Monday, November 18, 2013

Two ways to rest-pause

We've all been there: You've trained for a few years and know how to get stronger. You set your sights on a new PR and carefully plan your training. You get tired, sore and stiff but never miss a session. You follow your own (and everyone else's) good advice and take a week off. When max day finally arrives you turn your music up loud, load the bar and attack...only to get stapled by the same weight you tried weeks before.

Frustrating as it is to see weeks of training produce no gains, it's an important step for every lifter. It means you've transitioned from "beginner" to "intermediate." That's great, but to keep moving forward you'll need to adjust your programming.

Athletes with a few years of experience in the iron game often call me when their progress stalls. I always begin the conversation with a series of questions:

What are your goals? 
What are you doing when you train?
Why are you doing it?
Do you have a training log? 

the training log is vital because it shows me exactly what the athlete's not doing. It can tell me that he's strong enough to hit a new one-rep max, but needs to adjust the volume of their warm-up sets to get it. That he's performing enough volume, but not at the correct intensity, or that he's pounding away at the lifts that get tested, but never performs variations to give his body a break.

If you train with a spotter, a great option for intermediate and advanced lifters looking to jump-start their progress is rest-pause training. There are numerous ways to perform a rest-pause set; in this post I offer two types: one for improving size and one for strength.

Option 1 (size): Extended Sets

Extended sets allow lifters to perform eight reps with their 6RM (about 80% of your 1RM) by adding short rests during the set. In short, you perform a few reps (stopping short of failure), rest 15-20 seconds, perform 1-3 more reps, rest 15-20 seconds, perform as many reps as possible (usually 1-2) as possible.

For example, an extended set looks like this:
Unrack the bar, perform 5 reps, rack the bar
rest 10-15 seconds, unrack the bar, perform 2 additional reps and rack the bar
rest 10-15 seconds, unrack the bar and perform one additional rep.

Crushing 8 reps with your 6RM is guaranteed to add mass. It also helps lifters transition from a high-volume, low-intensity training block into a low-volume, high intensity block.   

Choose one squat, deadlift or pressing exercise each session and perform 2-4 extended sets for six weeks. 

Option 2 (strength): Clusters

Instead of resting for 3-5 minutes between traditional heavy sets of 1-3 reps, cluster multiple reps of your 3RM by taking short rests (10-20 seconds) between each rep. This allows you to perform more reps with a heavier weight in a shorter amount of time. The short rests between each rep also provide opportunities to practice your set-up and technique.

Load the bar with 90% of your 1RM, perform 4-8 singles, racking the bar and resting 10-15 seconds between each rep. 

For example: 
Perform 1 rep, rack the bar, rest 10-15 seconds
Unrack, 1 rep, rack the bar, rest 10-15 seconds
repeat 2-6 more times, then rest 3-5 minutes

Clusters are a great way to practice singles with a heavy load while also adding more volume in less time than traditional sets allow. Choose one squat, dead lift or press variation and perform 2-4 sets if 5-8 reps for 6 weeks.

Find a good spotter, choose the rest-pause method that best fits your goals, and reap the benefits of your hard work!  

No comments:

Post a Comment