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Tips of the week Stop ignoring the importance of sleep

Tipps der Woche Höre auf damit, die wichtige Bedeutung on Schlaf zu ignorieren

Since when did not getting enough sleep become something to brag about? "Hey, I only sleep 5 hours a night!" Congratulations. How many times can you hit yourself in the soft tissue with a hammer before training?

Not getting enough sleep doesn't make you a badass, but it certainly affects your efforts in the gym. While you may be able to "function just fine" on a few hours of sleep, too little sleep will still alter your results in terms of body recomposition.

The studies

In one study, the group that slept 8.5 hours per night lost more fat than the group that slept only 5.5 hours per night. In addition, the group that slept less lost significantly more muscle (60%) than the group that got a full 8.5 hours of sleep. This is another reason why body recomposition is more than "calories in vs. calories out".

Where do you think your recovery really comes from? Babies tend to do two things - eat and sleep a lot. Why? Because getting the body to grow requires an enormous amount of rest. So if you're not getting enough sleep, when are you going to give your body the extra time it needs to grow?

Relax, dammit!

Relaxing your mind and body at night can be a problem. Make sure your sleep-wake cycle, which is regulated by light and darkness, is functioning normally. When it's dark, your body releases more melatonin. When it is light, your body reduces the release of melatonin and increases the release of excitatory hormones.

The light you expose yourself to can interfere with the body's release of natural melatonin and delay falling asleep. Reduce laptop, TV and cell phone use in the evening and open the curtains in the morning so that your body can be awakened by natural sunlight. The morning sunlight will help to get your sleep-wake rhythm in order.

Additional help

If you have trouble winding down or relaxing at night, try a good ZMA product or another natural sleep-inducing supplement.

Tip: Autoregulate your breaks

A new study on resting between sets could change the way you train, especially if hypertrophy is your goal.


By Jorden Pagel

There's a lot that comes into play when building and executing a training plan when it comes to achieving your goals. Things like the exercises you'll perform, the load, the tempo and the number of reps and sets all play a role in whether or not a program will work. However, one of the most important factors is often overlooked: the rests between sets.

How long you rest will largely determine the effectiveness of your program. If your goal is to build strength and you don't rest long enough, you won't be able to perform your next set with maximum effort. And if your goal is to build muscle mass, you could compromise your muscle growth if you rest too long.

The conventional approach

There are certain predetermined rest intervals that most exercisers follow. Here is the conventional view.


Maximum strength can be defined as training at an intensity of 90% of your 1RM weight for < 4 repetitions. Based on the intensity at which you train and the energy systems used, the conventionally recommended rest period is somewhere between 2 and 5 minutes.

Hypertrophy (muscle growth)

It is always believed that shorter rest periods (30 to 90 seconds) are best for maximum muscle growth. However, recent studies suggest that this is not the case. A study by Henselmans and Schoenfeld found that there is no real scientific basis for the claim that shorter rest periods are better for mass gains.

According to Schoenfeld, "Based on current research, it appears that you can self-regulate your rest breaks, which allows you to put in the necessary effort on your next set without compromising your muscle gains.

Basically, they've found that because volume and tension are the two strongest facilitators of muscle growth, a reduction in rest periods can result in a reduction in the amount of weight you can move. And if resting a little longer allows you to increase volume and/or tension, then this will lead to greater gains.

So rest breaks for hypertrophy should vary from 1 to 3 minutes depending on the exercise performed and the amount of weight used.

Muscle endurance

The aim here is to increase resistance to fatigue. Endurance training is performed with light weights and a high number of repetitions (15 to 20 or more). To induce fatigue under these circumstances, the rest intervals must be short - generally less than one minute

Fat loss

Although your ability to lose fat is largely determined by your diet, the length of your rests between sets can also have an impact on your metabolic environment and your ability to burn fat. Many fat loss programs combine the above training methods. However, as the primary goal is not to produce maximum strength or muscle growth, conventional rest intervals are not normally used here.

If fat loss is the primary goal, then you want to drive the metabolic fire up as high as possible. To achieve this, rest intervals are generally limited to 30 seconds or less for less exhaustive exercises such as bodyweight exercises, kettlebell training or dumbbell training, while they can be up to 2 minutes for more intense multi-joint exercises.

Autoregulation & RPE

Autoregulation is the practice of adjusting your program (sets/reps/pause intervals) before or during your workout based on how you feel. In terms of rest intervals, these are timed based on how you feel, rather than adhering to predetermined rest times.

Despite the fancy name, autoregulating your break intervals is quite simple. Basically, you perform the next set when your heart rate returns to normal and you feel ready for the next set. This feeling will vary depending on what you are doing. Multi-joint exercises will require longer rests than isolation exercises.

The important thing here is that you estimate the length of your rests yourself rather than a set amount of time. You perform your next set when you're ready - not when you've finished checking your messages on Facebook.

A good way to gauge this feeling is to use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. Here you rate the intensity of your exercise on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 stands for no or little effort and 10 for failure due to exertion. The perceived exertion rate works well because it allows you to regulate your rest intervals based on how you feel. The same set can produce different levels of physical exhaustion on different days, and the perceived exhaustion rate lets you regulate your rest intervals based on where you are on the scale on a given day.

You'll have days in the gym where you feel great and you'll have days where you feel like a bag of garbage. Auto-regulation allows you to keep the volume of your workouts high by taking longer breaks when you need them.


There are a number of benefits to auto-regulating your training, especially if your goal is maximum strength or muscle growth. An individual choice of your pause times will allow you to put in the maximum effort required for each set.

Let's take deadlifts with near maximal effort as an example. Your goal for a given day is to perform 3 sets of 3 reps with 90% of your 1RM weight and 3 to 4 minutes rest between sets. The first set goes well, but after the second set you feel exhausted. You realize that you will not be able to perform the third set with the current weight after only 4 minutes rest.

If your goal is maximum strength, what will you benefit more from: reducing the weight so that you can stay at the specified length of rest intervals or resting one minute longer to be able to perform the following set with the same weight? Obviously the extra minute of rest.

The same goes for building muscle. Volume is the primary driving force for muscle growth, so resting 30 or 60 seconds longer will have many more benefits if it allows you to maintain a higher volume.


The biggest disadvantage of auto-regulating your rest intervals is that it requires an honest assessment of your training. You can't just rest as long as you want - you need to be honest with yourself about how long you NEED to rest.

Auto-regulation is also probably not the best way to regulate your rest intervals during a fat loss program, as the design of many of these programs requires you to complete your sets under a high level of exhaustion to increase calorie expenditure.


  1. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Nov 20 Longer inter-set rest periods enhance muscle strength and hypertrophy in resistance-trained men.

Tip: Evaluate your bench press technique

The form of your bench press exercises could be increasing your risk of injury. It's time to re-evaluate your technique.


By Joel Seedman, PhD

Choose any variation of the bench press such as flat bench press, incline bench press or bench press on a reverse incline bench. Use dumbbells held in a neutral position (palms facing each other) and keep your elbows close to your sides.


Increase the weight and find out how much you can move. Write this weight down. You should be able to move at least 80% of your normal barbell bench press weight when you add up the weight of the two dumbbells. So if you typically bench press 100 kilos with a barbell, you should be able to move 40 kilos of dumbbells in a similar way.

The position with the elbows held close to the body may feel strange at first, but it represents the correct mechanics for any bench press variation, regardless of whether it is performed with a barbell, dumbbells or any other loading mechanism.

Your score

If you fail this test, start incorporating dumbbell bench presses into your training. More importantly, during all pressing exercises, pull your shoulder blades down and back and pull your elbows towards your body by activating your latissimus.

A good dose of stabilization training for the upper back and shoulders would also be appropriate. As most individuals lack sufficient strength in the latissimus and stability and motor control in their upper torso, this position often feels quite weak.

In fact, it is not uncommon to see exercisers bench pressing 150 kilos or more but struggling with 50 kilo dumbbells. This would suggest that they have become very efficient with faulty movement mechanics - which is a common problem even among advanced exercisers.

Aside from requiring the exerciser to stabilize each side separately, the dumbbell version limits the exerciser more tightly in the range of correct position while reducing their ability to use compensatory movement patterns and momentum, which many exercisers have relied on over the years.

Tip: Use 3 seconds of lowering for your biceps

Want to make your arms grow? Extend the eccentric phase of your biceps exercises.


By John Meadows

Three-second lowering works better for certain exercises than others, depending on the muscle group being trained. For biceps, this method works for almost everything. Here are some general guidelines for using this technique in your bicep workout.

3 second lowering for biceps

Don't overdo it! As you probably know, the eccentric or lowering phase of the movement is the part where a lot of muscle damage is generated. Combine this with the fact that the biceps are quite a small muscle group and you get the perfect recipe for trouble if you use this technique on all your sets.


  • Use 3 seconds of lowering on one exercise (3 to 4 sets) per training session.
  • Use 3 seconds of lowering on one set of each exercise if you perform multiple exercises for your biceps during a training session (still only 3 to 4 sets).
  • The best way to use this technique is during basic exercises such as barbell or dumbbell curls at the end of a training session, when you have already achieved a strong bicep pump. You won't be able to use a lot of weight, but you'll feel the exercise like never before.


By Paul Carter

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