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Rest Periods with Exercise Format

Source: J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jun ;24 (6):1573-7.

In resistance training, the effect of long or short rest intervals and the effect of exercise order on muscle gains and performance are always being debated. The goal is to optimize gains and performance while minimising time spent at the gym. The purpose of the study was to evaluate repetition performance with 2 different rest intervals between sets and exercises for an upper body workout completed in two different sequences.

Participants included recreationally trained men who completed four experimental resistance exercise sessions. Each exercise session included three sets of an 8-repetition maximum load for six different upper body exercises. Two different exercise sequences were followed, and included either 1 minute rest intervals or 3 minute rest intervals between sets and exercises. In the first group, the exercise order was as follows: lat pull down with a wide grip, lat pull down with a close grip, machine seated row, barbell row lying on a bench, dumbbell seated arm curl, and machine seated arm curl. The second group did the same exercises but in the reverse order.

The results showed that the effect of the order of exercises was stronger than the effect of rest interval length for lat pull downs and for seated arm curls. However, rest interval length was more important for all the rest of the exercises. This outcome suggests that in terms of repetition performance, upper body exercises involving similar muscle groups are negatively affected when performed at the end instead of the beginning of an exercise session. In addition, the decline in repetition performance is greater when using 1 minute rest intervals as compared to 3 minute rest intervals between sets.

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