Q: What’s better, rest/pause or drop sets, and what’s the difference? I mean, I know what they are; you rest about 10 seconds between rest/pause sets using the same weight, but with drop sets you
A: We’ve found that rest/pause is best for exercises that use max force as their key growth component (midrange and stretch movements). It’s a great way to add a little more volume and force overload without too much extra time in the gym. The short rest of 10-15 seconds allows ATP and nerve pathways to regenerate somewhat so you can continue the force-overload assault.
Wouldn’t adding another set after a two-to-three-minute rest be better? Possibly, but that adds significant time to your workout. We always like to maximize the use of our time in the gym, so we have to find innovative ways to tweak up the volume without adding much time—and rest/pause is one of the best tactics for that. (Note: There’s more on rest/pause and volume vs. intensity training in the new X Update e-book.)
Drop sets, on the other hand, are best when occlusion is the primary growth factor—contracted-position exercises like leg extensions, leg curls, concentration curls, etc. On these, you’re trying to extend the tension time, so that means as little rest as possible—only enough to reduce the weight on the stack or grab a lighter pair of dumbbells.
A drop—two sets back to back, the second with a lighter weight—is a great way to force the secondary layer of growth that consists of mitochondria development and capillary bed expansion. Plus, you get more muscle burn, which can activate more growth hormone, a potent fat burner and muscle builder. If you want to look big like a bodybuilder, you have to attack every layer of growth—from max force to stretch overload to tension/occlusion.
NOTE: For other great tactics to help unleash more mass now, check out X-Rep Update HERE
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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