Intra-set rest periods for effective strength training

Intra-set rest periods for effective strength training

How the rest periods are arranged during strength training plays an important role. Depending on the training method, it is between one and five minutes. However, recent studies show that more tremendous success can be achieved with shorter recovery intervals. Experts refer to this as intra-set rest periods.

New insights in training structure

Hardly anything is valid for eternity. Nevertheless, scientific progress leads to new knowledge, which also applies to strength training. In several studies, scientists have looked closely at the design of rest periods when training with weights. The result: shorter recovery intervals within sets have a more significant effect on muscle strength and performance than extended rest periods. For those who do weight training regularly, trying out the so-called intra-set rest periods may be worthwhile.

What are intra-set rest periods?

Intra-set rest periods are the recovery phase within a set. For many years, the recommendation has been to take a break of between two and five minutes. This depends on the type of strength training. Intra-set rest periods, on the other hand, last only ten to a maximum of 120 seconds. Of course, only incomplete muscle regeneration is possible, which makes this method so effective. The aim is to generate more overall strength. This then leads to the desired higher performance. The number of sets and the number of repetitions remain the same.

What does sports science have to say about it?

22 healthy men participated in a study on this strength training method. They all had to train in the gym for four weeks as normal to become familiar with the individual exercises. They were then divided into two groups. Both groups trained three times a week for 12 weeks. One group did the standard training: 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 70 percent of the one-repetition maximum and a 120-second break. The Intraset group also did 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 70 percent of the one-repetition maximum but only had a 60-second break. Both groups did the same exercises: 

  • Leg press
  • Chest press
  • Step-ups with dumbbells
  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Dumbbell row
  • Lat pulldown behind neck
intra-set rest periods
Intra-set rest periods can lead to more successful muscle building (©nd3000)

Result of the study on intra-set rest periods

The participants in the study with the short intra-set rest periods built up more muscles and had significantly more strength gains. So for anyone who wants to try something new and effective in training, this training method is a good choice. Very important: The scientists point out that you should only do this kind of training when your technique of the exercises is good. If this is the case, beginners and seniors also benefit. In addition, the workout is significantly shorter, and the success is more remarkable.

Very well suited for supersets

This form of training is particularly suitable for supersets. This is a form of strength training in which the same muscle groups are trained on two consecutive exercises. In the gym, for example, this can be three sets each of squats and leg extension or bench press and butterfly. You can vary the breaks. You start with a ten-second break between sets, then increase successively, but do not go beyond a 60-second break. This leads to a progressive overload that guarantees training success.

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