Short rest between strength-training sets results in more muscle


From Ergo Log

Bodybuilders and other strength athletes who rest for 1 minute between sets build more muscle mass, strength and speed than athletes who rest for 4 minutes. Sports scientists at the University of Southern California discovered this when they did an experiment with 22 men in their sixties.

As the population greys, the number of elderly people whose functioning decreases as a result of muscle decay is on the increase. The best medicine against this is strength training, but scientists are still not sure what kind of strength training is optimal. In this study, which will soon be published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, the researchers looked at the effect of the length of the rest between sets on the muscles.

Short rest between strength-training sets results in more muscle
The researchers got their subjects to do four weeks of strength training first so that they became accustomed to this form of exercise. Then they divided the men into two groups.

All 22 men trained three times a week, and during each workout they trained all big muscle groups in the body, doing 4-6 basic exercises including leg-presses, bench-presses, dumbbell-stepups, Romanian deadlifts, lat-rows and lat-pulldowns. All of the men did 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps for each exercise.

One group rested for 1 minute between sets, the other for 4 minutes.

In the eight weeks that the experiment lasted the men who rested for 1 minute between sets built up more muscle mass than the men in the other group.

The men who took 1-minute pauses also built up more strength. Solid line: 1-minute rest; broken line: 4-minute rest.

When the researchers got the men to climb stairs – to be precise they got their subjects to do the Margaria Stair-Climbing Test – they discovered that the men who had trained with shorter rests were faster than the men who had rested for 4 minutes between sets.

“The results of the current investigation offer a novel strategy for prescribing strength resistance training in a population of healthy older men, as well as a model for periodization that may potentially optimize both hypertrophic and neural adaptations to long-term periodized resistance training”, the researchers write.

“Prescribing strength resistance exercise and periodized strength resistance training for older men with relatively short rest interval lengths in between sets may optimize hypertrophic and performance adaptations to short-term strength resistance training and, therefore, maximally offset the age-related declines in lean body mass, strength, and power.”

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Oct 8. [Epub ahead of print].



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