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Rest Period Discussion

I’m interested in how people handle their rest periods between sets. Recently, I’ve been having trouble progressing without increasing my rest periods, but at the same time a part of me feels like that’s not real progress because I’m not so stronger, just better rested.

It is complicated by the fact that when I was in my twenties I never rested longer than two minutes between sets. Back then weight lifting was, for me, cross training for martial arts and everyone I knew thought my 300 pound bench and 500 pound leg press were pretty impressive (I know better now), so I was happy.

However, lots of life stuff happened so I lost years of lifting. Now I’ve been back into it a while, and my bench + squat + dead lift = 1008, but I’m in my mid-40s and rest three minutes between benches and squats and 4 minutes between dead lifts. I feel like I’m pressing up against a ceiling, and the only way to break it is to rest four minutes between squats and five between dead lifts, but a voice in the back of my mind is guilt tripping me, saying that’s cheating all over again.

So far as weightlifting is concerned, what are your goals?

How so ? Rest periods are a guide line…

Um… has your strength gone up?

Probably would help if people knew what your actual program looks like.

Like the two gentlemen above hinted, I’m not sure I can tell you what YOUR rest periods should look like, but I can tell you how I’ve approached mine over the years.

As a beginning lifter I ran a 5x5-ish type of fullbody program. I took long rests usually. I never measured it, but I’d put 3-5 minutes in between most working sets. This got me plenty stronger.

I presently run 5/3/1. I rest only long enough to load the plates for the next set until I get to my top set. I take a 2-3 minute breather before that, but I’m usually still breathing heavy when I start. This is also getting me stronger. Assistance work I keep rest pretty short and incorporate a fair bit of supersets with no rest at all.

There’s really no long-term drawback that I can measure from condensing my work. I’m still a big tubby dude, but I’m in pretty good shape for a big tubby dude. My work capacity is insanely higher than it was 3 years ago.

This comes in handy during real life chores. I’m a lot better in bed now too. The only thing I feel like I lose is getting the best possible numbers on my top set for that day, but I don’t think that even matters that much in the long term. I’m still getting stronger over the long term with dramatically shortened rest periods. Who cares if I only get 6 reps instead of 7 if I’m still getting stronger?

That said, the competitive powerlifters I train with take some LONG rest periods. I will bust out entire workouts in the time it takes these guys to rotate through a few sets of squats. A few of these guys are elite-level, so they’re obviously taking those long rests for some kind of reason.

I hope this helps!

Tuesdays or Wednesdays: push presses, squats, incline flies, trap carries
Thursdays or Fridays: dead lift variations, pull up variations, squat assistance exercises, rows
Sunday: good mornings, abs, squat assistance, swimming

I realize that can be a little vague in parts, but I’m trying to work through some weak links in the chain. Last month I was doing behind the head shoulder presses and dips on the pushing day.

Yes, it does. And I am a big, tubby dude, too, but women seem to forgive me as long as my chest sticks out further than my belly. :grin:

I would like to get stronger per pound. Someday I would like to be able to lift my own weight over my head, but that’s a far in the future goal because I would have to lose as much fat as gain power. I do almost as many leg exercises in a week as I do all the upper body exercises together because I think it’s more of a calorie burn off/metabolism raiser. But in the end I’d be happy if I died at home with a pretty wife instead of in a home with a nurse.

Personally that’s awesome you can joke about yourself. We all have our flaws and weaknesses. I try to take one day at a time but yesterday I made beer battered pretzels for the guys with beer cheddar dip and I don’t drink so I’m glad they got devoured lol. I love to bake and cook so poker night is frequent at our house. I love challenges in not only sports but food too. I view my kitchen as my chem lab and have so much joy now that I appreciate and love food. Can’t believe I was all skin and bones for awhile. Truly pathetic. I’ve got my body armor now and you know what…I don’t get so damn cold all the time lol

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