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747 Overload Protocol for Insane Hypertrophy Gains

747Overload

The fundamental principle of gaining muscle is progressive overload. The tough part about that is, it can get tough to constantly find new ways of challenging your body to create overload.

The 7-4-7 Overload protocol is a super effective way to add a new challenge to your workouts that’ll help you put on some new muscle. And, it’ll also spice up your workouts a bit and keep them more interesting, which can help keep you motivated and prevent boredom.

The Roots of 7-4-7

I originally learned the basic 7-4-7 protocol concept from Coach Robert Taylor, the owner of Smarter Team Training, who’s used it for years with the elite athletes he trains. And, he learned the protocol from long-time NFL Strength Coach Mark Asanovich while at the time was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So, this protocol is not some new concept. It’s been battle-tested and proven effective with some of the best athletes.

Since learning about the basic 7-4-7 protocol, I’ve tweaked it a bit to create what I call “Hybrid 7-4-7s” to squeeze even more juice out of this great protocol.

How to use the Basic 7-4-7 protocol

There are two ways to gain muscle: Lift heavy (high intensity) or lift a lot (high volume). The 7-4-7 protocols give you both in in the same set!

Perform a 7-4-7 set is simple, but not easy! You pick an exercise. Then you perform 7 reps using a weight that you can only get 7 (maybe 8) reps with. Then, you get a heavier weight and perform 4 reps. Finally; you perform another 7 reps using a weight that only allows you to get 7 (maybe 8) quality reps.

Watch this video of Coach Robert Taylor talking about how to use the basic 7-4-7 protocol for compound exercises and the difference in weights he recommends to use when doing lower-body 7-4-7 sets vs. what he uses for upper-body training sets. Plus, at the end of the video he gives you an example 7-4-7 set using the leg press.

Note: Coach Taylor is using a slower tempo in the video demonstration to eliminate momentum and create more time under tension, which ensure better hypertrophy gains.

The Basic 7-4-7 Protocol can be used with any strength exercise!

The beauty of the 7-4-7 protocols is not only it’s simplicity, but also it’s versatility. You can use it with any and all strength training exercises from squats and deadlifts, to presses, to rows and isolation moves like biceps curls and shoulder raises.

Plus, the 7-4-7 enables you with the ability add a new twist on classic muscle building exercises. I can assure you that those old familiar exercise won’t feel so familiar anymore once you combine them with this protocol!

Going beyond the Basics with 7-4-7 Hybrids

I’m one of those creative minded people that always thinks that I can make a good thing even better. So, I started blending the 7-4-7 protocols in with other battle-tested overload concepts we were already using, like Mechanical/ Multi-grip sets and Contrast sets. And we ended up with the following protocols that have become some of the most popular training methods with out athletes at Performance U.

Mechanical/ Multi-grip 7-4-7 sets

A mechanical or multi-grip set changes the load and muscle activation patterns by manipulating lever arms through changes in body position or simply by changing your grip position. Here are a few examples of our favorite exercises sequences, which use the mechanical and multi-grip 7-4-7 protocol concept!

7-4-7 Lat Pull Downs

Take a wide grip and perform 7 reps using the heaviest weight possible. Rack the bar and increase the weight by approx. 10lbs. Then take an under-hand grip and perform 4 reps. Rack the weight again and decrease the load to approx. 10lbs less then what you used on the first seven reps. Go back to the wide grip position and bang out another 7 reps.

Additional Coaching tips:
- The underhand grip is a stronger position because it not only brings in more help from your biceps. It also gives you more of a mechanical advantage to pull the bar downwards.

7-4-7 Barbell Bent Over Rows

Take a wide over-hand grip on the barbell and perform 7 reps using the heaviest weight possible. Then, rack the barbell and switch to a close under-hand grip and perform 4 reps using the same weight load. Re-rack the weight again and decrease the load to approx. 10lbs less then what you used on the first seven reps. Go back to using wide overhand grip position and hit 7 more reps.

Additional Coaching tips:
- As with the Lat Pull downs, the underhand grip is a stronger position, so you can still use the same load even from a fatigued state since what you have lost in strength, you regain in mechanical leverage.
- When doing the wide grip rows, pull the bar into the lower part of your chest.
- When doing the underhand grip row, pull the bar lower into your belly button.
- Mixing up the grips creates a very comprehensive, full-spectrum back workout. We choose to focus most of the reps on the wide grip rows to really hit the mid-back muscles, which seem to be more commonly weak and underdeveloped than the lats.

7-4-7 Contrast Sets

The following protocols are inspired by the concept of Contrast Training, which is performing a loaded movement (like a squat), then following it with an unload/ explosive equivalent movement (like a squat jump). Check out my article “High Contrast for Huge Gains” to learn more about how to use Contrast Training to increase your explosive strength and power!

What I’ve done with the following protocols you’re about to discover is bookend a Contrast Training set with another strength set to further increase the volume and intensity of each set. And, as you know – Volume + Intensity = More muscle!

7-4-7 Squat Protocol

This protocol begins with Front squats x7, then unloaded Squat Jumps x4 – finish with Back squats x7 reps.

Check out the video of myself and figure athlete Deana Avery at the Institute of Human Performance (IHP) showing how it’s done!

Note: The energy at IHP is off-the–chain! So we couldn’t get around filming these videos without other athletes training in the background.

 

Coaching tips:
- Find the heaviest weight you can use for 7 good reps on the front squat. And, do NOT hold your arms out as Deana was in the video. She was just showing off a bit to demonstrate that a good front squat should not require you to work hard to keep the bar up on the top of your chest.
- On the squat jumps, it’s okay to add some extra load if you feel so inclined to add an additional challenge. I’d recommend either holding a medicine ball at your chest or hold lighter ( – If you feel strong enough to even add additional load to the back squats, go ahead and do so. Just make sure you can still keep good form and get down low!

7-4-7 Deadlift/RDL Protocol

This protocol begins with Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs) x7, then unloaded Deadlift Jumps x4, then finishes with RDLs x7 reps.

If you’d rather perform traditional style deadlifts instead of RDLs within this protocol – go right ahead, as it works well too. That is, as long as your technique is solid!

Coaching Tips:
- Deana has very mobile hips so she can take the bar (when doing RDLs) a little lower then most people can without losing her back arch (lordodic curve). Be sure to limit your Range of motion to only what your ability allows.
- A deadlift jump is just like a squat jump, except you begin as if you were going to perform a loaded deadlift instead of a loaded squat, DUH!
- If your strength endurance is very good, you may not need to reduce the weight load on the second set of 7 deadlifts. That’s just something you’ll have to experiment with on your own because everyone is different.

7-4-7 Push Ups Protocol

There are two versions of this protocol. Which one you use depends on your strength level.

For strength studs: Perform 7 push-ups with your feet elevated on a bench at least 45lbs (plate or dumbbell) on your upper-back (help by a training buddy). Then, perform 4 explosive bodyweight push-ups with your feet on the. Finally, perform another 7 push-ups with either your feet elevated, or with your feet on the floor with an additional weight on your back. Or, with your feet elevated AND a weight on your back for 7 reps!

The other methods of using this protocol, is what we use for our figure girls and for those who are currently building up to stud levels.

Both are discussed and demonstrated in the video!

 

Coaching Tips:
- Have your training partner old the weight plate or dumbbell at your upper-back area. They should not allow the weight to bounce on your back or move at all.
- Throughout this entire set, be sure to keep your back and head straight. Don’t allow any part of your spine to sag toward the floor.
- Also, check out this video to optimize your push ups form.

7-4-7 Step Ups Protocol

I’m a big fan of steps because it’s not only a great way to strengthen an action that’s very similar to any locomotive pattern like sprinting.

Although the step up is kind of a unilateral leg training exercise – Both legs are still working; they’re just working in different ways. The back leg works to drive off of the floor, and the front leg (the one on the step) to drive into the platform. Both actions create the same reaction, which is to propel you upwards. That’s something unique to most other leg exercises.

Here’s how to perform this protocol:
Perform 7 steps using dumbbells heavy enough that you cannot exceed 8 reps. Then drop the weights and perform 4 explosive step up jumps. Finally, grad a lighter sets of dumbbells and perform 7 more reps of steps ups.

Coaching Tips:
- Do all reps on the same leg. Rest approx. 60 seconds and repeat using the other leg.
- Use a step platform that roughly at your knee height
- Keep most of your weight on your front leg 9the one on the platform)
- When doing the step up jumps, look down at the platform the entire time to ensure your foot doesn’t “miss” landing on the platform.

How many sets of 7-4-7s should I use?

If you’re already getting excited about incorporating some of these 7-4-7 protocols into your workouts – You’re probably wondering how many sets to do of each exercise.

We like to stick with using anywhere form 2-4 sets per exercise using this 7-4-7 concept. If you’re new to using this concept, we’ll start with only two sets and build up from there. If you’re more of an advanced trainee who’s used other overload protocols before, we may start with 3 or 4 sets.

We also limit using this concept to no more than 2 exercises within a given workout. We’ll either use one 7-4-7 set for a compound exercise. And, one for a more isolated movement/ exercise.

Or, we’ll use two 7-4-7 sets, both for compounds exercise within a given workout.

These are not rules – Just guidelines we use to minimize overtraining from the high volumes and intensity these 7-4-7 sets bring to the table.

Rest time between 7-4-7 sets

Using this protocol is just plain tough no matter how you slice it! So the rest time we recommend between 7-4-7 sets is 2-3 minutes. This way, you can hit each and every set hard and heavy because you’re well rested.

Sample 7-4-7 Workout Splits

Here are sample 3, 4 and 5-day training splits, each incorporating the 7-4-7 Overload protocol.

3-Day Split

A – Chest/ Shoulders/ Triceps
1. 7-4-7 Push Ups x3-4 sets
2. Dumbbell Bench press 4x 6-8
3. 7-4-7 (basic) Dumbbell Shoulder press x3-4 sets
4. Parallel bar dips 2-3x max reps
5a. Dumbbell Skull Crushers 2-3 x10-12
5b. Dumbbell Front raises 2-3 x 10-12

B – Legs/ Hips /Abs
1. 7-4-7 Squats x3-5 sets
2. 7-4-7 Step ups x 3-4 sets each leg
3a. Hamstring Curls x 2-3 x10-12
3b. Stability Ball weighted Abs crunch 2-3 x 8-10
4a. Barbell Good mornings 2-3 x 8-10
4b. Hanging Knee Raises 2-3 x max

C- Back / Traps / Biceps
1. 7-4-7 Barbell Bent Over Rows x4-5 sets
2. 7-4-7 Lat Pull downs x4-5 sets
3. Single Arm Dumbbell rows 3x 10-12
4a. Dumbbell Biceps Curls 2-3 x 8-10
4b. Dumbbell Rear Delt fly 2-3 x 10-12
4. Gittelson Shrugs 3 x 10-12

Note: The Gittelson Shrug is featured in my “Get Yolked” article. Go there to see how it’s done and discover more new way to build a bigger neck and traps.

4-Day Split

A – Back / Traps / Biceps
1. 7-4-7 Barbell Bent Over Rows x4-5 sets
2. 7-4-7 Lat Pull downs x4-5 sets
3. Single Arm Dumbbell rows 3x 10-12
4a. Dumbbell Biceps Curls 2-3 x 8-10
4b. Dumbbell Rear Delt fly 2-3 x 10-12
4. Gittelson Shrugs 3 x 10-12

B – Quads / Abs / Calfs
1. 7-4-7 Squats x3-5 sets
2. 7-4-7 Step ups x 3-4 sets each leg
3a. Leg extensions 2-3 x10-12
3b. Stability Ball weighted Abs crunch 2-3 x 8-10
4. Hanging Knee Raises 2-3 x max
5. Calf raises 2x 12-15

C – Chest / Shoulders / Triceps
1. 7-4-7 Push Ups x3-4 sets
2. Dumbbell Bench press 4x 6-8
3. 7-4-7 (basic) Dumbbell Shoulder press x3-4 sets
4. Parallel bar dips 2-3x max reps
5a. Dumbbell Skull Crushers 2-3 x10-12
5b. Dumbbell Front raises 2-3 x 10-12

D – Hamstrings / Glutes / Abs / Calfs
1. 7-4-7 Deadlifts x3-5 sets
2. Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts 2-3 x 10-12
3a. Hamstring Curls x 2-3 x10-12
3b. Stability Ball weighted Abs crunch 2-3 x 8-10
4a. Barbell Hip Thrusts 2-3 x 10-12
4b. Hanging Knee Raises 2-3 x max
5. 7-4-7 (basic) Calf raises

5-Day Split

This split uses the same layout as the 3-day split, just spread out over 5-training days per week. Use it as follows:

Week 1
Mon – A
Tues – B
Wed – C
Thurs – REST
Fri – A
Sat – B
Sun – REST

Week 2
Mon – C
Tues – A
Wed – B
Thurs – REST
Fri – C
Sat – A
Sun – REST

And so on…

Regardless of what training split best fits you – We like to use the 7-4-7 protocols for about 3-5 weeks before changing to another training concept.

Be creative, but DON’T be “That Guy”!

This article is by no means an exhaustive list of all the potential training options you can use with this 7-4-7 protocol concept.

I’ve simply displayed for you here what we’ve found to be the most popular and effective means of using the 7-4-7 protocols with our clients and athletes.

Don’t be afraid to use your own creativity to develop your own 7-4-7 sets. If you think there’s a better way to order the exercise than what I’ve shown here, change it to best fit your style. There are lots of effective means of training out there.

That being said, understand one aspect that we’ve made sure that ALL of these 7-4-7 sets have in common – They all keep you in he same pace using the same equipment!

If you’re training at a public facility, you don’t want to be that guy who’s dominating ½ the stuff in the gym because you’re doing a “special” workout.

So feel free to develop your own 7-4-7 sets, but try to keep them localized to one spot using limited equipment as we’ve shown here. That is, if you actually care about being considerate of the other members of your gym.

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