Here is a little method that I use with my athletes week in week out at the Raw Strength Gym, it allows us to get more reps, more muscle, more strength than anything else.
It’s called the rest-pause method (or cluster training, or ladders) and it’s absolutely brilliant! Basically, you do a set number of reps, take a brief rest (5-10 seconds) and go again with the same weight. Here are my favourite ways of doing this:
1) Strength Rest-Pause
Pick a BIG exercise such as deadlifts, bench etc. and do 3 reps with a HEAVY weight but leave at least 2 reps in the tank, so basically pick your 5RM weight or slightly less. Now rest 10 seconds and aim to do 3 more reps with that same weight. Repeat for 3-5 total sets.
A great way to do more quality reps with a really heavy weight AKA getting crazy STRONG!
2) Dan John’s Hypertrophy Clusters
Pick a reasonably light weight, you’ll be surprised how tough this is, then perform the following reps; 2 (10 secs rest), 3 (10 secs rest), 5 (10 secs rest), 10. Rest for 90-120 secs, add weight and perform another, then rest again, add more weight and get a third cluster set and you’re all done! Oh, and don’t use it on curls.
3) Pavel’s Ladder Method
I use this with clients who can’t do many pull-ups or glute-ham raises, these tough exercises are difficult to perform for beginners as you must start with your own bodyweight, which is often more than people’s strength levels!
Really easy to do, so lets use pull-ups as an example, do 1 pull-up then rest for as long as it took you to do so, then do 2 pull-ups, rest for as long as it took you to do 2 pull-ups, do 3 then rest for 3, do 4 then rest for 4 etc. all the way until you can’t get the prescribed reps. Then take a brief rest and start over again on 1 rep.
Two or three of these ladders will add up to a lot of strength building reps!
These three methods are extremely effective and I’d suggest picking one method and using it for 4-6 weeks with one exercise before trying a different method. So you may start out not being able to do many pull-ups and your training would look like this:
- 4-6 weeks of ladders, 3-5 times per week
- 4-6 weeks of rest-pause, 1-2 times per week
- 4-6 weeks of hypertrophy clusters, 1 time per week
Then start over again and you’d be amazed how much muscle and strength you will have built up, now get thee to thy gym!!