We all hit plateaus with gaining muscle from time to time. When that time comes, and it will, we usually have to make changes in our workout program. Changes to your workout routine do not have to be drastic though.
I’ve always been a believer in keeping the basic mass building exercises in my regimen (ex: incline barbell press and bench press for chest, barbell rows and dumbbell rows for back, etc). You can switch up the order of your exercises, or even switch your training days around. But what I’ve found to be more effective when I hit a plateau in gaining muscle is implementing different weight training techniques.
Intro to Rest-Pause
Rest-pause training is somewhat new to me as I’ve only been using this technique for about a year. I got it from watching one of Jay Cutler’s leg training videos where he was doing rest-pause sets on the leg press machine.
I tried it on my next leg day and have been using rest-pause training several times a week since on various muscle groups. Whereas I don’t necessarily believe there’s a best technique for gaining muscle, I seem to respond better to rest-pause training.
I still use other techniques such as drop sets, supersets, and negative reps. I also sometimes throw in the famous FST-7 training that many pro bodybuilders now implement into their training. But rest-pause training is the technique I’ve been using the most.
What Are Rest Pause Sets?
Though you may find slightly different definitions of rest-pause training, I’m going to give you my take and how I use it in my workouts. I basically pick a weight I can normally do about 12 reps with and stick with this weight. I’ll do a set then rest for seven seconds. I repeat this two more times, using the same weight.
Usually this means my first set is around 12 reps, second set between six to eight reps, and third set between four to six reps. It really depends on the exercise as to how many reps I get on those last two sets. I count those three sets as one complete set.
Often times I’ll do three to four rest-pause sets (which basically means nine to 12 complete sets). On leg day I may go up to five rest-pause sets. I usually only do rest-pause sets for one exercise per workout for that body part.
Sample Rest-Pause Chest Workout
Here’s an example of a rest-pause training workout on chest day. I’ll list the entire workout but only one exercise is using rest-pause sets. It’s common that I use the rest-pause training technique on my second exercise. I also usually use a machine for rest-pause training unless I have a spotter.
- Bench Press: 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Hammer Strength Incline Press: 3 rest pause sets (nine complete sets)
- Decline Bench Press: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 3 sets x 12-15 reps
Rest-pause training is brutal so you need to make sure you’re 100% rested and focused, ready to get serious with the iron. You can use this technique with any exercise and for any muscle group. Rest-pause sets are a great way to break past that plateau.
They’re also good for keeping your intensity high and taking your muscles to the next level. Some of the benefits I’ve noticed is the shape of my muscle bellies changing, and having a more ripped and powerful looking physique.
Rest-pause training seems to bring out definition and cuts, but can also make you stronger. To me, rest-pause is one of the better techniques for enhanced muscle growth and shaping.
Train with Passion,