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Q & A with Michael Furci - Lose more body fat and gain more muscle; design an effective workout; working your chest

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Q: Mr. Fitness,
I'm curious why you divide your quads and hammies on separate days? Does it matter? When I'm training, I basically hit all my leg muscles on that day. Can I still gain size from this? I figure the blood flow is already in the area depending on what muscle I train first. Also on your workout you put back/triceps and chest/biceps. When do your arms get a rest?

Why wouldn't you train your chest/triceps and back/biceps? I've always trained the muscles that coincide with each other on that same day. Why do you do the opposite? Does it really matter? Thanks for your time.

Patrick M.

A: Patrick, 
The workouts you are referring to that train quads and hams on separate days are examples. They're not set in stone. Training quads and hams together or separate is a personal issue. Somebody may need to train quads alone because they lag behind and need to be prioritized. And there are some who get a better growth response training their quads and hams together. However, you'll never know what works unless you try different workouts. 

For myself, I train quads and hams together 95% of the time. Over the years I have found working the upper leg muscles together is much more beneficial for my body. You'll also be surprised to know I train my chest with my triceps for the same reason. However I do not train biceps with back. My biceps are one of the weaker points of my body, and require being prioritized in the workout. I train them first on the third day of my workout. This way they're fresh and get 100% intensity.

If there is any advice I could give you, it would be to try different workouts. If you've always trained chest/triceps, back/biceps and quads/hams, mix it up a little. If you try a new workout give it at least 12 weeks and see how you feel. You may find you respond much better. 

Q: Mike,

Can you give me a schedule with some exercises I can do for my abs? For example, am I best to do the same routine everyday but with a goal of increasing the amount that I do? Also what's the best way to reduce love handles?


A: Tim,

Let's first define the term "tone." Muscle tone has nothing to do with the way your muscles look. There is little to nothing you can do to improve the tone of muscle. Of course I know you mean definition when you say tone. This is just a pet peeve of mine.

Your e-mail comes in the midst of my two-part article, "Washboard Abs, a comprehensive approach." In this article I go in-depth from nutrition to specific exercises. I'm sure you will get all the information you need. But until you read the article, below are a few guidelines.

· The best way to reduce love handles is through diet. Working your abs has nothing to do with seeing your abs. You can have a world-class set of abs but if there is fat covering them it won't matter.

· Train your abs no more than twice a week with at least two exercises.

· Be more concerned with functional strength and flexibility when training your abs. Do this by using a variety of exercises, preferably on a stability ball.

· Take between 30 and 60 second rest intervals between sets.

· Do not directly work the obliques with weight. If you want a wider waste or a potential back injury do side bends with dumbbells. Use twisting movements with relatively high reps (15 - 25) to hit them. The oblique's function is to turn the trunk.

Q: Mike,

I'm 5-8, 150lbs. My chest workout is suffering. I can't seem to increase my bench press whether it is flat, incline, dumbbell or machines. It is at 125 pounds for a max of six reps. On the incline I can do four sets of six reps with only 95 pounds. If I try for the seventh rep I can't get the weight up. I get sore after my workouts and do chest once a week. My other body parts I can increase on a steady basis.

Any suggestions?

A: Ray,

My main concern with you is not the fact that you can only incline bench 95 pounds for six reps. Strength is relative. You don't need a big bench to get a big chest. As far as building a chest, the bench is highly overrated. My main concern is that you are not progressing at all. This can be attributed to several factors. 

To truly evaluate what is going on I would need a few more questions answered. What is your overall goal? Do you want to compete in a power-lifting event? Do you want to gain muscular size? How many warm up sets do you do? What is your rest interval between your sets? What body parts do you train with chest? What body parts do you train on the days before your chest? Do you do cardio? If so, how much? Are you doing the same exercises, rep ranges and weight every workout? I'm trying to show you just how much goes into designing a workout.

Without having more information I have to assume some things about your workout. But from the information you've given me I can guarantee with certainty you're not recovering from your workouts. If you were you would be making progress. Over-training is the most common mistake made in the weight room. Bad form is possibly the second. Not having a goal in mind is another.

Eventually, you will have to decide what your ultimate goal is, strength or size. The training stimulus required is different for each. Fred Hatfield, who officially squatted over 1000 pounds, does not have the leg development to compete in a state level bodybuilding show. The reverse is also true. Body builders do not have the one rep max strength to even think of competing in a power-lifting event. Strength comes with size but it is not in direct proportion.

Your trouble is mainly due to over-training. I also get the impression from your e-mail that there is no structure to your training. The following workout will help you with both of these problems. I've taken into consideration for the time being that you want a bigger bench and muscular size.

Weeks 1 - 4

Sets: 3
Flat Bench 10-12 reps 60 seconds rest interval
Flat Flys 10-12 reps 60 seconds rest interval
Low Incline Brbl 10-12 reps 60 seconds rest interval
Cable X-overs 10-12 reps 30 seconds rest interval

Weeks 5 - 8

Sets: 2
Flat Bench 6-9 reps 90 seconds rest interval
Low Incline Brbl 8-10 reps 60 seconds rest interval
Flat Flys 8-10 reps 60 seconds rest interval
Cable X-overs 8-10 reps 60 seconds rest interval

Weeks 9 - 12

Sets: 1
Flat Bench 4-6 reps 150 seconds rest interval
Low Incline Brbl 5-7 reps 120 seconds rest interval
Flat Flys (2 sets) 8-10 reps 90 seconds rest interval

The sets in this workout do not include warm-ups. Use strict form when performing the exercises. Good luck! Let us know what happens.

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