Activity Hub

A little in-site into weight training

By James Griffiths PT 


One thing I find in this industry is that there is so much information and so many different ideas and ‘science’ being thrown around about how to do this or set up that for the highest results.
Today I will go through the topic of recovery time when weight training for muscle growth. This is from the meta analysis from James Krieger (see good guys in the industry are called James!)
What is a ‘meta analysis’? In short, it is where all the research studies on a particular topic are cross examined and conclusions are drawn using all the results to find a more balanced answer to a topic.
In terms of recovery time and muscle growth, there are so many different ways of thinking. Do you need to rest for 3 minutes or 30seconds? Which is best for growing muscle? It all becomes very confusing and you end up not knowing what the hell to do.
This meta analysis looked at several studies that used a variety of different rep ranges and loads (weight lifted) to find the overall trends in the research.
In the old days the Bro science used to sweat by short 1 minute rests for muscle growth, as the idea was that there was an elevation in anabolic hormones 15-30 minutes after a session. Research now suggests that these post training hormone increases aren’t related to muscle growth.
What we are finding with a lot of the data is that longer recoveries appear to benefit muscle growth especially in the big compound movements and certainly in big leg movements.
One study looked at 1 minute verses 5 minutes recovery using 4 sets of leg press and 4 sets of leg extensions. They measured muscle protein synthesis (an important process in muscle growth) 4 hours post training. In the 5 minute recovery group this was elevated by 152% and in the 1 minute group 76%, this seemed to be down to the fact that subjects could lift heavier weight with more recovery. So it would appear for leg training that longer recoveries could well be the way to go.
One area where shorter recoveries appear to be beneficial is in the smaller isolation upper body muscle movements such as lateral raises and bicep curls. By doing higher rep work with a moderate weight with 30 seconds recovery in these movements could well have a benefit to muscle growth.
The takeaways here are:

  1. Most training should involve rest intervals of 2 minutes or more between sets. This is especially true with heavy weight loads using large muscle groups and compound lifts and, in particular, leg training.  
  2. Follow your moderate to heavy work with some higher rep, very short rest pump work with your isolation movements for very small upper body muscle groups like shoulders and arms.

I have tried to keep this light on the data so not to overwhelm you too much, so this should give you a great base to build a solid training program.

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