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Training Style: FST-7

The pump-it-up philosophy of Mr. Olympia Phil Heath.
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Here’s some free advice for anyone thinking of creating a training system. Get a current or future Mr. Olympia to do it, and hope he likes it enough to keep doing it over and over again for years. Better yet, get two Mr. Os to do it. Systems come and go, but when the kings of bodybuilding adopt a workout philosophy, it’s destined to stick. And so it is with FST-7. Trainer/ nutritionist Hany Rambod developed Fascia Stretch Training Seven in 2007 primarily to boost the intensity of his No. 1 client, Phil Heath—now the reigning and three-time Mr. O. Jay Cutler also adopted FST-7, and utilized it when he trained to secure the final pair of his quartet of Sandows. Let’s crack the FST-7 code and discover the benefits of seven sets with reduced rest.

“The sevens are what we call napalm sets. We go in there and whatever fibers we haven’t already got, we’re finishing off.” — Hany Rambod

If there’s a secret to FST-7, it’s not what it does; it’s what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t deviate from the rep scheme that has been scientifcally proven to best pack on muscle mass. There are no especially low-rep or high-rep sets. Sets that reach failure at 8–12 reps are in the sweet spot for growth, so that’s what FST-7 prescribes. Furthermore, there’s no need to learn a catalog of unique exercises or techniques or greatly deviate from typical workout volume. Stick to proven free-weight and machine basics, and do three or four straight sets of most exercises. Rest 1–3 minutes between sets. 

But typically on the final exercise for each body part, things are done differently. Rest periods are reduced to 30–45 seconds and volume is increased—usually to seven sets (hence the “7” in the title). That said, Rambod ascribes nothing magical to  the number seven. You can do other set multiples. The key is the reduced rest. It enhances the pump and thus, in theory, expands the thin membranes around muscles from the inside out (hence the “FS”—fascia stretch—in the title).

Sevens accomplish several things. First, they infuse the targeted muscles with a final pump, and the enhanced blood fow better transports the nutrients necessary to begin the repair and growth processes.  Second, these sets stimulate growth. Use the same weight for all the sets and, if possible, stay in the 10- to 12-rep range. Sevens should not be confused with descending sets or high-rep, lighter-weight barrages. Finally, sevens are a final defense against the dreaded bland workout. Even if your energy is waning, you can ratchet it up for your sevens to make certain you end your routine on a vein-bulging high—just like Mr. Olympia. - FLEX

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