So you work out hard at the gym, but what do you do between sets? If it is just browsing your phone then you may not be making the most of your gym time.
Here are a few ways that you can use the time you rest between sets to boost your muscle and strength building results:
#1: Stretch out opposing muscles
Research has shown that if you stretch out the opposing muscles to the ones you are using to lift between sets then you can experience faster gains in both muscle and strength.
For example if you are working your back, then while you rest you should stretch out your chest.
Other opposing muscle groups include:
- Shoulders and back
- Thighs and hamstrings
- Biceps and triceps
During a study published in Research in Sports Medicine, saw 2 groups of subjects asked to perform 3 sets of seated rows. This exercise primarily works the lats.
The participants were allowed a 2 minute rest period between sets, with 1 group asked not to do anything, with the other groups having their pectoral muscles stretched for around 40 seconds.
The conclusion of the study revealed that those who stretched did not lose reps due to fatigue, plus saw more of an increase in muscle activity than those who did not stretch.
It is believed that stretching the opposite muscle help to relax the muscle that has been worked, therefore helping to aid recovery.
#2: Get some cardio
If you want to build endurance or burn fat, or both even then the time between sets could be the perfect time to do a little cardio.
You could do bodyweight cardio such as jumping jacks, or use a kettlebell or cardio machine. Just make sure you do not choose an exercise that competes with the workout you are doing.
For example avoid the treadmill if you are doing squats.
#3: Breathe deeply
While our other tips advocate doing something between sets, sometimes the time is best for complete rest.
To aid your recovery ready for another set, sit and take a deep breath in. Make sure to exhale slowly and to ensure it takes twice as long as your inhale.
This simple act can help to slow down your heart rate and restore normal breathing.
So how much rest between sets is recommended?
The NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) have provided the following approximate recommendations for rest periods between sets:
- For muscle gains = 30-90 seconds of rest
- Strength gains = 2-5 minutes
- Endurance = Less than 30 seconds
With this information at hand, perhaps you should leave your phone one side and do something that will benefit your training between sets. I have given you a few ideas, now go do them.