Rest between sets - short term recuperation

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Rest between sets - short term recuperation

Postby Canuck Singh » Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:19 pm

Muscle growth and strength development is all about placing the muscles under maximum overload. To move your heaviest weights requires muscle to exert maximum force. Research clearly shows that rest taken between sets determines a muscles’ ability to produce maximum force.

Short rest intervals (one minute or less) are shown to reduce the amount of force that can be generated in the following set. That’s why short rest intervals are a waste of time if you’re really after gains from your training. A rest interval of two-three minutes in key exercises such as the squat, deadlift and bench press are essential for the athlete to generate maximal force. However, resting any longer than this (up to 5 minutes) doesn’t appear to provide any further advantages.

In general, shorter rest intervals might be okay for exercises that work smaller muscles. However, for exercises that use large amounts of muscle (squats, leg press, bench presses and all back exercises), two to three minutes appears to be the optimum rest interval for generating maximum force each set.

Source: Journal of Strength & Cond Res, 2006.
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Re: Rest between sets - short term recuperation

Postby Canuck Singh » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:13 am

The topic of rest intervals between sets is one of great confusion among bodybuilders and strength athletes. The recommendation of moderate loads and short rest intervals (around 1 minute) between sets is often prescribed to “optimize” muscle gains. How this recommendation ever saw the light of day is beyond me.

The research on this subject clearly shows that the amount of rest between sets affects the amount of weight used, workout performance and strength gains during training.

Yet another study has demonstrated that more weight is lifted when longer rest intervals are utilized. This study demonstrated that experienced lifters squatted with more weight when they rested up to 4 minutes between sets. Longer rest intervals also ensured greater overall training volume (mainly because more weight was utilized).

However, these results don’t suggest that 4 minutes rest between sets is best. The clear message from this study was that adequate rest between sets is essential for maximum overload. Usually that means around 2 to 4 minutes rest between heavy sets. Focus on building strength and the muscle mass will follow. The take home message here is to utilize the rest interval that enables you to lift the most weight each set.

Source: J Streng Cond Res 22;146, 2008
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Re: Rest between sets - short term recuperation

Postby Canuck Singh » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:57 pm

The rest period you take between sets should be based completely upon what benefits you want to derive from your training. This goes way beyond simply resting until you have your breath back and your cardiovascular system has returned to normal.

Longer rest intervals of 3-5 minutes between sets are advised for heavy, maximal lifts and development of strength, but why? It all has to do with ATP replenishment in muscle. ATP is the energy molecule that powers all muscle contraction. Maximal, heavy reps to failure, deplete ATP stores in muscle. However, within 30 seconds rest, about 50% of this ATP is replenished. Within 1 minute about 75% is restored. However, research demonstrated years ago that full replenishment of ATP stores after a maximal, all out effort can take up to 5 minutes. This rate of restoration of crucial ATP levels depends upon the amount of muscle mass used, poundage (intensity), diet and the athletes physical condition. A set of 5 max reps in the barbell squat would constitute a longer rest interval than a 5 reps on the cable triceps pushdown.

Powerlifters are only interested in developing strength, these guys knew that if they went anywhere near the barbell before this 3-5minute period, it would be a wasted effort, maximal force could not be applied. This is an extreme example I know. However if you are interested in building muscle then increasing strength should be your no 1. priority. Unless you are genetically fortunate, dense muscle mass only comes from years of developing great strength. To create and enhance strength you've gotta overload the muscle.

Remember that techniques like using "super sets" (performing one exercise directly after the other) and any of the other "advanced" intensity principles such as "tri-sets" or "drop sets" you may read about in magazines actually retard your ability to generate maximal force. For they do not allow enough time for complete ATP replentishment. When your ability to develop maximal force is compromized, so are strength gains. Therefore, you should question whether these techniques are required. However, if generating maximal force on every rep of every exercise is not of paramount importance, then feel free to utilize shorter rest periods
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