Mike Furci, guidelines for weight training, creatine

Q&A with Michael Furci

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Note: This first e-mail was sent to me by a guy or girl who goes by the name "Bullet." The grammar and spelling are so bad I had to post it verbatim. My seven-year-old daughter writes better than this.

Mike your a dumb ass flys are a good work out 4 the chest but nothing beats the bench press 4 a good chest work out and im not going to forget anything that I now about working out you should learn more about what your saying be for you say it and you shouldent be telling people these work out tips cause there just not tru

A: Bullet,

You might not forget everything you know (that's K-N-O-W, not N-O-W) about training (as if you knew anything), but you obviously know very little about the English language. 

Now about your concern regarding the fly over the bench -- not everything works for everybody. As I state in my dumbbell fly article, the bench is a good exercise, but most people should not revolve their workouts around it. Nor should anyone revolve their training around the dumbbell fly. However, dumbbells are a better choice for building the chest. 

You cannot argue science and results. My first concern being a body builder is what muscles does the barbell bench press stimulate the most? The answer is, not the pectoral muscles like many would think, but the shoulders and triceps. Most great benchers have well developed anterior deltoids and triceps. 

The other concern I have regarding the barbell bench press is that it tends to cause horizontal abduction of the upper arm, which is a major cause of injury. This can be alleviated by narrowing your grip and stopping the eccentric (negative) portion of the movement two to four inches above your sternum. But, in doing so, you put even more of the stress on the tris and delts. So how do we put more of a stimulus on the pecs? Dumbbells.

Barbell bench presses are also a partial movement. When you are at the top of the concentric (positive) portion of the movement, arms fully extended, the pectoral muscles are not fully contracted. It is accepted among all experts that full range of motion is an integral part to developing any muscle. During dumbbell presses and flys the chest becomes fully contracted at the top of the concentric portion of the movement and therefore puts a more direct stimulus on the pectoral muscles. 

Think what you will, Bullet, but variation is the key and there are better ways to get a bigger chest than putting an emphasis on barbell benching.

Dumbbell Press - 1

Dumbbell Press - 2

Dumbbell Flys - 1

Dumbbell Flys - 2

Q: Mike,

I'm definitely a novice when it comes to working out, not a pro by far. I basically workout more for the athletic results it provides than anything. But these injuries I keep getting hindered my workouts a lot last year. 

Over the last year I've had a lot of shoulder pains and aches due to playing a lot of slow-pitch softball and working out. Of course, I was caught up in the barbell press for most of this time. As of late, I switched to a full time chest workout of dumbbell presses and some light fly work, in order to reduce the pain I was experiencing. Well, I read your article on Bullz-eye.com on dumbbell flys and have been trying it out the last week or so. I was wondering if I was doing something wrong.

I haven't maxed the weight yet, since I feel like there is still a lot of strain on my anterior delts. Plus I don't feel that good pump that I get from regular dumbbell presses. I do strive to keep my shoulders back but it seems that I can't bring my arms to even close to a parallel position to the floor without feeling a ton of stress on my shoulders. So am I doing something wrong? I appreciate anymore in-depth instructions you could offer. Also, any tips to prevent injury to my shoulders would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!


A: Jason,

If you are feeling a lot of strain on your delts and you're not getting a good pump, you are probably doing the exercise wrong. However, there could be the small possibility that the dumbbell fly just is not a good movement for you.

But, before you stop doing dumbbell flys try the following:

Take a deep breath of air and arch you back slightly just before lowering the dumbbells. Lower the dumbbells to a point so that their bottom is just above your chest, then begin to raise them back to the starting position. As you raise the dumbbells do not allow your shoulders to move anteriorly (forward). Keep your chest expanded throughout the movement. 

If you still experience pain while trying the above, do the same movement with a slight decline. And I do mean slight. Use two 45-pound plates under one side of a flat bench. This will help to alleviate shoulder impingement, which is very common among athletes. 

One other suggestion. ICE. Use it everyday, twice a day, 20 minutes on twenty minutes off two to three times. If at no other time, use ice immediately following a training session. 

Let me know how it goes. There are other things we can do to improve your training results.

Good luck,

Q: Mike,

Thank you for providing all this great advice about training. I've been trying to find the drive to get back into the gym, but my ignorance about general workout info (e.g. nutrition, designing a workout plan, how free weight exercises look step by step) has held me back from making fitness a lifestyle. You are like the trainer expert or weight lifter friend I never had!

Thankfully, a little biking and running, floor exercises, an all right diet and an unbelievable metabolism have kept my 22-year-old body in decent shape. I guess I've been lucky.

Your articles have become an awesome first motivator. I'm setting my goals as I type this e-mail.

See you in the gym (not really, though, because I live in PA),

A: Christian,

You mention your 22-year-old body as if you've reached middle age. 

Thank you very much for the kind comments. That's what being a personal trainer, strength coaching and fitness editor are all about. Sure, I do it as a living to make the all-mighty dollar, but the satisfaction I receive from helping somebody better themselves is truly priceless.

Let me know if there is anything I can help you with in the future concerning your diet or training.


Got a question for Mike? Send it to mike@bullz-eye.com. 

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