Q: I’ve been following your newsletters and noticed you guys talking about rest/pause not too long ago. Can you explain the technique a little more and the reasoning behind it?
A: Rest/pause is basically taking a very short break after you hit exhaustion on a set, and then repping out again with the same weight. The brief rest/pause allows the lactic acid to clear somewhat from the muscle and the nervous system and ATP to regenerate to a degree as well.
Our first exposure to rest/pause was through scientific-minded pro bodybuilder Mike Mentzer. He used the technique on a series of heavy singles. He would do around four max singles with 10 to 15 seconds of rest between each. The first two singles he would usually get on his own; then on the third he would need help (forced rep). For the fourth rep, he would either reduce the weight enough so he could get another single by himself or do another forced single.
Mentzer’s is a good variation for big midrange movements every so often. The drawbacks are that singles are very dangerous—especially if you let your ego get involved—and that type of low-rep training is more geared to strength development than muscle size—although trainees with a lot of pure fast-twitch fibers like Mentzer may get an equal amount of size and strength from max-single rest/pause.
Another rendition of rest/pause is DC training. Here you take a weight that allows you to get about nine reps. Then you rest for 20 seconds and do another set with the same weight—getting around six reps. You rest for another 20 seconds and do a third and final set with the same weight, getting around four reps.
That’s geared more toward building size than strength, and it’s an excellent variation for big midrange movements, like presses and rows. [There’s more about DC and other rest/pause styles and how to apply them in the 3D Muscle Building e-book.]
We’ve found that rest/pause is a good shock tactic that adds muscle size quickly during our ripping phase, but we’re not so rigid with the application. For example, we’ll rest/pause for 15 seconds and then rep out for five or more extra reps on any exercise, be it midrange, stretch, or contracted—and we may even add X-Rep partials to that second phase. Another favorite is to use it after a Double-X Overload (DXO) set.
Try this rest/pause technique…
On incline presses, do one straight set of about nine reps. Rest for two to three minutes and reduce the weight by about 20 percent. Now do a DXO set, putting an X-Rep partial at the bottom between each full rep.
That gives you a more explosive-style set that stresses the semi-stretch point at the turnaround for extra fast-twitch activation. When you reach exhaustion, probably around six or seven, rack the weight and count to 15. Then unrack the weight and do standard reps to exhaustion—and, if you’re looking for max-growth effects, add X-Rep partials at the back end of that set.
That’s a very concentrated anabolic stimulus. You get extra force generation, pump, burn and plenty of out-of-control profanities—it’s an all-encompassing technique that can reshape your physique.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
What Would You Do to Protect Your Family?
Mike Westerdal is a renowned personal trainer and national best-selling physical preparedness author, but he’s also a father and a husband… who would do anything to protect his family.
He used to get pushed around when younger and spent years building up his body and becoming stronger, getting mentally and physically tough the hard way. As he got bigger, he learned to handle himself, and working in security, he learned first-hand how violence really plays out.
Some of the other guys online who show off their self-defense videos and books need to get a grip. The level of skill needed to pull off their basic moves is CRAZY for most ordinary people.
If a defense system requires more than a few hours to master, it’s not a program.
The only techniques you will ever use are the simple ones.
They need to work for an ordinary person without prior training, technique, or ability.
So even if you think you don’t have time to learn how to defend yourself…
You don’t need to spend years training to be a martial artist.