[ Q ] Mike, do you use Meal Replacement Shakes (MRPs)? If so what kind? If not what do you do instead?

    A: I haven't used pre-packaged MRPs in a while. The main reason is that I like to get my carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables during the day and not maltodextrin (the main carbohydrate source of most MRPs).

    Nytro Pro-40

    When I used to use MRPs, I was a big fan of AST Sports Science's Nytro Pro-40. Their flavors have good taste and each serving has 500mg of N-acetyl-cysteine (a hugely underrated supplement in my opinion).

    What do I use now? As I said above unless it is after my workouts I like to get my carbs mainly from fruits and vegetables so the "MRPs" that I make are usually high in protein and healthy fats. Variety is important, so I like to create a "nutrient matrix" in which I can mix and match different source of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to meet not only my nutritional needs but my pallet's as well.

    Below is an example:

Nutrient Matrix
Protein Fats Carbohydrates
* Flaxmeal Apple
Low Fat Cottage Cheese Flaxseed Oil Kiwi
Chocolate Protein Powder (a protein blend) Peanut Butter Plum
Vanilla Protein Powder (a protein blend) Almonds Tangerine
Strawberry Protein Powder (a protein blend) Walnuts Nectarine
* Pecans Pear
* Olive Oil *

    All these foods are relatively portable (the cottage cheese and flaxseed oil will probably have to be refrigerated if you aren't going to eat them right away) and easy to get your hands on. Just pick one food from each column and you'll have a great meal on the go.

    If you crush the nuts up ahead of time you can keep them in a shaker with your protein powder so all you'll need to do is add water. These "MRP" options are super nutritious; here are some of the benefits of these homemade meals:

    That's a great list of benefits!! Plus with the foods I've listed above you can create over a hundred "meals" without eating the same thing twice.

[ Q ] My schedule requires me to work out early in the morning at around 6am; is it possible to still get the lean physique, working out so early?

    A: Definitely. Have you seen any pictures of Skip La Cour lately?? Skip works out really early 5 mornings a week.

    Skip La Cour
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Skip La Cour, Early Morning Riser.
    Check Out His Articles Here.

    There are pros and cons to working out in the morning vs later in the day. In the morning your testosterone levels are naturally higher (10-15% compared to the afternoon). Joe Kinney (the first man to officially close the Ironmind Captain of Crush #4) swears by taking advantage of the early morning testosterone boost and and having heavy 20-rep breathing squats "for breakfast."

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    I have been working out early in the morning consistently for several months now (on and off for the past several years). I find it beneficial because I found myself coming home at the end of the day tired and I was having trouble getting up for the big lifts.

    The cons to working out in the morning are that your nervous system isn't totally awake yet. This can cause deminished strength, performance, and make your body more succeptable to injury. This is a problem but you can take several steps to get your body ready.

    The Central Nervous System.
    The human central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. These lie in the midline of the body and are protected by the skull and vertebrae respectively.

    This collection of billions of neurons is arguably the most complex object known.

    The central nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system comprise a primary division of controls that command all physical activities of a human.

    Neurons of the central nervous system affect consciousness and mental activity while spinal extensions of central nervous system neuron pathways affect skeletal muscles and organs in the body.

    I've done a lot of trial and error in order to make my morning workouts as successful as possible. Here's what my routine looks like.

    The Night Before:

      It is important to get everything set up so you are ready to go in the morning. This is what you'll need:

      • A mug containing a bag of green tea - the tea helps get your body warmed up and the slight caffine boost helps get you going.

      • Enough water for 1 cup of tea in the electric kettle - By having just enough water in the kettle you minimize the amount of time it takes for the water to boil.

      • Pre/during workout shake in a shaker - Your pre/during workout nutrition is so important when you train in the morning because your body has been fasting for several hours.

        Hydrolyzed whey, dextrose/maltodextrose, and BCAAs are key components of this early morning cocktail because they will get into your system fast and help convert the environment from catabolic (muscle wasting) to anabolic (muscle building). Shaker Bottle
    Video Demonstration:

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      • A 32oz bottle of water - Hydration could be the most important factor in optimum athletic performance. In the morning you are going to be slightly dehydrated so getting enough fluids before and during your workout should be a top priority.

      • Muscle Balm - Using products like Tiger balm and other muscle balms can help get the blood flowing and warm up your joints. "Greasing" your joints with these kinds of products is a great idea and you'll feel the difference after just one workout.

      • Also don't underestimate the value of a good nights sleep. The effectiveness of your early morning workout weighs heavily on how well your body is rested. If your budget can handle it, I have found that taking a ZMA supplement improved the quality of my sleep and thus made me more awake in the morning.

    The Morning:


      My alarm usually goes off at 5:40am, I fight hitting the snooze bar and head to the kitchen. From there I turn on the electric kettle, add water to my pre/during workout shake, and drink half the shake. Once the water in the kettle is boiling I'll pour it into the mug and let the tea steep for 30-60 seconds.

      If you let the green tea steep too long it will make the tea bitter and unpleasent to drink, plus 90% of the caffeine is leeched out of the tea leaves in the first 60-90 seconds. Once the tea is done steeping I'll squeeze the tea bag out hoping to get any remaining caffiene and phytochemicals out of the tea leaves.

      While the tea is cooling I'll head to the bathroom and apply the muscle balm to the joints that are going to be used during that morning's workout. I usually do full body workouts so I'll apply the balm to my elbows, shoulders, and knees (make sure to wash your hands really good afterwards making sure you get any extra balm off your hands).

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      Finally I'll throw on my workout clothes (a sweat shirt and sweat pants are important initially to help get your body's core temperature up), grab the green tea, workout shake, water bottle, and head to the home gym in my basement. If you don't workout at home (I'm guessing most people don't) then your drive or walk to the gym is a perfect time drink the green tea.

      How Important Is Warming Up?
      How Important Is Warming Up?
      How important is warming up? Find out what other people from the message boards think...

      Once you are in the gym 10-15 minutes on the exercise bike or treadmill are a must so you can loosen up your muscles and get your body going. Thoroughly warming up is so important when working out in the morning so don't skimp out on your warm-up sets or active stretching movements.

      By now your body should be warmed up and ready to attack your workout. Just remember to keep drinking your workout shake and water throughout your training session.

      As you can see by the protocol I've developed for preparing your body for an early morning workout. With the proper steps you can awaken and warm up your body enough so the training sessions will be of the utmost effectiveness.


I only answered two questions with this installment of "What the Readers Want to Know" but I'll be back soon with more answers to your most pressing questions. So if you have any nutrition or supplementation questions email me at and your question might be answered in the next installment of "What the Readers Want to Know."

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5