We are all guilty of it, whether we like to admit it or not. Pausing between reps. Even for a second. Locking out your arms at the top of bench press, stopping at the top of squats or taking the tension off of your biceps on preacher curls are all examples of pausing. While this might mean you can complete an extra 2 or 3 reps after your pause, you might be seriously impeding back your gains.
The reason muscles fatigue – decreasing in strength and experience pain – is due to the tension and metabolic stress you are creating by lifting weights. Pausing between reps to let the pain subside or so you can pump out that extra rep is very easy to do, but the accumulation of tension and metabolic stress throughout a set are both key to increasing muscle growth. Pausing between reps decreases both of these factors, limiting our potential for muscle growth.
Fatigue also forces the body to increase the amount of muscle fibres being recruited for the lift – as the original fibres fatigue and can no longer contract properly; the body is forced to recruit other fibres to assist in the lift.
More muscle fibres recruited = more muscle worked = more potential for muscle growth! Pausing between reps stops the body from recruiting other muscle fibres as the original muscle fibres are able to recover during the pause – the body is no longer forced to recruit other muscle fibres to assist in the lift.
In a study comparing subjects who paused for 1-2 seconds between reps and subjects who did not pause between reps – those that paused for 1-2 seconds experienced a 7% increase in muscle fibre recruitment whereas those that did not pause experienced a 30% increase in muscle fibre recruitment. So the group that didn’t pause had a 23% increase in potential for muscle growth.
While pausing between reps has its benefits – increasing rep speed and quality – if we are looking at it purely from a bodybuilding perspective, it is only limiting our potential for growth.
So next time you are in the gym and feeling like you want to pause in the middle of your set, ask yourself; ‘How much do I want to it?’
Remember all our LDNM Guides make use of a variety of Training Protocols and Methods. Full tempo and technique guidance along with reps, rest and sets feature in each and every workout.