There are some ways to take your training intensity to the next level whether that be increasing duration, incorporating shorter recoveries, or playing with your rep and set combinations. One of my favorite methods to add creativity to basic strength training are rest-pause sets. Not only do they add density to a training set, holy shit is it intense. An unbearable burn in the best way. If you’ve been a regular in my Barry’s classes, you’ll see this protocol worked into my programming every 8-ish weeks or so on Butt & Legs, Chest & Back, and Full Body days.
What is Rest-Pause Training?
Rest-pause training breaks down a single set into a series of one main set followed by smaller sets, with a short rest (or pause) in between. Depending on the difficulty of the weight you choose you can do anywhere from one to four rest-pause sets. Honestly, after one or two I’m cooked, and I think any more than that defeats the purpose. If you’re able to bang out a ton of sets, you’re NOT LIFTING HEAVY ENOUGH. Notice the ALL CAPS for emphasis.
How to do Rest-Pause Training
Turn a standard 3 set, 15 rep workout into a rest-pause set by adding a fourth mini-set to the end after a 15-second break.
- Choose a set of weights heavy enough to complete 15 reps with good form, but approaching failure by the end of the set
- Do two sets of 15 reps with 60-90 second of recovery in between each set
- On the third set do your final set of 15 reps
- Put your weights on the floor or rack and REST FOR 15-seconds*
- Pick your weights back up and do as many reps as you can to failure
See what we did there? You technically turned your 3-set workout into 4, with the intention of the 4th set being a smaller rep count. You should be able to reach failure fairly quickly at that point. If you’re exceeding your main set reps (in this case 15 reps), you did NOT go heavy enough. In any rest-pause set, I usually try to get to 20-50% of the main set rep count.
*Time yourself CLOSELY. This works best when done with precision.
Rest-Pause Training Workout
Do this full body, rest-pause, strength workout and see for yourself how effective it can be. You may have to experiment so if you’re not sore as fuck tomorrow, give it another try in a few days and go even HEAVIER.
If done correctly, rest-pause sets are super taxing on your body. I wouldn’t recommend this a regular practice; I’ll usually cycle drop-set pauses into my workouts every two-three weeks. Give it a try and let me know how you do.