Rest-pause training breaks one heavy set into several short sets. You do a set, rest 15-30 seconds, then continue doing smaller sets until you effectively double the number of reps in the set or reach technical failure. You can use this method with a variety of exercises.
Here’s what to do
- Warm up by doing 3 sets, ramping up in weight with 3-5 reps per set to fire up your central nervous system. Then move to the rest-pause set.
- Your rest-pause set will use about 85% of your one-rep max, or a weight you can do for 5-7 reps, depending on your strength levels and muscle fiber composition. Go a little heavier if you’re purely focused on strength rather than size gains; I find 85% to be the sweet spot for a mix of both.
Example if your 1 RM is 315 pounds:
- 65% x 5 = 205 pounds
- 70% x 5 = 220 pounds
- 80% x 3 = 250 – 255 pounds
- 85% = 270 pounds
Rest Pause Set
- 270 pounds x 6 reps, rest 15-30 seconds, then…
- Do 1-3 reps, rest 15-30 seconds.
- Do 1-2 reps, rest 15-30 seconds.
- Do 1-2 reps, or as many reps as needed until you double the rep goal.
Use a spotter and stop sets earlier if your rep range is compromised or you reach technical failure.
Here’s Why It Works
If you lift a heavier weight for more reps you provide the stimulus for building strength and size. This is precisely what rest-pause training allows. You’ll lift heavy enough to train high-threshold muscle fibers and create progressive overload to build size and strength.
Plus you’ll have enough rest to partially recover adenosine triphosphate and phosphocreatine (ATP-PC ) energy systems used for immediate power. And you’ll have enough rest to increase growth-inducing metabolic stress on the later sets.