WHAT IS IT?
Rest Pause sets are a way to increase the effective reps performed with high intensities and loads. Using your 12-15RM, perform THREE “mini” sets to, or close to, technical failure. Each set should be separated by 20-30 sec rest. The key here is the use of THREE sets, specifically.
HOW TO TRACK PROGRESSION?
Progress would be tracked through TOTAL reps achieved with a given weight over the course of the three mini sets. You can shoot for increasing weight, increasing reps or both in subsequent weeks.
WHO SHOULD USE IT?
Because the effectiveness of RP sets is predicated on the ability to sustain high levels of intensity and technical integrity, advanced trainees are going to be the best candidates for use. Within this group, those with higher levels of absolute strength but have a lower tolerance for volume increases will get the most out of RP sets. Certain intermediate trainees may be able to utilize RP sets with very specific movements (low risk/fatigue/skill variations) and/or staying shy of failure (i.e. leaving 1-2RIR on each set).
WHO SHOULD NOT USE IT?
RP sets will be strongly contraindicated for novices/beginners and those who cannot take a set to failure safely and with perfect technique.
WHEN TO USE IT?
Phases of low volume/high intensity are typically going to be best for RP inclusion as the progression can be foundational within the programming. Culminating weeks of moderate-to-high volume blocks can also be good times to use RP sets as a way to strategically overreach before deloading. For those looking to increase strength, I’ve found that using RP sets with secondary or accessory movements can be effective if volume is controlled for.
It is important to note that the acute fatigue generated by RP sets will impact all training that comes after it within a single session. For this reason, careful consideration should be given to the order of RP sets in your session as well as exercise selection.
WHEN NOT TO USE IT?
RP sets do not mix well with high volumes of straight sets. Obviously, they should be avoided any time fatigue management is a primary goal within a training cycle.
HOW TO USE IT?
When evaluating an exercise to determine suitability for RP sets, run through this checklist: high level of stability, ability to fail safely and easily, quick/easy transitioning between sets, minimal intrinsic failure points, minimal axial loading, low prerequisite for skill/coordination, ability to micro-load, and low rep variance. We want the movement to carry as little risk of injury or unnecessary fatigue generation as possible. Machine and cables are almost always going to be preferred due to the prerequisites listed above.
1)Machine Chest Press- Work up to a set of 8-10 @9RPE; Next set, reduce the load by ~10% and perform 1xRest Pause (Each set should be to technical failure with ~20 sec rest between them)
2)Chest Supported Tbar Rows- 2x5-8 (1RIR); Next set, reduce load by ~20% and perform 1xRest Pause (Each set should be to 1RIR with ~20 sec rest between them)
3)Leg Press- 1xRest Pause with ~12RM (Each set should be to 1RIR with ~20 sec rest between them)
HOW NOT TO USE IT?
Building off the above, RP sets must be practical and safe. The name of the game is maximizing intensity and ease of progression so any variations or execution parameters that deviate from these principles will be contraindicated.
1)Flat DB Press- Too time-consuming and energetically wasteful between sets
2)Conventional Deadlifts- Too high of a risk of injury with the axial loading
3)Barbell Walking Lunges- Too unstable and impractical with the alternating reps
BENEFITS OF THE TECHNIQUE:
-Very large stimulus while keeping total volume low
-Low spacial requirements
-Paralleled strength and hypertrophy gains
-Easy to track progressions over a long period of time
DRAWBACKS OF THE TECHNIQUE:
-Generates a lot of systemic fatigue
-Limited to advanced trainees
-Higher risk of injury due to proximity to failure
-Limited selection of exercise variation
-Can be challenging to dial in the proper rest periods across various movements and loading ranges