Q&A with Michael Furci - Building your triceps, the Mega-Man multi-vitamin from GNC and weight training for endurance athletes
I have been training since August of last year. I am 44 years old, 136 pounds and my body fat is 5.7%. I'm seeing a sports MD. I train with a trainer (ACE, CSCS, CFT) seven days a week. I am taking HGH, called somatatropin, two times per day for a total of 4ius. I've been on HGH for four weeks and have four weeks left. I take 50 grams of ion exchange whey protein three times a day. I take eight grams of L-Glutamine, and all my branched chain amino acids. I preload my carbs. I take my protein, L-Glutamine, amino acids and HGH before I workout. After I train I take 40 grams of carbs, my protein and amino acids. Then I eat lunch. I have gained about eight pounds of muscle, keeping my body fat at 5.7%. It's very hard eating well!
Just a little background before I get to my question.
I need to build up my triceps. Can you point me in the right direction to find some new exercises? One thing, my left triceps is the weak one.
I'm glad to see you have sought the advice of some experts. Working out properly is something that you need to be taught. Most people join a gym, maybe go through a brief orientation, and then haphazardly go through their workouts. Six to 12 weeks later more than two thirds get discouraged and quit because of inadequate progress. A good personal trainer can do wonders with somebody like yourself because you're willing to do what's necessary.
What isn't necessary is to train seven days per week. I don't care what kind of workout you're doing. This will be counterproductive to what you want. You gained eight pounds of muscle in approximately seven months. This is fantastic! However, it is not that unusual for a beginner, especially when they are thin, to gain a good amount of weight in the first six to 12 months. What will be a true test of the efficacy of your workouts and diet is how you progress long term. I would be interested in seeing what your current seven-day per week workout consists of. I would be surprised if your trainer doesn't adjust your training very soon. You need at least one day per week -- at the very least -- of no training at all.
4ius of GH per day! Wow! I'm assuming you're seeing a hormone replacement expert? If you are, how did you get him or her to prescribe such a large dose? Normal GH replacement therapy is a quarter of the dose you're taking. Not that I'm against what you're doing; on the contrary, I'm all for it. GH is a wonderful drug with fantastic benefits. You mention that you have four weeks left. Why? According to the experts I've talked with, and much of the literature out there, one should continue GH therapy as long as they can. This is of course using replacement therapy dosages. By the way, all the evidence seems to show that it is better to go for longer periods of time on smaller dosages than to go a shorter duration using higher dosages.
Your supplement regimen looks pretty good. The only thing I would add is more L-Glutamine and some good anti-oxidants. You want to get 20 to 40 grams of glutamine per day. Actually, the more glutamine you take the better. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in our bodies and has a whole host of benefits, not the least of which includes improved recovery and improved immune function. Anti-oxidants will also aid in recovery. More importantly, anti-oxidants help get rid of free radicals produced by training and everyday stress. The only other thing you might want to change is the type of protein you take. The proteins with the best absorption and anti-catabolic effects are the ones that have a mixture of protein types. For instance, look for proteins that may contain the following: milk protein isolates, whey protein concentrates and isolates, egg whites and caseinate. The evidence is indisputable that a blend of proteins is far more effective at aiding recovery from workouts.
As far as your triceps are concerned, always start with the weaker arm when performing single arm exercises. Try the following routine. Take 90 seconds between sets. Take 30 to 60 seconds between warm-up sets.
Use a short straight bar for this exercise. Warm-up as needed. Do between eight to 10 reps per set. Do no more than two working sets. Use a 4030 tempo.
Single arm lying dumbbell extensions
Start with the left arm. Do the same amount of reps with the right arm as you do with the left. If you continue to do more with the right, your left arm will never catch up. Do eight to 10 reps, no more than two working sets, and use a 4030 tempo.
Single arm pushdowns
Use the x-over cable to perform this exercise. Do eight to 10 reps, no more than two working sets, and a 4030 tempo.
Good luck, Steve. Let us know what happens.
What do you think of GNC's Mega Man multi-vitamin? Good or bad, this one is better, etc.
P.S. You da man!
A: I don't know about being "da man," but thanks anyway. As far as GNC's Mega Man multi-vitamin goes, I've not seen a lab report. I am not that familiar with GNC products. The only thing I can tell you is that I use Twin Lab vitamins. They are always ranked very highly, usually #1 as far as quality and label accuracy. I take one Daily One multi, two C-1000, six Radical Fighters, and 400ius of E throughout the day. I am a big believer in vitamin supplements. But remember they're not intended to be a substitute for a good diet. They are supplements.
Q: Hi, Mr. Furci,
Tell me please how this situation unfolds. I have been lifting weights two years back now. I am a triathlete and I know that there are two muscle types: long (isometric, with endurance) and short (dynamic, with strength). Now, a triathlon is an endurance sport, which requires muscles with stamina all over your body since the sport contains swimming, running and biking. You probably already know this, but anyway, going to the gym to get stronger and bigger muscles gives you short, dynamic ones. Now tell me please, what happens with, for instance, your legs, which has mostly endurance muscles from running, when you begin to do leg curls with heavy weights for three sets, 10 repetitions each? Are other muscle groups different to this kind of "misuse"?
One more question please. If you would recommend something to buy as a food supplement, what would it be? Are strict protein supplements something to buy or are the ones that have both protein and carbohydrates better?
I must first point out that you obviously have not been doing your homework as far as muscle anatomy and physiology is concerned. I am very curious as to where in the world you got some of your information. Isometric has nothing to do with the length of a muscle or the capacity for endurance. Isometric means the contractile force is equal to the resistive force. The muscle does not shorten or lengthen during an isometric contraction. In your e-mail you mention that we have two types of muscles. To put it in very simple terms, muscles are made up of two different types of fibers: slow twitch (endurance) and fast twitch (sprinting). All of our muscles are made up of a mixture of both types. However, some people are born with predominance of fast twitch and others with a predominance of slow twitch. These fiber types have absolutely nothing to do with muscle length. And by the way, since we're on the subject of length, getting bigger and stronger does not shorten the length of your muscles. Your muscle length will not change as long as you use a full range of motion when training and you stretch regularly.
Weight training enhances the endurance athlete. You should use a low volume approach. Only weight train three to four days per week in the off-season. As the event approaches, progressively decrease your weight training to two days per week. Most of your training should be for functional strength. Use exercises that employ balance and stability. The stability ball is an excellent tool for this type of training.
Your question about supplements is a good one. Protein cannot be emphasized enough. The endurance athlete has a hard time staying out of a catabolic state. Most athletes, including world class, pay close attention to the types and amounts of carbs and fats they take in but neglect the protein part of the equation. It is protein that is responsible for recovery. Carbs are simply fuel. Protein repairs and maintains everything in our bodies, not just muscle. Use a brand that has at least three different types of protein. Met-Rx is the brand I use and highly recommend.
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