Your Set Just finished... Now what?
A) Sit on your phone and Scroll?
B) Go talk to your gym crush
C) Think about if you want to do cardio today, or... Start Monday? (lol)
There is nothing inherently wrong with these choices if you choose to do so.. But I can give you 3 other options you should consider doing instead that will enhance your performance for subsequent sets and overall wellbeing.
#1 Inter-Set STRETCHING
Stretching between sets? Absolutely. Stretching in itself when done properly has the potential to illicit its own hypertrophic response. With that being said.. stretching by itself is not going to help you get jacked and mechanism behind how this works is a little too advanced for the sake of this article. So, just keep these two things in mind:
Emerging evidence suggests that inter-set stretch can enhance muscular adaptations compared to your standard lifting programs without increasing the time spent in the gym, since your "rest" consists of a stretch. The effectiveness appears to be predicated on performing the stretch immediately after the final repetition, by taking advantage of the residual effects of previous eccentric action.
The stretch should correspond with the muscle group you've just worked. So, doing a bench press then stretching your pecs. As far as duration.. 20 second bouts of high-intensity inter-set stretch have been shown to enhance hypertrophy, therefore this should be the minimum duration of the stretches.
You can also do a stretch of the opposing muscle groups or entirely other halves of the body. Such as a Bench Press Followed by a Quad Stretch (Couch Stretch)
Bench Followed By:
#2 Work A Lagging Body Part
This is one is super straight forward, but still needs some direction in terms of how to utilize this technique. So I suggest if you are hitting upper body, choose a SMALL muscle group to target for lower body and vice versa. For example, after a set of Pulldowns.. do a set a of calf raises during your rest period. Or, If you just finished a set of squats.. Go hit a set of curls or triceps.
By setting up workouts like this, you give extra volume to lagging body parts, while also not having to worry about fatiguing yourself too much and risk drops in performance.
#3 Get a Pump
Now, you can absolutely overdue this one.
This by far is the most advanced and intense technique and should be used with caution. But, it is extremely useful especially for those looking to maximize on their muscle building pursuits while keeping joints healthy. After a heavy strength set such as doing sets of 5, 3, or 1 on a heavy compound lift, follow it up with some high rep band work or bodyweight training.
Examples could be a set of heavy deadlifts or hip thrust followed by banded glute bridges or hamstring curls:
Not only will the pump help your physique and keep blood surrounding the joints in use.. but it also is another opportunity before your next heavy set to connect to the muscles or movement patterns to come.
Never waste an opportunity to improve. It's inevitable that you will get distracted between sets.. Minimize this possibility by keeping your body moving and your brain focused on the tasks at hand