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Are short ‘breaks’ getting in the way of your progress?

I see it all the time… a client, who has been in the program for 2 to 3 years comes to class on Monday morning and during his/her 1st set, of the first exercise, takes a “quick break” after the 10th rep.  Really?  Seriously?

How are you supposed to “feel the burn” if you stop before the burn occurs?  Exercise is supposed to hurt (a little) and it’s the only way that results are going to come. If you don’t like to feeling the burn then you better be comfortable with the body you have because you aren’t going to see any improvements.  Training with too many breaks is like running on a treadmill. You’re putting in lots and lots of work, but, geographically, you’re not getting anywhere.

Do you really need to take a break?

This is the million dollar question and it’s a tough one to answer.  Generally speaking, you should try to keep breaks during a set to a minimum. Instead, use the time between sets to take your break and be ready to go for the next set!

A few other tips include:

  • If you can complete the 1st set without a break this week, but on the 2nd set you need to break, that is fine. Next week, shoot for no breaks on the 2nd set.  Or take a shorter break (1 or 2 reps off instead of 5+.
  • Define what your breaks will look like for each exercise. For instance, instead of laying down on the floor during a push up, just hold the up position for a rep or two.  During a cardio exercise, like burpees, don’t stand up and watch everyone else, drop down into the push up, or do a jumping jack until everyone comes back up into the start position.  During bicep curls,  shake out your arms for one rep and jump right back in on the next rep.
  • At the end of a timed set (30 seconds) your trainer might start to count down (5,4,3, 2…) do you stop as soon as they say 5, or do you keep push until they say STOP?  It’s likely that you could have been able to squeeze out one or two more reps!
Minimizing your breaks and rest periods will help increase the effectiveness of your workout.  The less rest you take, the more results you will see!