Q: Have you heard of FST-7 training, and if so, what do you think of it? It has to do with stretching the muscle fascia from the inside with 7 sets of a big-pump exercise at the end of a bodypart workout.
A: The idea of stretching the muscle fascia, which is the fibrous encasements that surround muscle fibers, has been around a while in many incarnations. The original method had trainees use a rigorous, painful stretching regimen after they trained a bodypart.
For example, after working hamstrings, the trainee would sit on the floor, legs straight and together, and his or her trainer would force the trainee’s torso forward to fully elongate the hamstrings—and it brought tears to the eyes.
Fascia stretching makes sense because the encasements are made of tight tissue that can constrict the muscle and restrict growth, similar to how the outer skin on a sausage squeezes in its contents; stretching those sheathes in muscle tissue gives the fibers more room to grow. You could compare it to stretching a balloon before you blow it up; the prestretching allows you to fill up the balloon with air much more easily, without collapsing a lung or forcing your eyes to pop out of their sockets.
FST-7 was created by trainer Hany Rambod. It’s basically ending your bodypart workouts with seven additional sets of 8-10 reps of a continuous-tension isolation exercise, like pec deck flyes or cable crossovers, with 30 seconds of rest between sets. Those seven finishing sets engorge the target muscle and stretch the fascia from the inside.
A great idea if you have the time and recovery ability to handle that many more sets in a workout. If not, you’ll get better results by simply going back to a stretch-position exercise, like dumbbell flyes for chest, after a full Positions-of-Flexion workout.
The additional stretch set or sets (if you do more than one) is an incredible anabolic accelerator after a full Positions-of-Flexion bodypart workout. The target muscle should be pumped to the max from any standard POF routine, as those programs train the target muscle through a full range of motion and maximize fiber activation to fully engorge muscle in minimal sets—2 sets in the midrange, stretch and contracted positions.
For example, for lats you would do chins or pulldowns (midrange), dumbbell pullovers (stretch), stiff-arm pulldowns (contracted); then you would go back to pullovers and hold the stretch position for 45 to 60 seconds. In other words, after you “POF” a bodypart, you simply return to the stretch exercise, in this case pullovers, and hold the full-stretch position.
Ah, but there’s another way that’s even more efficient. In fact, we found it so effective that we include it in the X-Rep Update #1 e-book. The technique is basically supersetting the contracted-position exercise, like stiff-arm pulldowns with the stretch-position move, like dumbbell pullovers, in a standard POF program…
You can do higher reps (15-20) on the first exercise if you’re training a hard-to-pump bodypart, then you immediately do the stretch exercise. You can do standard reps, which will loosen the fascia effectively each time you elongate the engorged target muscle. Or you can use the StatS technique, the 50-second static-hold stretch technique; short pulses can help amplify the effect. (Bonus: Remember the animal study that got a 300 percent muscle mass increase in one month using progressive stretch overload? The researchers used a technique similar to StatS, as explained in Chapter 4.)
So, while FST-7—getting a big pump with a lot of sets at the end of a bodypart workout—is good for stretching the fascia, we prefer one of the two more efficient recovery-oriented methods:
1) Simply use a full POF bodypart workout for a big pump, then add one or two static stretch-hold sets (StatS) to elongate the fully engorged target muscle for about 50 seconds.
2) Superset the contracted-position exercise with the stretch-position move within the POF bodypart workout, (which is even more efficient). You can use StatS on one set of the stretch exercise, as indicated in the X-Rep workout that’s listed in the X Update e-book.
If you train in a crowded gym and supersetting is impossible, you’ll have to use option 1 most of the time. You’ll feel either method working, big time. Stretch overload is a mass accelerator on a number of levels, including fascia expansion…
The key is to combine a full pump with
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Build MASS with bodyweight training
One way you’re guaranteed to pack on stacks of muscle is through a process called muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which more than doubles 24 hours after an intense workout…
Until recently, MPS was only elevated when trainees would lift 70-90% of their one-rep max…
That’s not only dangerous for your joints, but it also sets you up for high injury risk every time you exercise…
It used to be believed that training with your own bodyweight couldn’t get you the same results as training with your 70-90% one rep max… Until NOW.