The papers cited don't contradict "traditional bro wisdom". If anything, the time window given by "bro wisdom" is too long.
But there are additional factors at play. If a workout takes too long and doesn't fit into someone's schedule, week after week, year after year, they won't work out.
A person resting for 1 minute won't see as much growth as someone resting for 2.5 minutes. But they will see more growth than the person who skips workouts or just quit because they have a life and things to do.
So giving people a broad range to work with may not be 'optimal' but may result in more people being more successful.
What is the difference in muscle gain between 1 minute an 3 anyway? Does it make up for missed workouts and time off?
If sets and reps are equated, sure resting longer is more effective. In fact, if you are equating reps and sets in a study, the longer rest group will have higher volume, defined by sum of reps x weight, as the lower rest period group will lift lighter because of increased fatigue. I find it hard to believe many bodybuilders would disagree with that statement.
However, in real life, sets and reps will not be equated. You use what time you have and maximizing volume wins (reps x weight, assuming the weight is reasonably difficult).
In an ideal world for bodybuilders, perhaps they’d sit at the gym for 2.5 hours to complete a workout, but people have lives outside of lifting weights. Even pros.
Finally, the author seems to really think bodybuilders are by and large clueless “bros”. While this might be true for some, I think the average bodybuilder consumes far more academic literature than people involved in almost any other activity outside of academia. Bodybuilders are on average fairly well read and up to date on the scientific consensus thanks to people like Mike Israetel, Jeff Nippard, Brad Schoenfeld, Brett Contreras, Lyle McDonald, and Layne Norton to list just a few.
To a point. It also depends on your level of experience and age.
Systemic volume also needs to be accounted for. Generally speaking 10-20 sets per muscle per week. This can be from one session or spread out over multiple sessions.
I'm 38, have been lifting weights for 20 years (do not and never have used anabolic steroids of other performance enhancing drugs). if I try to do 20 sets per muscle group over the course of a week I will run my body into the ground.
Schoenfeld, the lead author on your link has research on these topics. His Instagram is a good aggregator of his work.
I believe another publication is coming soon from Schoenfeld on this matter.
My point is just that to perform even 10 sets per muscle group, unless you want to live in the gym, 5 min rest periods are not really an option. Almost no one has the time to be optimal, so just cramming as much volume in as you can handle is the ideal for most.
I also follow Schoenfeld. He does excellent work.
This sometimes means resting for a few minutes between sets, sometimes fifteen minutes, and sometimes an hour or more. The results at the end of the day don't seem very different at all in terms of how I feel physically or the rate of improvement compared to doing more efficient workouts with the "right" amount of rest. So I'm inclined to agree with you that just getting the volume in one way or another is by far the most important thing, at least until someone is quite advanced.
I always do my push exercises separated by my pull exercises, and rarely rest more than a minute. Super time efficient.
If you really wanted to know what BB:ers think about rest time, why not see what they've said themselves? It's not like BB:ers don't talk about what they do and why they do it.
Just as an aside: strongerbyscience.com has pretty good articles (owner has MSc in exercise science and at least one guy has a Phd in this stuff, sources are extensively cited).
There are tested competitions.
I'll admit that that doesn't guarantee that no one uses banned substances there, but the finalists are generally quite a bit smaller than those in the untested competitions, so at the very least they're substantially cutting back.
Agreed. This article feels a bit like a strawman: They picked the worst possible sources to use for what bodybuilders think.
Bodybuilding.com is a joke even in the fitness communities. It's an easy target, but no one should be using it as a canonical source for anything.
Even worse, BB.com is a traditional forum with no voting system; there's no way to validate whether the opinions expressed are held by most bodybuilders or just the musings of a slightly-informed bro.
The amount of contradictory advice slung online in regards to fitness is immense. (Same as it ever was, the old muscle magazines were bad, too.) Lots and lots of “evidence” amalgamated from rumors, second-hand sources, that old guy at the gym, and teeny tiny studies that have never been replicated.
As you go on a fitness journey (it hurt to type that), you go through decision paralysis, overbearing overconfidence that you know what’s up, and you end up with humility that boils down to “iron ain’t gonna move itself”.
Also, it's in the interest of the online fitness community to make their advice as complex and complicated as possible as is re-entrenches their "expert" position while the truth tends to be much simpler, as your parent comment alluded to
As someone who has been engaged in weightlifting for almost 30 years, this is no surprise. It probably has little to do with the rest period itself and more to do with the intensity of exercise. You simply can't train with weights in the 5RM-10RM range, going to failure or a rep or two shy of failure, and only rest 30 seconds or 1 minute between sets. Such short rest periods will force you to use much lighter weights and stop way short of failure.
It's my impression that the actual point of the article is that even though bodybuilding as a community is perceived and perceives itself as being driven by scientific research, it is still almost completely anecdote driven, even when there are scientific findings readily available that fly in the face of or more accurately explain things than anecdote.
It's interesting that you've illustrated this so perfectly. In the article it provides the research findings as to why longer rest periods are beneficial, yet you've still provided your anecdotal impressions as to why it would be the case.
I'm not trying to get at you or put you on blast; I really do find this interesting.
As for the "why", this is obvious to anyone who actually trains with heavy weights. Perform 8 reps of an exercise to failure. Rest 30 seconds. Repeat. I guarantee you will not be able to perform anywhere near 8 reps on the second set, you might not even be able to perform 4. OTOH, rest 4 minutes and you very likely will be able to perform 7 if not 8 reps.
Again, I totally get your point about broscience vs actual science, but this is one of those instances where I'm not sure the "30 seconds between sets" even rises to the level of broscience. You read about it in meathead magazines and some may even claim to adhere to it to demonstrate how manly they are, but if you go to the gym and watch serious lifters lifting heavy weights, you will not find them only resting 30 seconds between sets.
Well I mean, it IS driven by scientific research, just not research into exercise physiology as much as organic chemistry
Agreed. I was honestly surprised to learn that some people were promoting rest periods as low as 30 seconds for building muscle. It's been common knowledge that super short rest intervals are not helpful for as long as I've been around.
Any weightlifter can tell you that super short rest intervals will limit volume, which is detrimental to muscle growth.
The article feels a bit like a strawman attack on fitness forums or bodybuilder stereotypes.
I'll remind everyone that Jeff Cavaliere, YouTube fitness darling beloved by people who don't lift very hard, programmed 1-10 sets of 10 squats @70-80% 1RM with 1 minute rest between sets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fICF_O5esc&t=174s
Non-lifters: this is basically impossible for anyone with a decent level of strength. If I attempted this, I'd be getting peeled out of the squat rack after the 2nd set.
10 sets of 10 @ 80% of 1 rep max doesn't make any sense. Nobody can do 100x as many reps as their 1 rep max, unless they've grossly underestimated their 1RM.
There is a place for high volume workouts with short rest periods if someone is training for certain specific fitness goals, but it's not optimal for pure muscle building.
I mean, I could certainly do 100 singles at 80% 1RM, but I get your point. Jeff's program is atrociously bad.
I say this as someone who did the same thing in a similar time frame. Lost 50 lbs, set state records for strength, had lean muscle mass.
I will say that revisiting that accomplishment, for me, is burdened because it wouldn't be "new". Newbie energy, especially with results, is really strong. I'd be re-visiting some of those tactics at an older age, with slightly different life circumstances. I was single before -- and being hardcore when you're single can seem easier than when you have the distractions of a partner.
I find it -really- amusing that people forget that weightlifting is an olympic sport. There have been -plenty- of studies on it. The main issue tends to be that the russian protocols don't necessarily work for 'natural' athletes.
Shorter rest periods are used for conditioning, not muscle growth.
You can be a lazy slob and wait 3-5 minutes between each set. But you'll be at the gym forever.
What these studies always completely fail to grasp is:
If I have 2hrs to do my workout, and I take 5 minutes between sets, how much work am I going to do? What if I just took 1 minute between sets?
What if it's close to competition time? Do I want to be huffing and puffing on stage? can I waste time with cardio or should I cut rest time down between sets?
There's a lot of variables and not all of them are equating to optimal muscle growth.
I read books or even take my laptop if it’s quiet enough to work (pre COVID).
Of course they say you should do nothing in breaks except think about your without, but that is only for the special people who are absolutely committed (and obsessed).
Those long breaks allow you to regain a lot of capacity and enable bigger increases up to the pinnacle in the last set where you set your new 1RM or come close.
This describes basically no modern or historical bodybuilding programming.
And that does reflect lifestyle goals - I am not going for a competition physique, and the gym isn't my social club. I am just aiming for a little bit of progress year over year, and scientifically optimal muscle growth would actually get in the way of other plans. I was in the habit of tracking it all pre-pandemic, but now I just do Ali counts - "I only start counting when it starts hurting."
See RRR: https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/wiki/kb/recommend...
Your brain needs recovery time.
To clarify, two things.
The brain does not directly drive the muscles. It does not have copper running to them, providing a charge. Instead, cell after cell transmits the signal, from brain to muscle, each cell providing its own charge. The brain expends more energy thinking about abstract ideas, than telling a muscle to move.
Second thing, healthy, fit people run for hours, bike for hours, without issue. As a teenager, I'd work on a farm for 10 hours, picking fruit, throwing bales of hay, digging, on and on without tire.
Yet just continually walking, uses more "brain telling muscles what to do", than any single heavy lift plus even perhaps 10 seconds of break.
Realistically, writing cursive with a pen, typing fast, should use as much brain energy, for fine, detailed control requires many different muscles all being used at once, hence more signaling.
Your nerves don't care how heavy something is. Fine muscle control is just as intensive as anything to the nerves. Talking uses waaaay more nerve and muscle control than lifting heavy weight.
Breaks are required so that the blood can carry away waste, and replenish glucose and oxygen. That's all.
What I have anecdotally observed is that regularly lifting closely to your maximum (particularly at higher levels) will inevitably lead to accumulated fatigue. Whatever the root cause of that fatigue is (whether muscoskeletal, endocrine or nervous) is a factor that does lead to degraded performance over time.
The literature is lacking in longer-term studies, so I'm curious to see whether my anecdotal experience is pure confirmation bias or there is a mechanism behind it.
The ability to focus without fail is not unlimited. When you're holding more than your bodyweight on your shoulders, the demands to simply maintain balance are significant. This means a lot more than just muscles holding a static position. If you are not very focused on the sensations which indicate a change in balance somewhere, you will lose form and possibly hurt yourself.
Whatever the mechanism within the brain, the breaks are also necessary there. Of course the muscles need recovery time, but the brain does also.
- Volume is EXTREMELY important
- People have a finite amount of time to lift weights
The person doing 30 work sets in 60 minutes is going to get more gainz than someone doing 10 work sets in 60 minutes.
"The bodybuilders had lots of opportunities to experiment and tinker, with lots of skin in the game, but they were still getting things pretty wrong..."
All they did was mistakenly attribute success to short rest periods when it was actually about volume.
But: I’d be scared if I had a doctor who know anything about tren. Trenbolone was never approved for humans. It’s for making thicc cows. In fact, if your doctor does know about tren, check the diploma on the wall, because your HMO might have actually put you with a veterinarian to save money.
(But then you might be able to score trenbolone and ketamine from that vet. Hmm. Ideas…)
I happily agree bro scientist bodybuilders have advanced our knowledge of performance enhancing drugs in some ways, if nothing else by simply abusing the drugs and observing their effects on body composition, blood markers etc. But most of that knowledge was already available from the clinical trials or animal studies for the drugs anyway.
And while the bro scientist bodybuilders like to think they know a lot about what's actually going on in the body, how to combine the drugs and ancilliaries etc etc, their understanding and resulting advice is very often overly simplistic or just wrong. It's unfortunate and kind of important because it demonstrably leads to people thinking they're making informed choices knowing about the risks etc, but still end up making preventable mistakes with potentially very severe consequences for their health and lives.
Why would there be clinical studies of a drug that is never intended for human use? Clinical studies are expensive, and no drug company would do human study on a veterinary drug just to see what happens (leaving alone ethical issues with getting study subjects).
> animal studies for the drugs anyway.
Animal studies only go so far...
I just went to the Wikipedia pages for Dianabol and Trenbolone, and it so happens that both substances were, in fact, used in medicine, but not any more. Well, in case of Trenbolone some kind of derivative or related substance was used medicinally it seems: trenbolone hexahydrobenzylcarbonate.
Also, if you're trying to say that anabolics are too harmful for anybody to use them, you're wrong. E.g., testosterone is used for all kinds of conditions, and would be used even more if not for the "fear" of it being used off-label:
The other anabolics could likewise be used in a healthy manner (such that the beneficial effects outweigh the side effects) in certain cases, here's one study:
In general I'd say these drugs fall into the same space as many psychoactive drugs, they were presumably banned so that certain subcultures could be criminalized and stigmatized (not that this stops all the body builders and actors and police officers from getting their AAS anyway), with the excuse that they have harmful side effects. This argument is irrational and based on an appeal to emotion, it ignores that drugs (like any other technology) can be both abused and used for good.
> The broscientist bodybuilders are wrong about almost everything they think they know about performance enhancing drugs.
I don't disagree, but, for the sake of the discussion, could you give an example?
As far as anabolic steroids go the only one that is in relatively widespread legitimate use is testosterone (and even then, there's no doubt some people who go on TRT don't truly need to) and maybe Anavar for very niche conditions like burn victims and people with muscle wasting etc.
As for how wrong broscientists are, some of the most obvious ones are how high they think the doses need to be, how they combine steroids from the same branch of the family tree for a "cycle", how they switch steroids halfway through a "cycle", how they think SHBG and estrogen are bad and deliberately wipe them out using ancillary drugs, how they think milk thistle and other nonsense supplements will "protect the liver", how bad their understanding of the HPTA and "PCT" is etc etc.
I'm all for people being allowed to use many drugs that are currently illegal, but I also think both for recreational and performance enhancing drugs, there's a lot of people who think they know enough about them and that they're making informed choices knowing about the risks etc, but actually don't, and end up making preventable mistakes with potentially very severe consequences for their health and lives.
A minor nitpick: I believe deca is actually used, sparingly, but in the real world, for legit medical purposes. Namely anemia. (Though I do know at least one friend who got a “legitimate” prescription for “hypogonadism”, because that particular clinic will do whatever you want.)
how they think SHBG and estrogen are bad and deliberately wipe them out using ancillary drugs
Now this, this is ubiquitous, and a terrible broscience idea. Tanking estrogen in males? Bad. Bad bad bad. Bad for the mind, bad for the heart, literally.
And general sentiments about steroid use have changed significantly in the past few years. As a casual reader of /r/steroids, even 2-3 years ago there was way more enthusiasm towards larger blast doses in that community. Now the environment is far more conservative (though still reckless IMHO), both in dosage and compound choice. If you would have said that that community was well-informed just 3 years ago, it's hard to square that with the fact that the opinions have changed so dramatically.
I know an endocrinologist who sees a lot of men in their 30s and 40s who never fully recovered from even short anabolic steroid cycles. The online communities tend to promote the idea that the suppressive effects of anabolic steroids can be reversed with "post cycle therapy", but the reality is that a lot of men never fully recover natural production regardless of which combination of medications they use after the steroids.
If your thing is lifting weights, you need well designed, large n, unbiased studies about that. If your thing is cooking, you need studies about cooking.
Metis seems to boil down to interest and culture. Those are certainly things that might give you some sensible priors, but in the end you know things because the mechanics of discovery are what they are.
Note that noise is a big issue. Any given bodybuilder can only follow one program at a time, and can only change so often. So someone who happens upon a working concept might never really know why it worked.
But if you want to be as strong as possible and stay in a weight category (best strength to bodyweight ratio), you do small sets of big weights with set rest periods long enough to get really bored and fidgety while you watch the clock hands move.
The Russians have known this for a long time, and so have the best performing competitive lifters.
It takes remarkably little besides a lot of food and a caveman simple lifting regime to outperform most of the pretty boys who obsess over the hype programs.
In the comment section of an article about how bodybuilders use unsupported folk wisdom, you posted completely baseless folk wisdom with no evidence.
> The Russians have known this for a long time, and so have the best performing competitive lifters.
The USSR had the best weightlifters decades ago. They don't have especially remarkable powerlifters compared to anyone in the USAPL (or untested feds) today, and they don't have especially elite weightlifters today (see: being banned from the '16 Olympics for doping sanctions).
The other thing about this article is that in using forums and websites to gauge the view of the bodybuilding community, you end up sampling more dedicated people who are interested in this sort of discussion. There might be people following all sorts of weird stuff ("woo") based on what their buddies at the gym are doing.
I wonder whether there are political issues where the "literature" is ahead of where natural intuition is. For instance, the minimum wage. Microeconomic intuition says raising the minimum wage reduces the number of jobs available. I think there are lots of studies out there saying that this intuition is false. The minimum wage's effect on jobs is something fuzzier than scientific fact however, and it kind of falls outside the concept of metis too.
Also, the majority of comments here seem to be focused on the question of rest interval, but that's not the main point of the article as I see it.
On the other hand an authority on bodybuilding better be shredded.
How much greater? Is it significant, like 50% more? Otherwise, why can't we just say "do whatever feels comfortable for you."
I think the real goal would be to do whatever keeps you happy and coming back to the gym. Long rest periods make me feel bored/annoyed, while short ones make me feel stressed.
Look at the first 4 bullet points that list the studies. Two of the studies look at "recreationally trained men", one of the study looks at untrained males, and only one study looks at "well trained males". But for the well trained males, their 1RM max bench press was ~100kg and 1RM max back squat was 120 kg. I cannot even begin to fathom what male can not even bench 2 plates and would consider themselves well trained with respect to weight lifting. I do olympic lifts and power lifts, and literally the first squat I ever did in my life with a bar on my back was more than 120kg.
The general problem with bodybuilding knowledge is that literally everything in someone's life will affect the results they get. Their genetics. How their sleep is. How their stress levels are. What kind of job they do. Whether they've trained before. Whether they do other exercises. What their diet is like. All of that will have an effect regardless of what you do in the gym. So maybe someone hears slightly suboptimal advice about rest timing, because the person giving it has the rest of their life on point and appears to get good results from their suboptimal timing.