Lift heavy. Rest. Repeat.

I don't know when the "thing" in fitness became to absolutely demolish yourself in the gym with circuit training and metabolic conditioning workouts. I see it all the time, even more so with women-they grab a light set of weights or medicine ball and proceed to do a non-stop circuit of exercises without any rests or challenging weights.

I guess with the rise and popularity of CrossFit, people think that keeping your heart rate elevated the whole workout and leaving the gym drenched in sweat in the best way to train these days. And while I don't believe this is necessarily a "bad" or wrong way to train, I just don't feel that it's the best or only way to train to get results.

You see, it is actually okay to BREATHE during your workouts.

You don't have to be afraid of resting a couple minutes between sets and letting your heart rate come down.

You don't HAVE to kill yourself in order to have an effective workout.

One of the best ways to transform your physique is by lifting challenging weights and getting stronger over time. It doesn't matter if you goal is fat loss or muscle building, strength training is one of the all time BEST, tried and true, most effective forms of exercise there is.

But the thing is, with true strength training, you NEED time to let your muscles recover between sets. That way you can have the energy to give your all on your next set. And the more weight you lift, the longer you need to rest. Without adequate rest, your muscles will quickly fatigue, not allowing you to lift as much or complete as many reps the next set. And that is no bueno for building muscle and strength.

So how long should you rest? Well, it depends on your goals and the rep range you're using, but for the most part, for the compound, heavy lifts in the 3-5 rep range, the optimal rest period would be at least 2-3 minutes. For compound lifts in the 5-8 range, 1-2 minutes is optimal, and for the hypertrophy 8-12 rep range, 60-90 seconds. The times when you can utilize shorter rest periods are for the higher rep, isolation exercises towards the end of  a workout. This is when 30-45 seconds rest periods would be adequate since you're not lifting as much weight.

Still not convinced that resting during your workouts is effective for transforming your physique? Well, I can tell you that I have not gotten the results that I have by circuit training or CrossFit style workouts. Now, I don't want it to seem like I'm knocking those kind of workouts-I think they're great if that's what you absolutely LOVE to do...but it's just not the way I have gotten results.  My body has been built by heavy weights and proper nutrition(as in eating the right foods and ENOUGH food!).

With that being said, circuit style workouts can be great for fat loss IN ADDITION to strength training, or for when you just don't have a lot of time to workout. Throw them in as a finisher after a strength workout a couple times a week, or as a conditioning workout on another day a couple of times a week, but don't make it the focus of your training.

If you love your workouts and are getting great results that way, keep doing what you're doing. Having fun and enjoying your workouts is absolutely THE most important thing! But if you're not seeing results, or if you're finding it hard to get to the gym because you feel like you have to absolutely KILL yourself every time...why not try something different?

Yes, you should work hard and challenge yourself-that's the only way to improve. But it really is OKAY to rest. It's OKAY to BREATHE.

Lift heavy weights. Rest. Repeat. It's that simple.

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