Rest-Pause: A Proven Muscle-Building Method
Try one of Dr. Stoppani’s favorite techniques for both size and strength gains.
Supersets, HIIT, drop sets, and circuits get all the love in terms of intensity-boosting techniques that can help you build muscle and burn body fat — but there’s one less publicized method that’s just as effective for muscle gains (which will indirectly help you burn fat by boosting the metabolism) as those others. That method is none other than rest-pauses.
The rest-pause technique dates back to the days of bodybuilding pioneer Joe Weider, when he first published his “Weider Principles” over half a decade ago. Indeed, it helped build many legendary physiques, with bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, and Lee Haney training with rest-pauses in the quiver.
And rest-pauses should be part of your training repertoire, too. That is, if you’re interested in building hard, dense muscle and a legendary physique of your own. Here are the important details you need to know about this ultra-effective technique…
The Facts on Rest-Pause Training
What it is: A set where, after reaching failure, you rest a short period of time and continue to failure once again using the same weight. A typical set in this manner consists of 1-3 rest-pauses.
Why to do it: Rest-pauses allow you to take a set of a given exercise past the point of muscle failure, which can lead to more muscle size, strength, and definition. The short rest period allows you to stick with the same weight instead of going lighter. As a result, what once was a set of 10 reps with, say, 100 pounds becomes a set of 15-20 reps with 100 pounds by way of rest-pauses – so, more total work has been performed. (The underlying science that makes this possible is summed up below.)
How to do it: Performing a rest-pause set is very straight forward: Pick the weight you’d normally use for a given set, go to failure, rest 10-20 seconds, then pick the weight back up and rep to failure again. Repeat one or two more times.
The number of reps you’ll be able to perform will decrease significantly with each rest-pause, so don’t expect to fail at 10 reps, then rest 15 seconds and get another 10. Chances are, you’ll only be able to get 3-5 more reps, tops. If you do another rest-pause, you’ll get even fewer the next time. One way to avoid a big drop-off is to stop a couple reps short of failure on the initial set, which will allow you to get more reps after resting. Either way will work.
Dr. Jim Stoppani’s Rest-Pause Tips
In the above video, Dr. Stoppani offers these helpful rest-pause hints:
Don’t overdo it: Limit rest-pauses to only the last set of an exercise. Doing it on multiple sets could diminish your strength in subsequent sets. Of course, this isn’t a hard and rule; some of Dr. Stoppani’s more advanced training programs call for rest-pauses on multiple sets for an exercise. But in most cases, it’s best to limit your workout to one round of rest-pauses per exercise.
Don’t go too heavy: Rest-pauses typically work best when the initial set is over 8 reps or so. Using, say, your 3-rep max would make it difficult to achieve ample total reps. That said, when using rest-pauses specifically for gains in pure strength, heavier weights are advisable.
The Science Behind Rest-Pause
Dr. Stoppani explains how this technique works at the cellular level:
"Rest-pauses allow your muscles time to replenish phosphocreatine (PCr) stores," he says, referring to the same molecule (creatine) found in supplemental form in Pre JYM, Pre JYM X, and Post JYM. "With this shot of extra energy, the muscles can contract stronger, producing greater force and getting more reps. The greater the force your muscles can produce and the more reps you can perform, the greater the stimulus the muscles receive and the greater the gains in muscle size and strength that can be expected."