More FST-7 Questions Answered by Hany Rambod
I had shoulder pain back in October and took some time off. Since it didn’t go away, I got it checked out in January and had surgery to repair a loose screw/anchor from a previous surgery. After rehab, I will begin working out again after a six-month layoff. Before that, I had been consistent for three or four years. How long after a lengthy layoff should I wait before trying FST-7? Should I be doing other things for the time being, like a full-body circuit three times per week?
The first issue you need to address is making sure your injury is fully healed and you have no residual pain throughout the range of motion of various exercises. Once that is resolved, I would suggest gradually working your way back to shape by starting with a very basic routine for a few weeks. If you want to do ‘full body,’ that’s fine, or else a traditional type of split would also work.
Once you do return to your normal split, go ahead and begin following an FST-7 style workout, but without the 7s. You may even want to just do one work set of three ‘base’ exercises at first, then add a second and third set each week. Once you are at the point where you are feeling 100 percent with the base sets, it’s time to add in the fourth exercise, performed for 7s. Don’t do the sets to failure that first week. Instead, aim for a mild-to-moderate pump. After that, you should have the green light to take those sets to failure.
In light of your previous injury, I can’t stress enough that you really need to play it all by ear and pay close attention to your shoulder and how it feels.
In the off-season, should I do more high-intensity to failure, ‘Dorian’ style? And up the volume, but not to failure, when I am in prep?
I feel that the greatest benefits are derived from alternating between cycles of HIT (High Intensity Training) and volume training. The real value in high intensity, low-volume training is that it allows you to build strength. That way, you are able to return to your ‘volume’ training and use heavier weights than before.
A typical cycle might involve training HIT style for four to six weeks, then switching back to volume training for four to eight weeks. If you only did HIT-type workouts, you would be missing out on the benefits of volume training, and vice versa. The two actually seem to complement each other quite well when used in alternating cycles, delivering better results than you would see by only following one approach or the other.
Why do many trainers/dietitians suggest that you not take additional amino acids, since many of the protein powders (particularly whey) are supposed to have a very high biological value?
Anyone who has worked with me knows I am not a big fan of protein powders, because far too many bodybuilders use them as a meal replacement. They may have solid protein sources like eggs, steak, chicken or fish three times a day, and for all other ‘meals’ they will simply consume a shake. The vast majority of people tend to take on a softer, washed-out look if they drink a lot of protein shakes on a regular basis. Athletes who make every effort to eat real food at most if not all meals generally have a leaner, harder appearance to the muscles, with all other dietary and training factors being equal.
I recommend amino acids because by nature, they are meant to be used as a supplement to food rather than to replace it. There are key times when branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are especially valuable. Before and after training, I advise all my clients to take 10 grams each of BCAA and L-Glutamine, plus another 10 grams of each before going to bed and upon waking. They are absorbed very well on an empty stomach.
All amino acid products are not created equal, and quality varies considerably. Keep that in mind before you go and buy a product that’s far less expensive than the major brands.
I've heard people say, “Choose your two worst body parts and use FST-7 only for them and not for every body part, because you’ll burn out.” Is there any validity to this claim?
Absolutely. FST-7 was originally devised to help some of my clients increase the size of stubborn body parts in the shortest possible time, so the ‘stubborn’ parts could catch up to the rest of their physiques. Eventually, many of the top amateurs and pros I work with started using it for all body parts. You could do that too, assuming your recovery is optimal. That means that you’re consistently eating very well, getting plenty of sleep, staying adequately hydrated at all times, and following a good supplement program. The athletes I work with generally are on top of their recovery, since they either do this for a living or aspire to, soon.
If you are not consistently addressing the areas needed for optimal recovery, I would suggest that you only use FST-7 for one or two lagging body parts. Otherwise, you will indeed be at risk of overtraining.
Which sets in an FST-7 workout should be done to absolute failure? With the ‘base exercise’ sets, should they all be done to failure, or just the last set? And should every set of the 7 pump sets be done to absolute failure?
The answer depends on where you are in your training program. In the off-season, I recommend that all sets of both the base sets and your 7s be taken to failure. The goal here is to stimulate as many muscle fibers as possible. During the pre-contest phase, you are taking in fewer calories and doing more cardio. To maintain optimal recovery under these circumstances, you would not want to perform all sets in a workout to failure. You might go to failure only on the final set of each base exercise, and also on your fourth exercise for the 7s.
It may seem like I talk about recovery an awful lot, but that’s because FST-7, or any type of training system for that matter, can only be maximally effective if you are able to fully recuperate from your workouts.
You mentioned that for back width, the 7s should be performed on a pullover machine or with a cable pullover. I do not have access to a pullover machine. Were you referring to a lying cable pullover or standing version? Also which attachment handle is best?
I like standing, straight-arm pulldowns with ropes. It gives a sick pump during your 7s and it also gives you more range of motion than the straight bar.
I heard someone mention FST-7 T-shirts. Are you holding out on us, Hany? I have been using FST-7 for over a year, and I want to represent! And when you are you ever going to do an official FST-7 Training DVD?
Due to popular demand, I have printed up some very nice, high-quality FST-7 shirts. You can find them on the FST-7 site. By the time you read this, the DVD should also be available. As of this writing in late March, all the filming is complete and all that remains is the editing. You’ll see several of my top competitors in it— as for who exactly, you will have to wait and see for yourself. All I will say is that there are definitely a couple of big names who were involved in the project.
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