Training Style to Know: the 7-4-7 Method

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A great physique can be yours without spending hours in the gym. Want proof? The 7-4-7 method harnesses all the power you can muster by structuring your sets in perfect tandem with the weight you’re using. The result? Simple: The body you always wanted without moving into your local gym. Don’t worry, you can thank us later.

Stay with the program for at least four to six weeks to see results.

How It Works A 7-4-7 exercise starts with seven reps using a moderate weight. Without rest, you’ll increase the load (and sometimes tweak the exercise slightly) to knock out another four reps. Finish by lightening the load and completing another seven reps. At 18 total reps per set, as opposed to the 8 to 10 you’re probably used to, you’re getting enough volume to tax your muscles and force your body to call in reinforcements (by laying down new muscle tissue). Increasing the intensity midset means you recruit more muscle fibers in a wider range. This dual approach is a rarity in muscle-gain plans, and it makes 7-4-7 the right combination to unlock growth.

Perform each workout (Days 1, 2, and 3) once per week.

Time Needed:
40 minutes

How To Do It:
Choose a weight you can perform no more than 8 reps with, but do only 7. Immediately add weight so you can do only 4 reps (and fail at four).

Then, reduce the load to something a little less than what you used when you began with 7 reps. Complete another 7 reps. That’s one set.

Hybrid exercises (such as the overhead press/push press and front squat/back squat/jump squat) are done the same way, but the grip and bar position change.

Exercises that are paired (marked “A” and “B”) are done in alternating fashion. Complete all sets for one pair before going on.

How can you make the 4-rep part of the 7-4-7 sets harder?

Add Weight
Increasing the load makes any exercise more intense.

Make a Substitution
To lift more weight, you can switch the exercise to something similar but that allows for more load, like going from a front squat to a back squat.

Change Your Grip
By moving your hands in, you make the exercise easier biomechanically so you can handle heavier weight. Switching up your grip also changes recruitment.

Increase Your Speed
Performing exercises explosively recruits muscle fibers that have the most potential for size.

Day One

1) Dumbbell Bench Press
Sets: 3-4 Reps: 7, 4, 7 (each set)

2) Overhead Press/Push Press
Sets: 4 Reps: 7, 4, 7 (each set) Perform 7 reps of the strict overhead press. Increase the weight, and immediately do 4 reps of push presses. Dip your knees to explosively press the weight up. Reduce the load and finish with 7 reps of strict presses.

3A) Cable Chest Flye
Sets: 3 Reps: 8–12

Attach a D-handle to the top pulleys of two facing cable machines. Grab a handle in each hand and step forward with one leg. Your pecs should be stretched in the beginning position. Bring the handles in front of your chest in a flye motion.

3B) Cable Pushdown
Sets: 3 Reps: 8–12

Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station and hold an end in each hand. Facing the station and keeping your elbows close in, extend your arms downward.

4A) Lateral Raise
Sets: 3 Reps: 12–15

4B) Dip
Sets: 3 Reps: As many as possible

Suspend yourself over the parallel bars of a dip station. Lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor and then press back up.

Day Two

1) Wide-grip Lat Pulldown/Underhand-grip Pulldown
Sets: 4 Reps: 7, 4, 7 (each set)

Perform pulldowns with a grip outside shoulder width for 7 reps. Immediately add weight and switch to an underhand grip with your hands inside shoulder width. Do 4 reps. Reduce the load and switch back to the wide grip, and finish with 7 more reps.

Do not lean back to assist in pulling the bar down. Pull the bar to your collar bone, not your chest.

2) Wide-Grip Bentover Row/ Underhand-Grip Row
Sets: 4 Reps: 7, 4, 7 (each set)

Perform rows with your hands outside shoulder width for 7 reps. Increase the weight and switch to an underhand grip with your hands inside shoulder width. Do 4 reps. Lighten the load, switch back to the wide grip, and finish with 7 reps.

3A) Wide-grip Shrug/ Close-grip Shrug
Sets: 4 Reps: 7, 4, 7 (each set)

Perform shrugs with your hands outside shoulder width for 7 reps. Increase the weight and move your hands inside shoulder width and do 4 reps. Reduce the load and switch back to the wide grip. Finish with 7 reps. Don’t use straps.

3B) Dumbbell Pullover
Sets: 4 Reps: 8–12

Lie on a bench holding a dumbbell by one end with both hands. Press it directly over your face. Keeping your arms nearly straight, lower the weight behind your head so you feel a stretch in your lats. Pull the weight back over your face but don’t let it rest over your chest.

4A) Dumbbell Curl
Sets: 3 Reps: 8–12

4B) Rear-delt Flye
Sets: 3 Reps: 12–15

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and, keeping your lower back flat, bend over at the hips. With your palms facing your legs, raise your arms out 90 degrees to the side.

Day Three

1) Front Squat/ Back Squat/ Jump Squat
Sets: 3–4 Reps: 7, 4, 7 (each leg)

Hold the bar on your fingertips with your elbows raised until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Perform 7 reps. Increase the weight and switch to a back squat and do 4 reps. Rack the bar, step back, and squat down halfway. Jump for 7 reps.

2) Dumbbell Reverse Lunge/Jump Lunge/Walking Lunge
Sets: 3–4 Reps: 7, 4, 7 (each set)

Step backward into a lunge position. Switch legs and repeat (7 reps). Get into a lunge and jump as high as you can, switching legs midair (4 reps). Then do walking lunges across the room (7 reps).

3A) Side Plank w/Leg Lift
Sets: 4 Reps: Hold for 10–15 seconds (each side)

Lie on your side and rest your weight on your forearm. Bridge your hips up so your body forms a straight line, then suspend your top leg in the air.

3B) Romanian Deadlift
Sets: 4 Reps: 10–12

Hold a barbell against the front of your thighs. Bend your hips back and lower your torso (bending knees as needed) as far as you can with your back arched. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings to come back up.

4A) Single-leg Hip Bridge
Sets: 3 Reps: 10–15

Sit on the floor with your upper back resting on a bench or chair and one leg extended in front of you. Push through the heel of your foot, raising your hips until they’re level with the bench. Squeeze your glutes at the top.

4B) Crunch on Ball
Sets: 3 Reps: 10–15

Hold a weight plate at arm’s length and rest your lower back on a Swiss ball. Crunch your torso until you’re sitting upright, keeping the weight overhead at all times.

Tip: If you’re around six feet tall, use a 65-centimeter (diameter) Swiss ball.

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