How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?
During the strength workouts here at CrossFit Cavaliers, we often stress resting between your sets. Sometimes, it can be a struggle to get out of the traditional CrossFit mindset of “3..2..1..GO!” In order to make strength gains, it’s critical that we implement some sort of rest periods in our training. It’s pretty simple, the longer you rest, the better you perform on the next set. Now, that doesn’t mean a “Rest” period is a time for you to go to your local Cali-Mex for a double protein burrito nor is it a time for you to have a 15 minute conversation about how you heard from a friend of a friend that Reebok is coming out with a waterproof CrossFit make-up that doesn’t smear when you sweat. (They aren’t)
Rest is there for a reason, and in order to understand rest, you have to understand the energy pathways.
ATP-PC System-This is your V-8 of energy systems because it provides the most “power”. Its downfall, however is that it burns out very quickly. I like to keep things easily relatable to everyday life. So, imagine you are being chased by an incredibly lazy bear. You come face to face with the beast, and instinctually turn and run at an all out sprint for 50-75 yards (10 Seconds or so). You look back to see the bear has given up and moved on. Congrats, you just used your ATP-PC System AND survived a bear attack. This energy system is also used in golf swings, powerlifting and other short and powerful bursts of activity. (Like dropkicking a bear in the chest.) It is also worth noting that system doesn’t use oxygen or produce lactic acid, therefore it is referred to as “alactic anaerobic”.
Anaerobic System (Lactic Acid System)- This system provides energy for exercise lasting from 10 seconds to 2 minutes approximately. Back to the hypothetical bear attack. This time he is a little more relentless because you stupidly keep fresh wild caught salmon in your back pocket, and he wants it….BAD. He chases you for about 400 meters before he finally gives up. Some of our workouts fall in this time domain. (Think 3 rounds with 3 minutes rest of 15 KBS, 10 Cal on A/B and 5 burpees)
Aerobic System: This pathway kicks in for the long haul. Dominant in low intensity exercises lasting more than 2 minutes and can go for several hours. In our hypothetical situation: You decided to pitch your tent at a campsite surrounded by elite, marathon running bears. Lucky you! Upon coming face to face with one, you stare eye to eye as he laces he sneakers and eats a Powerbar. You know your f*cked. This bear runs marathons for fun. You take off at a slow, steady pace and hope its enough. You continue at this pace for 3 and a half hours. Luckily, the bear gave up and again, you get out of a dangerous situation alive. It’s your lucky day.
Now, depending on the activity, the body will pull from one energy source over the other, often using the three in concert to make the most of the movement.
Now, back to the original question: How long do you rest?
The answer varies. No two people are alike and peoples goals vary.
2-5 Minutes Rest: This is useful for people who are trying to improve their explosive activities of a short duration. That means that longer rest periods are generally better for people who are training for strength and power and should be used together with lower reps.
This is because your body requires just about 3 minutes to restore the ATP-PC stores for your next set. Once the ATP-PC energy system gets back near 100% you’ll be to lift a heavier weight for more reps. So, you should rest longer to get the energy to go heavy.
45-60 Seconds: Taking a shorter rest works better for hypertrophy and building overall muscle mass. The point here is not to lift the most weight you can possibly lift. Your purpose is to keep the stress on your muscles and work them again before they have the chance to fully recover.
This gives your muscles intensity over a longer period of time and allows you to keep your muscle “pump” between sets. This is best for the 8-12 rep range that is typically seen in bodybuilding programs, and is optimal for increasing muscular mass and hypertrophy.
Bottom line: In order to add WEIGHT to your lifting program, you need to add some WAIT. See what I did there?
*Side note: Grizzly bears run at a top speed of 30 MPH while the fastest human on earth runs about 23 MPH, so uhh, yea, we wouldn’t stand a chance.
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A list of reasons why you should love squatting
1) Squats build more than leg muscles
Did you know squatting not only focuses those gains on your Quads but also does wonders for what is commonly referred to as the Posterior chain(Hamstring, Lower Back,etc). Moreover, especially with weighted variations, many of the body's auxiliary and stabilising muscles are also put to the test. So if you are all about the gains, squats are you best friend!
2) Squatting is the best functional exercise
When you talk about functional exercises, it doesn't get more functional than the squat! Everyday sitting down and standing up, to also an extent walking and running (same motor function groups), squatting trains your body in ways that allow you to perform better in both CrossFit and everyday life. Some variations of weighted squats, such as front squats or zerchers squats, can even simulate functional movements such as carrying and moving objects around; this prevents injury in everyday life and makes you the "go to guy" for any physical challenging task.
3) Squats make you perform better
Following the previous point, training in squats allows you to perform better in your everyday WOD. The most obvious way would be making your legs stronger.
Moreover, depending on the weight and intensity you are training at, squats do wonders for your nervous system development as well! This in turn makes you stronger in other movements. Not only can squats make you jump higher and run faster; the auxiliary muscles that help with stability and balance are taken care of as well.
4) Squats prevent injury
Doing full squats promotes great pre-habilitation for the knee! Squats would give you stronger joints and develop a more flexible and mobile body thus you are doing what's necessary to keep yourself out of rehab. Especially for people who are in the high risk bracket for joint problems such as osteoporosis, squatting promotes strong and healthy knee and hip joints.
5) Squats improve balance
The obvious benefit of squats regarding balance is to improve it; however in another sense of the word, squatting does promote muscular balance in the body. Sports activities often cause muscular imbalance since natural movements do not load the body symmetrically and over a long period of time, imbalances in the muscles and joints emerge. Squats with impeccable form will allow the body to become more balanced and undo some of the damages.
6) Squats give you a stronger core
Your core muscles consist of your abdomen muscle groups, internal and external obliques(sides), pelvic floor muscle groups and erector spinae(lower back). Squats are one of the best exercises to strengthen all those muscles; a stronger core means more power to your arms and legs as they have a good base to fire from.
It doesn't get much better than that!
7) Squats can be done virtually anywhere
Squats are such a fundamental exercise, also an easy one to do anytime, anywhere! Whether you are sitting with a mojito within arms reach; or stuck in a hotel without a gym on your next business trip.
Squats will definitely be one of the cornerstone exercises in your workout. Moreover, if there's one thing we are not short of at CrossFit Cavaliers, it's squat racks! So pick up a bar today and squat away!
8) Squats strengthen muscles you dont even know you have
Whenever we move, aside from the main muscle groups doing what they are supposed to, there are many others hard at work to keep you stable and balanced. These muscles are known as accessory muscles; notable ones include your core groups and rotator cuffs muscle groups. Since squats are universal compound movements( multi-joint), it is one of the best exercises to train those muscles that do all the background work in order for you to function as an athlete.
9) Squats increase power
Like I mentioned earlier, squats are a great way to build more muscles and develop the nervous system. So naturally it does wonders for your power output too. Whether you are looking to improve that 1RM or have better power to body weight ratio, squatting is the way to go. Be sure to train both absolute strength(1 RM); and also power (speed) which could be improved by doing plyometrics training. Plyometrics are categorised by utilising the elasticity of your muscles in order to generate as much power as possible with the least amount of time.
10) There are so many variations, squats are definitely my favourite exercise of all!
From back squats to front squats; hack squats and pistols; to the lesser known zercher squats and hack squats; or even the ever challenging overhead squats. There are simply too many to choose from and all of them are a blast to do! So join us at CrossFit Cavaliers today and see where squats will take you on your fitness journey!
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