Build Muscle Mass, Free weights vs. Machine, Arlovski, Workout and Fat Loss

Q&A with Mike Furci

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Q: Hey Mike,

I play basketball and usually play center or power-forward. I'm 5'11 and weigh about 130lbs and I am often banged around by guy (who is) a lot bigger than me. I was wondering if you know of an effective way to build muscle/body mass without drugs or enhancements. I just want a good workout routine.

A: First of all, you need to start eating. I had an extremely fast metabolism and was 150lbs at 5'10" at the start of my senior year in high school, and I graduated at a lean 185lbs. So I know where you are coming from. You can get over 150lbs easily without getting fat just by eating more good food. Eat at least four times per day. As far as an effective weight training program is concerned, read my article "The Big Ten: the Ten Best Exercises for your Body."

Q: Why is it so much easier to squat on a smith machine than with free weight? Is it just balance or does it take more strength or just technique? I am 6' 7" and I squated 300 free weight about a month ago. Then, I started going to a new gym and I can squat over 400 on a smith machine. I would appreciate any advice.

Thanks, Jim

A: Jim,

Balance is exactly the reason. Barbell squats are a much more unstable exercise than smith machine squats. The more unstable the exercise, the more neural stimulation and auxiliary muscle use is needed to maintain balance and proper form.

Don’t make the mistake of giving up performing free weight exercises because of your ego being boosted on machines. Make sure you get a good mix of both.

Q: Hey Mike,

I wanted to pay a compliment for the good interviews you had with Andrei Arlovski and his manager. I have a lot of respect for Arlovski, his skills, and being the class act he is. You asked good questions, and didn't press either of them for answers that they didn't want to breach.

Keep up the good work.

A: Cory,

Having spent a lot of time trying to come up with questions I think people would find interesting, I'm glad you liked the interviews. Hopefully, our readers come away from those interviews with a great deal of respect for Andrei and the UFC in general. Sports could use more people like him. Thanks for taking the time to visit our site. We all greatly appreciate it.


Q: Hi Mike,

I've been reading your columns and have started with a modified version of your advanced plan in "A no-nonsense guide to design your workouts: Part III," with the 4 one-hour workouts every week on weekday evenings.

I am 30, have a medium frame, about 5'10" and weigh about 194 lbs. My fat percentage is about 27% and mostly concentrated around the midsection.

I try to take in about 190-230g of protein a day on weekdays.

After reading your Q&As, I've recently included running weekdays during lunch hour for a half hour at 85% to 90% heart rate. I previously trained for half-marathons so a half hour run is fairly straight-forward for me.

Thanks to the knowledge I've gleaned from you, I have been making gains in lean muscle growth but the fat loss seems to come a bit slower.

1. I'm into week 5 of the plan. As per your advice, I've raised the load, dropped the reps and tempo for week 4-6. Do I do the same for week 7-9?

2. After including the runs, I realize that I get more tired in general. I'm thinking of getting some supplements to boost my energy level.

You recommended Alpha Male and Tribex. Will these T-boosters help with my energy level? Can I take Hot-Rox togeter with Alpha Male? Both seem to have Carbolin-19.

Also, in your experience, are there side effects for the heart (with) these supplements?

3. Can I use swimming to replace running as a cardio exercise?


A: Roy,

First let me thank you for taking the time to read my articles.

Your workout overall sounds good. For weeks 7-9, you can drop both the reps and tempo, or one or the other. However, if your reps are already in the 4-6 range, it won’t do you much good to take them any lower for your goals. Have you ever tried interval training?

I would recommend intervals on the treadmill two days a week and a good moderate run once to twice a week. Intervals shouldn't last more than 30 minutes, including a warm-up. Remember, there is a fine line between doing too much cardio, which will hinder your muscle building abilities. You say you've noticed you're more tired now that running is included in your workouts. This can be a sign of overtraining.

How has your weight training been since including the running? Are you weaker? You may need to cut back on your cardio. Keeping track of your workouts, like you're doing, is key to finding what works for you.

You say fat loss has been a problem. Judging by your workout, it's probably related to your diet more than anything. Your protein levels are good. Fat loss is going to be dependent on the amount of carbs you're eating, assuming you're eating a fairly clean diet. Start systematically cutting the amount of carbs in your diet, beginning with foods that contain simple sugars, by 25-50 grams per day. Stay at the same amount for at least two weeks to see what happens. If you begin to lose body fat and still feel good, maintain that level of carbs. If nothing happen,s lower them by 25 grams a day. Replace these carbs with veggies and more protein if you're hungry.

Alpha Male and Tribex are both excellent products. They will increase your testosterone, including your free testosterone, which is what you want for feeling good and gaining muscle. I have used both of these products and feel they are the best “test” boosters out there. I have not seen any data showing these supplements negatively affect the cardiovascular system. However, there is evidence that lower testosterone levels in men have a negative effect on cardiovascular health.

Another product I am currently using and highly recommend is HotRox Extreme. It’s made by the same company as Alpha Male and is an excellent fat burner.

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