If you’re doing CrossFit or running intervals, your down time matters. You’re probably grasping for breath with thoughts in your head that sound like white noise. In the weights room, down time is a different story. You’re left with a lot of clock ticks between your sets. Many people take this opportunity to jump on social media and gently deprive themselves of workout intensity. But what is the best option to maximize your outcomes from training?
Stretch out you fool
If you’re training chest. You don’t want to stretch your chest because this pulls the muscle fibres apart and can even make you embarrassingly weaker. Instead, you can stretch your legs in between your bench press sets and vice versa. Does this work? Sure does, says a paper in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. They got untrained people to stretch for 30 seconds in between the sets of their full body routine and found their overall muscle growth was larger. Stretching can make the sheaths that encapsulates the muscles bigger and allow them a little more room to grow. That’s an easy win, but what else can you do?
Fix yo sh*t 101!
Seek out feedback while you’re training. You should never be on autopilot and imagine you’re crushing every single rep with impeccable form. Look in the mirror. Ask a friend. Take a video. Do whatever it is you need to get some insights into how your body is moving. Once you have that information, it’s time to act, suggests Dr. Mike, a chiropractor influencer and CEO of MoveU. “Take for example a squat where some people have a difficult time driving their knees out,” explains Dr. Mike. “To make yourself aware of this problem, look in a mirror for technique. If you can see one of your knees is collapsing inward. There’s a problem and you may as well fix it there and then. Use that rest time between sets to do some foot grips on the ground where you grab hold of the floor. This drives tension into your foot so grab with your big and little toe and heels, so your foot becomes more stable. You can also focus on opening the groin with a side groin stretch to prepare yourself for better function on the next set. Use that time in between your set to improve your movement quality for the next set.” This means that you’re never resting and always take the steps needed to be a little better, even when you’re resting.
The final word
There are a multitude of things you can do between your sets that are beneficial. You can practice taking deep breaths to fill your body with oxygen that will be used in the next set. You can even decide to close your eyes and clear your mind then set your intentions on how you’d like your next set to play out. Imagine each second in real time as you visualize yourself succeeding. These are the ways that you’ll create serious progress. The kind of progress you won’t find by mindlessly plugging your attention into your hungry phone.