How To Use Rest Pause Sets In Your Workouts For Big Gains

Rest-pause sets are one of the best intensity techniques out there. If properly implemented, they will allow you to push your muscles well beyond traditional muscular failure. Adding merely one set alone will give you immediate transient muscular hypertrophy along with skin splitting muscle pumps. There are countless benefits to this training technique. There are also just as many ways to merge them into your current exercise routine. However, before I jump into all of that, let me first explain to you exactly what rest-pause sets are.


So, what are rest-pause sets anyway?

Rest-pause sets are performed by simply going to muscular failure for a given number of repetitions, resting for 10-15 seconds, then lifting the same weight to failure once more, resting for another 10-15 seconds, and repeating the cycle for the desired number of sets.

This fast paced high intensity training technique is one of the best out there to help you pack on size quickly. With such short rest periods, you keep your pump much more easily and build upon it tenfold with each repetition. In addition to the decreased rest periods, taking each individual set to maximum muscular failure makes this training technique stand on its own with regards to sheer intensity and effectiveness.

Rest-pause sets can be done many ways and you can easily alter it to your liking. However, I have found that keeping a weight that allows you to max out on 12 reps is best. Using the same weight with each set, you should average about -2 reps per extra rest-pause set you do.


How can I add rest-pause sets to my workout?

You should use rest-pause sets in the same way as you would use drop set training techniques. Meaning that you would use them on the last working set of an exercise. Be that as it may, if you are new to rest-pause sets then you should gradually invite them into your training regimen. I would say to just throw in a handful of sets into each workout first.

Workout #1
An example beginner rest-pause set (RPS) workout for shoulders may look something like this:

  • Shoulder press machine 10-12 reps 3-4 sets (2 RPS)
  • Standing dumbbell lateral raises 10-12 reps 3-4 sets (2 RPS)
  • Bent-over dumbbell lateral raises 10-12 reps 3-4 sets (2 RPS)

Remember, to get the most bang for your buck, each rest-pause set should be done to absolute muscular failure with about 10 seconds of rest between each one.

For experienced gym goers, I would recommend a much more intense variation of the previous routine as follows:

Workout #2

  • Wide-grip barbell upright rows 8-10 reps 4 sets (5 RPS)
  • Seated dumbbell lateral raises 10-12 reps 4 sets (4 RPS)
  • Posterior delt machine 10-12 reps 4 sets (3 RPS)
  • Shoulder front press machine 8-10 reps 4 sets (2 RPS)
  • Close-grip barbell upright rows 8-10 reps w/5 RPS*

*No working sets on the last exercise. Only 5 all out rest-pause sets starting with 8-10 reps.

For workout #2, a descending rest-pause set strategy is great for allowing your body to stay intense, as you will naturally weaken after each exercise. Wide-grip barbell upright rows are a fantastic starter exercise for the shoulders. This is due to using the wider grip variation. Doing so will activate all three heads of the shoulders, thus adequately preparing the deltoids for the intense workout ahead.

The last exercise is meant to fully exhaust the shoulders to finish them off. It consists of five all out rest-pause sets. You will probably surprise yourself of how light the weights are that you’ll be using once you get to this point of the workout.

5 Benefits of training with Rest-Pause sets

  1. Overloading: The use of rest-pause sets will overload your muscle tissue far beyond traditional muscular failure. Thus, leading to an increase in muscular mass.
  2. Breaking Plateaus: The body adapts to weight training relatively easily. Implementing a new and highly intense training technique such as this will undoubtedly promote muscle growth.
  3. Insane Muscle Pumps: Using rest-pause sets will intensely give you crazy muscle pumps and fatigue your muscle cells insurmountably. This is due to the short rest periods and multiple failure sets that this technique is known for.
  4. Variety: In the gym, keeping things fresh is always encouraged. Going through the same typical workout day after day can be beyond monotonous. Rest-pause sets can keep things interesting again as they need fast paced and highly intense efforts.
  5. Versatility: You can easily add this technique to your current training routine. Just simply add a few of them after your last working set.

Are rest-pause sets effective for all exercises?

Yes and no.

I say this because it depends on how you do them. As most people know, it isn’t very safe to go to complete muscular failure while performing heavy squats or lunges. I can’t imagine anyone actually going through four working sets of heavy squats, taking the fourth set to failure, then performing four more rest-pause sets to failure. That would obviously be an overkill and be potentially dangerous.


The potential danger of using rest-pause sets with big movements like squats is also because as our bodies fatigue, our form begins to become sloppy. Thus, leaving room for injuring something.

So, if you wanted to use rest-pause sets with exercises like squats, deadlifts, or leg presses, it would be wise to use them with about 85% of your one-rep-max instead of to 100% all out failure.

In Conclusion, here’s the verdict on Rest-Pause sets

As you can see, rest-pause sets are an incredible training technique that helps countless people blast through plateaus, achieve swelling muscle pumps, and pack on plenty of muscle mass. If performed properly, they can help you to take your physique to the next level and allow you to reap a glorious harvest of increased muscle mass.

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