New research done at the University of Birmingham suggests that longer resting periods during weight lifting sets may help to improve the growth of muscles. Their observations found that short rest times in between reps may actually hinder the processes that lead to muscle growth.
In the tests, 16 men were asked to take part in resistance exercise, followed by either a minute of rest or five minutes of rest. At 0, 4, 24 and 28 hours after the exercise, muscle biopsies were collected in order to calculate MPS (or myofibrillar protein synthesis) as well as intercellular signaling. During the earlier hours after exercise, MPS increased two times as much in individuals who had taken five minute breaks. The numbers displayed a staggering 152% increase, whereas those with shorter rest times only increased by 76%.
The University of Birmingham’s own Dr. Leigh Breen says that while short resting times lead to a superior hormonal response, muscle responses were far weaker. He goes on to say that those who are looking to maximize their muscle growth during their workouts may find it beneficial to take longer breaks between sets.
While a complete five minute break may not be required, the team who worked on the study does recommend that rookie lifters take at least two or three minute breaks between lifting to give muscles time to react. As individuals become more experienced with lifting, it may be helpful to lower times of rest to counteract natural plateau that muscle builders commonly experience as their bodies become used to the pattern. The team goes on to say that experienced weight lifters are recommended to stick with a minimum of two minutes between reps even though their muscles may not experience the same blunted response when it comes to building due to their bodies having adapted to the regular and continued metabolic stress.
There are studies currently in the works that will track muscle changes for weight lifters over a period of a few months. Researchers hope to find the best ways for people to maximize their training and receive their desired outcomes by taking a look at different variables during working out. Rest is just one of many variables the team plans to explore in detail.
This study can be found in the Experimental Physiology journal.