Rest Between Sets To Maximize Muscle Growth
By Sean Nalewanyj
||Sean Nalewanyj is a natural bodybuilding expert and best-selling fitness author committed to providing effective, research-based advice for building muscle, burning fat and gaining strength. Sean is the creator of the "No Fail System" bodybuilding program and president of EliteImpact Labs.
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After completing a grueling set of barbell squats, Bobby re-racks his weights. With shaking legs, he stumbles over and grabs his bottle of water, chugging it down as he feels his heart racing and head spinning. He then sets his stopwatch at 2 minutes and then hits the button to start the countdown.
Somewhere along the line, Bobby was taught that two minutes is the optimal time to let your body recover between sets in order to maximize muscle growth, so he will allow himself a 2 minute break before he begins his next set. As soon as the watch alarms, he will return to the rack to do more squats.
He walks around, working to catch his breath to get ready for the next battle with the loaded bar.
The two minutes have expired. Actually, his legs are still wearing and his heart is still racing, he's truly not ready to do another set. Still, the 2 minutes are up and he is motivated to stick with this plan to maximize muscle growth. He will not wait to do his next set, regardless of the messages his body is giving him.
He takes the weight on his shoulders and begins. He would have liked a little more time before starting this set because his legs are still hurting far more than he can bear. He completes the set with little intensity, then re-racks the weight and sets his watch for 2 minutes.
Bobby, like countless other novice bodybuilders, just made a common but crucial workout mistake that actually limits your ability to maximize muscle growth.
By imposing a fixed rest interval between sets, Bobby is forcing his body to perform at a less than maximal level, thus greatly reducing his capacity to maximize muscle growth.
Your muscles gain size and strength as a result of stress. When you force yourself to lift X amount of weight for Y reps, your body activates an adaptive response to handle this stress. To maximize muscle growth, you must constantly increase both X and Y.
For anyone seeking to maximize muscle growth, it's essential to progressively lift more weight more times. You must maximize both the amount of weight you lift and the number of reps you complete, and constantly work to increase both.
This means that you must perform every rep with 100% intensity. Your capacity to maximize muscle growth is lowered when you arbitrarily reduce the amount of weight you lift. In this aim, not allowing yourself a sufficient recovery period will only further impact your gains.
If you are trying to maximize muscle growth, stop arbitrarily picking your rest periods.
You should only resume exercising once you have the ability to complete it with maximum intensity. This cannot be determined with a watch. You must listen to the cues your body gives you.
One final thing: the "set rest period" theory to build muscle and maximize muscle growth is wrong because it neglects the principle that some body building exercises are far more strenuous to complete than others.
A tricep press is not even in the same zip code as a dead lift. For deadlifts performed to concentric muscle failure, I usually allow myself a minimum of 5 minutes before resuming my workout to maximize muscle growth. Conversely, for a less taxing exercise like tricep press downs, I usually only need about 2 and a half minutes to fully recover and resume my workout.
Listen to your body when deciding when you can resume your workout with all of your strength. Including this training technique will greatly enhance your ability to maximize muscle growth.
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