One Workout Hack to Build Strength, Muscle and Motivation

I want to pass on a simple tip that’s recently had a huge impact on my training. In the past year, I took my deadlift from 700 to 750. I increased muscle mass. And, most importantly, my passion for training is back and higher than ever.

It started when I got my program from my coach, Josh Bryant. My workouts were mapped out: exercises, weights, reps, sets, and rest intervals.

Lifters tend to focus a lot on exercise selection, reps/sets, weight and forget about rest intervals. I know I had – I got away from timing my rest periods in my own training and over time I developed a bad habit of letting my sessions extend to 2-3+ hours.

I allowed myself to get distracted. I was talking with friends. Hopping on my phone — checking Facebook, fantasy football, text messages, emails, etc.

As a result, training became an after-thought. My sessions were dragging. I was just going through the motions and it was producing half-assed results.

This took a toll. As my lifts stalled and focus dwindled, my motivation went with it. My passion for training was fading.

It was time for change. I took out the stopwatch and turned everything around.


Acute release anabolic hormones from shorter rest can help promote muscle growth. But, for me, the biggest impact has been on the mental side.

I’m no longer distracted, and if something does pop up, I don’t let it interfere for any longer than my allotted rest interval. It holds me accountable.

Once I get started, I’m focused. My training sessions are shorter, 1-2 hours. They’re high energy, fast paced, challenging, effective, fun and efficient.

My mental toughness is put to the test. Hypertrophy work can hurt – testing your limits and pushing your pain threshold. Something I was missing out on when I was taking five minutes between sets. Now I push through higher levels of pain (muscle fatigue) – making me physically and mentally stronger.

For heavier/strength work, I can attack the bar harder. I can harness my energy and hit the weights with more aggression – something that’s very difficult when going from a relaxed (distracted) state, to one requiring extreme focus and energy.

Controlled rest intervals prevent me from getting sidetracked. I’m in the right mindset entering each set. And, now that the intensity is back, the results have followed.

It was a wake up for me. A reminder of how powerful bringing the right mindset/intensity to training is, and how important it is to have that drive.

Also, how something as small as a stopwatch can change everything.


Here’s an example of a fast paced, high volume workout written by my coach, Josh Bryant that will light your shoulders up:

Rest REPS Sets
Dumbbell OHP (keep weight the same) 120 sec 10 10
Wide Grip Sternum Pull-up 120 sec 6 10
dumbbell lateral superset (reduce weight each set) 30 sec failure 3
Dumbbell floor pause tri ext (keep weight the same) 45 sec 10 10
incline face down dumbbell lateral raise (keep weight the same) 90 sec 20,18,16,15 4
Mcgill Sit Ups 60 sec 12 3


Basic Rest Interval Guidelines

For building strength – sets of <5 reps with 85+% of your 1RM – wait for full recovery (I’m generally in the 3-5 minute range here)

For building explosive power – sets of 1-3 reps with 50-60% of your 1RM – 30-60 sec rest

For hypertrophy (muscle building) – sets of 6-15+ reps of <60-80% of your 1RM – 90-180 sec rest or shorter – 30-90 sec rest.

Cluster sets are great for building muscle and strength. Lots of volume in little time. Give this brutal cluster set a try!

A video posted by Adam Pine (@adam_pine) on

DB side lateral raises, 14 reps, 15 sec rest  — repeat for 6 minutes

Implementing the proper rest periods will have a powerful effect on your training. If you’re a strength athlete like a powerlifter, you’ll be using a variety of rest intervals.

Your main movement, ie. Deadlift might be in the 180-300 second range. Your supplemental movement- 90-180 sec – accessory/assistance work – 30-75 range.

No more distractions, no more avoiding the pain of “the pump”. Keep your intensity up and get the most out of your training. Manage your rest intervals for efficient, high energy training.


If you’re looking for help busting through a plateau, or you want to take your training to the next level, shoot me an email at with “PROGRAM” in the subject line!

Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *