Q & A with Mike Furci
Q: Hi Mike,
I want to increase biceps and triceps. I am doing exercises every evening about 25 minutes. My hands look good for about one hour or so, then next day morning, they will be normal. How can you retain the muscle all the time?
First, I would like you to read two articles: “Nine weeks to bigger arms part I and II”. Only work your arms once every six to eight days. If you’re a hard gainer, more is not better. Try three exercises for each: biceps and triceps. In accordance with the articles, perform two sets per exercise for the first six weeks, and one set per exercise for the last three weeks. Make sure to warm up properly for each exercise. Perform the prescribed amount of reps per exercise.
Q: Mike, I was told to do dumbbell flys on an incline bench (35 to 40 degrees). Wrong? Better? Worse?
A: Better? No. Different? Yes.
As the angle of the incline starts to go beyond 30 percent, the only difference is the degree to which the deltoids are used. (And while we're on the subject of angled benches, don't even bother with a decline bench. It is a myth that it stimulates the bottom portion of the pectoral muscles more than the flat bench.)
Also, if you're performing different angles to change the shape of your pecs, it's not going to happen. Your shape is genetically predetermined. Train with 100 percent intensity and stick with the basics.
I'm putting together a workout routine and I wanted to ask you something since I'm a fan of your advice. Are there certain muscle groups I should avoid working out together in the same visit to the gym? For example: chest and back; biceps and triceps. Just wondering because I've heard different things and I just wanted to get your thoughts on it.
A: Choosing what muscle groups to train on the same day is not as big a concern as the order you train them, or how they’re split throughout the week. The order in which muscles are trained can have a profound effect on your workouts -- both negative and positive. Make sure that you work the primary muscles before the auxiliary muscles.
For example, when working the chest, the primary muscle group is the pectorals. Shoulders and triceps are auxiliary muscles. Do not train triceps or shoulders before you train your chest. Also, if you are training an auxiliary muscle earlier in the week, allow at least 48 hours before you train the primary muscle.
Arranging your workouts so that the auxiliary muscles are fatigued before the primary muscles will ensure that you will not be able to handle as heavy a load. The heavier the load, the greater the muscle tension or stimulus, and the greater the growth response.
I really enjoyed reading your online Q&As. I’ve got a question for you regarding protein though. I understand one gram or more per pound, and how important it is to consume protein within an hour of weight training. But for how many days after your training should you continue to get one to one, especially if your schedule allows you to go to the gym only once a week on occasion?
What schedule allows you to train only once per week? I’ve trained surgeons, CEOs, district and regional managers, etc., and managed to get two to three days a week without having them miss a beat at home or work. If you want to train, you will make the time. There is no profession that I have encountered that gives an individual no free time to go to the gym. That’s a lame excuse. People who are concerned about their health, and make it a priority, have no problem training two to three days per week. Now, I understand that many people do not have the time to train two to three hours per day four to six days a week. I’ve never trained like that, not even when I was competing, and would never recommend it. So stop being lazy and get to the gym two to three days a week.
Protein is an essential macronutrient. Meaning, without consuming it, we would die. This is because the body cannot manufacture eight amino acids contained in quality protein. Do you need to consume one gram per pound of body weight every day? In your case, I’m not so sure you need that much because once a week, on occasion, just doesn’t cut it. You are just not training hard enough to necessitate consuming higher levels of protein for health and recovery. Now if you make it a priority, and start training two to three times per week with 100 percent intensity, then I would recommend consuming one gram per pound of body weight of quality protein derived from animal sources every day.
Q: Hey Mike,
I'm 27, in good shape, but I'm following a low carb/high protein diet to try and shed a few pounds, although I am interested in building muscle. I work out a few times a week, cardio combined with weight training. I'm thinking about taking creatine to increase muscle growth, but I'm unsure if the high amount of carbs in creatine powders will be counterproductive to my dieting efforts.
Is it okay for me to take creatine?
A diet lower in carbs and higher in protein is not only good for losing body fat, it’s better for your overall health. Yes, the carbs in some creatine powders could be detrimental to your efforts. Use a pure creatine monohydrate product. There is no reason for the extra sugar.
You say you train a few times a week, cardio combined with weight training. I’m not sure what you mean by combined, but never do both simultaneously if your priority is building muscle. The body needs a specific stimulus for a specific result. If you’re performing cardio on the same day as weight training, but not simultaneously, just make sure to do the cardio last. Reserve all your energy for your weight training. A good principle to follow is to perform your most explosive, intense exercises first. This applies not only to the order of performing cardio and weight training, it also applies to the order of exercises while weight training.Approach cardio as icing on the cake. Truth be known, it’s not even necessary in order to get lean. In fact, the work-to-benefit ratio for cardio sucks. Now, if you enjoy cardio, then have at it. “But Mike, yesterday the treadmill said I burned 650 calories -- how can you say that’s not worth it?” The “calories burned” figure you see on the cardio equipment is completely inaccurate. So inaccurate in fact, they don’t even place you in the ballpark of actual calories burned. Want proof? Perform your cardio and keep track of the calories burned figure. Every time the total hits 3,500 calories you should have lost a pound. Keep track for a month and let me know if the calorie total matches the weight lost. By the way, in order to make the results accurate, keep your diet the same throughout the month.
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