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Fixed-Rest Intervals Versus Self-Selected Rest

Strength gains appear equivalent, but what about efficiency?

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Interval training

Are you strength training with fixed-rest intervals between sets, or do you use self-selected rest intervals? In a study of trained men, published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2020; doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003606), one group used a fixed-rest interval of 75 seconds between sets, while those in a second group self-selected their rest durations. Strength gains were equivalent between the groups, but fixed-rest intervals were 37% more time-efficient than self-selected rest intervals.

The program included 33 male participants randomly divided into two groups, who followed study protocols of three sets to rep failure for four upper-body exercises, three times per week for 8 weeks.

See also: A Best Rest Interval for Bench Press?


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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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