Rest between sets for strength and power

(11-7-2013) The effects of strength or Bench press for strength and powerresistance training depend on different factors such as training intensity, training volume, exercise type and the amount of rest between series. Although most strength training research focuses on training intensity and volume, less research has been performed on different rest protocols. Scientists from Texas bundled their forces with researchers working for the US Military and the Marine Corps to study the effects of a classic muscle hypertrophy resting protocol and an intraset resting protocol to find out the effect of rest between sets.

What did the researchers do?

Twenty two men were recruited into this study. All had been training with a split training regimen aimed at strength or hypertrophy for at least two years. The men were tested on 1RM strength in bench press and back squat, power with a countermovement jump and 60% 1RM bench press and back squat and body composition using a DEXA scan which is one of the most reliable and accurate methods to assess body composition. The subjects were divided into two groups. Both groups trained for 12 weeks using an upper/lower body split training regimen for two subsequent days separated by one rest day. Training intensity varied each week between 60-75% of 1RM for all exercises. The group that followed the Traditional hypertrophy protocol performed four sets of 10 repetitions in each exercise and resting 120 seconds after every set. The other group followed the Intraset Rest Protocol performed eight sets of five repetitions and resting 60 seconds between sets. Otherwise training protocols were the same. To make sure the protocols were followed as closely as possible all training sessions were supervised by several personal trainers and other training staff.

What were the results?

The results are depicted in the figures below.

07-11-2013 1RM Bench Press Squat

Figure 1: 1RM Strength (kg) in bench press and back squat














7-11-2013 Power Bench Press and squat

Figure 2: Power (W) in bench press and back squat












Both the Traditional Hypertrophy training group and the Intraset Rest Training group increased their maximum strength in both bench press and back squat significantly. However the Intraset Rest Training group increased their strength to a larger extent in both exercises. Maximum power in the back squat increased similarly in both groups but power in the bench press only increased in the Intraset Rest Training group. No significant differences in body composition were found in either group.

What did the researchers conclude?

The results indicate that Intraset Rest Training increases strength to a far greater extent in already trained subjects. In addition it also has beneficial effects in terms of maximum power although to a lesser extent. Intraset Rest Training is likely to have larger effects in terms of muscle growth in the long term, although the training period may have been too short to induce significant hypertrophy in already well trained subjects.

What does this mean for me?

-Eight sets of five repetitions separated by relatively short rest periods is more effective in developing muscle strength, power and stimulates muscle growth to a larger extent than performing four sets of 10 repetitions at the same intensity.

See also:

-Split training or full body workout?


-Oliver, J.M., Jagim, A.R., Sanchez, A.C. et al. Greater Gains in Strength and Power With Intraset Rest Intervals in Hypertrophic Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2013, 27,11, 3116-3131.