There is something you can and SHOULD be doing between sets to MAXIMIZE your size and strength gains!
Something so simple it’s shocking!
- Stretching (bad idea)
- Any form of cardio whatsoever
- resting/chilling/doing nothing.
Furthermore, if you’re training for maximizing strength and size, those periods of “doing nothing” should be lasting 2 or 3 minutes long.
Check out this study…
Title: Strength increases in upper and lower body are larger with longer inter-set rest intervals in trained men. de Salles BF, Simão R, Miranda H, Bottaro M, Fontana F, Willardson JM. J Sci Med Sport. 2010 Jul;13(4):429-33. Epub 2009 Oct 7. (link)
They said, “The purpose of the current study was to compare different rest interval durations on upper and lower body strength.”
They took 36 trained men and put them on a 16-week resistance training program. The men were split into groups resting for 1 minute, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes between sets.
They tested the maximal strength of all groups before the study, 8-weeks through, and after the full 16 weeks. They did this by utilizing leg presses and bench presses to test both upper and lower body strength.
“The findings of the current study indicate that utilising 3 or 5 min rest intervals between sets may result in significantly greater increases in upper and lower body strength beyond the initial weeks of training versus utilising 1-min rest intervals between sets.”
So if you’re not completely new to bodybuilding, you’d be much better off resting longer between sets since increases in strength correlate positively with muscle size. (You can look at the study yourself if you want the full details of strength differences at each of the testing periods.)
I recommend 3 minutes rest between sets for larger compound movements, and 2 minutes for smaller body parts like biceps or calves.
However, if you’re completely wiped after a particular set, don’t be afraid to take a little longer if you feel you really need it.
Remember, this is bodybuilding, not an endurance contest. The stimulus that forces growth is a specific and unique type of stress.
So strategies like “super-setting” 2 different body parts is just a terrible idea. You’ve nothing to gain and everything to lose by super-setting. (Don’t confuse this with the “pre-fatigue method”, which is technically an “extended set”, where only one body part is worked with 2 back-to-back sets like my shoulder pre-fatigue recommendation).
The message is this: Hit it hard. Then rest.
Don’t flex in the mirror. Don’t jump on a treadmill. Just rest up, get your breath back, and get mentally prepared for your next set.
Train With Intensity!