My review of Thinner, Leaner, Stronger

Hi friends! Hope you’re having a wonderful morning so far. We’re just taking it easy over here and enjoying the beautiful weather. Livi starts swim classes this week, and I’m excited to take them to a new park later today. Yesterday afternoon I interviewed at a yoga studio in town (!) and am slowly making my way into the fitness game. It’s always fun to see what classes I’ll end up teaching when we move, and it also looks like I’ll be personal training here in town again. 

For this morning’s post, I thought I’d review a book that caught my eye a couple of months ago. The reviews online were amazing, and I always love checking out new health and fitness books, so I ordered it. I figured it would be something to skim through and check out, but I ended up making my way through the whole thing. 

Here’s my review on Thinner, Leaner, Stronger.

Thinner leaner stronger

A little bit about the author and book:

Michael Matthews is a blogger (Muscle For Life), personal trainer, and author of 5 books, which have sold over 100,000 copies. I love his personal transformation story, and how he took his mediocre training to the next level. He went from training for hours a day with lackluster results, to decreasing his workout time, paying more attention to nutrition, and totally changed his body. 

Thinner leaner stronger

From the sales page on Amazon:

This book reveals:

The 5 biggest fat loss myths & mistakes that keep women overweight, frustrated, and confused.

How to build meal plans that allow you to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy without ever feeling starved, deprived, or like you’re “on a diet.”

The lies women are told about how to “tone” and “shape” their bodies, and what you REALLY need to do to have sexy, lean curves. 

A no-BS guide to supplements that will save you hundreds if not THOUSANDS of dollars each year on products that are nothing more than bunk science and marketing hype.

How to master the “inner game” of fitness and develop the self-discipline and willpower it takes to build the body of your dreams (and actually enjoy the process!).

How to get lean while still indulging in the “cheat” foods that you love every week like pasta, pizza, and ice cream.

Sounds pretty good, right??

My initial thoughts:

-When I first picked up Thinner, Leaner, Stronger, it intrigued me that the book on how to “build the perfect female body” was written by… a dude. It would be like reading a book on pregnancy and birth by a male author. You can research and learn as much as you want, but until you’ve been on the delivery bed, I just can’t take you 100% seriously. I also was looking for his background and credentials, since it wasn’t obvious on the cover. Was he a doctor?? Or maybe some world-renowned exercise physiologist?

After looking through his bio, I discovered that Michael Matthews is a personal trainer with a ton of experience training females. I decided to roll with it, because I know sometimes experience, research, and passion can be more valuable than credentials. (Also, I googled him and saw how shredded he was hahah.) I decided to dive in, and found that I loved his writing style and the info within the pages. Everything he suggests is science-based and presented in a way that’s easy to implement and understand. 

-Over the next couple of weeks, I found myself picking it up, curious to read more about his thoughts on designing the ideal fitness and nutrition plan. He has a very specific method to his training style and diet guidelines, and he thoroughly explains it throughout the book. 

Reading Thinner, Leaner, Stronger

(Photo: Lindy Waddell)

Why I like it:

-It encourages women to lift weights. Every time someone says that lifting weights makes females bulky, a fairy falls down dead. If you want a lean, strong physique, you have to pump some iron. His training plan is focused on compound exercises to work the entire body, and low, heavy reps to promote hypertrophy (muscle growth) and max strength. 

-It’s no-nonsense, and the *tough love* that many of us need to hear. I especially enjoyed the chapter on willpower: why some people seem to have more or less willpower, how to manifest it, and what it means to train and fuel yourself according to your goals. In a nutshell, he says that you can’t be wishy-washy and expect awesome results. You have to put in the work and dedication if you want to take things to the next level.

Working out

(Photo: Arielle Levy)

-It’s not focused on eliminating entire food groups, or training excessively. It’s a plan that anyone can realistically follow with some dedication, prep, and about an hour or less to spend at the gym 5x a week. It makes my heart happy to see other trainers doing so well, and promoting something that can be maintained as a lifestyle. It’s not *easy* but it’s do-able. The plan is really about lifting heavy, fueling appropriately (especially in regards to pre- and post-workout nutrition), and counting macros. 

-I also love that the author genuinely wants to help people get off the diet and overtraining crash and burn wagon. 

What I don’t like about it:

-It’s not a smooth read -some parts feel disjointed and a little choppy- and it’s a lot of information. I feel like it dances around the actual plan a little bit, mostly talking about why it’s an awesome plan and this is the only way to do it. I feel like a lot of health and nutrition books do this (talk about why their plan is so awesome instead of just showing us), but it’s not anything you can’t skim around. I did enjoy his writing style, so it didn’t bother me too much. You have to do a bit of hunting to get to the actual plan. 

-It makes it seem like it’s the “only way to do it.” Counting macros isn’t the only way to get a strong, hot, and healthy body. There are millions of people who look and feel awesome, who don’t count macros, or who don’t lift super heavy weights. I’ll occasionally hop back on the macro-counting train, but I know it’s not for everyone. Also, endurance training (high reps, lower to moderate weights) is an effective way to build strength. While the plan in this book is one way to do it, it’s certainly not the only way. The best training and nutrition strategy is one that makes you feel amazing, and one that you can actually maintain for the long haul.

All in all, I think it’s a great book and a solid plan. If you’re looking for specific guidance with nutrition and fitness, this can be a promising starting point. Of course, I need to throw it out there that you should always talk with a doc before making fitness and nutrition changes, and honor your body.

So, tell me friends: have you read any great health or wellness books lately? Here’s a post with some of my faves.

Have a wonderful day and I’ll see ya soon.



Post Navigation:


  1. Lynn on April 18, 2017 at 6:18 am

    Honestly, I find the title a little off-putting, because I don’t like focusing on thinner rather than healthier, and they don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. Ask any naturally skinny person who eats crap–they can have heart issues and high cholesterol just like anyone else.

    Also, I think that health can be summed up by eat clean, lift heavy, do at least 30 minutes of cardio daily. So why do we need thick books to tell us to do that? We all know it. What’s hard is putting it into practice.

  2. Sam @ Hygge Wellness on April 18, 2017 at 7:04 am

    Interesting read! At least for me, I am steering away from books encouraging skinny, leaner, etc. because I’m opting for a more gentle, intuitive approach to healthy eating and fitness. That’s just me, though! Plus, like you said – these things aren’t one size fits all. There are soo many factors that go into a healthy, strong body.

    • Fitnessista on April 19, 2017 at 8:14 am

      i totally understand that.

  3. Lindsay on April 18, 2017 at 10:45 am

    I’ve been considering Bret Contreras’s Strong Curves program/book. Are you familiar with it? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts! The only place I’ve found it is on Amazon (not at my library) and I’d love to hear your opinion before I take the plunge!

    • Fitnessista on April 19, 2017 at 8:14 am

      i haven’t heard of this one! off to google…

      • Lindsay on April 19, 2017 at 8:16 am

        Great! I’d love to hear your thoughts. This guy is based in Phoenix, which is my hometown, even though I didn’t learn about him until I was living in North Carolina.

    • Stephanie on January 6, 2021 at 5:07 pm

      I did strong curves for a year and saw amazing results. Changed the way I lifted. I don’t follow his particular program anymore but I still implement a lot of what he has taught me in my current training programs.

  4. china on April 18, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I recently read Fitness Confidential by Vinnie Tortorich. I was surprised by how much I loved it. Best Health/wellness book I have read in a while and like you mentioned about Thinner, Leaner, Stronger, I think what I liked so much about was the no-nonsense attitude.
    I will have to check this out, thanks for sharing!

  5. Maria on April 18, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    I’m actually doing TLS and counting macros and I love it. I didn’t get through the whole book because, like you said, it was hard to read, really, and seemed to ramble. But I have the companion 1 Year Challenge, which lays out all the workouts for you in 3-, 4-, and 5-day splits. I do the 4-day split and do OTF 3 days. Honestly, the weight lifting is like a vacation compared to OTF.

    • Fitnessista on April 19, 2017 at 8:13 am

      hahah! that is SO true. all of my non-OTF workouts feel almost relaxing

  6. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on April 18, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    So interesting! I’m not sure how I feel about a male writing a book about females, but I suppose if he has the experience. I love following Alexia Clark on Instagram she has some amazing workout tips! I only wish she talked about her nutrition more.

    • dorian on April 18, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      Just have to chime in love the “honor your body” comment…

      (sounds like you’ve been in some barre3 classes 😉 … )

    • Fitnessista on April 19, 2017 at 8:11 am

      i like following her, too!

  7. Audrey on April 19, 2017 at 6:38 am

    Thanks for the review, Gina! I agree with some of the other commenters, the title is a little off putting. But having that said, I would definitely give it a read if it seems science-based. Sometimes I need the “tough love” to give me some workout motivation 😉

    • Fitnessista on April 19, 2017 at 7:58 am

      i think it’s because i’m so used to fitness marketing, it didn’t stand out that much to me
      sometimes tough love can help a lot!

  8. Carolyn on April 19, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Hi Gina! Of subject but I signed up for your post baby workout program and just recently (last week) registered for the FB group as I am 5 weeks postpartum. I haven’t received confirmation to join the group and my email to you has gone unanswered so am wondering is the group is no longer active? I’ll be starting soon so wanted to join the group if possible since I purchased the program. Thanks.

    • Fitnessista on April 19, 2017 at 7:57 am

      hey carolyn,
      i looked through and didn’t see an email from you. sometimes they fall through the cracks, but i have no clue where it is! i’m so sorry i hadn’t responded. you were in Facebook group limbo, but i just added you in. please let me know if you need anything from me or have any more questions!

      • carolyn on April 19, 2017 at 8:00 am

        thank you so much, I appreciate the quick response 🙂

  9. Bethany on April 19, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    I just started reading Wired to Eat. While I love the stronger of this book I wish people would want to feel great and healthy more so than lean and thin. I totally get the marketing though.

  10. Verhanika on April 19, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Yikes. Maybe this book has good ideas, but the title is really inappropriate and promotes the idea that there is an ideal female figure. The fact that it was written by a man makes it patriarchal and promotes oppression of women who don’t fit a narrow definition of beauty.

    • Mina on June 24, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      I mean, he has the same exact book for guys except its “bigger leaner stronger, how to get the ideal male body” and while I can see some objection to the use of bigger vs thinner in the gendered books, everything else is exactly the same. I’ve read his books and blogs and overall its all very helpful and accurate.

  11. Colleen on April 20, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    I’ve been reading “The New Rules of Lifting for Women,” and it sounds similar in that it focuses on weight training with whole-body exercises. I like that it focuses on fitness for life; all the exercises are based on movements that help you live your life stronger and pain free (push, pull, squat, lunge, twist…) and by using your body as it was designed, a strong and balanced physique will follow.

  12. Joe on March 23, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Mike is just a skinny guy who has lifted some weights so he looks ‘ripped’. He’s making money selling the same old products to the same old suckers.

    • Julie on March 26, 2018 at 11:09 pm

      Guess you’re on the Sour Grapes Diet Joe.

  13. Monique S on August 8, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Would you say its worth buying the paperback instead of the kindle version?

    • Fitnessista on August 9, 2018 at 12:41 am

      yeah i think so- it’s easier to flip through and skim

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.