AMA FDA misrepresentation, weight training tempo, muscle weight gain

Q&A with Mike Furci

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Could you explain what you mean by a 4020 or a 5010 Tempo? I have read many of the questions and answers, and I know that you have great advice, but I'm unclear on the tempo issue. I know that tempo has a great deal to do with growth.

Thank You,
Columbus, Ohio



Tempo is actually a real easy concept to grasp when you're shown how to do it in the gym. Explaining it on paper, however, is a different story. What I need you to do is imagine you're in your gym. You're lying on an Olympic bench just about to attempt 405 for 5 reps. 405lbs for 5 reps, I'm sure is no problem for you. There are a lot of big guys coming out of Columbus in the last five years. They must be putting something in the water system. Anyway, the reps would be performed in the following manner, if you were to use a 4020 tempo: Once you take the bar off the rack and begin to lower it, this is called the negative. The negative corresponds with the first number, 4. It should take you four seconds to lower the bar to your chest. The second number is the time in which you should pause after the negative. In this case it's 0. So, once you've reached your chest you immediately, but under control, begin to raise the bar. This portion of the movement is called the positive. The positive corresponds with the third number, which is 2, in this set. It should take you two seconds to raise the bar. The forth number refers to the amount of time you should pause once you've reached full extension and completed the rep.

The numbers mean the same for every type of exercise. Every set except warm-ups should be taken to failure. Failure means not being able to follow the correct tempo because of fatigue. For instance if the prescribed tempo is 4030, and it takes longer than 3 seconds to raise the weight, the set is over.

Steve, I hope this helps you out. Make sure to read the three part series on designing your workouts. In this article I describe sets, reps, tempo, and rest intervals in detail. Once you've used these principles for three or more weeks, I would really like your feedback. I think you'll be surprised with the results. Feel free to contact me with any more questions.

Brief overview of 4020 tempo: 
Counts are in seconds. One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, and so on...
0=Pause after negative
0=Pause after positive

Thanks for the excellent question,


I have heard rumors that you can work your abs as often as you want. The rumor has even gone so far as to say everyday, because the abs are used so much and recover very quickly. Is there any truth to this?


John, the rumors you've heard are true. You can work your abs as often as you want. As a matter of fact, you can work any body part as often as you want. The question is, however, will it give you the desired results? And as far as the explanation that abs can be worked more frequently because of their level of use, that's bogus. What about forearms and calves? What about world class triathaletes and marathon runners? The level of use on their legs is tremendous. Does this mean they should train their legs more often than their chest or triceps? I don't think so.

It is amazing to me that the myths surrounding abdominal training are still so prevalent in this day and age. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, with all the misinformation that pours out of TV and magazines; it's understandable how people can be misled. But, I am still surprised at how many people who have experience working out will ask for an ab exercise or workout that will flatten and define their stomach. Many of these people already do their abs two, three or more days per week. The "more is better" mentality doesn't work when it comes to training for strength or aesthetic appeal. If you're training abs twice a week and you're not seeing results, training them more is definitely not going to give that washboard look. 

John I'm assuming, like most people, you want "washboard abs". The muscle tissue in your abs is the same as the muscle in your legs, or any other body part for that matter. The only difference from body part to body part is the percentage of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. These percentages also vary from person to person. So, if you've been doing something ridiculous like training abs three to four times per week or doing 200 sit-ups per day, WAKE UP! The best overall exercise that one can do…Are you ready for this? I'm only going to type it once. The best possible exercise one can do, to have that shredded, chiseled look is DIET. That's right, the "D" word. If you're like most men and tend to store fat around your mid-section, all the crunches in the world are not going to help you. You can have the best workout known to man, but if you're not willing to change the way you eat, all that work will be for nothing.

OK, so now I have to change the way I eat. How do I do that? Start by reducing the average amount of carbohydrates you consume. Figure out the average amount of carbs you eat each day. Let's say your average daily intake is 200 grams. Next cut that figure by 25%. Multiply 200 by .25. This equals 50. Now, subtract 50 from 200, which equals 150. 150 grams will be your low day. Your high day will be your previous daily average, 200 grams. These amounts will alternate every other day. Keep a daily diet journal. This is imperative because you will need to adjust your diet on a weekly or biweekly basis to find the best amount of carbs for you to lose body fat.
Losing body fat, along with properly training your abdominal region will yield outstanding results. Typically I have my clients train their abs once or twice per week. Two to three exercises per workout, and two to three sets per exercise. This may not sound like much, but it's common for a client to not be able to stand for a while after abdominal training. I will stay with the same workout for three weeks before making a change. This is due to the fact that for most people workouts lose their effectiveness after around two or four weeks.

On the next page are some of my favorite exercises. These also get some of the best feedback from my clients.

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