There are many abbreviations of rest-pause training, but in this article I'm going to describe what are in my opinion, the two most popular and efficacious methods we have today for building strength and muscle.
Rest-pause training is not a fad or gimmick. It's a hardcore training technique that's been popularised by brutal training programs for muscle hypertrophy (Doggcrap, HIT, etc) as a way of stockpiling muscle on you fast.
It's also used by an abundance of the world's best strength and conditioning coaches to harness technique, confidence handling heavy poundages and overall gains contributing towards strength and power.
Despite this, you'd think the technique would be more popular and widespread in commercial and hardcore gyms. Only in recent years have I noticed an upsurge in people advocating the use of rest-pause training to build the aforementioned qualities, and it's still not enough. More people need to know about this fantastic method.
In a nutshell, rest-pause training requires you to select an exercise, perform an allocated number of repetitions, rest anywhere between 10-30 seconds (most commonly, although 1 minute can be used frequently for big compound exercises), and then perform the movement again.
It's a simple, effective strategy, that is not only time efficient, it's also massively productive. It ramps up work capacity more than any other method I'm aware of, and with the two abbreviations I'm going to describe to you today, I'm certain you'll be adding slabs of iron to the bar and slabs of muscle to your frame if you're diligent and persistent with them.
My favourite component of rest-pause as a training method is that it's easy to manage and effectively measure. It gives you a "total score" completed on each exercise, and this ensures you're focused on beating this score from session to session, or whenever the exercise / movement pattern rolls around in your splits rotation.
As promised, here's my two favourite variations of the technique, for the two most common goals most Nation readers have: strength and muscle gain.
The most popular version of rest-pause training for muscle growth (hypertrophy) was pioneered by Dante Trudel, the founder of Doggcrapp training (DC training) and big gilligan himself.
The technique goes like this (the rep range varies depending on your bodypart and chosen exercise; some work better than others, naturally):
Select a weight you can complete anywhere from 10-15 repetitions and perform them in a controlled, explosive manner, slowly lowering on the eccentric phase to encourage more muscle fiber recruitment and tissue damage (stimulation, basically). After completing the first set, rest for around 12 deep breaths (roughly 35-40 seconds for most individuals). Then, replicate your first set until failure. On average, most individuals will now complete anywhere from 4-6 repetitions. Rest for another 12 deep breaths, and then perform one final set (anything from 1-3 repetitions), maintaining the controlled manner on the eccentric phase and explosiveness on the concentric.
At the end of this set, you'll add up the total amount of repetitions performed on that exercise and this will be your "score".
Here's an example of DC advocate and famous bodybuilding writer Ron Harris completing a set of DC style machine curls.
The beauty of this method of applying the rest-pause technique is that you cover a variety of rep ranges all associated with hypertrophy, become incredibly efficient with your work performed in the gym, and have an easy to manage system of measuring progress. On your next session, you simply have to beat the total amount of repetitions to ensure you're making progress and moving in the right direction.
Application: You can use rest-pause techniques for muscle growth on a huge array of exercises, but I suggest primarily working with movements that are safe to perform and naturally, work better in the moderate to higher rep ranges. Using the technique for exercises like squats or deadlifts is silly due to the fatigue it imposes and increased chance of injury.
Try factoring the rest-pause technique for muscle into any movement after your primary strength building exercise. Dumbbell presses, rowing variations and other compound movements away from squats and deadlifts all tend to work superbly well, and smaller muscle groups can be heavily targeted with this effective training technique.
A quick note: if you have a machine exercise that you feel hits your target muscle group well, then the rest-pause technique can be a really positive way of progressing on those and ensuring you take the exercise seriously during each session. When you have a score to beat, it's game on.
There are many ways Rest-pause training can be applied for strengh gains. In fact, the variation for muscle growth also produces phenomenal strength gains as you'll have noticed!
However, when I refer to serious strength gains, we typically make reference to the big lifts: deadlifts, squats and bench presses. And, as we've already discussed, the conventional way of building muscle with the Rest-pause technique doesn't correlate perfectly well to enhancing those lifts, due to the fatigue and safety reasons I previously alluded to.
The best way to train for technique is using singles and can be trained in two fashions. The first, is to pick your 5 rep-max (RM) on a certain weight, and perform multiple singles using 10-15 seconds between each set. You can continue this anywhere up to 5 minutes until your form breaks, and the obvious benefit is where you'd typically get anywhere from 5 quality repetitions on a normal working set before resting for roughly 5 minutes, in this manner, you can complete anywhere from an impressive 10-15 repetitions. More volume = more strength gains, better form, and increased work capacity. Bingo.
If you'd like to achieve these traits with a number closer to your max (3-5RM), you can apply anywhere from 45 seconds to 1 minute as the rest interval between sets. The important concept here is to perform the single, rack (or) drop the bar, and then refocus for the next set as it'll be rolling around much sooner than you expect.
An addition benefit of the rest pause technique for muscle and strength gains is that it builds an incredible amount of mental focus in the gym, a hugely underrated trait. You're not going to be dillydaddying around talking to strangers, but you are going to be razorsharp and amped up for anywhere from 2-5 minutes in an incredibly efficient battle.
Application: The methods above should be utilised on your big lifts such as the squat, deadlift and various presses primarily. I recommend picking the lift you struggle with the most, and using the rest-pause method consistently from anywhere between 2-4 weeks before returning to smash through your previous plateau. When you're getting this many quality repetitions in the mixer, it's difficult to stagnate. Practice makes perfect, and with strength training, the rest-pause technique represents an incredibly efficient alternative to conventional training.
Rest-pause training offers a plethora of benefits as we've previously mentioned and is a completely underused technique in the bodybuilding and strength and fitness community. If more people utilised rest-pause methods to their advantage, we'd have more strong lifters and far less whiners complaining about the time they spent in the gym not yielding results.
Is rest-pause training for you?
Well, do you want to be big and strong? If so, I think you've answered your question.
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