|Are short rest periods overtly exhausting and will reduce your training volume and compromise the beneficial effects of your workouts?|
To this ends, the researchers recruited 16 young trained subjects with at least 1 year of previous training experience and tested the effect 5 different rest protocols would have on the total volume of otherwise identical workouts.
Short vs. long, progressive vs. constant and fixed intervals
Now, instead of telling their subjects to simply rest one minute or three, the researchers had them train the same bench press and triceps extension protocol with 5 sets for each exercise following
Suggested read: "Does Rest Matter? Study Finds 7-9% Increase in Muscle Gains W/ Decreasing Rest Periods." | read more
- progressively increasing exercise to rest ratios (i.e 1:3 after the first, 1:5 after the 2nd, 1:7 after the third and 1:9 after the fourth set), or
- fixed 2 min rest intervals as you can find them in many of the cookie cutter training prescriptions out there
So what's the optimum, then?
The researchers assessed the number of repetitions per set, the total volume in each set & the whole exercise and calculated the percent variation of the maximum number of reps that were performed within a set. As you can see in figure 1 the differences in terms of maximum reps were not exactly earth shattering - still based on what we see here, you could argue that at least the 1:2 protocol offers a bit too little rest for a compound exercise such as the bench press.
|Figure 1: Relative decrease on the transition from one set to another during the 1:3-1:9 exercise:rest ratio intervals, the progressive exercise:rest ratio (IP) and the fixed 2min rest condition (Monteiro. 2013)|
|Figure 2: Total volume in reps for the different ERR conditions (Monteiro. 2013)|
|"Ah come on, just another set!" ... "I don't know man, we've already pumped away 100,000kg today... do you really believe that's going to be productive, I mean, yeah, we are cuttin', but still... I mean I don't dig this epic!", "EPOC man, it's called EPOC!" *shakes his head* "Call it whatever you want, bro, I am out!" Interested in the background of this conversation (read more)?|
So, even if the results of this study tell us only little about the optimal length of the rest period, they do tell us something about an (imho) quite interesting yet rarely applied approach to determine the amount of rest you would need in-between sets, namely by specific ratios of total time under tension to subsequent rest - or, put differently: By resting X seconds for each Y seconds you've just been lifting.
- Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kraemer WJ, Häkkinen K. Short vs. long rest period between the sets in hypertrophic resistance training: influence on muscle strength, size, and hormonal adaptations in trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;19(3):572-82.
- Monteiro WD, Venturim FO, Perez AJ, Farinatti PT. Work volume in strength training is not affected by rest interval strategy. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2013 Jun;53(3):312-8.
- Pincivero DM, Lephart SM, Karunakara RG. Effects of rest interval on isokinetic strength and functional performance after short-term high intensity training. Br J Sports Med. 1997 Sep;31(3):229-34.