Bodybuilders have been training with 60-second rest periods to boost metabolic stress and elicit greater anabolic hormones for the past decade. Using short rest periods results in a greater physiological and perceptual response than taking longer rest periods. New research suggests that shorter rest periods may not be the best approach for building muscle.
HOW LONG TO REST BETWEEN SETS TO MAXIMIZE MUSCLE GROWTH?
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU REST BETWEEN SETS SUMMARY
- Longer rest between sets has been found to result in greater muscle growth!
- Short rest time between sets severely limits the weight you can lift the next set and reduce training volume.
- Short rest periods can be beneficial for isolation exercises such as preacher curls, triceps extension, etc.
- Multi-joint exercises require longer rest periods.
Bodybuilders have been training with 60-second rest periods to boost metabolic stress and elicit greater anabolic hormones for the past decade. Short rest periods result in a greater physiological and perceptual response than longer rest periods. New research suggests that shorter rest periods may not be the best approach for building muscle.
HOW MUCH REST FOR HYPERTROPHY
One of the other biggest myths is that increased metabolic stress (i.e., lactate) by taking a 30 second rest between sets results in more muscle growth. Increased metabolic stress is thought to increase muscle protein synthesis, growth, and more.
HOW LONG SHOULD I REST BETWEEN SETS FOR MUSCLE GROWTH?
People incorporate techniques like supersets and drop-sets and use short rest periods to increase lactate and metabolic stress. In the coolest study of the year, researchers infused lactate in the bloodstream of resistance-trained men.
Post-exercise, the subjects that had the infusion had higher blood lactate levels. Still, they did not have any additional increases in protein synthesis compared to the regular resistance exercise group. This dispels the myth that metabolic stress (increased lactate) has some magical muscle-promoting effect.
REST TIME BETWEEN SETS FOR MUSCLE GROWTH: LONGER MAY BE BETTER
Other studies have reported that short rest periods (1 minute), despite higher lactate, resulted in less protein synthesis (68%) post-exercise, compared to 5 minutes (139%). Another study found that comparing 30-second rest periods to 150-second rest periods using the same total workload resulted in similar muscle growth. Still, greater muscle growth trended towards the group that took longer rest periods. The major drawback of taking short rest periods is that you begin sets exhausted, which results in less total volume.
Volume is a potent stimulator of muscle growth to a certain point. By using less rest periods between sets, each additional set will reduce repetitions, resulting in a reduced total workload volume.
WHAT BLOOD FLOW RESTRICTION STUDIES CAN TEACH US ABOUT METABOLIC STRESS
If metabolic stress were the primary driver of muscle growth, then eccentric exercise would cause very little muscle growth because metabolically eccentric contractions produce very little metabolic stress. Studies have found that eccentric exercise produces less metabolic stress (i.e., lactate) than concentric exercise.
The metabolic cost required for eccentric exercise is approximately fourfold lower than for the same exercise performed concentrically. Reduced cardiorespiratory and hemodynamic responses have been reported following eccentric exercise compared to concentric exercise at the same absolute workload. However, eccentric exercise still contributes to muscle growth, despite less metabolic stress.
IS HYPERTROPHY REST TIME A MAJOR INFLUENCER OF MUSCLE GROWTH?
When concentric and eccentric exercises are performed at the same absolute workload, similar increases in muscle growth occur, despite lower metabolic stress occurring with eccentric exercises.
Also, there are blood flow restriction programs in which pressure is applied with a tourniquet around the legs. This generates high metabolic stress because of hypoxia (absence of oxygen).
When comparing studies that use tourniquet training or blood flow restriction training with weights compared to blood flow restriction training without weight (i.e., researchers applied blood flow restriction but no exercise), both produce metabolic stress.
However, only the group that performed tourniquet training with weights experienced increased muscle protein synthesis and growth. Metabolic stress must be combined with tension for muscle growth to occur.