Workout Tips

The Perks of Rest-Pause Training

Get stronger and leaner in less time with this proven training technique.

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There are lots of ways to pack on muscle and get Hulk strong. But one way that continues to be a favorite of serious lifters is rest-pause training, which calls for you to take short breaks (15-25 seconds) while moving submaximal loads. This principle takes advantage of your body’s explosive energy stores – collectively known as phosphagen – helping you to exert maximum force on each work segment. This can mean more total pounds lifted per workout, usually with in less time and with less fatigue. Now, science is weighing in, validating decades of anecdotal evidence about the benefits of rest-pause.

One study published in the Journal Of Science & Medicine In Sport set out to compare muscle recruitment, maximal force, and rate of force development changes following different strength training regimens in the squat. The kicker is that they all used the same load – 80 percent of their one rep max – and all used the same volume (weight, sets and reps).

The study consisted of 14 males with weight-training experience. Group A did five sets of four reps with 80 percent of their one rep max with a three-minute rest interval. Group B completed the same protocol with a 20-second rest. The rest pause group (C) took the initial set for as many reps as possible, rested for 20 seconds and did subsequent sets for as many reps as possible until 20 reps total were reached.

Maximal isometric squat force (static) and rate of force development (RFD) were measured before each training protocol and five minutes after.

Advantages of Rest-Pause Training

The results concluded the rest-pause group took an average of 103 seconds to complete all 20 reps. Group A took an average of 780 seconds to complete all 20 reps and group B’s average was 180 seconds. Post-workout showed no greater decreases in RFD or maximal force production in the rest-pause group. Increased motor unit recruitment was also observed in the rest-pause group.

That bears summarizing: The rest-pause group recruited more motor units, completed the same work in less time and didn’t cause any greater post-workout fatigue. 

Need more convincing? A separate study in the Journal of Translational Medicine found that a rest-pause program protocol with less volume and the same load was accomplished in nearly half the time of a traditional resistance training program. However, the post-workout resting energy expenditure was much greater with the rest-pause group. In other words, folks, the group that trained rest-pause style were burning more calories at rest than those training in a traditional style, in this study, for a full day after their final rep.

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