Q&A with Mike Furci


A column by Bullz-Eye Fitness Editor Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

Q: Mike,
I am a 60 year old male and love to do squats but my technique suffers at times because I always want to go heavy. I realize that you have other things to do than answer questions but I notice in the pictures that your eyes are looking straight ahead. I have been re-evaluating my squatting technique and was told that the eyes should be looking up as high as possible as you go down in the squat. The logic given was that this keeps your back straighter. Which is the right way?

How do you ensure that you are going low enough on each rep?
How many times a week should you do squats to get the most improvement?

Thanks for any help you can give.
Dave Patterson

A: David,
Thanks for your questions.
One doesn’t have to look up in order to attain proper form when squatting. However, looking up is an excellent way to help ensure your form is correct especially for those lacking experience. The object of looking up is to get your head to extend. By looking up it will help keep your back in the proper position by helping to prevent flexion or “rounding”. If you look up w/o extending your head slightly toward the ceiling, you won’t get a benefit. The body follows the head.

Another way to ensure your back is engaged properly is to take a deep breath right before lowering the weight. This helps ensure your chest is up and builds intra-abdominal pressure which helps stabilize the entire spine.

I look straight ahead most of the time when I squat. However, he heavier I go, the more my head extends toward the ceiling and deeper my breaths get.

To ensure proper depth, have somebody watch you while your warming up. “Parallel” is what you want to shoot for when squatting. Your femur or thigh bone should be level with the floor at the bottom of the movement. An easy way to judge this is by making sure the crease where your thigh meets your hip (at the bottom of the movement) is level with the top of your knee.

If done correctly, the squat is by far the single most taxing exercise on your body. For this reason I recommend only squatting once per week at the most. You will need this time to recover.

Keep up the good work. Let me know how you do.


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Q&A with Mike Furci


A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

Q: Hi Mike
Hope this email finds you well.

Just read your article “build your back” and found it interesting. I read it carefully and I really liked your focus on detail. I will try it in the near future.

I have only one question. You never mentioned the duration of the break among the first sets. I mean the sets before you meet your maximum weight. And since your article is very carefully written (e.g., you mention the 20sec rest among the last sets), my thought was that wasn’t an accident!

Is it the typical 1-1.5 min rest? Or, even more intensive workout -like 30sec rest?

Thanks in advance for your reply


A: I probably should have explained rest periods between warm-up sets, but left it open-ended so to speak.

Always keep in mind, to get the fastest gains in muscle size and strength one must perform their sets and reps with 100% intensity. This includes warm-up sets. In order to do this, recovery between sets is essential. You never want to start a set until you’re ready. Generally speaking, if you’re breathing returns to normal, and the body part your training feels recovered from the last set, you’re ready. You can go as low as 30 sec for the first few warm-ups, but as the load gets heavier, you’ll find you’ll need a longer rest period.

I probably should have clarified it more, because it is the meat of the workout, but the 20 sec rest periods are a continuation of the same set. These small rest periods allow you to perform more reps with the same load than you would be able to without the rest. It’s a way of increasing the intensity by keeping the highest tension on the muscle for the longest amount of time.

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