Q: I remember reading in your newsletter not too long ago when you mentioned that the rest time between sets during a [10×10 sequence] should be 20 seconds. In the 10×10 e-book you say to use 30 seconds between sets. Is that a deliberate reduction, and if so, should I reduce my starting weight a little to accommodate the reduced rest?
A: Rest between sets during a 10×10 sequence should be anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds. Vince Gironda, famous Hollywood trainer known as the Iron Guru who trained Larry Scott for his first Mr. Olympia victory, liked to continue to gradually reduce it over many workouts till the trainee was down to only about 10 seconds of rest or less between sets. That doesn’t work for many trainees because of having a training partner…
So when one of you does a set, the other rests—the rest time depends on how much time the other’s set lasts, which is usually around 30 seconds. You can simply go back and forth till you’ve completed 10×10, 8×10, or whatever your goal is for that exercise—and that 10-minute mass blast creates a skin-stretching pump.
If you train alone, you can experiment with reduced rest times; however, exercises for larger muscle groups are going to require at least 30 seconds or you’ll run out of breath—your cardiovascular limits will be exceeded before you completely tax the muscle. That’s not what you want. So the rule of thumb is 20 to 30 seconds between sets in a 10×10 sequence.
Incidentally, in the 10×10 e-book we outline a strength-building 10×10 version—10×5—from the late great Olympic strength coach Charles Poliquin. He lays out a unique progressive-weight “undulation” sequence you use from workout to workout along with longer rests between the 10 sets.
His lower-rep, longer-rest version takes a little longer but gives you a significant strength spike compared to our density/fatigue minimal-rest 10×10 application that’s geared for extreme muscle size.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Mass-Building Lessons From the Master Trainer
Vince Gironda was the Iron Guru, a bodybuilding legend ahead of his time. His most famous pupil in the bodybuilding world was the very first Mr. Olympia Larry Scott, and he also trained many Hollywood stars back in the day, like Clint Eastwood, and even Arnold consulted with him and was a fan (even though Vince told Arnold that he was a “fat f**k” when he first arrived in the U.S.).
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