hockey lifting

Rest Times and Their Usefulness

Every well constructed lifting program all have one thing in common: delegated rest times. Rest times are incorporated to facilitate different training results. A solid program will have a correlation between rest times and the type of strength being trained for. For example, if you're lifting in the "relative strength" phase where you're hitting heavy 3 rep squats, you're going to have a longer rest. The longer rest is needed for better recovery; the nervous system needs a break to maintain its high level of performance.

Strength table.jpg

There are a few key takeaways when thinking about rest and recognizing its usefulness. A lot of folks in the gym will sit and talk in-between sets and not control their rest, these are usually those without a goal in mind or tracked numbers. Every rest period has a goal, whether it be hit consistent strength numbers or create a fatigue while still moving the appropriate weight. Here's how you should interpret and use rest to your advantage...

  1. Rest period lengths and their usefulness
    • Higher rest periods - 2 minutes+ - their use comes when you're lifting in the relative strength category performing compound movements. Also, if you're performing any form of PAP/contrast training, (the rest after the PAP/contrast movements in reference here) a longer rest is needed for nervous system recovery.
      • Examples - squats, deadlifts, bench/overhead pressing, Olympic lifts, etc usually will require more rest. These recruit more muscles than most lifts and are the lifts most often performed in the relative strength category.
    • Medium rest periods - 60-90 seconds - their use comes when training in the hypertrophy and endurance categories; aka when strength, endurance and muscle size are being trained for. You'll usually see these when you perform accessory lifts (lifts that complement the first compound movement). The 60-90 seconds allow enough rest to maintain a degree of strength, but should create some form of fatigue to facilitate growth.
      • Examples - dips, incline dumbbell presses, chin-ups, GHD, etc...movements that don't tax the system as heavily as compounds and usually have higher rep ranges.
        • Exception: when compounds are performed at higher reps/less weight (ex: 8 rep back squat) sometimes rest times may be in the 90ish second category-this is often used for beginners.
    • Shorter rest periods - 10-60 seconds - you'll usually see these used when performing training circuits, agonist/antagonist training or various forms of PAP/contrast methods. When circuit training you're doing multiple movements quickly after another, typically full body. Circuits are often used for fat loss and strength adaptation, high level of work within a short amount of time. Agonist and antagonist are opposing muscles, ex: a press then a pulling movement. PAP/contrast are when you train the same muscles quickly after one another, their use is to overload muscles by varied intensities.
      • Examples - circuit (hex deadlift, dumbbell row, GHD, incline dumbbell press, dumbbell curl all performed 45 seconds after one another), PAP/contrast performing a 3-RM back squat with 10 second rest then doing 6 reps of vertical jump.
  2. Be honest - when there's a rest time written in a program try to follow the delegated time. These times are made to facilitate different forms of growth, if you're constantly taking off or adding time then you're changing your true numbers.
  3. True numbers/progress - rest periods can help ensure you're recording more accurate progress. Like stated above having loose rest periods can influence how much weight you're actually able to move at that given time for the asked rep range.

Whether your goal is fat loss, strength gain or muscle gain rest periods are an easy variable to manipulate for results. Rest periods should always correlate with the lift and the reps, without these two factors strategic rest periods will not be as effective.

Why Tempo Matters

A lot of our athletes are familiar with tempo (the 3010's etc you see in programs), but do you understand why we use them and why they change?

Tempo involves creating a time frame for each part of the lift, the eccentric (downward movement), the concentric (upward movement) and holds at the top and bottom. This in return varies the muscle's time under tension, the time under tension will facilitate different results and adaptations. To help you understand better, we made a list of why and how to interpret tempos--this way you can utilize them in your training.

Let's look at a tempo that appears like this....3-1-1-0

  1. The first 3 is the eccentric count, so a three second descend (lowering phase) in a back squat.
  2. The second 1 is the hold at the bottom of the eccentric phase, so this calls for a 1 second hold at the bottom position of the back squat.
  3. The third 1 is the concentric phase, the upward motion or contraction phase-in this example you would stand up at a rate of 1 second from the back squat.
  4. The fourth 0 is the top of the concentric phase (top of the movement), this calls for a 0 second stop between each rep at the top of the back squat, no break in-between reps.

Now that you have an understanding of how to read and interpret tempos, here's how changing them can be beneficial and why we do so.

  • Easy to track - using a set tempo ensures every rep is the same, you're not haphazardly moving weight at different speeds every lift (which would effect results/true progress).
  • Different muscle types stimulated - fast and slow twitch muscle fibers respond differently to different stimulus's, everyone has both types just in different amounts. Fast twitch respond better to heavier explosive movements, while slow twitch respond best to slower more prolonged movements.
    • A tempo that involves a lot of 1's and X's calls for more explosive phases stimulating fast twitch fibers, while numbers like 3-4+ and excessive holds will help recruit/build your slow twitch fibers (generally speaking).
  • Increased muscle growth - when you focus on time under tension you're providing a calculated stimulus to the muscle. This in return will create more protein synthesis (which we covered briefly here) which will result in increased muscle size/growth, moving weights at inconsistent tempos can slow this process.
  • Planned training phases - all workouts should have a common goal behind them, tempos allow support a more thought out plan to reach this goal. For explosive strength increases you'll usually see lower reps and faster tempos and for muscle size/strength you'll see higher reps and longer time under tension. Together time under tension and reps performed will dictate results, use the guide below as a reference.
    • Relative strength – reps 1-5, time under tension 1-20 seconds and 85% or greater of 1 RM
    • Functional hypertrophy - reps 6-8, time under tension 20-40 seconds and 79-84% of 1 RM
    • Hypertrophy - reps 9-12, time under tension 40-60 seconds and 70-78% of 1 RM
    • Strength endurance - reps 13+, time under tension 60+ seconds and 69% or less of 1 RM

Tempo is a great tool for increasing strength when used correctly. A well designed program has respect for these principles and utilizes the science behind them.





Institute 3E In-Season Training Ideology for Older Athletes

There's no question that in-season and off-season training styles should be different. First of all, in-season the goal is to perform your sport optimally and to keep that high tempo through the season. Along with performing optimally it should be a goal to maintain the strength and size gained in the off-season.

If in-season the goal is to play your sport at your peak and you took the same training methodology we use in our off-season training it would do harm than good. The body wouldn't be able to repair and recover in time to perform optimally every time you were on the ice; you world more than likely inhibit growth. This being said there are a few training variations we implicate with our older athletes for their in-season training.

  1. Frequency - we recommend for older athletes to lift twice a week. This is an ideal amount to maintain muscle without frying the nervous system and leaving an athlete lethargic or sore for the majority of the week.
  2. Compound movements - every in-season lift we perform focuses on a compound movement as the first exercise. For example, a squat, deadlift, Olympic lift or bench/overhead press will be the initial focus. The compound movements are how we gain the most muscle, when in-season they're also how we maintain the most muscle. Along with this they're a great sign for checking and maintaining one's strength levels.
  3. Work : Rest ratio - a good in-season lift will have emphasis on the rest an athlete is getting in-between sets. If reps are lower, rest is higher to allow optimal performance and to avoid burnout.
  4. Volume - lifts are made to be shorter and to hit a majority of muscles, when skating 4+ times a week a 2-hour lift can severely deplete the body.
  5. Intensity - in-season intensity of lifts are dictated by the volume (reps). This means let the reps dictate the weight, constantly missing reps and going as heavy as possible will impede proper maintenance/growth.

An example of an in-season (functional hypertrophy, maintain size) lift would look like this....

  • A. Back squat, 5-7 reps, 40X0 tempo, 4 sets, 2 minute rest
  • B1. Chin-up, 6-8 reps, 30X0 tempo, 4 sets, 90 second rest
  • B2. Incline DB Bench Press, 6-8 reps, 30X0 tempo, 4 sets, 90 second rest
  • C. GHD, 8-10 reps, 30X0 tempo, 3 sets, 90 second rest

The main concern of this lift is to perform the back squat to the same caliber you did in the off-season. If you can, then it's a good sign that your strength and size is being maintained. The remaining lifts are for maintenance of other facets of strength, usually focusing on multiple body parts since frequency of lift days are kept lower.



Bantam and Midget Training

This post will cover our training methods we perform with our bantam and midget aged athletes. A lot of parents become worrisome when their child begins to lift at this age, they fear stunting of growth, injury, etc.  At Institute 3E we utilize age-specific training, these are points in an athlete's life where they'll be most responsive to different forms of training. 

When your son/daugher lifts with us, the programs and movements they perform are made to create a strong foundation (progressive to their skill level) and to aid them for more elite lifting as they get older. 

There is a term in the strength and conditioning world called, Accumulation of Training Years–an essential piece to an athlete's continuous success. What this means is an athlete that has multiple years training and working on their skill will be better and more prepared than those who don't. This is why learning fundamentals and building a base of strength is so important for this age of athlete–with higher level play and college approaching you don't want to be left behind by the more experienced. 

The aspects of training we focus on with the bantam and midget aged athlete are...

  1. Speed (reaction time)

  2. Strength endurance

  3. Maximal strength

  4. Explosive strength

As an athlete gets older it will be harder for them to keep up with an elite level player who's had years of experience in the gym. For example, if you're planning on playing juniors and you've never truly back squatted before–you're going to get passed up by someone who's squatted the past couple of years. While they're adding weight and getting're working on learning the movement, gaining the mobility and building a base of strength. 

Speed (reaction time) is a huge component we work on at this age group, this aspect goes hand-in-hand with explosive power and strength as well. We'll perform exercises such as, plyometrics (broad jumps, box jumps, vertical jumps), Olympic lift progressions and various team-based exercises such as indian arm wrestling. 

Strength endurance is a key to building an athlete's base of strength, this involves performing a movement for multiple repetitions. It builds the capacity of muscles to handle a larger workload (i.e.more reps) while maintaining the strength of doing so. Examples of this are any strength movement with more than 5 reps (back squatting for 8 reps, incline benching 10 reps, chin-ups max reps). 

Maximal strength and explosive strength while different in many aspects work together in unison in a lot of cases. For example, you won't be able to create a maximal strength effort without some form of explosive strength, vice versa. With a built foundation of basic strength the muscle will be able to handle heavier loads (i.e. less reps, heavier weight) and be able to create more explosiveness. Examples of these aspects include: plyometrics, lower reps-heavier weight movements (a 3-5 rep deadlift) and exercises involving critiqued tempos (holding a front squat for 2 seconds at the bottom, then exploding up). 

An athlete's time at this age should be spent building a good base of strength, this will help improve their performance and keep them ahead of their competition. Higher levels of play call for more speed, strength and endurance–our programs will help prepare your athlete for just that. To get a better idea of the images above check out the video below!