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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.
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.
See the workout on next page.
New to rest-pause? Try this chest routine to start building more strength and burning more calories.
Exercise Load Sets Reps/Rest (seconds)
Incline Bench Press 5RM 4 2/15-20, 2/15-20, 2/15-20, 2
Smith-Machine Bench Press 7RM 4 3/15-20, 3/15-20, 3/15-20, 3
Cable Crossover — 3 15
Push-Up — 3 To Failure
The key is to go as heavy as you can without going to failure. The best way to do this is to determine your RM as listed, then stop just short of failure in order to maintain high power output throughout multiple segments. For the first move, using your 5RM, you’ll perform two reps at a time, resting 15-20 seconds between work segments until all segments are completed. The same rationale applies to the remainder of the exercises listed. You’ll rest 1-2 minutes between each rest-pause set.
Josh Bryant, MFS, CSCS, PES, trains some of the strongest and most muscular athletes in the world in person at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and via the Internet. He is the co-author of Amazon # 1 selling book, Jailhouse Strong, and EliteFTS best-selling eBooks, Metroflex Gym Powerbuilding Basics and Bench Press: The Science. To learn more about Josh Bryant or to sign up for his free training tips newsletter, visit www.JoshStrength.com