| September 22, 2021

Useful Things Powerlifters Can Do Between Sets

We tend to get into a habit of starting when we “feel like it.” This is a very subjective way to train. When you begin to track your break periods, you will likely notice they are much longer than you thought, or in some cases, too short.

By Steven Fitzpatrick

Read time: 3 min.

The accessibility available today online allows people to reach out to nearly any personal trainer, nutritionist, therapist, or any type of practitioner that puts their name and contact information out there.

It goes without saying that when training for strength and power, that breaks are inevitably longer than other training methods such as circuit training, CrossFit, hypertrophy or other forms. Just because you have extended break periods, does not mean you have to sit down and scroll on your phone-there are a lot of things you can be doing between those sets. You should also be timing your break periods between your sets, if you do not already have breaks pre-set.

We tend to get into a habit of sort of starting when we “feel like it.” This is a very subjective way to train. When you begin to start keeping track of your break periods, you will likely notice that they are much longer than you had thought, although this is not always the case. Personally, I found myself going into my next set too quickly (having come from a history of hypertrophy specific and bodybuilding methods), where the pace between sets is much quicker. Along with timing your breaks, it is very important not to let yourself cool down. Sit of course if you need to, but when you regain your breath, move around, do NOT lose focus. It is far too common to see people in the gym scroll unnecessarily on their phone or device and this makes them quickly lose attention to the task at hand. Train with purpose and keep your vision on your goal sharp.

While taking a rest, make sure you know and understand your program as clear as day, this way you know exactly what you are doing and when you should be doing it. Pre-framing into your mind’s eye is an extremely effective method to keep your head in it while you are resting.

Applying remedial work such as external banded rotation for the bench press, or standing rows with the band can help to make sure that all of the appropriate motor units and receptors are firing eccentrically (lats, rhomboids, posterior deltoid) without burning out the primary movers (pec, triceps, front delts) like a dumbbell chest press or dumbbell pec fly would do as a superset. The same idea may be applied to the deadlift - between your sets you can string up a handle band and work through the range of shoulder flexion to extension, (arm overhead to side) this will help to reinforce really locking down the scapula when pulling and ensuring that everything is locked down tight and moving synergistically. In the context of a squat, you might choose to do something such as rolling out your plantar fascia (bottom of the foot) or working on the dorsiflexion mobility of the ankle to get a better, more solid and stable drive out of the pocket.

Where some may disagree, I hold it a very high priority to stretch between sets. Especially after it is warm, the longer the muscle, the harder it can shorten and contract to produce force. Stretching the hips frequently between sets ensures that the back does not tighten up, which leads to avoiding that unwanted lower back “pain” so to speak, in the subsequent days to follow, this means you recover faster and you can hit the heavies sooner. Keep the psoas and surrounding muscles mobile, and your body will thank you later. Also, keep in mind that by stretching, you are helping yourself to avoid injuries. When we are tight and immobile in certain areas while still trying to force range of motion to complete an action or under the stress of inertia and gravity, the body is going to whatever it can to complete that movement, which will lead to inevitable compensation, which leads to injury.

To sum it up, ask yourself how you are treating your time in between your sets, are you being as efficient as you could be, or are there areas that you can approve upon by utilizing methods mentioned above.

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