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Rest Between Sets For Strength Gains

Are Your Rest Intervals Adequate For Optimising Your Strength Gains?

Posted by Time_is_Muscle - October 14th, 2015

I find this is a topic that isn’t talked about enough, and for me it should be at the forefront of anybody’s strength training programme. The methodology behind strength training contradicts the “Hypertrophy” philosophy which is built on high volume and high frequency. What needs to be understood here is the impact that rest intervals can have on your training and your ability to optimise your strength gains.


Are Your Rest Intervals Adequate?

To get stronger and faster, the best rest period is 3 to 5 minutes between sets. I personally apply the 3-5 minutes notion of rest time between sets when doing 5x5 strength training. This rest period, I find, allows me to perform heavier repetitions over multiple sets. Furthermore, over-time I have found this structure has helped me increase the frequency of my strength-based workouts, and has helped me produce even greater increases in strength.


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Why Do I Have To Rest For So Long? (The Science Behind The Theory)

The majority of your body’s energy is consumed very quickly when you're using the 1-6 rep range and heavy weights. This energy source I am referring to comes from the Adenosine Triphosphate Phosphocreatine system, otherwise known as “ATP”. Limited amounts of this energy source can be found intramuscularly (inside the muscles). When our muscles engage these storages through high intensity strength-based training, we often deplete our energy storages extremely fast.


More specifically, high energy phosphates are used as an energy source to produce our maximum output. For example, a one rep max. Therefore, if you don't allow your body to have sufficient rest between sets, you will no doubt fail in your attempt to make some strength gains.


How Much Weight Should I Be Lifting?

When applying the methodology behind strength training, you should be aiming to lift between 80-90% of your 1 rep max and apply a rep range of anything between 4-6 over 3-5 sets. Some people adopt the 5x3 principle (5 reps for 3 sets) and others like myself adopt the 5x5 principle (5 reps for 5 sets). Whichever principle you choose to follow, the same duration of 3-5minute rest intervals will apply.


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Conclusion

Getting enough rest and allowing your body to recover between sets is as important as consuming the right pre-workout nutrients to help produce the energy that enables you to perform optimally. Both are essential factors in anyone’s pursuit to increasing strength. You cannot do one without the other. Therefore, if your rest intervals are insufficient, you will burn-out very fast, and you’ll find yourself scratching your head wondering why you cannot overcome those strength plateaus.


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