Hail to the Dinosaurs!
Jeff H. asked a good question in response
to my recent emails about single rep
"How long should you rest between heavy
singles?" he asked.
I get this question a lot. I think it's because
there are so many silly things out there from
the muscle media world where they encourage
trainees to bounce from set to set as fast as
possible in order to "get a pump."
But when you're doing heavy singles, you're
not trying to get a pump.
In fact, a pump is the last thing you want -
especially if you're doing a more technical
movement that involves balance, coordination
and technique - such as snatches or cleans.
A pump is the last thing an Olympic lifter
wants because it tightens his muscles and
throws off his coordination.
But back to the question.
If you're doing heavy singles, you need to
balance two things:
1. You need to rest long enough between
singles to be able to do full justice to the
2. You don't want to rest too long because if
you do, you'll start to cool off - and you'll also
run the risk of losing concentration and focus,
i.e., letting your mind wander.
There's a balance between these two competing
needs, and it varies from person to person.
It also varies from exercise to exercise. You may
need less rest between heavy singles in the clean
and press or the snatch than in the squat or the
It varies based on the time of year. Most of us
tend to train a bit faster when it's cold because
we need to work fast enough to stay warm. When
it's hot, the reverse is often true - we go a little
slower because it's harder to recover between
In terms of minutes, the bottom line is this:
1. Two or three minutes is about right for most of
us on most exercises.
2. Five minutes is about the longest time you
should rest between singles, and I would
limit a rest that long to squats or deadlifts.
3. For some exercises - old-school dumbbell
lifts and snatches or clean and jerks - on the
minute singles can be very effective.
a. Of course, that requires excellent technique.
If you go too fast and your technique breaks
down, that's not good.
4. If you find yourself rushing and missing
lifts, you're going too fast and you need to
a. If you're rushing and missing your lifts,
you're defeating the whole purpose of
single rep training.
5. More important than exactly how long you
rest is what you do while you rest. Don't waste
your time yakking or chatting or checking your
monkey phone. Use it to visualize your next
a. The visualization drills in Dinosaur Training
are worth their weight in gold.
6. If you time it right, each lift will feel strong
and powerful - and the weight may actually
feel lighter from lift to lift.
7. At first, you can time yourself - but later on,
you'll be able to train without looking at the
clock. Your body will have developed it's own
internal training clock.
I hope that helps!
As always, thanks for reading and have a great
day. If you train today, make it a good one!
Yours in strength,
P.S. Here's the book that started the Dinosaur
Training revolution. If you don't have a copy,
grab it now:
P.S. 2. My other books and courses are right
here at Dino Headquarters:
P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "The important
thing is to do full justice to the next set or the
next lift." - Brooks Kubik