The problem with using slow, heavy eccentrics on a regular basis is that doing so takes a lot out of you and leads to much greater levels of soreness. The result is that you are not as fresh and ready to train as frequently as you should be. If you want to get stronger faster, then you need to be able to train a muscle more frequently. The more frequently you can train the same muscle group or lift, in a fresh and recovered state, the faster progress you’ll make. FACTOR # 5: REST INTERVALS BETWEEN SETS Rest intervals are dependent on a few different variables such as the exercise being used, the size and experience of the lifter and the desired training effect. In simple terms, long rest periods (2-3 minutes) allow for greater recovery of the nervous system. Shorter rest intervals (45-90 sec- onds) target the metabolic system and are linked with an increase in growth hormone and testos- terone production. Beginners can get away with shorter rest periods than more experienced lifters. They don’t have the capability of recruiting a large number of motor units and thus don’t tire out as easily. Beginners are also weak, in most cases, so they are not using very heavy loads that would demand longer recovery periods. A bigger, heavier lifter will require more rest between sets than a lighter lifter. Even at the same body weight, a stronger lifter will require more rest as well. This is because the stronger lifter is more neurologically efficient and is able to recruit more muscle fibers, which is more draining and takes longer to recover from.
28 Copyright © 2012 by Jason Ferruggia. All Rights Reserved What this means is that as a beginner you can recruit, let’s say, 70% of your available muscle fibers. As you get more advanced you can recruit a greater percentage of muscle fibers, maybe upwards of 90 or even closer to 100%. This is far more demanding and requires a longer rest period. If someone is in great anaerobic condition, he requires less rest than his not-so-well con- ditioned counterparts—all other factors being equal. Another thing that needs to be addressed when you are picking the optimal rest periods is that they can vary widely from one exercise to the next. You don’t need anywhere as much rest after a set of dips as you do after a set of deadlifts. So it is actually the exercise, how many muscles it works, how much weight you are able to use on it, and how draining it is on the body that needs to be considered when determining optimal rest periods. All that being said, I believe in keeping rest periods as short as possible. Of course, this should be within reason and you never want to be out of breath when starting a set. But you should strive to increase your work capacity and be able to use lower rest periods over time.
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