Less than a year ago, I introduced my Alternating Rest-Pause Program here on Bodybuilding.com. Since then, I’ve received great feedback from users of the technique—everything from, “I’ve gained five pounds of quality muscle!” to, “I’m busting through strength plateaus!”
That’s great to hear, but I think it could be even better! This week I’ll be taking my Alternating Rest-Pause to another level, just as I’ve done on a weekly basis for the last month or so with other training techniques, including Full-Body Giant Sets, H.I.T., and Hundreds.
My original Alternating Rest-Pause program follows a body part split. My updated version, Alternating Rest-Pause 2.0, uses full-body workouts to accelerate fat-loss while still being muscle-friendly.
Lose the fat, but keep the strength and mass. Sounds like a win-win!
The Alternating Rest-Pause 2.0 I’ll show you this week doesn’t change my basic alternating rest-pause method. The core of the technique remains the same: it’s unilateral training, where you perform movements one arm and one leg at a time, switching back and forth from left to right. So the non-working limb can rest while the other is being trained. And you still follow the same 3-3-3-2-2-1 rep pattern. You just apply it all to a whole-body workout.
Using a one-arm row as an example, here’s the protocol for your first set of each exercise:
- Choose a weight that allows you to complete about 6-8 reps.
- Do three reps of rows on the right side, then immediately switch to the left and do three reps.
- Repeat this two more times, three reps per side. At this point, you’ll have completed the 3-3-3 portion.
- Immediately after you finish those three reps, repeat the process two more times with two reps per side. That’s the 2-2 portion.
- Finish by doing one last rep for each side.
- All of that together is one set. Now perform another.
On the second set, there’s only one difference. Instead of doing one rep for each side at the end, continue go to failure. Of course, you may not be able to do much more than one rep per side at this point. If you can, use more weight the next time you do alternating rest-pauses on that exercise.
What if you can’t even get to the final rest-pause set of one rep, you may be wondering. As long as you make it to the two’s, you’re good—there’s no need to lighter. Use that same weight next time you perform the workout, and try to make it further into the protocol.
The idea behind the rest-pause training is simple: By giving the non-working side just a little extra rest, you’re able to complete around 14 reps with a weight that would have normally limited you to 6-8 reps.
You’re also going to be able to lift more weight overall, because you’re doing the exercises unilaterally. It’s a well-known truth of strength-traning that when you do an exercise one arm or leg at a time, you’re able to lift more than half—not just half —of what you’d do bilaterally (two arms at a time) with a barbell.
Try it out! See how many reps of barbell curls you can do with a heavy weight of, say, 100 pounds. Maybe you can do 5 reps, tops. If so, I’m pretty confident you can do more than 5 reps with a one-arm dumbbell curl at 50 pounds.
Working together, the above two factors—more reps with the same weight because of the rest-pauses, and more weight used because of single-limb movements—have the potential to produce to great gains in both muscle size and strength.
How to Put Alternating Rest-Pause 2.0 Into Action
Every workout will be a full-body routine. You’ll do one exercise for each of 10 muscle groups, with two alternating rest-pause sets per exercise. I’ll be mixing in both multi-joint (compound) and single-joint (isolation) movements throughout the six workouts.
Of course, as with all of my full-body workouts, you can also take this structure and create your own workouts, based on what equipment you have access to.
Alternating Rest-Pause 2.0 workout structure
- Chest exercise: 2 sets of 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 alternating rest-pause reps
- Back exercise: 2 sets of 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 alternating rest-pause reps
- Leg exercise: 2 sets of 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 alternating rest-pause reps
- Shoulder exercise: 2 sets of 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 alternating rest-pause reps
- Traps exercise: 2 sets of 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 alternating rest-pause reps
- Calves exercise: 2 sets of 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 alternating rest-pause reps
- Triceps exercise: 2 sets of 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 alternating rest-pause reps
- Biceps exercise: 2 sets of 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 alternating rest-pause reps
- Forearms exercise: 2 sets of 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 alternating rest-pause reps
- Abs exercise: 2 sets of 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 alternating rest-pause reps
I may change the order of these exercise may change slightly, such as by putting calves after forearms one day and before them on another, but the workout structure will be pretty much constant for the entire week. On the flipside, my exercise selection will run the equipment gamut of free weights, machines, cables, and more. I encourage you to mix up grips, implements, and use both single-joint and multi-joint movements.
The alternating rest-pause protocol works best with single-arm or single-leg exercises, but if you may run out of one-sided exercise options, feel free to do some bilateral movements. In this case, it won’t be alternating rest-pause, but rather just rest-pause. Use the same rep scheme, but instead of alternating limbs, just do 3 reps and rest 10-20 seconds. Repeat that twice more, then move to 2 reps for 2 rest-pause sets, then finish with 1 rep on the first set and until failure on the seconds set. Same concept: Reps, rest, repeat.
If you want ideas for movements to utilize, check out my original Alternating Rest-Pause video from 2012, which is packed with options.
The last full-body training routine I gave you, my Whole-Body Hundreds, went light on weight and super high on rep counts. With alternating rest-pause, it’s time to go heavy!
Over the next six days, let me know how you’re liking the workouts. Reach out to me on any of my social media outlets. Stay JYM Army strong, everyone!
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