Cardio hinders muscle gains, cardio and muscle-atrophy, barbell squats, carnivores vs. herbivores

Q&A with Mike Furci

Furci Home / Fitness Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

QMy name is Kyle, and I am 21. I lift three days a week with cardio work on the off-days. For cardio instead of running, I prefer walking around college. Nothing serious, but with having torn tendons in my ankles in the past, I try to avoid a lot of direct pressure on my feet. I need to lose fat, and have a couple of things I wish to understand about burning fat.

 I have been told that cardio will increase muscle-atrophy, hindering my muscle gains. So how can I do cardio without hurting my muscle gains? My second is about fat burners; I wish to avoid them, but if I feel I need help on losing fat. Can I take fat burners with a lifting program?

It is true doing cardio can be detrimental to your ability to gain muscle. It's not hard for you to perform too much cardio and hinder your recovery from weight training. The body has a finite ability to recover from exercise, and anything you do outside of weight training will be detrimental to your ability to develop strength and, consequently, muscle.

TreadmillDo you need cardio? If you're weight training with intensity, there is no need for health reasons. The weight training will be sufficient for that. Unless you need higher levels of endurance for a job like firefighting, or for a sport, forget it. It's not worth it. The calories burned versus the time put in are pathetic. Traditional cardio alone is not going to make you leaner to any noticeable degree. And walking, unless you really enjoy it, is a complete waste of time. However, eating right and adding muscle, which increases your metabolic rate, will make you leaner.

Look at all the women who do hours of cardio classes per week and never change. Having been in this industry for more than two decades, I've seen many people waste countless hours doing cardio. It's very simple: Muscle is what drives your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn; three 3 to 5 pounds of muscle will increase your metabolism from 6 to 10 percent, depending on your genetics. But, if you eat like a hog, you're going to look like a hog, even if you have great genetics.

The best fat burner that I've tried, excluding the ephedrine/caffeine stack, is Hotrox Extreme. I've used it several times now without changing my eating habits, and have noticeably leaned up each time.

Isn't a person supposed to place his feet somewhat forward, so when doing the squat, there is a 90 degree angle between the thigh and the calf (thigh parallel to the floor) otherwise, the knees get a lot of pressure, and injury can occur? Isn't it safer to perform the exercise on the machine in that case? Thank you.

AI'm assuming when you say, "place his feet forward," you're talking about doing squats on the Smith Machine. Placing your feet forward while performing a barbell squat would be impossible. I have nothing against Smith Machine squats being used occasionally to switch things up. Placing your feet forward puts less stress on the lower back. And putting a 90 degree limit on knee flexion keeps you from stimulating the glutes as much as they could be by squatting deep.

If you want nice round glutes and well developed legs, smith machine squats do not do as good a job as barbell or dumbbell squats. Having said that, The Smith Machine is an excellent alternative for those who have various injuries, weak points or are just not built right for squats (like very long-legged people). You have the ability to use a wider range of foot placement in order to target different areas.

I must say, I am astonished that the myth "barbell squats are bad for the knees" is still out there. The squat is one of the best -- and safest -- exercises for size and strength. As a matter of fact, it's a normal movement for our bodies. The gains you make from barbell squats are highly transferable to everyday life.

The only time I recommend not performing a barbell squat is when limited by an injury or genetics. And keep in mind, there is no perfect exercise, and squats are not a must for bigger legs.

I've been a vegetarian for a year now and I actually feel healthier. Mind you, my lifestyle is a lot healthier as well. But I think what motivated me was the alertness and energy I felt when I became a vegetarian. When I used to eat meat, I always felt drained and tired (and disgusted, but that's another matter). I can't say that what you said is wrong or not, but I do think it's awfully biased. I don't see why you feel you have the right to call it stupid. It's been working for a lot of people and they feel great about it, so what's the problem? And while there are disadvantages to having a vegetarian diet, I feel there are more disadvantages eating meat. I try to drink milk as little as possible, but I still eat eggs (so I'm Lacto-ovo).

My main problem is that I really don't know what is true or not. I don't even trust the food guides because they're manipulated by large corporations that want to make money by sending false ideas to people. So some people say milk is bad for you, while others say there's more protein in vegetables than there is in meats. There are so many things that are contradicted. I think I mainly go with what feels healthy (and what my fitness teacher says, but he's generally unbiased and he is educated in this field). But sadly, you didn't provide much insight into it all. (I think it just made me doubt internet sources even more.)


Balanced diet

AYou should doubt internet sources, including me. I've never said being vegetarian is stupid, unhealthy or anything like that. I've always stated that being vegetarian is not the optimum way for a human being to eat. We are omnivores -- period. We are made to eat meat. What I do think is outrageous is the fact that vegetarians spew bogus science, and insist that eating like a rabbit is more healthy than eating the way we have been for millions of years. If you eat a certain way because you like it, or because you think animals shouldn't be used as food, more power to you. Just don't insult my intelligence, or sway the public with bullshit references. If it weren't for supplements, a true vegetarian/vegan would perish from nutritional deficiencies. There are many vegans and vegetarians who stop this lifestyle because of feeling sickly and weak. It's almost inevitable.

Anatomically we are very similar to a dog and other carnivores. We are nothing like herbivores. We secrete hydrochloric acid in our stomach, which has a sole purpose of helping to digest animal protein. We do not chew our cud like herbivores. We do not have multiple stomachs like herbivores. Herbivores can digest cellulose; humans cannot. Our jaws work vertically for tearing and crushing; a herbivore's jaw works in a rotary fashion for grinding. Our colons are short and small; a herbivore's is long and big. Our gallbladders are well developed; a herbivore's is weak or absent. Just a few examples to make you think.

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Around the Web