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Rest Pause Training


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Thickness and density. There are a number of factors that contribute to these two elements. Genetics is a major player and diet is definitely a factor along with a few others. However, the topic of this particular article deals with training principles. There's a saying that goes," If ya want to be a rocket scientist, ya gotta take calculus." There are certain training principles that are known to produce thick and dense muscle and like calculus, these principles can be very difficult and for some individuals impossible to accomplish. Rest Pause is one of these principles.

Like most training principles, the rest pause has been around a number of years. Formally known as the California set, it was used primarily for strength building. Because of the training philosophies of the time, the rest pause was not overly popular with many bodybuilders and practically non-existent for a good portion of the seventies. It made a comeback in the mid seventies. One prominent bodybuilder in particular was very instrumental in the resurrection of this training principle. Considered a non conformist by many, His heavy-duty principles have changed the training philosophies of countless individuals wanting to achieve growth and density.

The key element to the rest pause is oxygen. Muscle fatigue and eventual failure is due to the body no longer being able to provide the working muscle with the oxygen necessary to continue a set. Under the rest pause system, the body is allowed time to replenish the working muscle with oxygen thus enabling the set to be completed. This is done by simply racking the weight being used for a brief period of time once failure has been reached. The recharged muscle is then able to perform more reps enabling the set to be completed.

The rest period length and frequency of rest pauses during the course of a set will depend on a number of factors.

  • Rep Range: Rep ranges will dictate the poundage to be used.
  • Poundage: Heavier poundages generate a greater oxygen demand from the working muscle.
  • Conditioning: Good conditioning will able the body to recharge the working muscle more efficiently.

The rest pause system being presented in this article has a bit of a spin from its original form. There are two components to this system. Multiple sets and single set.

Multiple Sets

Let's say we're going to bench using the rest pause with multiple sets. We'll go with the standard three sets of ten reps. First thing were going to do is warm up with a couple of light sets to prep the working muscles for the beating they're about to get. First set we will use the absolute maximum amount of poundage we can do unassisted for ten reps. At the end of this set the odds of doing a second set of ten consecutive unassisted reps is minimal at best, but six to eight reps is a possibility. Our second set consisted of six reps with a rest pause, then four more reps for ten. At this point its highly doubtful if six to eight unassisted reps is achievable, but four to six reps looks promising. Our third set consisted of five reps with a rest pause, three more reps for eight with a rest pause, two more reps for ten. Understand that at the point of the rest pause the working muscles could not perform another rep without assistance. Here's some ideal scenarios for multi set rest pauses at various rep ranges.

Rep Range First set Second set Third set
10 10 6-4 5-3-2
8 8 5-3 4-2-2
6 6 4-2 3-2-1

Single Sets

Single sets are a bit more intense and much closer to the original concept. Let's say we do bench again. Were feeling a bit ambitious today so were going to go with an eight count rep range, which is pretty ambitious because the poundage were going to handle will be substantial. Our warm up will consist of three to four sets. The first set is very light with a rep range of ten. The second, third and maybe fourth sets are pyramid sets with a rep range of no more than two. We will pyramid these sets until we reach the poundage we can perform unassisted for three reps which will be our start point. A single set rest pause under these conditions may look like this. 3-2-1-1-1. Here are some scenarios for additional rep ranges.

Rep range Single Set
10 4-2-2-1-1
6 2-1-1-1-1

The true beauty of the rest pause lies in the growth rep concept. During the course of a set, the working muscle is on a collision course with failure with each rep it performs. upon reaching the final rep of the set, the working muscle hits a wall. This final rep is the most difficult rep to perform requiring maximum recruitment of muscle fibers and intense concentration. This final rep is considered the growth rep. So the average set will produce one growth rep for our efforts. A rest pause set is quite different. Whenever a rest pause is reached we've in essence reached our final rep. So when the average set can produce one growth rep, the rest pause set can produce several.

Due to extreme muscle breakdown resulting from rest pause training, it is most compatible with training consisting of few exercises of no more than two per muscle group. Basic exercises are the best choices.

When is the ideal time to increase loads during rest pause training? When the second set can be completed unassisted during multiple set rest pauses and when half of a single set rest pause can be accomplished unassisted. These rules are based on my personal experience with rest pause training and should be used primarily as guidelines.

Rest pause training, like any other high impact training principle, have certain risk factors. The two main factors are injuries and over training. Precautions taken to avoid these factors require a common sense approach. Having a good mindset is an excellent start and Progression First, Safety Always! is as good a mind set as any. Plenty of rest, good nutrition and a solid awareness of our bodies should ensure rest pause training that is both progressive and safe.

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Rest Pause Training

Disclaimer: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Consult with a physician prior to use. Individual results may vary. Not for use by individuals under 21 years of age.
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