Back to the top



Below are all the scientific research projects Chris Barakat has had published to date. Additionally, there are a list of projects Chris and his colleagues are currently working on.

Peak Week Recommendations for Bodybuilders: An Evidence Based Approach

Bodybuilding is a competitive endeavor where a combination of muscle size, symmetry, “conditioning” (low body fat levels), and stage presentation are judged. Success in bodybuilding requires that competitors achieve their peak physique during the day of competition. To this end, competitors have been reported to employ various peaking interventions during the final days leading to competition. Commonly reported peaking strategies include altering exercise and nutritional regimens, including manipulation of macronutrient, water, and electrolyte intake, as well as consumption of various dietary supplements. The primary goals for these interventions are to maximize muscle glycogen content, minimize subcutaneous water, and reduce the risk abdominal bloating to bring about a more aesthetically pleasing physique. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of evidence to support the commonly reported practices employed by bodybuilders during peak week. Hence, the purpose of this article is to critically review the current literature as to the scientific support for pre-contest peaking protocols most commonly employed by bodybuilders and provide evidence-based recommendations as safe and effective strategies on the topic.

Does Varying Repetition Tempo in a Single-Joint Lower Body Exercise Augment Muscle Size and Strength in Resistance-Trained Men?

This study compared the effects of FAST and SLOW eccentric repetition tempo in a single exercise volume-matched intervention on muscle thickness (MT) and strength in resistance-trained men. Using a within-subject design, 13 subjects had each leg randomly assigned to SLOW (1-0-3) or FAST (1-0-1) repetition tempo. Subjects underwent an 8-week strength-training (ST) intervention performed twice weekly. Unilateral leg-extension one repetition-maximum (1RM) and anterior thigh MT at the proximal (MTP) and distal (MTD) portions were assessed via ultrasound imaging at baseline and after 8 weeks of RT. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) assessments of the training sessions (i.e., 16 per leg) were averaged for further analysis. Both legs similarly increased MTP (estimated differences: FAST: 0.24 cm, 3.6%; SLOW: 0.20 cm, 3.1%). However, for MTD, analysis of covariance analysis showed a leg effect (p 5 0.02) in which absolute pre-to-post change was greater in FAST compared with SLOW (estimated differences: FAST 0.23 cm, 5.5%; SLOW: 0.13 cm, 2.2%). For 1RM, both legs similarly increased maximum strength (estimated differences: FAST: 9.1 kg, 17.0%; SLOW: 10.4 kg, 22.1%, p # 0.0001). The SLOW group had a higher RPE than FAST (8.59 vs. 7.98, p 5 0.002). Despite differences in RPE, our results indicate that both repetition tempos produced similar muscular adaptations. However, they also suggest that the FAST tempo may provide a small hypertrophic advantage at the distal quadriceps. From a practical standpoint, strength and conditioning professionals may implement a FAST tempo at least in one single-joint exercise during an 8-week training period to enhance regional hypertrophic adaptations in trained individuals.

Body Recomposition: Can Trained Individuals Build Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time?

Despite the lack of standardized terminology, building muscle and losing fat concomitantly has been referred to as body recomposition by practitioners. Although many suggest that this only occurs in untrained/novice and overweight/obese populations, there is a substantial amount of literature demonstrating this body recomposition phenomenon in resistance-trained individuals. Moreover, 2 key factors influencing these adaptations are progressive resistance training coupled with evidence-based nutritional strategies. This review examines some of the current literature demonstrating body recomposition in various trained populations, the aforementioned key factors, nontraining/nutrition variables (i.e., sleep, hormones), and potential limitations due to body composition assessments. In addition, this review points out the areas where more research is warranted.

Fasted Versus Nonfasted Aerobic Exercise on Body Composition: Considerations for Physique Athletes

Physique athletes often incorporate aerobic exercise as part of their exercise program to increase caloric expenditure for the purposes of improving their body composition. One method used by some physique competitors is to perform aerobic exercise in the fasted state under the assumption that low glycogen levels after an overnight fast allow for greater mobilization of stored fat to be used for fuel because carbohydrates are not readily available to produce energy. The purpose of this article is to examine the existing literature on the effect of fasted versus fed cardio on improving body composition for physique athletes.

Progressive Resistance Training Volume: Effects on Muscle Thickness, Mass, and Strength Adaptations in Resistance-Trained Individuals

This study investigated the effects of 12-SET, 18-SET, and 24-SET lower-body weekly sets on muscle strength and mass accretion. Thirty-five resistance-trained individuals (one repetition maximum [1RM] squat: body mass ratio [1RM: BM] = 2.09) were randomly divided into 12-SET: n = 13, 18-SET: n = 12, and 24-SET: n = 10. Subjects underwent an 8-week resistance-training (RT) program consisting of 2 weekly sessions. Muscle strength (1RM), repetitions to failure (RTF) at 70% of 1RM, anterior thigh muscle thickness (MT), at the medial MT (MMT) and distal MT (DMT) points, as well as the sum of both sites (ΣMT), along with region of interest for fat-free mass (ROI-FFM) were measured at baseline and post-testing. For the 1RM, there was a main time effect (p ≤ 0.0001). However, there was a strong trend toward significance (p = 0.052) for group-by-time interaction, suggesting that 18-SET increased 1RM back squat to a greater extent compared with 24-SET, (24-SET: 9.5 kg, 5.4%; 18-SET: 25.5 kg, 16.2%; 12-SET: 18.3 kg, 11.3%). For RTF, only a main time-effect (p ≤ 0.0003) was observed (24-set: 5.7 reps, 33.1%; 18-SET: 2.4 reps, 14.5%; 12-SET: 5.0 reps, 34.8%). For the MMT, DMT, ΣMT, and ROI-FFM, there was only main time-effect (p ≤ 0.0001), (MMT: 24-SET: 0.15 cm, 2.7%; 18-SET: 0.32 cm, 5.7%; 12-SET: 0.38 cm, 6.4%-DMT: 24-set: 0.39 cm, 13.1%; 18-SET: 0.28 cm, 8.9%; 12-SET: 0.34 cm, 9.7%-ΣMT: 24-set: 0.54 cm, 6.1%; 18-SET: 0.60 cm, 6.7%; 12-SET: 0.72 cm, 7.7%, and ROI-FFM: 24-set: 0.70 kg, 2.6%; 18-SET: 1.09 kg, 4.2%; 12-SET: 1.20 kg, 4.6%, respectively). Although all of the groups increased maximum strength, our results suggest that the middle dose range may optimize the gains in back squat 1RM. Our findings also support that differences in weekly set number did not impact in MT and ROI-FFM adaptations in subjects who can squat more than twice their body mass.

The Effects of Varying Glenohumeral Joint Angle on Acute Volume Load, Muscle Activation, Swelling, and Echo-Intensity on the Biceps Brachii in Resistance-Trained Individuals.

There is a paucity of data on how manipulating joint angles during isolation exercises may impact overall session muscle activation and volume load in resistance-trained individuals. We investigated the acute effects of varying glenohumeral joint angle on the biceps brachii with a crossover repeated measure design with three different biceps curls.

Auto-regulated exercise selection training regimen produces small increases in lean body mass and maximal strength adaptations in strength-trained individuals.

The purpose of this investigation was to compare the effects of auto-regulatory exercise selection (AES) vs. fixed exercise selection (FES) on muscular adaptations in strength-trained individuals. Our findings, suggest AES may provide a small advantage in LBM and upper body maximal strength in strength-trained individuals.

Repeated Bouts of Advanced Strength Training Techniques: Effects on Volume Load, Metabolic Responses, and Muscle Activation in Trained Individuals.

This study investigated the effects of advanced training techniques (ATT) on muscular responses and if performing a second training session would negatively affect the training stimulus. Eleven strength-trained males performed a traditional strength training session (TST) and four different ATT: pre-exhaustion A (PE-A), pre-exhaustion B (PE-B), forced repetitions (FR), and super-set (SS).

Similar Strength and Power Adaptations between Two Different Velocity-Based Training Regimens in Collegiate Female Volleyball Players.

This study investigated the effects of two different velocity-based training (VBT) regimens on muscular adaptations. Fifteen female college volleyball players were randomly assigned into either progressive velocity-based training (PVBT) or optimum training load (OTL).

Research Currently in Progress

  • Carbohydrate Mouth Rinsing and it’s Acute Effects on Resistance Training Performance
  • Repetition Tempo – 3-second Eccentric v 1-second Eccentrics via Knee Extension on Size & Strength of the Quads 
  • Interset Stretching – Effects on Size and Strength Performance
  • Position Stand on HMB for the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN)
  • Bodybuilding Case Studies on Elite Pros Enhanced V Natty


I couldn’t be where I am today without my friends and colleagues. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with some of the best minds in the industry, and people who motivate me to be better on a daily basis. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me along the way, and I’m looking forward to continuing on this epic journey with you all.


© 2020 School of Gainz. All Rights Reserved. │ Terms & ConditionsPrivacy Policy