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Dan Trink
Author

Dan Trink

Role

Fort Co-Founder

Date

4.29.2024

Topic

MONDAY BLOG POST

BLOG

I was on Reddit recently (a shock to no one) and I came across a thread that asked “what movie have you watched over and over again”.

Top of the list was “Back To The Future” which I fully support. Great movie. Totally re-watchable. Have seen it about 5,000 times myself. Also high up on the rankings was “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy. I know this is going to disappoint the Dungeons and Dragons, Game of Thrones-loving folks out there but I could not get out of the theater fast enough when these movies were over.

The key here is to pick demanding, compound lifts and make them challenging. Rest periods are not a substitute for training hard. They should actually allow you to train harder.

Dan Trink

Fort Co-Founder

I was required to go see them at the time because I was working on some advertising of products that were related to the franchise.


Not for me.


Also high on the list was “The Princess Bride”.


It’s pretty hard to find anyone who doesn’t love this movie. It’s got action, it’s got comedy, great dialogue and Andre The Giant. What’s not to love.


There are about a thousand lines in the movie that have been quotable for decades and perhaps my favorite one comes from one of my wife’s favorite actors, Mandy Patinkin, in the role of Indigo Montoya.


He’s responding to Wallace Shawn’s character “Vizzini” who constantly reacts to things with the word “inconceivable”.


“There it is again. You keep saying that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means,” Indigo explains.


And this is very true for most of the population when it comes to a very specific factor in training programs: rest.


Now, rest periods are actually one of the least important aspects of program design with two small exceptions and one giant exception.


The two small exceptions are:


  1. If you take forever between sets you will either take forever to get through your training session or you will do less work because you have a life and can’t spend all day in the gym.
  2. If you are trying to develop work capacity (doing a specific amount of work in a designated period of time), of course unregulated rest periods will work against that end.


And both of those typically revolve around rest periods being too long.


The big exception, however, comes at the other end of the spectrum. If your rest periods are too short YOU ARE LIMITING THE AMOUNT OF IMPORTANT PROGRESS YOU CAN MAKE IN THE GYM.


Sorry for yelling but this might be one of the most prevalent yet least discussed blights on the entirety of group fitness. So I’m worked up about it.


Circuit training, HIIT, CrossFit and even things as innocuous as power yoga and pilates will often cut rest periods short (or not have any at all) in an effort to make you feel sweaty, out of breath and fatigued.


This is a marketing trick.


Because you end up feeling a certain way (I’m sweaty, I’m out of breath) you think you accomplished a certain thing (I did so much work, I must have made progress).


But the truth is, you almost certainly compromised performance in two very critical ways.


The first is that your technique most likely went to shit. You started doing half squats, your push ups looked more like you were doing “the worm” and you walked out of class wondering why your shoulder hurt when you put your shirt back on.


Your range of motion sucked. You lost control of the exercises. And you left a ton of actual fitness potential on the table because of it.


Secondly, you had to compromise the loads that you could use along with the quality of the reps. You’re damn right I’m going to use a 3 pound dumbbell if you are going to make me do a thousand reps without any rest.


And while that feels harder in the moment, it actually challenges your muscles and systems less than if you would choose an appropriate weight in a specific rep range and tried to squeeze all the juice out of that set.


In other words, you showed up, tricked your mind into thinking you trained to maximum when, in reality, you did a really good job of getting your heart rate up and sweating through your Lulus.


Now, as I mentioned earlier, there is nothing wrong with building work capacity through training. Hell, right now we are working on a volume phase that includes a section of escalating density. The weights are challenging, the rest periods are short and as things get tougher week-over-week you certainly get that high-heart-rate-sweat-in-your-eye-balls feeling. And that’s fine AS LONG AS THAT IS NOT WHAT ALL YOUR TRAINING LOOKS LIKE.


Or, dare I say, even MOST of your training looks like. Sorry again for yelling.


Most of the time you should be taking enough rest between sets to allow for recovery in order to be able to do a good job technically and with meaningful weight on the next set. Most typically this is 1-3 minutes.


“But Daaaaaaaaan, I only have 30 minutes 3 days per week to train!”


If that is truly the case I suggested taking one, perhaps two, movements and really milking them for all they are worth in the time that you have.


Trust me, if you warm-up for 5 minutes and then spend the rest of your 25 minutes performing sets of alternating barbell lunges for sets of 15 to near failure even with 2-3 minutes rest between sets you will not be worried that you didn’t train hard that day.


The key here is to pick demanding, compound lifts and make them challenging. Rest periods are not a substitute for training hard. They should actually allow you to train harder.


(Man, if I had a solid Twitter or X or whatever they are calling it these days, that would make for a good tweet!)


My other favorite quote from Princess Bride is much lesser known but comes from Westly.


“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”


Probably true when it comes to getting back the love of your life, storming a castle and defeating a nefarious Prince.


Definitely true when it comes to strength training.

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