I first came across FST-7 not knowing that the top two bodybuilders, Jay Cutler and Phil Heath, were doing it. I was giving DC Training a try and stumbled across FST-7, created by Hany Rambod, as I further researched more about DC Training. I was having decent results with DC training but honestly I wanted to be in the gym more than 3 days a week since I had the time. I really liked the extreme stretching from DC Training but when I read about FST-7 , it was about a different type of stretching.
FST-7 stands for, Fascia Stretching Training, Rambod simply explains this as “A training method centered around stretching the fascia, a thin sheath of connective tissue that holds muscle and organs in place, but can actually hinder gains in muscle size.” The goal of FST-7 is to fill up the muscle with as much blood as possible which in turn Rambod believes will loosen the muscle to create more room for muscle growth. The use of FST-7 protocol will come on the final exercise for the bodypart entailing an additional 7 sets to engorge the muscle with even more blood.
The number 7, the magic number, came to Rambod by experimenting with clients. But he also mentions it will be “determined by the individula’s recuperative capabilities.” FST-7 is used to bring up lagging body parts. It is advised to not use it for every bodypart during the week. If you implement it for larger muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders, legs), then once a week will be suffice since it takes larger muscle groups longer to recover. The smaller muscle groups (biceps, triceps, calves) can be trained twice a week with the FST-7 protocol.
For the last exercise, the 7s, isolation movement and machines are preferred over free-weight compound exercises. Free-weight movements take more balance and technique and also have supporting muscles activated during the movement. The goal is to really train that targeted muscle. Rambod mentions, “advanced trainers who have built sufficient strength and mastered proper technique and mind-to-muscle connection can benefit from using compound exercises for their 7s.”
Intermediate Chest Workout (FLEX MAGAZINE, JAN 2010)
EXERCISE SETS REPS
Inclined DB Presses 3 8-12
Flat-Bench DB Press 3 8-12
Incline DB Flyes 3 8-12
Cable Crossovers 7 8-12
A common misconception that needs to be pointed out is that some believe that the 7s are light pump sets. WRONG! If your target is 10 reps, at numbers 9 and 10 you should be close to bringing yourself to tears. Between each set of the 7s, the rest is very short (30-45 sec.) in order to supersaturate the muscle. Rambod requires the trainer to alternate between flexing and stretching the muscle after each set for 30 seconds(flex after the first set, stretch after the second set).
Final Thoughts on FST-7
I found that it is very important to listen to your body. At first when you try FST-7, you will want to train every single bodypart with the protocol within the week. Most of us have seen “Pumping Iron” or the clip of Arnold talking about the pump. With the 7s you will definitely feel an extreme pump. Be smart at what bodypart you want to train. I know that my chest takes much more pounding in order to grow than my back and shoulders.
In order to know that you are progressing on FST-7, make sure you log your workouts. A stronger muscle will become a bigger muscle, and will allow the use of heavier weights during the 7s. I log the reps and weight I do for my 7s. It is important to keep correct form. Once you feel your form breaking or other muscle coming into play, lighten the weight. Form is more important than the weight.
FST-7, thus far, has given me great results. Just like any program out there, it takes consistency and dedication. You must commit yourself fully and really pay attention to the way your body feels.