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The Effects of Rest Interval Length on Acute Bench Press Performance: The Influence of Gender and Muscle Strength

Ratamess, Nicholas A.1; Chiarello, Christina M.1; Sacco, Anthony J.1; Hoffman, Jay R.2; Faigenbaum, Avery D.1; Ross, Ryan E.1; Kang, Jie1

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825bb492
Original Research

Abstract: Ratamess, NA, Chiarello, CM, Sacco, AJ, Hoffman, JR, Faigenbaum, AD, Ross, RE, and Kang, J. The effects of rest interval length on acute bench press performance: the influence of gender and muscle strength. J Strength Cond Res 26(7): 1817–1826, 2012. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of rest interval (RI) length on bench press performance in subjects with disparity in maximum strength. Two cohorts of subjects performed 3 bench press protocols in random order consisting of 3 sets of up to 10 repetitions with 75% of 1-repetition maximum (1RM) using either 1-, 2-, or 3-minute RIs between sets. In the first cohort, 22 men and women were studied to investigate gender influence. In the second cohort, 23 men were tested for 1RM bench press strength and placed into a low 1RM (mean = 80.7 ± 7.5 kg) or high 1RM (mean = 140.6 ± 11.9 kg) experimental group. The number of successful repetitions completed, average power, and velocity for each set were recorded. Women performed significantly more repetitions than men with 1-minute (26.9 ± 4.4 vs. 21.1 ± 3.5), 2-minute (29.0 ± 2.0 vs. 24.0 ± 4.5), and 3-minute (29.7 ± 1.8 vs. 25.8 ± 5.1) RIs. The magnitude of decline in average velocity and power was significantly higher in men than in women. Total number of repetitions performed was significantly greater in the low 1RM group than in the high 1RM group at 1-minute (21.6 ± 5.0 vs. 18.1 ± 2.0) and 2-minute RIs (24.2 ± 5.4 vs. 21.3 ± 2.8). Significant negative correlations were observed between 1RM bench press and total number of repetitions completed for 1- and 2-minute RIs (r = −0.558 and −0.490, respectively). These data indicate that maximal strength plays a role in bench press performance with varying RIs and suggest that shorter RIs may suffice in women to attain a specific volume.

Author Information

1Department of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey

2Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida

Address correspondence to Nicholas A. Ratamess,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association