Why Is it Important to Rest Between Sets?

Early bodybuilders workout weren’t much different than the workouts of competitive weightlifters. They would lift heavy and rest a long time between sets. Recent studies show low rep, heavy lifting with five minutes rest between sets produce strong and bulky muscle. And early bodybuilding champions like John Grimek were just that strong and bulk but also too smooth. Then came people like Vince Gironda and Jack LaLanne who used very short rest periods between sets.

This kind of training, along with better nutrition of course, seemed to give much more muscular definition. Since then bodybuilder naves have been more and more defined and vascular. Many like Frank Zane, Mohamed Makkawy, Steve Davis, and others learned methods for adding muscle size and definition at the same time. Using descending sets, (reducing poundage for each set), or super sets and tri sets (alternating exercises non-stop), they reduced their rest periods to as little as 10 seconds between sets. This had the same effect on their muscles as a heavy weight.

At the same time that the reps for each maximum effort where in the 6-8 range working deep muscle fibers. The continuous movement provided the advantages of a high rep workout (endurance fiber building and aerobic effect). Their workouts were condensed to half the time they’d normally take to perform.

If your goal is to get super definition, I highly recommend much shorter rests between sets. Gradually reduce your rest times down to 10 seconds on most muscle groups and no more than 30 seconds on leg exercises such as squats, dead lifts, leg presses, etc. Resting less than 10 seconds is ineffective because your reps will be limited by lactic acid build-up. You’ll make awesome gains for a long time on this short-rest method, but on every program, your muscles will eventually adapt. When this happens, It’s good to return to a slower pace.

Heavier weight training with a partner to help with an extra forced rep or two at the end of a set is great for off-season strength and size.

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Do you rest between your sets?


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