Rest Pause Sets – Another Tool In Your Arsenal
Applying Progressive Overload
You can do as many sets, exercises and workouts as you want, all while swallowing as many pills, potions and powders from your local supplement store in the hope of gaining strength and building muscle mass, but if you’re not applying progressive overload you’re not going to be getting particular far.
Progressive overload is THE key to strength, size and the body you want.
The rest pause set is another tool in our arsenal that we can utilize to apply progressive overload during our workout.
How does the rest pause set work? Well, after performing several repetitions of your set (as you’re on the brink of failure) we pause pause for 15 – 20 seconds before loading the weight back up and continuing to rep out our set. Rest-pause training breaks down one set into a couple of lower rep sets, allowing you to muscle a weight for a number of repetitions you wouldn’t normally be able to do if performed in one normal set.
This allows us to overload the muscle with additional weight, additional reps and place more tension on the muscle as a matter of doing so.
This equals growth.
Old School Rest Pause Training
Think rest pause training is some kind of fad like the Bosu Ball or CrossFit? Think again. The rest pause set style of training has stood the test of time.
Jim Williams, referred to as the Scranton Strongman during the 1960s attributes the use of the rest pause set to his success.
Williams, locked behind prison bars only had a minimal amount of equipment and weights to work with as you can imagine in prison.
Nonetheless, the Scranton Strongman was able to utilize the equipment he had along with the rest pause set style of training to be the first man to blast out a 650lb bench press in competition.
How To Perform A Rest Pause Set
Here’s how to perform a rest pause set the right way…
- Select a weight roughly 80% of your 1 rep maximum
- Perform as many reps as you can until you’re on the brink of failure
- Re-rack or put down the weight
- Rest for 20 seconds
- Load up the weight again and continue to perform as many repetitions as possible
- Reach the brink of failure once again
- Rest for 90 – 120 seconds between each rest pause set
Advanced gym-goers may wish to up the ante again and increase the weight being lifted up to between 85% and 90% of your 1 rep maximum.
Rest periods may also be reduced from 20 seconds to as low as 10 or 15 seconds.
Studies Supporting The Rest Pause Set
Although research on rest pause training is limited, aside from my own experience and results utilizing rest pause sets, a study published in Journal of Science & Medicine of Sport had 14 subjects perform three different resistance training protocols involving 20 repetitions in the squat with 80% of their current 1-rep max.
Training protocol #1
5 sets of 4 reps with a 3 minute rest interval between each set.
Training protocol #2
5 sets of 4 reps with a 20 second rest interval between each set.
Training protocol #3
Rest-pause method with the initial set performed to failure and subsequent sets completed after a 20-second rest interval.
All training methods had similar decreases in maximal force and rate of force development post workout, but increased motor-unit recruitment was observed following the rest-pause protocol style of training.