Train Better: Ideal Reps and Rest

Use these science-approved workout strategies to push your growth factors to their limit and
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3. SHORT REST PERIODS

HOW IT WORKS If you look around your gym you’ll notice that most guys do a set and rest a solid two to three minutes before doing the next set. This is a common weightlifting prescription that works well for increasing strength. After all, the better recovered the muscles are, the more weight they can lift and the more reps they can complete on the next set. But when it comes to growth, fatigue appears to be important. Fatigue sets off a cascade of chemical events in the muscle that encourage growth. In fact, a recent study reported that subjects reducing the rest between sets by 15 seconds each week until they were resting just 30 seconds between sets in the final week gained more muscle than those resting a steady two minutes between sets. Although they didn’t measure IGF-1 levels in this study, it may be one of the reasons why the subjects decreasing their rest time were able to build more muscle. 

Researchers reported at the 6th European Sports Medicine Congress that only when subjects rested one minute between sets of presses did they experience a boost in circulating IGF-1 levels as compared with when they rested 90 seconds or two minutes between sets. One-minute rest periods have also been shown to better boost GH levels, which may be involved in stimulating the expression of the IGF-1s in muscle fibers.

DO THIS: Keep rest periods to a maximum of one minute between reps, or consider using a six-week periodization program that decreases rest by 15 seconds each week. In Week 1, start at two minutes of rest, and end in Week 6 at 30 seconds of rest. 

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