Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FST-7 - The Final Week

I can't say enough about FST-7 . . .

It is by far the most intense programs I've ever done.

This is our fourth and final week before a full week off.

FST-7 is a bulking routine, which means performed properly it will increase strength and muscle mass.  The only thing it needs is intensity and calories.  That's right -- calories.  With its focus on maximum micro-tearing of the muscles, you must have excess calories to burn.  This is NOT a routine to try while on a restricted calorie diet.

Kelly and I have both noticed a remarkable increase in strength over the 4 weeks.  Mass, too.

The question is how much of this mass is lean muscle and how much is fat?  We know there is some of both as will happen anytime you are bulking - that is using heavy weight and combining it with plenty of protein and calories.

We will know the answer to that sooner than later.  After our week off, we come back to a new routine, one that focuses on cutting.  That means we go back to calorie restriction, strip off whatever fat has been added and see what is left.  We'll use the calipers to measure lean body mass.

I know there are some people relatively new to the gym who read this blog.  My best advice:  DO NOT TRY FST-7 until you have had at least one full year in the gym working out hard, not missing, and being able to work through the pain.  Also DO NOT TRY FST-7 if you are trying to lose weight.  You will only hurt yourself and, even worse, not accomplish much because your body will look for food, find none, and feed on its own lean muscle mass.  Not good.

On the other hand, if you want to put on a few pounds of muscle, have a great training partner who can force you through the "7's," are willing to risk a little fat added, and being sore most of the time is not a deal-breaker, go for it!  You can learn more about FST-7 and Hany Rambod's training theories at

Next week, while we're off, I will be designing our diet for the next 6 weeks as well as our workout program, with a view to come into the Christmas season lean.  Then, starting the first of next year, we'll start bulking again.  Such is the reality of making your body the best it can be -- always bulking or cutting, but never staying the same.

Train hard; diet harder.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

FST-7: Taking It To The Limit

We finished our second week of FST-7 workouts this morning - about 20 sets of shoulders followed by calves.

That's two weeks down and two weeks to go before taking off a week and healing up.

So, what's the verdict?

FST-7 is a series of workouts developed by Hany Ramod who trains a lot of top bodybuilders.  "FST" stands for Fascia Stretch Training, and the "7" refers to the seven sets performed for the final exercise of a target bodypart.   I won't get into the details here but you can find out more about FST-7 at

Here's a few conclusions I've drawn after two weeks . . .

1.  This is not a workout for beginners.  It is tough even if you've been at it a while.

2.  It is a tendon stressor.  If you have tendonitis, this is not going to make it better.  

3.  FST-7 is not a workout to lose weight.  It is too strenuous for a calorie-restricted diet.  This is a bulking routine best used to add muscle, especially in hard to grow areas.  That means getting more calories, not less, than you need.  There will be time to strip off whatever fat is added later, but during FST-7 is not the time.  

4.  Form is key.  In free squats the other day I tweaked a knee.  It still hurts.  My guess is I focused on weight more than form and I strained a tendon or ligament.    

5.  The higher than normal amount of microscopic tears in the muscle caused by FST-7 training necessitates a little more recovery time than standard training protocols.  However, smaller body parts like arms and calves can be trained twice a week.  For example, we have set up our routine so that biceps and calves are trained twice week in an effort to play "catch up" in these body parts.  

Because we will miss Monday, we are working out tomorrow (Sunday) which is usually a day off.  This happens on the road, too.  I know I have to get 5 workouts in within each 7 day period.  I do what it takes to get that done, even if it means changing days or changing times.  

More on that topic in a future blog . . .

Monday, October 11, 2010

You know you've gotten a good workout when . . .

We're into the second week of the FST-7 series of workouts that have gained a new popularity when it was discovered that both Jay Cutler and Phil Heath (#1 and #2 in this year's Olympia competition) were using these routine.

Today was chest and biceps -- a total of 32 sets including the killer "7 set" finish of each body part.

For the next 3 weeks, we'll be on FST-7 workouts and not cutting our calories, but making sure we get enough calories to add muscle mass.  Then, we're headed to the beach for a week (which we'll take completely off except for cardio) and after that it will be time to diet off any fat added during the process which we'll get done before Christmas.  That's the plan . . .

As we were readying to leave the gym today, a friend walked up and asked, "Did you get a good one today?"

"Yep," I said, my hand shaking as I was trying to put on my sweatshirt.

"How do you know when you've put in enough effort?" he asked.

"When, like right now, I am about to vomit in the floor and can't zip up my own hoodie," I replied.

So, what's the point?

The point is not that every workout needs to result in being sick, or in shaking like an old man.


The point is that most people (me included for a long time) don't put in enough effort to change.  We never move to the next level because we won't push ourselves to the next level.  Most people in most gyms are comfortable coming in and doing what they always done, what they are comfortable doing.

And that is fine, unless they get unhappy over making no real progress in their physiques.

To change your shape, you have to change your workouts and that doesn't just mean changing exercises.  It means taking on more weight, even to the point it feels dangerous.  (That's where a workout partner comes in and I've written enough about that for the time being.)

Take it the next level -- do it!


P.S.  A lot of people have written to me and come up to me in our home gym asking about the NO (nitric oxide) article from a couple of weeks ago.  Since then, I've tried several more NO boosters, including SuperPump 250 by Gaspari Nutrition and most recently Quake by Sciavation.  SuperPump I rate in the middle of the pack.   Quake is deadly -- not literally but I was wired for 2 hours after taking a dose of it.  My energy levels were off the chart.  It is so strong I'm not sure I'd want to use it everyday and if I did, I'd definitely cycle off from time to time.  As with all NO boosters, it is best to consume it 15-30 minutes before training.  Used correctly, you will find it supports lean mass gains, promotes muscle pumps and fullness and, most importantly, provides intense energy and mental focus for the period of time it takes to get a good workout.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Want To Live A Longer, Healthier Life? Protein Powder

The protein powder used regularly by body builders may hold a secret of a long and healthy life, scientists believe.  Combined with exercise, protein powder boosts fitness and improved balance and coordination.  In recent studies, it increased life expectancy by 12 per cent in animal studies.

Read more:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Squat, dude! It's not a Plié." - The Importance of A Workout Partner

 . . . in the gym this morning for the new leg routine on the FST-7 workout.

Yesterday was the first for FST-7 Chest and Triceps.  A monster frigging workout.  Sore today.

Tomorrow, my guess I won't be able to walk normally.

Got into the squats this morning and my partner, Kelly, pipes up, "Squat, dude!  It's not a Plié."


Not really nice, but necessary.

What she was saying is that my legs were too far apart and it looked more like a Plié (ballet move) than a squat and that limited my range of motion.

She was right.

Which brings me to the point.

A workout partner is ESSENTIAL to maximum results.

Arnold once said a workout partner was the most important component in his bodybuilding success.

I believe it both from personal experience as well as watching the professionals train -- almost always with a partner or a trainer.

Why is it so important?

There are several reasons, including the following:

1.  Accountability.  This means getting out of bed even when you're tired because you know someone is going to be at the gym counting on you being there.

2.  Motivation.  A good partner will push you when you don't feel like pushing yourself.  They can squeeze one more repetition out of you that you would not have gotten by yourself.

2.  Form.  We get to work out in a lot of gyms and see the same dynamic in all of them, what we call "hero work."  These are people who try to handle too much weight and sacrifice form, most often not using a full range of motion.  I see it most often in exercises like dumbbell bench press -- lowering the weight just a few inches rather than all way below the chest.  The same is true in leg press.  These would be funny if they were not so sad -- guys (and girls) loading on the plates and then doing a drop of about 3 or 4 inches instead of the full range -- knees to chest.  When you watch the pros workout as we did recently in Las Vegas, what you see is FULL RANGE OF MOTION.   That's what my partner did this morning for me -- pointed out that my stance was too wide and wasn't allowing me to get down into the hole on squats (butt below knees.)  Without her, I would have had a less effective workout.

3.  Making a difference.  It works both ways and when you drive someone else beyond where they thought they could go, it makes you both better.  It pumps them up and it pumps you up.  That can't be done without a partner or a trainer who is willing to get IN YOUR FACE.

Now, this assumes you want to improve, not just "stay in shape."  If the latter is your goal and you you're where you want to be physically, it doesn't take much to stay that way and you can do that alone.

But, if you want your muscles to grow, to change the shape of your body, it requires going beyond where you have gone before.  And that is best achieved by having the right partner or trainer beside you saying things like, "Squat, dude!  It's not a Plié!"

Train hard; diet harder.


Sunday, October 3, 2010


Before describing the new workout routine that Kelly and I begin tomorrow (October 4, 2010), understand that I DO NOT BELIEVE that there are any “secrets” to training that can bypass using heavy weight with plenty of sets and repetitions.  That said, within solid principles of muscle building there have been improvements in exercise physiology and in the understanding of how the body reacts to certain combinations of sets, repetitions as well as food and water. 

While at Olympia in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, we heard a lot about  “FST-7,” a training principle created by Hany Rambod, and frankly, I was unimpressed until I learned that both Jay Cutler and Phil Heath, who placed first and second, respectively, in that “best of the best” competition, were both using Rambod’s system.  So, we’re going to try it for a month as we come up to the first week in November, a week we are scheduled off from training.  (Currently, for recovery purposes we take every 7th week away from the gym, but staying with the cardio.) 

While you can find more about the science behind FST-7 at, the basics are these:

  1. The goal of FST-7 is to stretch the muscle fascia to make it thinner, allowing muscles to grow larger and appear fuller.  FST-7 is based on stretching muscles from the inside out by volumizing them.  This is accomplished by getting the greatest pump while training.

  2. Training is always with heavier weights in the 8-12 repetition range. 

  3. The last exercise for every body part consists of 7 sets of 8 – 12 repetitions each with only a 30-45 second rest between sets while sipping water.  This expands the fascia and maximizes growth.

  4. The higher than normal amount of microscopic tears in the muscle tissue caused by FST-7 training necessitates a bit more recovery time than standard training protocols.  So, major body parts are trained once a week. Smaller body parts like arms and calves are trained twice a week. 

  5. Due to the intensity of the routines, a larger infusion of protein and carbohydrates will be necessary in Meal 1 (our pre-workout meal each day.)

  6. Within 20 minutes of completing a workout, we will drink a protein shake to start the recovery process.  This will include whey isolate and a rapidly assimilated carbohydrate source.

Our workouts over the next 4 weeks will look like this (note the last exercise for each body part consists of 7 sets are performed with a 30-45 second rest between sets):

Monday (Chest and Triceps)


            Incline dumbbell press 3 sets x 8-12 repetitions
            Incline dumbbell fly 3 x 8 – 12
            Dumbbell press 3 x 8 – 12
            Machine fly or cable crossover – 7 x 8 – 12


            Close grip bench – 3 x 8 – 12
            Dips – 3 x 8-12
            Overhead cable extension or press downs – 7 x 8-12


            Standing calf raise – 3 x 10-12
            Seated calf raise – 3 x 15-20
            Leg press calf raise – 7 x 10-12

Tuesday (Legs)


            Leg extensions – 3 x 8-15
            Squats – 4 x 8-12
            Hack squats or leg press – 3 x 8-15
            Leg extension or leg press – 7 x 8-15


            Stiff-legged deadlift – 4 x 10-12
            Seated leg curl – 4 x 10-12
            Single leg curls – 7 x 10 – 15

Wednesday (Biceps, Triceps)


            Standing dumbbell curls – 4 x 8-12
            Preacher curls – 4 x 8-12
            Machine curls – 7 x 10-12


            Close grip bench – 3 x 8 – 12
            Dips – 3 x 8-12
            Overhead cable extension or skull crushers – 7 x 8-12

Friday (Back, Calves)


            Chin-ups – 3 sets until failure
            Wide grip pull downs – 3 x 8-12
            Barbell row – 3 x 8-12
            Hammer strength row – 3 x 8-12
            Cable/dumbbell pullover – 7 x 8-15


            Standing calf raise – 3 x 10-12
            Seated calf raise – 3 x 15-20
            Leg press calf raise – 7 x 10-12

Saturday (Shoulders, Rear Delts and Biceps)


            Seated dumbbell press or machine – 3 x 8-12
            Barbell or dumbbell front raise – 3 x 8-12
            Dumbbell lateral raise – 4 x 8-12
            Rear delts

            Dumbell rear lateral raise – 3 x 12-15
            Reverse pec fly – 7 x 12-15


            Standing dumbbell curls – 3 x 8-12
            Preacher curls – 3 x 8-12
            Machine curls – 7 x 10-12

As we move through the month, I will keep you up to date on how it is going.  My assumption at this point is that the number of sets and intensity of the “7 – set” is going to require our cardio to be cut down a bit.  How much I don’t know, but I’ll be watching the weight carefully to make sure that we’re not losing any muscle mass as the result of burning too many calories and going catabolic. 

If you have questions, please e-mail me at

Train hard; dieter harder!