Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Rest-Based Straight Sets for Maximal Fat Loss
by Jade Teta and Keoni Teta (2011)
from On Fitness magazine –
Sets, reps and recovery periods have always defined traditional strength training. This concept harkens back to the roots of resistance exercise, which has historically been about two things: enhancing performance and building muscle.
But, we now know weightlifting does more than make us bigger, faster or stronger. It also burns many more calories than we once believed. And we’ve discovered its powerful hormonal effects can alter not just muscle-building, but also fat-burning.
When most people think about burning fat in the contest of weight training, the argument usually goes like this: “Weight training burns fat because it builds muscle which will increase the amount of calories you burn all day long.”
This is a nice concept that has a measure of truth to it. But research does not back this up. The amount of extra calories burned per pound of muscle is somewhere in the range of six to 30, hardly anything to write home about.
The next argument for weight training’s fat burning potential is EPOC, more commonly known as the exercise after-burn –
Again, claims are overblown here. Yes, resistance training delivers a much greater after-burn compared to cardiovascular exercise, but studies done on more traditional weight training show this is not nearly as pronounced as some like to claim.
In reality, the fat burning effects of weight training likely have to do with a number of mechanisms that all add up to a powerful fat burning punch. Weight training burns greater amounts of fat during exercise than we ever imagined.
It also has a hormonal response that makes the body more efficient so it can use more fat without needing to elevate metabolism. Finally, there is a huge amount of energy required after intense weight training. This energy is needed for repair and rebuilding. This, more than anything else, is likely the real reason for the huge after-burn reported in some studies.
Two studies published in the May 2006 and March 2009 “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” show just how inaccurate calorie calculations for weight training can be. In these studies researchers applied a more accurate measure of energy use during resistance training.
They did this by measuring aerobic metabolism during exercise along with EPOC and a separate anaerobic measure generated by lactate. The researchers insist these measures should be made separately. In most studies EPOC is considered an indicator of anaerobic energy use, and the anaerobic lactate component is left out. These researchers show that is a mistake.
Some of the energy generated during activities like sprinting and lifting weights gets lost as heat and can never be captured through EPOC measure. So what does this mean? Based on the calculations in these studies, it means you burn 70 percent more calories when weight training than any experts ever imagined!
Burning Fat With Weight Training
If you really want to ramp up the fat burning potential of your weight training workouts, research shows you have to train heavy, train a little faster and train to failure. This may not be the best formula for building muscle, but it certainly won’t result in losing muscle.
Two studies, one published in the March 2000 “International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” and the other in 2002 from the “European Journal of Applied Physiology” show significant after-burn effects from this style of weight training.
These studies show that women can elevate their fat burning metabolism by 60 percent for 16 hours, while men still had a 19 percent fat burning elevation after 48 hours. For the men the researchers calculated that the after-effects of the workout would have resulted in the use of almost 800 calories from energy used in the recovery and rebuilding process.
The studies above, as well as one published in the September 2008 “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” prove the fat burning capabilities of intense weight training. In this study, the weight training was combined with what the researchers called “cardio-acceleration,” generated an almost 10-fold greater fat loss in 15 weeks compared to the other groups.
This cardio effect can be induced by adding in cardio bursts as in the latter study, or simply by moving quickly or taking shorter rests while using heavy weight as in former studies. The idea is that sets and reps were not distinct, because there was no real “resting” phase. This is a new approach to weightlifting.
Rest-Based Training Workouts
Rest-based training (RBT) is a concept that is gaining ground. The idea is to create the same cardio-acceleration described in the studies above, but no actual cardio is done. Instead, the fast-paced weight training induces the cardio effect all by itself.
Another key difference is that unlike circuit training or metabolic conditioning programs, there is no structured rest between sets, exercises, circuits or any other time. The goal is to take as little or as much rest as is needed to perform at the same high level once more. This will vary depending on the person.
This is a paradigm shift for many long-time weightlifters and exercise buffs, but as two recent studies demonstrate, not only are we humans able to efficiently self-regulate exercise to maximize the most beneficial work to rest ratio, but REGULATING OUR OWN WEIGHTS AND APPROACH MAY BE THE MOST EFFECTIVE STRATEGY OF PERIODIZATION.
A January 2011 study published in “Psychophysiology” showed exercisers can naturally self-select rest periods to maximize work interval quality. And a July 2010 article in “The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” showed a workout schedule with self-selected weights was better than a program using the traditional prescribed protocols of linear progression.
In RBT, the workout is not trying to increase strength or maximize muscle development. It’s working to burn fat primarily, and see some muscle and performance benefit crossover.
Rest-Based VS. Rest-Pause
Old-school bodybuilders may be familiar with the concept of using brief rest to maximize work. They have used a technique called rest-pause for decades. The difference between rest-based training and rest-pause training is in the rest interval.
In rest-pause training the rest interval is defined, i.e., 20 seconds. In rest-based training the rest can be taken whenever the person likes, and in contrast to the rest-pause method, for as long or as short as they like.
This makes RBT infinitely scalable to different goals and fitness levels. But if it’s fat loss you are after, the rest should be just long enough to exert intense effort a second time. RBT attempts to eliminate pacing that occurs in traditional workouts.
The Rest-Based Training Straight Set
The rest-based straight set involves choosing a 10 to 20 rep max on an exercise, setting a stop watch for five minutes and attempting to get as many quality repetitions as possible in the time allotted.
As you can imagine, at some point the lifter will become fatigued and need to rest. That is encouraged. Rest should be taken just long enough to recover and maximize the work effort again. In this way, the lifter will be lifting and resting in a start-stop fashion throughout the five minutes. The rest is used strategically to maximize the workout volume.
In a standard workout the reps would be done in sets. Five sets of 10 reps would mean a total of 50 repetitions done. The standard prescribed rest period of most workouts would be 1-3 minutes between each set. This would mean rest would consume 5-15 minutes of the workout: not very efficient considering the number one reason most people don’t exercise is time.
With the RBT straight set almost the entire five minutes is taken up with work. The remainder is consumed by rests that last just long enough to allow more quality reps. This approach creates a situation where a larger volume of work can be done in a shorter period of time, a concept known as density.
Doing things this way gives the ability to not only get a stronger muscle stimulus, but create cardiovascular and other benefits in the process. And, it saves on time.
In the traditional workout you would complete 50 reps in a 10 to 30 minute time period. In the RBT workout you can accomplish the same or even more reps in only five minutes, a fraction of the time. This has profound benefits for fat loss. And it certainly is not going to hurt performance and strength gains either.
The March 2010 “Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness” showed the effectiveness of this style of training. Participants engaged in a 12-week study where they combined different forms of weight training under fast-paced moving conditions.
One group did more traditional weight training and the other group used heavier weights and employed a “lift-then-rest” strategy. Both groups also got a cardiovascular response during the workout.
The method used in this study was very much like the rest-based training we are describing here. At the end of 12 weeks the group using the heavier weights with the help of rest saw a 6% decline in body fat, almost double the group using the more traditional approach.
New information brings new approaches. Sets and reps are still king for muscle building, but to master the art of strength training for fat loss, maximizing volume in a short time period may be the way to go. When the goal is to burn fat and not just build muscle or get stronger, the RBT model works like a charm. Try it and let us know what you think.
HOW MUCH REST BETWEEN SETS?
by Frank Zane (2011)
How long you rest between sets depends on what you’re after. Looking for muscular growth? Try working up in weight for multiple sets. Doing fewer reps with heavier weight each set means you’ll need to rest longer in order to recover enough strength for a successful set.
In the bench press, I used the decreasing weight jump technique. The first weight jump (135 to 185) was 50 pounds; next (185 to 225) was 40 pounds; next (225 to 255) was 30 pounds; next was 20 pounds (255 to 275).
After each set I would immediately stand in the middle of a power rack, grab the vertical posts with each hand and lean forward, stretching the front deltoids and pectorals. This is a simple doorway stretch and it helped keep my strength growing on each successive set.
And as the weight increased and reps decreased I’d slow the negatives down on each set, resulting in better results.
You need to rest long enough – but rest too long and the muscles and joints cool down, and strength and pump diminish. You need to still be warm when you start your next set. So experiment and find out what rest time is best between each set. Listen to your inner pilot.
Want more definition?
Rest less between sets, just long enough to stretch the body parts you’re using for 15 seconds. We called this “quality training” and would always do it the last 6-8 weeks before a competition. Training with one partner, the only rest I got was when my partner was doing his set. The partner not doing his set would protect the other lifter from outsiders butting in and destroying focus. If you ignore distracters they often go away. This type of quality training results in about a minute of rest between sets.
How long you rest between sets not only depends upon your strength but also on your endurance. I called it cultivating the breathless state because I was still breathing hard when I started the set. And sweating profusely.
If I didn’t wait long enough a lightheadedness came on. This is where cardio helped. Running a mile after workouts helped me regulate my breathing and push through these quality training workouts.
I remember a shoulder workout I got with Dave Draper training for the 1972 Mr. Universe. We did 5 tri-sets: seated dumbbell press (we worked up to 90-pounds), dumbell side raise (working up to 50-lb. dumbbells), and upright cable row (not real heavy). We did this without any rest between sets. It was a challenge to keep up with Draper’s amazing strength.
The more you put into a set the longer you’ll need to rest before you start your next set.
In 1965 I used to squat 20 reps with 300 to 325 pounds. After each set I’d collapse to the floor, lying there wondering if I could do another set, when 10 minutes later I’m up doing my second set with this weight only to collapse even more wholeheartedly after this set.
Finally a good 12 to 15 minutes later it was 20 more reps with 325 again. After the workout I drove home, stepped out of my 1966 Ford Mustang as my leg cramped up. Lying there I rested 10 minutes and then arose to walk to my house. It was a bit extreme and my thighs grew but I would never do it again.
I learned from my over 50 years of training to avoid extremes.
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