Podcast: The Science of Effective Reps and Rest-Pause Sets

Steve Hall of Revive Stronger just published a new podcast with me. Steve is a class act, and it was a pleasure to be on to discuss the science of effective reps and rest-pause sets:

The Science of Effective Reps and Rest-pause Sets

I wrote about the science of effective reps before. When I formalized it, I proposed that:

  1. Failure is “the point during a set when muscles can no longer produce necessary force to concentrically lift a given load” (Schoenfeld, 2010).
  2. Effective reps are reps closer to failure.
  3. The closer a rep is to failure, the more effective it is at building muscle.

On Steve’s podcast, I also wanted to mention that I did a review of the literature on rest-pause sets, drop sets, and sets to failure in general. It’s not a systematic review, so I probably have missed some studies. Still, I found 5 studies that supported the theory, and 3 that didn’t. Those that didn’t were not in favour of normal sets, so overall, when we get to the point of being able to meta-analyse this data, my guess is that we’ll find a benefit to training to failure, perhaps especially with rest-pause or drop sets. We’re implementing those in Dr. Muscle.

Why are reps closer to failure more effective? The main mechanism seems to be metabolic stress, via:

  • increased production of metabolites of anaerobic glycolysis
  • hypoxia (restrict blood flow)

That’s for my notes. It was fun talking to Steve, and I hope you liked our podcast on the science of effective reps and rest-pause sets. I have another podcast coming up with Danny Lennon, again on effective reps. I’ll post that one here shortly.