July 10, 2011

Rest-Pause Technique For Strength - How To Maximize Load And Time Under Tension For Better Results

Six time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates popularized a training technique during his reign in the 90’s to which he credits his incredible development, coined ‘rest-pause’ training. This style of training is rather highly intensive by nature, and therefore calls for just 1-2 sets to be performed per exercise, using a load that allows for roughly 6 reps to be performed before resting for roughly 10-15 seconds to allow for another rep or two to be completed, before resting again and aiming to complete another rep or two to round out the set (finishing with 8-10 total reps using a weight that only allowed for 6 to be performed under normal conditions).

Aside from the effect that this type of training has on the stimulation and hypertrophy of fast twitch muscle fibers, as evident in Dorian’s unbelievable results, this type of training is also very effective at increasing work capacity, because performing more total reps than would otherwise be capable teaches the body to adapt and essentially take what would be your 6 rep max in this case, and make if your 10 rep max.

Rest-pause training is as effective as it is because it allows for heavier loads to be used for greater time under tension, but the manner in which it is used in the example above can be tweaked to allow for even greater strength gains.

Traditional vs. rest-pause

Hypothetical one rep max = 405 lbs.

A load of roughly 364.5 lbs would generally allow for sets of 3 to be performed, given the appropriate amount of rest. In this case, a set would look like this:

Rep 1 – 364.5 lbs.
Rep 2 – 364.5 lbs.
Rep 3 – 364.5 lbs.

At 90% of maximum, with a hypothetical maximum of over 400 lbs. it’s not likely that you would get more than 3 reps for multiple sets without intra-set pauses.

Total volume = 1,093.5 lbs.

Compare that to a rest-pause set using the same amount of weight, which looks like this:

Rep 1 – 364.5 lbs.
Rest for 10-15 seconds
Rep 2 – 364.5 lbs.
Rest for 10-15 seconds
Rep 3 – 364.5 lbs.
Rest for 10-15 seconds
*Rep 4 – 364.5 lbs.
Rest for 10-15 seconds
*Rep 5 – 364.5 lbs.

*Adding ten seconds of rest between reps permits the recruitment of higher-threshold motor units, thus enabling another 1-2 reps to be tacked on.

Total volume = 1,822.5 lbs.

Rest-pausing in this case resulted in 729 more lbs. being lifted, and that’s just in one set Add that to the fact that when training for strength the total number of sets is usually a minimum of 4. It would take over 6 sets done conventionally to equate to 4 sets done using the rest-pause technique, and this is how the rest-pause technique develops work capacity simultaneously with strength.

6 x 3 @ 90% of 405 = 6,561 lbs.

4 x 5 @ 90% of 405 using the rest-pause technique = 7,290 lbs.

The problem with lifting heavy weights is that a lot of reps cannot be performed, which is why the usage of heavy weights is generally reserved for those solely looking to increase strength. However, by using the rest-pause method, you can handle greater loads, for greater repetitions, in shorter periods of time, thus making this method extremely effective for those looking to build muscle, increase work capacity, or get even stronger than would otherwise be possible by ending your sets the first time you reach failure.

If you have any questions about the rest-pause technique, feel free to contact me at ben@paramounttraining.ca. I'm available for online consulting and personalized program design, as well as one on one training if you are located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

1 comment:

  1. Hey Ben, this blog's great, I think the fitness community on reddit would appreciate it.


    Join some discussions there and then anytime there's questions asked you can link to any posts you've made here that answer their topics.