Forget what you know about reps and rest. The ‘12 reps punctuated by a minute’s rest’ protocol, long relied upon by bulking bros, is now as outdated as their snapbacks. New research flexing its scientific muscle suggests that you need to lift lighter and rest longer to really pack on size.
Observing a test group who performed upper-body isolation moves, sports scientists found that a generous helping of five-minute rest periods produced the greatest overall rep output in those lifting weights at 50 per cent of their 1RM. The study, published in the Journal of Human Kinetics, found that a recovery time of 60 seconds – or even up to three minutes – wasn’t enough to fully recharge.
But that doesn’t mean restful sessions need to overrun. Longer rests will allow you to lift effectively in the 20-25 rep range, fitting in the same volume of work into fewer sets. Essentially, a scientific rejig of your current workout will see you rest more and yet build a better body.
Extended rest periods are not an excuse to exercise your thumbs on Instagram, however. Offset your pursuit of ‘the pump’ by spending the intervening five minutes working on your mobility with our muscle- loosening exercises (below). Match the move to your lift to make the most of your newly found free minutes in the gym.