Pro Tips

Matt Mendrun's Tips for Staying Big and Lean

This NPC physique competitor and world gym trainer shares his unique advice for maintaining lean muscle year-round.

The Stats

Age: 28

Height: 5'10"

Weight: 200 lbs (contest), 220 (off-season)

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

I'm old-school when it comes to training frequency.

I train 60–90 minutes six days a week and split everything down: Monday is legs— quad focused, Tuesday is chest, Wednesday is back, Thursday is legs again— hamstring focused, Friday is shoulders, and Saturday is arms. Sunday is my only rest day. Pre-contest, I’ll add a second session of cardio three or four days a week.”

Consume all your carbs before and after workouts.

This is the only time of day when your body truly needs that extra energy. Don’t eat any carbs right before you go to bed. This will allow your body to turn to your fat stores for energy during the night. Having a little bit of fat before you go to bed will further encourage fat burning.”

Don't bulk up and then try to cut down.

Yo-yo dieting is not healthy. Follow a strict dietary plan. I follow the 45–35–20 plan, which means my daily intake consists of 45% protein, 35% carbohydrates, and 20% fat. I did no-carb diets for a while, and while I lost fat, I also lost muscle and felt weaker in the gym. This lets you have some carbs, but not so much that you risk adding fat.”

You need to eat fat to burn fat.

I consume a very minimal amount of fat through animal sources—when I eat beef, it’s 96% lean—because most of it should be unsaturated. I take fish oil with breakfast, macadamia nut oil with smaller meals throughout the day, and a couple of tablespoons of almond butter is one of my favorite bedtime snacks. Olive oil is good. Coconut oil is good. But macadamia nut oil is slower digesting, which will protect your muscles better, plus it just plain tastes better than most other oils.” “The biggest mistake people make is thinking they eat healthy. We have a natural tendency to highlight our own positive behaviors, and this is especially true when new clients tell trainers about their diets. They’ll say, “Well, I eat a lot of grilled chicken and fish.” But they don’t know how much they’re eating, and it’s rarely balanced. Then when they gain weight, they’re extremely frustrated.