How do we build bigger muscles? The simply answer is from muscle hypertrophy. We push our muscles into growth by moving heavy weights until we can’t move that weight anymore.
That seems easy enough.
So what is the optimum rep range for creating hypertrophy? Most experts agree that number is in the 8 to 12 range. Conversely many people focus on building strength by lifting in the 4 to 6 rep range.
If only we could combine both of those ideas to create a perfect situation where we are building optimum strength and size?
Oh wait, we can; it is called the rest-pause training technique.
The Zen of Growth
So you want it all. Who doesn’t? Why not go for the most size and strength in the least amount of time. It is a logical and smart idea.
The best way to get there has to be using the rest-pause technique on your compound exercises when working a body part.
That means on chest day you would use it on your primary press. For back day it is great for barbell rows. Of course not every exercise can easily be converted to this method, but most can. It is much better to use on a compound exercise to get the most out of the technique. Because it will cause so much muscle tissue damage, it should only be used once per body part.
Let’s use the bench press for an explanation of how best to employ this method. Warm-up and pyramid up the weights without pushing yourself too hard. The goal is to give maximum effort on a single set. For that set load the bar up with a weight that you will max out on at 5 reps. Unrack the weight and go to failure. Now rest 7 to 12 seconds, unrack the weight and press another 2 to 3 reps. Rack, rest, and repeat a final time.
Let’s review. You end up doing somewhere between 9 and 12 reps which is right in range with maximum hypertrophy. At the same time you have done 3 sets of very heavy weight at low reps which is critical to building strength. Now you have achieved the best of both worlds.
Avoid this Mistake
Do not overuse this technique. Far too many people feel that more is better. They try something like rest-pause and see immediate results. Muscles are pumped and sore, strength gains jump up, and everything is going well. So naturally you add rest-pause to a few other exercises, but then the gains go away.
This concept puts enough stress on muscles in a single set when done properly that overuse equals overtraining.
Also to use it properly you need to be safe. That means having a spotter available for those tough sets when the weight puts you in a compromising position. Overtraining and injuries are the best way to limit size and strength gains.
Get to it!
This is a valuable tool to have in your kit for creating gains in size and strength. Give it a try in your next workout. Pick the compound exercise you use for the most growth in that session and take it to the max with rest-pause. It will exhaust your muscles like nothing else, and in only a single set.