James Mace's Q & A

James Mace is back with his own questions and answers section on Bodybuilding.com. Because of all the great e-mails he has been receiving regarding fitness and bodybuilding, here is a small portain, look for more in the future.

Hi, I am not cut but I love to train with heavies! I am gonna try your workout today and stop with mine! My question is how many sets do you perform with each musclegroup?? With the big and the little groups?

This is one of the most asked questions. The question you need to ask yourself is "am I training for strength, or to put on size?" If you are training to gain strength (say you want an unGodly bench press) do whatever you can for 4-6 reps. If you are training to put on size, do sets of 8-10 reps.

Regardless of your goals, you want to do 4 exercises per bodypart, and no more than 3 sets per exercise. This will give you a total of 12 sets per bodypart. Anything beyond that, and you risk overtraining.

Example: During my current cycle on bicep day I do Standing Dumbell Curls, Pull-Ups, Preacher Curls, and Arnold Curls (I'll be going more in depth on my workout strategies in a later article). 3 sets of 8-10 reps each.

Couple of questions. First of all love your website. Had never seen it before (Bodybuilding.com). Lots of useful stuff! My main motivation for lifting besides self-respect and the way it makes me feel (I love that pump after a good workout, ya feel so alive and totally invincible) is dating again since my mid-40s (divorced twice) and ya gotta compete. I'm very happy with my pipes, chest and legs.

Would like more delt size, but definitely want to shape up the middle, esp. obliques, and tone it up.

Is it OK to do abs session after every workout, every day (I go 5 days a week sometimes 6)? Or is it like most other muscle groups where you have to rest it a couple of days? I know I have muscle in the ab section (I can take really hard punches) but dammit it doesn't show! Any suggestions?

I heard you should not work a major muscle group until 2 days after it is no longer sore from the last workout. Like I did chest yesterday (Monday), rest 2 days (always sorer the 2nd day) then wait 2 days before hitting it again. That would be Friday or Saturday at the earliest. Does this sound OK to you or is it unduly cautious?

Last one, Sgt.: When I started doing flat bench presses and flys I was taught to put my feet up on the bench or even lift 'em off completely like a friggin upside down beetle. Now I read somewhere that legs should be flat on the floor because lifting your feet shifts the weight to your shoulders and your not working pecs anymore? I know if my feet are on the floor I am careful not to arch my back. What is correct? Also is decline bench a waste of time?

Good to hear from you, man. What I can say in regards to your questions is what has worked for me. I work each major bodypart only once a week. The reason you don't work most major groups more than once, MAYBE twice a week is because any more and you won't gain size.

I try to work abs 2-3 times a week. They are more of an endurance muscle, however you can overtrain them. It is safe to work them every other day, but I would not do them every day. As far as getting them to show, the only way to do that is to drop your bodyfat. Read my article "Having it All" as it covers all of that.

When it comes to bench press and flies, I find that neither having your legs up or feet flat on the ground to be better than the other. Mike Lower, my workout partner, keeps his feet up. I on the other hand keep mine flat on the ground. To me it is all personal preferance.

Decline bench presses are NOT a waist of time, they just aren't your money-makers when it comes to chest size. However, I see a lot of people who have under-developed lower chests. The big thing on lower chest is that while I do incline and flat presses and flies, I only do presses for decline.

I read your a bunch of your articles but recently the one about "common sense strategies for losing fat and gaining muscle."

I am about 6'3, 210 and have been building some decent muscle and seeing some size gains but I want to lose my love handles and some other fat around my muscles. I have not taken up a cardio regimen yet besdies my basketball games. I have a good split practlically similar to yours. My nutrition could be a problem...if you don't mind reveiwing it...

Note: I don't pay attention to my calories but eat everything in moderation and am rarly full.

    1. Preworkout/breakfast Oatmeal, milk, eggs
    2. Postworkout/150 grams maltodextrin w/ 7 grams creatine 40 grams whey(lots of water)
    3. 1- 2 hours after workout/ meat w/ a slow digesting protein like cottage cheese or eggs and vegatables (maybe sandwich on wheat bread)
    4. Dinner with whey
    5. Meat with veagtabels and water
    6. Before bed/cottage cheese, milk, whey

* I have almost got to the point where I eliminate junk food completly

My last question would be how to fit in cardio without losing any hard earned muscle?

Lots of good questions. As to what you're eating; you're eating good foods, you just didn't specify quantity. I'll break down your day and see what we can change.

Breakfast: Oatmeal, milk and eggs are all good for you. The question is, how many eggs are you eating, and are you drinking whole, 2% or skim milk? When eating eggs, if I have 5, I'll take the yokes out of 3. The yoke has all the fat, and the vast majority of your protein is in the whites. I also drink skim instead of 2% milk. However, I don't cut out fats or carbs completely.

The rest of your day makes sense, just make sure you are never starving yourself. Timing is crucial when it comes to diet. The one thing I'd gig you on is eating right before going to bed. Eat your last meal no less than 2 hours before going to bed. This will let your food settle, so it won't just sit in your stomach as you sleep. Cutting junk food is good, however don't be afraid to let yourself have something every once in a while. Just use common sense and make sure it is the exception, not the rule.

Cardio: If you read my article, then you know that I detest doing cardio. However, it is a neccessary evil. The biggest thing to remember is not to do more than 45 minutes a session. Also, go for broke each session and don't hold back. I do cardio 3-4 times a week while cutting.

Summary: Good questions people. Keep them coming! I plan on covering more specifics of my workout regime in future articles. I also plan on covering "overtraining," since there seems to be a lot of confusion in this area. Keep hitting the steel, focus on your dreams, and they will become reality. No excuses!