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Amount of rest between sets makes no difference to strength progression

If youíve just started doing strength training and are short of time, then Brazilian sports scientists at the University of Brasilia have good news for you. The amount of time you rest between sets does not affect your progress. So strength training doesnít have to take much time.

The researchers got 34 male students, all new to weight training, to train their most important muscle groups for a period of 12 weeks. Twice a week the test subjects did 5 basic exercises for their major muscle groups, including dead lifts, bench presses and leg presses. Half of the group took just over one minute rest between sets [SR]; the other half rested for three minutes [LR]. The SR group made 14.4 percent progress, the LR group 10.5 percent. The difference in progression between the two groups was not statistically significant.

The graph below shows the progress in strength that the test subjects made on the leg press. For this machine both groups showed almost the same progression: The 1RM for the SR group increased by 17.5 percent and for LR group by 17.8 percent.

In their conclusion the researchers emphasise that they only looked at strength. "It is important to note that the results are limited to muscle strength, and the manipulation of rest intervals may interfere with other adaptations such as muscle hypertrophy and endurance."

J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):37-42.

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