Here’s again a great post by Sohee Lee telling about Brad Schoenfeld’s research article regarding the effects of longer inter-set rest periods in the gym and why resting more could be better for you, as well: The Case for Resting Longer and Lifting Heavier – SoheeFit. Read the original article here.
I can fully vouch for longer rest periods as my one-member empirical scientific research has provided similar results ;). Before I started powerlifting, I was pretty bodybuilding and fitness -oriented trainee. I read all bro (and sis) advice about how to train hard, raise testosterone and really tire those muscles so that they’d get bigger. And how to maximize growth hormone to burn that stubborn fat by doing more in less time and with less rest.
“Do all sets to failure.”
“Use rest-pause, partial reps, forced reps. In all sets.”
“Your leg day wasn’t successful if you didn’t throw up at least twice.”
“Only rest 30 seconds between sets.”
“Double and triple sets are the way to go.”
Usually the advisers were expert fitness athletes and bodybuilders with years and years of training (and sometimes using a little more chemical help than simply whey protein and creatine). As a young and enthusiastic trainee, I of course thought training like a Figure Olympia winner would give me similar physique. It really didn’t cross my mind that for example Erin Stern was a track athlete before getting into fitness and has been training hard nearly all her life – you need to have a solid base to build on!
I also thought that doing more was always the best solution for faster progress. And of course with a hectic schedule, as I’ve always had the tendency to fill up my calendar to the brim, shorter rest periods also meant shorter time at the gym. Perfect! I also congratulated myself for getting my aerobic fitness taken care of as my heart rate rarely got under 130 BPM at any time as I rushed from exercise 1A to 1B to 1C to 1D across the gym.
Was my approach efficient? Perhaps. At least considering time-efficiency. Was it constructive in the long run, and did it lead me toward my goals – bigger muscles? Maybe not. I was usually so tired that already in the third set I struggled to get 6 reps with weight I’d done 10 reps in set one. I also completed my sets with fervor – lifting as fast as possible, fearing that if I took any pause between reps or lifted slower I’d get even less reps in the consecutive rounds. My cardiorespiratory fitness sure did improve but as a stringy teenager getting some muscle would have been more beneficial.
Now I rarely rest less than 2-3 minutes between sets. And the heavier the load, the longer I rest. With bench, squat and deadlifts I take 4 minutes between sets and can go all out on every set. Between every rep I take a pause, breathe deep, focus on my mental game and concentrate on proper form and core stability. And my strength levels have soared.
You don’t burn fat or increase your VO2max in the weight room. You get stronger and more muscular. The rest is done in the kitchen. Some folk may even like endurance training in their spare time. As I usually don’t have any, nowadays I count over 5 rep sets as aerobic exercise 😀 …
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Read more from Brad Schoenfeld at his magnificent site LookGreatNaked.com
Remember to rest, both at the gym and at home,