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 regularly for years. Systems come and go, but when the king of bodybuilding adopts a workout philosophy, it’s destined to stick. And so it was 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, who almost always trained alone. Heath went on to win seven consecutive Mr. Olympias (2011-17). Was FST-7 the main reason? No. But it did help intensify his workouts.

Let’s crack the FST-7 code and discover the benefits of sets with reduced rest.

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7-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath and his coach, Hany Rambod / Facebook

FST-7 EXPLAINED 

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 mid-range rep scheme. 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 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 at least two minutes between sets.

Except for one exercise per bodypart…

Typically on the final exercise for each bodypart (which is also usually an isolation exercise), things are done differently. Rest periods are reduced to 30 seconds and volume is increased—usually to seven sets (hence the “7″ in the title). So, whereas before you were doing three sets with at least 4:00 minutes total rest between or four sets with at least 6:00 minutes total rest between, on the final exercise you do seven sets with only a total of 3:30 rest between. More sets, less rest.

That said, Hany Rambod ascribes nothing magical to the number seven. You can do other set multiples: fives, sixes, eights, etc. 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). Color us skeptical that such pumps do much fascia stretching or that fascia stretching has much to do with growth.

That said, we’re more certain sevens accomplish three things:

✹ First, they infuse the targeted muscles with a final pump, and the enhanced blood flow better transports the nutrients necessary to begin the repair and growth processes.

✹ Second, these sets are not merely for a pump. They also stimulate growth. Use the same weight for all the sets and, if possible, stay in the 10-12 rep-range. Sevens should not be confused with drop sets or high-rep, lighter-weight barrages. Maintain the same weight until and unless you fall below 10 reps. Then, either reduce the weight slightly or increase the rest periods to 45 seconds.

✹ Finally, sevens can serve as a rescue, a final defense against the dreaded bland workout, which is, frankly, the main reason Rambod prescribed them for Phil Heath. Even if your strength is down or 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 a Mr. Olympia.

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Cable crossovers are a great chest finisher with “sevens.” / Total Shape

FST-7 BASICS

✹ Sevens are the key to FST-7. These are, typically, seven sets of one exercise with 30 seconds of rest between sets.

✹ Seven sets isn’t mandatory. Sevens could also be fives or sixes, etc.

✹ Most of your workout should focus on basic exercises for three to four sets each with rest periods of two to three minutes.

✹ It’s best to do sevens on the final exercise for a bodypart.

✹ FST-7 is a training style you can easily perform without a partner.

FST-7 TIP SHEET

✹ Choose an isolation exercise for sevens, such as leg extensions for quads or cable crossovers for chest.

✹ On sevens, try to keep your reps in the 10-12 range and rests at 30 seconds. Only decrease the weight or increase the rest if you fail to get 10 strict reps.

✹ Carefully time your rest periods during sevens to avoid over-resting or under-resting. Don’t guess.

✹ Consume a nitric oxide-boosting drink pre-workout, and stay hydrated during the workout.

FST-7 CHEST WORKOUT

Incline Barbell Press — 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps (rest: 2-3 min.)

Incline Dumbbell Flye — 3-4 sets x 10-12 reps (rest: 2-3 min.)

Hammer Strength Chest Press — 3 sets x 10-12 reps (rest: 2-3 min.)

Cable Crossover — 7 sets x 10-12 reps (rest: 30 sec.)