Have your muscles become unresponsive to the same old routine? Have you hit another plateau and just can’t seem to move on? Then there’s one last weapon you should utilize to the maximum in order to break through your growth plateaus and sculpt the physique you’ve dreamed of. Yes, it’s rest-pause training. And yes, it’s going to hurt. Let’s begin!
The Basics of Rest-Pause Training
When you want to shake things up in your workout routine, you should be looking to add some new level of intensity to your program, for example combining different training techniques that allow you to do more work in a shorter time period. Those would be drop sets, supersets, alternating sets, and finally, rest-pause training. Rest-pause training is nothing new to the weightlifting world – in fact, it’s been used as a technique to maximally tax your muscles since the 70’s. This approach breaks down one set into numerous mini-sets, with 10-15 second or longer rests in between. This not only helps thoroughly fatigue the muscle fibers, but can also help break through challenging strength and growth plateaus.
There are many, almost too many different variations to the rest-pause technique, but one very simple example of a rest-pause set would be to pick a weight which allows you to pull off 6 good reps. Perform the exercise as many times as you can, then set the weight down and rest for 10-15 seconds. Repeat for as many reps as you can and then repeat the pause. Repeat until you can no longer lift the weight. Sounds simple enough, right?
Rest-Pause Training Is an Incredible Fat Burner
According to some brand new research published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, the potential of rest-pause training for burning fat is astonishing. In this study, researchers had two groups of well-trained lifters. The first group performed training sessions consisting of 4 sets of 8-12 reps of 8 different exercises such as bench presses, machine rows, leg curls, etc. They performed 4 sets to failure for each exercise while resting for 2 minutes between each set of the compound exercises and 1 minute after the isolation exercises.
The second group used the rest-pause method and only performed 3 exercises: bench presses, machine rows and leg presses. For each exercise the subjects used their 6-rep max and performed 6 reps, rested for 20 seconds then did as many reps as they could, repeating the 20-second rests and lifting as long as they could. That was considered one set. They rested for 2.5 minutes between each set, doing a total of 3 sets of the leg press and two of the bench press and machine row.
After 22 hours, the rest-pause group had a resting metabolism on average of 452 calories higher than it was before their workout, while the first group saw an increase of only 98 calories. These numbers show us that the rest-pause technique produces a greater EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) than a standard bodybuilding routine. And any lean lifter knows that elevating your metabolic rate is the key to burning body flab! Of course, the real secret here is not to burn fat while you are working out, but after you’ve worked out. And rest-pause training provides enough intensity to activate this post-exercise fat-burning effect to its full potential.
Rest-Pause Training for Hypertrophy
Recent research from Australia showed that utilizing rest-pause allows for the greatest increase in motor unit recruitment without showing a difference on muscular fatigue in comparison to typical bodybuilding techniques. When three different rest intervals were used, the rest-pause technique resulted in significantly greater muscle activity compared to the other two methods.
Sure, you can keep on doing your normal 3 sets of 6-10 reps in a workout, and that should be enough to cause muscle growth on a regular basis. However, there’s a much better way to squeeze the strength out of your muscles in that brief time period. Here’s how to really spice up your workout:
- Perform a set as you would with your given 6-10 rep weight.
- Take 15 seconds of deep breaths, pick the weight back up and rep out to failure
- Repeat the pause and the lifting as many times as you can
When you train this way, each rep is a grinder, but you can be sure that you’ve activated the deepest fibers in your muscles, those that your typical 6-10 rep set just can’t get to!
Rest-Pause Training for Strength
Strength workouts usually use low reps and long rest periods. Here, the rest-pause approach can be used by combining extremely low reps, really heavy weights and short rest periods in a single set. Here’s how:
- Choose a weight that’s 85-95% of your one rep max
- Perform a rep with this weight
- Rest for 30-45 seconds
- Repeat as many times as possible
Perform this routine twice per week for massive strength gains!
A Word of Advice
Rest-pause training is an extremely draining technique and if used on a week-to-week basis along with other intensity techniques it may lead to a burn out. But if you wish to maximize your gains while getting leaner along the way, you should make the most use of this amazing training tool. When you lift heavier weights for more reps you provide the stimulus for building strength and size, and create progressive overload that will keep those gains coming.
So don’t shy away from rest-pause training – embrace it and use it to make a difference!