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  • Author: Peter Ibbott x
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Peter Ibbott, Nick Ball, Marijke Welvaert and Kevin G. Thompson

Purpose: To assess pacing strategies using prescribed and self-selected interset rest periods and their influence on performance in strength-trained athletes. Methods: A total of 16 strength-trained male athletes completed 3 randomized heavy strength-training sessions (5 sets and 5 repetitions) with different interset rest periods. The interset rest periods were 3 min (3MIN), 5 min (5MIN), and self-selected (SS). Mechanical (power, velocity, work, and displacement), surface electromyography (sEMG), and subjective (rating of perceived exertion) and readiness-to-lift data were recorded for each set. Results: SS-condition interset rest periods increased from sets 1 to 4 (from 207.52 to 277.71 s; P = .01). No differences in mechanical performance were shown between the different interset rest-period conditions. Power output (210 W; 8.03%) and velocity (0.03 m·s−1; 6.73%) decreased as sets progressed for all conditions (P < .001) from set 1 to set 5. No differences in sEMG activity between conditions were shown; however, vastus medialis sEMG decreased as the sets progressed for each condition (1.75%; P = .005). All conditions showed increases in rating of perceived exertion as sets progressed (set 1 = 6.1, set 5 = 7.9; P < .001). Participants reported greater readiness to lift in the 5MIN condition (7.81) than in the 3MIN (7.09) and SS (7.20) conditions (P < .001). Conclusions: Self-selecting interset rest periods does not significantly change performance compared with 3MIN and 5MIN conditions. Given the opportunity, athletes will vary their interset rest periods to complete multiple sets of heavy strength training. Self-selection of interset rest periods may be a feasible alternative to prescribed interset rest periods.