Q&A with Michael Furci
I had never been through Bullz-Eye.com before and I just read through your article "10 things you should and shouldn't do in the gym." I thought it was great and I have a question about section 8, which seems to relate to me. Lately, I've been having trouble increasing strength and building lean muscle. I've had a problem with it ever since I decided to get in better shape (around April 2002) and lost 35 pounds in the following four months by running frequently and following a healthy diet. I look a lot better, and I'm more lean/cut, but I want to get bigger…without gaining all the fat back. I keep a training log and I'm on a high protein diet (at least one gram per pound of bodyweight). I lift four times per week.
Here are a few lines of your article that really interested me:
"It never ceases to amaze me how many people are willing to train for even months or even years while experiencing no progress."
I feel like I haven't made much progress for the last nine months or so, besides losing the weight.
"The fact is that anyone, no matter what their genetic makeup is, can make progress."
My doctor had me thinking I had a "swimmer's body" and thought it would be hard for me to gain much muscle.
"No matter how meticulous and carefully you design a program, it may not work for everyone."
My training coach (a natural bodybuilder) seemed to have good programs, but I'm not sure if they are working for me…maybe I need something totally different.
So that summarizes my difficulties with weightlifting. What would you suggest for me? What would be a good way to see more success?
Thanks very much for your time. If you need some specifics in order to give me a better recommendation, I will e-mail those.
What the hell is a "swimmer's body"? Your doctor is sticking his nose in an area where he is completely ignorant. He has no idea what your genetic potential is. MDs are not experts on nutrition and have no knowledge whatsoever concerning athletic development. I've met a few docs who have taken the time to educate themselves above and beyond their curriculum, and have become excellent trainers along with practicing medicine.
Anyway, here's what you need to do:
First of all, increase you protein intake to 1.5 grams per bodyweight. Taking in enough protein cannot be overstated. It's very simple: If you don't take in enough protein you will not build muscle, period.
If you're not making gains, you're not recovering. Ninety-nine percent of the time people do too many exercises, and way too many sets. The body has an infinite amount of recovery ability. If you were not going past your body's ability, you would be making better gains.
Because people recover at different rates, the amount of work one performs during a workout (in your case, the number of sets and repetitions) must be individualized. Many people who recover fast have reached a high level of success performing high numbers of sets. Many who recover slowly have found success by performing a low number of sets. If you are not keeping a training journal, start now. It will be almost impossible to determine what workouts are successful and which ones are not.
Try utilizing the following guidelines for your weight training:
- Train every body part once a week.
- Split your body parts into four days.
Ex: Chest and triceps, Back and shoulders, Biceps and calves, Legs and abs
- Perform four sets for larger body parts and three for smaller parts. Increase the weight on consecutive sets only performing the last set to failure.
- Perform between 8-10 reps the first three weeks, 6-8 reps the second three weeks, and 4-6 reps for the last three weeks.
- Utilize a 4030 tempo the first three weeks, a 3020 tempo the second three weeks, and a 30*0 tempo the last three weeks.
- Do not allow the workouts to go longer than 60 minutes.
- Read all three parts to "A
no-nonsense guide to designing your workouts."
These guidelines are very generalized, but
can be a good starting point. Read the three parts to the article mentioned
above before making any changes.
I've worked out on and off for the last several years and I've decided to get myself into a routine to help myself out a little bit. I read through several of your articles and have an idea of what I'm going to do.
I was curious about your opinion on creatine and if it really helps or not. I've used it before and I think I like the affects, but I'm worried that it's just a placebo effect.
Most athletes, including bodybuilders, power lifters, track and field athletes, baseball players, football players, etc., have used or thought about using creatine. Despite creatine's widespread use over the last decade there still is a lack of information about this very useful supplement. Even more importantly, misinformation about the alleged side effects floods the media and local gyms.
Crash course: Creatine 101
What is creatine?
It's a nonessential amino acid that occurs naturally in foods such as beef. It is a nonessential amino acid because our bodies can produce it. Most of the creatine, approximately 95%, is stored in our muscle cells.
How does it work?
To put it very simply, creatine allows your muscle cells to store more Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) than normal and to help replenish ATP that has been used through exercise. So what is ATP? It's an energy-containing compound that is utilized for fast bursts of energy. For instance, ATP is utilized during lifting weights or sprinting. Creatine supplementation for one to two months has been shown to increase strength (5-15%), lean body mass (1-3%) and sprint performance (5-8%). The more ATP your body has, the more fuel for your muscles.
Creatine is also a muscle volumizer. It has been shown that creatine helps pull water into the muscle cells, giving a person a much fuller and tighter appearance. This explains the weight gain that many see while supplementing with creatine. The pumps one gets from a workout are also much better because of the extra water in the muscle cells.
Is creatine safe?
Creatine is one of the safest supplements you can take. There have been literally hundreds of studies done on creatine showing the safety of this supplement. There are very few reported side effects with creatine use. Drinking plenty of water, which one should be doing anyway, can minimize most of these.
There have been some anecdotal reports that claim athletes who train with creatine in hot or humid conditions experience severe muscle cramps. The cramps have been attributed to changes in the amount of water or salts in muscle. Studies have shown that the cramping is due to muscular fatigue and dehydration while training in heat. It is not related to creatine supplementation.
There have also been anecdotal reports from athletic trainers and coaches suggesting that creatine causes muscle strains and pulls. Out of all the studies done to date, not one has documented an increased risk of injury from creatine supplementation during training. This being the case, even though highly trained athletes have been studied during intense periods of training.
It is also important to note that creatine will not affect hormone levels. You will not have side effects like mood swings or bad skin.
How should one use creatine?
Loading phase 1 week: 10g creatine twice a day
5-7 weeks: 5g twice a day
Total cycle length, 6-8 weeks.
Off for 3-4 weeks, then start all over.
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