Muscle Size Science: 1, 2 , or 3 Minute Rest Periods

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Muscle Size Science: 1, 2 , or 3 Minute Rest Periods

By: Robbie Durand

When you are performing squat’s, its not uncommon to feel completely exhausted after a set, after all the squat is one of the most grueling exercises to perform.  I remember that classic scene in Pumping Iron when Arnold has to step over Ed Corney as he lay exhausted on the ground from squatting.  Some people will rest up to five minutes after a grueling set of squats. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends rest periods of at least 2 to 3 minutes between sets for core exercises (i.e squats and deadlifts), and 1 to 2 minutes for assistance exercises. However, according to the American College of Sports Medicine there is no strong current scientific evidence to support these rest interval recommendations. Therefore, due to the limited amount of scientific evidence on the effect of rest intervals on lower-body power training, researchers compared maximal power output, muscular activity and blood lactate concentration following 1, 2 or 3 minutes rest intervals between sets during squat training in young resistance-trained men.
man performing heavy squats
The study recommends 2 min of rest interval length for optimal recovery and power output maintenance during the subsequent exercise sets.

Studies investigating the effect of rest interval length between sets on neuromuscular performance and metabolic response during power training are scarce. Therefore, researchers compared maximal power output, muscular activity and blood lactate concentration following 1, 2 or 3 minutes rest interval length between sets during a squat power training protocol. Twelve resistance-trained men performed 6 sets of 6 repetitions of squat exercise at 60% of their 1 repetition maximum.  Muscular activity and blood lactate were measured pre and post-exercise session. There was no significant difference between rest interval length on peak power and average power. However, peak power decreased 5.6% using 1 minute rest periods, 1.9% using 2 minute rest periods, and 5.9% using 3 minute rest periods after 6 sets. Average power also decreased 10.5% (1 minute rest periods), 2.6% (2 minute rest periods), and 4.3% (3 minute rest periods) after 6 sets. Blood lactate increased similarly during the three training sessions and no significant changes were observed in the muscle activity after multiple sets, independent of rest interval length length. From a practical point of view, the results suggest that 1 to 2 minute of rest interval length between sets during squat exercise may be sufficient to recover power output in a designed power training protocol. However, if training duration is malleable, the researchers recommend 2 minutes of rest interval length for optimal recovery and power output maintenance during the subsequent exercise sets.

 

shutterstock_229480297Key points: This study demonstrates that 1 minute of rest interval length between sets is sufficient to maintain maximal power output during multiple sets of a power-based exercise when it is composed of few repetitions and the sets are not performed until failure. Therefore, a short rest interval length should be considered when designing training programs for the development of muscular power. Short rest interval length may be more practical for strength coaches under time constraints (i.e. 1 minute of rest interval length required only 7 minutes to complete an exercise session, while with 2 minutes take 12 minutes, and 17 minutes with 3 minutes of rest interval length.  Future research is needed to examine the longitudinal effects of interval rest in training programs designed for the development of muscular power.
This study demonstrates that 1 minute of rest between sets is sufficient to maintain maximal power output during multiple sets of a power-based exercise when it is composed of few repetitions and the sets are not performed until failure. Therefore, a short rest interval length should be considered when designing training programs for the development of muscular power. Short rest interval length may be more practical for strength coaches under time constraints (i.e. 1 minute of RI required only 7 minutes to complete an exercise session, while with 2 minutes take 12 minutes, and 17 minutes with 3 minutes of RI).
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Martorelli A, Bottaro M, Vieira A, et al. Neuromuscular and Blood Lactate Responses to Squat Power Training with Different Rest Intervals Between Sets. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2015;14(2):269-275.

 

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