Rest with the best of them: Maximize your strength training!

by Katie Beck on January 9, 2014 · 1 comment

“Go hard or go home”, “no pain, no gain”, “suck it up”… We’ve all heard, said, or been told these phrases. They imply that unless you are giving it your all for 100% of the workout, you are wasting your time; if you are resting, you are being a wuss and aren’t working as hard as everyone else. Do not get me wrong, if you want to see physical strength gains, you need to put in the effort. However, what this mindset suggests is that resting is for the weak.

The most successful athletes in the world understand the exact opposite. Smart strength training involves rest breaks between sets. There are physiological, neurological, and psychological reasons for this, but I won’t bore you with the details. You don’t have to take my word for it, I have included links at the bottom so you can see for yourself. But essentially, the muscle needs time to rest so that energy and nutrient stores can be replenished.

Here is what you should know about incorporating rest time into your workout:

  • The amount of rest you take depends on what your goal is. I have tailored this article for your use during chiseled classes, where the goal is to maximize your muscle strength. These recommendations are based on 8-10 reps per set. The rest needed for strength training differs from that of power lifting (1 or 2 repetitions of max weight), or of training the cardiovascular system. Do not take these recommendations and apply them right across the board; these guidelines are for the rest needed for muscular strength gains.
  • I can hear you thinking it now: “get to the point, what amount of time do I have to rest?” Sorry, every person has different rest needs. There is no magical amount of time that everyone should abide by. Someone who is highly trained may need less rest time than a weekend warrior, who in turn may need less time than someone who is new to the fitness scene.
  • As general guideline, you should be incorporating approximately 2-3 minutes of rest between sets for muscle strength and size gains. There, I said it. Large muscle groups (quads, glutes, etc.) will need more rest than smaller groups (biceps, tricpes, etc.). Listen to your own body and don’t be rushed into your next set because you feel like you are slacking, or your partner will be waiting on you. By using rest periods, you will be able to accomplish more reps overall for that muscle group than if you just sped through them. This will equal more strength gain in the end.

The goal is to train hard AND smart, and that means resting between sets to get the most out of your strength training workout.

More information can be found at these links. Note that different goals have different rest periods and even then, different sources give varying time recommendations. Find what works for you, but overall, do rest.
Rest interval between sets in strength training
Factors Affecting the Length of the Rest Interval Between Resistance Exercise Sets – Research Review

char January 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Oh how wise you are…. miss you & hope to see you back at chiseled or any other class REAL soon. Miss the current events!! πŸ™‚

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