Q&A with Michael Furci - Losing fat, the full-body workout and balancing tempo and reps
I am about 110kg. What is the best way to lose fat on the pecs? E.g., the best workout for pecs?
Thanks a lot,
A: If you readers don't think the mass media has done a number on society concerning fitness, all you have to do is read Q&A columns like this one and you'll change your mind. It is 2002 and we are still dealing with the myth of spot reduction. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not blaming the reader. I place full responsibility on the scam artists in the media. Some people are so driven by the dollar that they would mislead their mother if it meant making more money.
OK Adam, the only way to lose fat on the pectoral area is to get lipo-suction. There is no such thing as spot reduction. Again, there is no such thing as spot reduction. To lose fat around the pec area without invasive surgery, you will need to lose fat period. In order to do that, you're going to have to clean up your diet. Here are a few tips to help you along:
- Plan your meals in advance.
- Prepare your meals in advance. You're less likely to fall off the wagon if it's already prepared.
- Avoid calorie dense foods -- junk food, fried food.
- Do not starve yourself. This will lower your ability to process food.
- Eat at least four meals a day.
- Eat protein with every meal. Protein is by far your most important macro- nutrient.
- A portion of protein is four to eight ounces or the size of the palm of your hand or clenched fist.
- Lower your intake of starchy carbohydrates and avoid all simple sugar.
- Eat meal replacement packets and drinks. They are very convenient and an economical source of nutrition.
Now, in conjunction with eating correctly
you should choose three chest exercises you enjoy doing. Do two working
sets for each exercise and perform between eight and 12 repetitions each
set. Each set should be taken to momentary failure. Meaning, you should
perform each set to the point you cannot perform another rep. Work your
chest no more than once per week.
Doing more sets and more exercises more frequently is not going to help lose fat more quickly. What doing more will do however is not allow you to recuperate between workouts. Over-training is the most common mistake made in the gym. And it will hinder your progress if not halt it altogether.
Q: Mr. Furci
I was wondering if you could give me a couple of tips on how to change my workout to make it more effective.
I am a high school student, about 5'10" and 190lbs.
Currently I workout five days a week doing:
10 X 3 X 65lb curls
12 X 4 X 90lb press
3 X 10 X 120lb leg press
Just from reading what you wrote on the site I see that five times a week seems to be too much. But, I would like to also know when the best time to workout is? Morning, afternoon or at night, which is when I workout now.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated,
A: Ivan, I'm assuming you have access to a good amount of equipment because you're using a leg press. Most home gyms don't have a leg press. And if they do it's usually a hunk of crap. The workout I want you to do however does not require a lot of state of the art equipment. So, if your not working out in a well equipped gym it's not going to matter much. The only piece of selectorized equipment you'll need is a Cable Low Row. If you do not have access to one you can do single arm dumbbell rows instead.
Because your workout has a few holes (not complete), I would like you to continue to do a full body workout. The workout I would like you to use is explained in detail in my article "The Big Ten." Use this workout for about six months to get a good balanced base of strength. After six months you can move on to more advanced workouts.
As far as when to workout is concerned, the jury is still out. I would go by how you feel. I know that for myself I feel the best when I train in the late afternoon or evening. The morning is definitely not a good time for me to train. But there are those who swear by training in the morning. Try different times and see when you're the most productive.
Q: Hey Mike,
I have two questions for you. First off, after reading through your articles and suggestions, I've seen you suggest both slow tempo (5020) and low rep (four to six) sets and no tempo, higher rep (10-12) sets. Is one more suited toward muscle strength, the other to size or stamina? Ultimately I'd like both, but would like to know the theory behind each type of growth. Your workouts have allowed me to change up my workouts regularly, modifying tempo, sets and exercises, but I'd like a little more method to my madness. Secondly, what do you suggest to do when, for example, one bicep is lagging behind the other? For biceps curls, my left can usually do one or two fewer reps than my right. I need a good strategy to get it up to par with my right.
Thanks in advance.
A: Glen, let me answer the bicep question first. A one-two rep difference in strength is not horribly significant. It is a difference however, and the best way to attack this situation is to always start a set with the weaker side. Equally important is to never do more reps with the stronger arm than you can do with the weaker arm. In other words, if you can only do six reps with your left arm, you should only do six reps with your right. If you keep doing more reps with your right or stronger arm you'll never give the left or weaker arm a chance to catch up.
To understand tempo you need to have a grasp of "time under tension" -- TOT. TOT is simply the amount of time a muscle is under tension. To develop muscle mass it is widely accepted that a set needs to last between 20 and 60 seconds. Tension is the stimulus for muscle strength and growth. The more tension on the muscle the more the muscle will respond. Using tempo while training will allow one to put a greater amount of tension on the muscle being worked.
Tempo is a component of weight training that is often overlooked. It is widely accepted in the fitness industry that one should lift under control. The irony is that most don't lift under control because their egos get in the way. Too many people are concerned with the amount of weight they're lifting instead of being concerned with how they're lifting the weight.
Tempo is the speed of the repetition. When the proper use of tempo is employed the muscles are truly doing the work. Tempo eliminates momentum and bouncing. It also forces one to pay closer attention to proper form. The TOT is the key to producing different stimuli for different effects.
Glen, you're going to have to decide whether you want muscular endurance or size. Simply training with weight is going to increase you endurance to a point, but the stimulus required for growth is different than the stimulus required for endurance. Unfortunately, the body doesn't like to improve both to a great degree at the same time. If localized muscular endurance is what you want perform sets that last 1.5 to two minutes. If size is where it's at for you, 20-60 seconds is your best bet. Varying your workouts like you've been doing is also beneficial.
You can vary you workouts simply by changing the tempo of your reps every three or four weeks. A good plan of attack would be to do a 12-week macro-cycle employing three four-week micro-cycles. Use a tempo of 4030 for the first four weeks, a tempo of 3020 for the second four weeks. Then to finish off the 12-week macro-cycle the last four weeks use a 30*0 tempo. Adjust your reps accordingly to allow the sets to last between 20 and 60 seconds. On the last four weeks, however, stay closer to 20 seconds to allow you to get used to using heavier weight.
Got a question for Mike? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.