Pushing past plateaus may be one of the most difficult things to do when starting up a bodybuilding program. This usually happens after a few months of training commences. You find that you’re no longer getting sore like you used to get when you first started. And even worse, you’re not seeing any gains in muscle size or strength either.
This happens to everyone at some point during their lifting career. However, the experienced lifter is all too aware of such an unfortunate event. They can quickly sense when they are beginning to plateau. To combat any further stagnation from occurring, one of the go-to training methods that bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts go to are rest-pause sets.
What are rest-pause sets? Why are they important? And why should you bother using them? All of this and more will get answered as I’ll show you why using rest-pause sets will give you the pump of a lifetime. Let’s first start off by discussing exactly what rest-pause sets are and how you can implement them into your own routine.
What are rest-pause sets?
In short, a rest-pause set is a high intensity training technique that allows you to fatigue your muscles far beyond traditional muscular failure. It’s a way to help you overload your muscle fibers in a way that you could literally never achieve with a typical set of 10 to failure.
You’ll want to use a rest-pause set at the end of an exercise on the last set. So, say for instance that you’re doing 3 working sets of barbell curls. On your 3rd and final set of curls you’ll want to go to absolute muscular failure. If you’re aiming for muscular hypertrophy, then you’ll want to max out in the 8-12 rep range.
After you go to failure you’ll want to drop the weight and “rest” for about 10 seconds or so. Then, aggressively pick the weight back up and curl it again to absolute muscular failure. You’ll probably only be able to rep out the weight 2-4 times. This is perfectly fine. In a nutshell, that’s how a rest-pause set is done. You can allot yourself three or four rest-pause sets after a given exercise or for every exercise of your workout to really up the intensity of your workout.
To take things even further and to allow you to experience even greater vein splitting muscle pumps, try going past absolute muscular failure when doing rest-pause sets with bicep curls (for example) by continuously repping out curls even when you can no longer perform a full curl. Continue to curl the weight up even if you can only do a half repetition. Then, you can continue repping the weight out until you can only do a quarter repetition.
Such an extreme and intense training technique should only be used if you’ve been doing traditional rest-pause sets for a significant amount of time. If you just come straight out of the gate by going past failure on rest-pause sets, then you’ll probably be extremely sore the next day. You’ll want to try and ease yourself into this new technique.
Which muscles can I do rest-pause sets with?
You can and should do rest-pause sets for arms, shoulders, back, legs, chest, pretty much every muscle group. They can easily be done and they’ll allow you to have an other-worldly muscle pump. However, rest-pause sets are not ideal for every exercise. For example, it can become quite difficult and even dangerous to perform this technique while doing heavy squats, heavy deadlifts, or barbell bench presses. Also, it can be very difficult to do rest-pause sets while doing crunches or other ab work due to the fact that it’s very hard to max out on low reps with such a muscle.
Some of the best exercises to do rest-pause sets with are bicep curls, bench pressing on the smith machine, triceps rope extensions, pull ups, leg extensions, calf raises, and tons more. You can rest assure that you’ll never find yourself getting bored due to a lack of versatility while using this training technique.
You’ll simply need to exercise some common sense when using rest-pause sets as to help you prevent injury and to make your workout actually beneficial. Some exercises don’t work at all with this technique, while others work fantastically. Try out this technique for yourself to see which exercises you’re most comfortable doing with rest-pause sets. This is the best way for you to truly know when and where you can use this extremely intense technique.
Why are rest-pause sets so important?
As you now know, this technique is extremely important and useful for overloading your muscles and promoting new found growth and strength. Furthermore, there are several other noteworthy benefits that you can expect to enjoy as you implement this technique into your current exercise program. Such benefits can take your body and performance to the next level.
For one, it’s an unbelievably effective technique for pushing past stagnating plateaus. This is one of the most discouraging things a lifter can go through, besides an injury of course. Dealing with plateaus can take the spark out of your psyche. It can diminish your will and shadow your hope. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Implementing new training techniques that will push your body to the limits will force you to get out of the hole you may currently be in. Promoting muscle growth and strength can be as simple as putting new stresses on the body that it’s never experienced before.
Like with most high intensity training techniques (e.g. supersets, giant sets, etc.), you’ll burn way more calories than you would if you didn’t use them. Rest-pause sets force you to work harder with more intensity and vigor. This greatly contributes to increasing fat loss and improving your body’s composition. You can also expect to experience a decrease in the amount of triglycerides in your blood, as well as an increase in the size of your muscle glycogen reserves, among many more benefits. This will add to better health, as well as improved performance in the gym.
Rest-pause sets are also very beneficial due to the impact they have on keeping things fresh and interesting in the gym. It’s very easy to become bored after six months or so of consistent training. This is when you should try implementing new and interesting training techniques into your routine to ensure that you don’t lose your drive and motivation to succeed. This is where rest-pause sets come in. You’ll gain a sense of enjoyment by doing somethings different, as well as a sense of confidence for the rest of your workout as you’ll experience crazy muscle pumps from doing them.
Lastly, it’s imperatively important that you use them due to the fact that it’s a challenge. You can’t expect to improve without challenging yourself. Taking your training to the next level by implementing high intensity training techniques like rest-pause sets or supersets will take your body to the next level. If you don’t challenge yourself you leave the possibility of stagnating, or even worse, losing your hard-earned muscle or strength gains. This concept also carries over to the psychological aspect of training as well. Challenging yourself mentally gives yourself more confidence and boosts your enthusiasm for your upcoming workout.
As you can clearly imagine, rest-pause sets are extremely beneficial as they’ll allow you to push yourself far beyond what you thought “your limits” were. It will help you to push past discouraging plateaus as you ignite muscle activation in a new and profound way, all while increasing the mental aspect of your intensity. You’ll psychologically be more amped up due to how intense this technique is. And that, in turn will allot you with a better workout as a whole.
You can expect to see significant gains in the size and strength of your muscles. If this isn’t enough, you’ll also enjoy an improved body composition as rest-pause sets greatly encourage fat loss due to the increased time under tension you’ll experience while performing them, as well as the spike in your heart rate. This all creates an environment that encourages fat loss to occur.
You can do rest-pause sets on almost any type of exercise that exists. There are only a few exceptions to the rule like with leg presses, squats, and deadlifts to name a few. Other power exercises should probably be omitted as well when doing rest-pause sets. Single-joint movements are typically your best bet for using this technique.
Being able to implement such a technique helps to keep things interesting in the gym and helps to keep your motivation up. There’s nothing worse than having all of the potential in the world to develop an impressively massive physique, and to never reach your true potential due to boredom or lack of interest with sticking to a bodybuilding routine. Ensure that this doesn’t become your fate and try out drop sets today!