Latest Research: Rest Periods for Hypertrophy, Cluster Sets/Myo-reps/Gironda


I just had a question that I would appreciate feedback from the forum on.

I am trying to square the circle on what the latest research from Brad Schoenfeld says regarding rest periods and what some of the experts have said over time.

Schoenfeld’s research, echoed in Eric Helms’ Strength Pyramid book (which I have an like) says that short rest periods i.e. before full recovery will lead to less strength and hypertrophy gains – I can understand strength but am surprised about hypertrophy but they say it is backed by meta-analysis and dedicated studies.

However, the principle of Cluster sets, Myo-reps and even the way Vince Gironda advocated training was to have short rests and accumulate fatigue. All of these methods seemed to get good results. The nearest Helms comes to shortening rests is to have two minutes between non-competing muscle groups e.g. bench, 2 minute rest, row, 2 minute rest, repeat.

I know that Poliquin feels that research takes time to catch up and also that studies have a hard time controlling for everything.

An added benefit in theory of shorter rests seems to be better conditioning as a by-product.

So, I wondered what the thinking on the forum was?

Thanks in advance

Ive seen good hypertrophy results keeping rest intervals relatively short and doing a lot of supersets, giant sets, etc. I’m sure that doing things differently also works.

That said, I believe it would be difficult to get in adequate volume for bodybuilding purposes while recovering FULLY between every single set.

rest times are just another variable to manipulate


These things can’t operate in a vacuum. The benefit associated with short rest periods, giantsets, clustersets, etc, is that they allow for MORE volume in the same training time than when not employed.

For example; you take a trainee that is resting 5 minutes between sets. Say each set takes them 1 minute to complete. In the span of an hour, this trainee can accomplish 10 sets. Let’s say this trainee is using 300lbs for each set, so in an hour, they accumulate 3000lbs of volume.

You take another trainee, and because he is resting for 3 minutes between sets, he can’t lift 300lbs for all sets. He isn’t able to recover at that weight. So he’s using 250lbs for his sets. If he’s taking 1 minute to perform the set, he can get in 15 sets in an hour. This means 3,750lbs of volume compared to the first trainee.

But these factors AREN’T considered when evaluating the merits of shorter rest times and other tricks; the assumption is that a trainee will just do the exact same workout as before, simply faster. It’s like; yeah, that’s stupid. You USE the extra time to get in more volume and achieve a greater training density.


Yeah, these are great points and illustrate the problem with isolated propositions in the context of something complex like biological adaptation. The OP statement might be true or useful as far as it goes, but it doesn’t really go that far when we’re talking about real life training situations.

I will say that at least with regard to myo-reps, the posited benefit isn’t “training density” or fatigue per se, but that you are trying to replicate the effect of performing more “last reps” of a set in a short period of time. I.e., Borge argues that the final 2-3 reps of a higher rep set are the most critical for growth, and the primary purpose of the earlier reps is simply to get you to those later ones, so myo-reps are a more efficient way of accomplishing the same thing. I’m not sure Borge would argue that 2 or 3 sets of myo-reps are more effective than 5 sets of 8 with full rest, just that a similar effect is achieved with less time and energy.

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Thanks for the replies and for the clarification on myo-reps.

Just to clarify all of this is asked from the perspective of being time poor.

Gironde did certainly think better hypertrophic resulted from shorter rests in themselves I think as opposed to the byproduct of more density.

Could I just get thoughts on the following scenario as far as which would be better for hypertroohy:

Scenario 1: a circuit/superset or 5 non-competing exercises 1 minute apart, so 3 minutes before repeating an exercise.
Scenario 2: 5, exercises straight sets a minute apart.

I’d imagine you’d lift heavier on scenario 1 but is the ‘long’ break between sets going to mitigate hypertrohy?

I realize no one would typically do a five exercise superset but using a high number helps to illustrate the dilemma I think. Would the best thing be to alternate between super sets and straight Sets periodically.

Look at 6 weeks to superhero.

The concept is intriguing. Not practical in a commercial gym though. Yes, I’ve tried it.

Waterbury also explains his progressions really well as far as time, extra rep and/or more weights.