2 easiest ways to gain muscle


AnaSCI VET / Donating Member
Dec 3, 2012
I thought this article was interesting. I haven’t looked at the studies behind it, though, so I’m not endorsing anything. Just putting it out there for anyone that might like to read it. The idea behind it isn’t new to anyone that has trained seriously for any length of time, though. Basically, you gotta present new stimuli to the muscle to cause them to adapt. The focus of the study is more on time spent training, but the principle still applies.


If you're like most people, you want more muscle than you have right now, but you’re busy and you don’t have much free time to go to the gym and lift weights. If that's you, I have good news: Science has uncovered two highly effective training methods that can reduce the length of your workouts by up to 50 percent, while still delivering identical gains in size and strength. Here’s what they are and how to use them for the best results.

The first method: Rest-pause training

Let’s say you want to train your biceps. You pick up a dumbbell and start curling. The first 3-4 reps feel relatively easy. As the set continues, the reps get progressively more difficult, with those last few being the hardest to complete. After cranking out rep twelve, you put the weight down and take a couple of minutes of rest. Then, you repeat the process twice more.

In total, you’ve done three sets. Each set took around 40 seconds to complete. And you took two minutes of rest between set one and two, and another two minutes between set two and three.
In other words, it’s taken you six minutes to do three sets. And it was the final few reps of each set that made the largest contribution to muscle growth. Norwegian trainer Borge Fagerli calls those last few reps “effective reps,” as you get an effective training stimulus from each one.

What if there was a way to squeeze all those growth-promoting reps into a shorter period of time? Instead of taking six minutes to get those reps in, you could get the job done in a lot less time.

Enter rest-pause training. With rest-pause training, you do a single set, followed by multiple mini-sets. Each mini-set is separated by very short rest periods. Let’s go back to the dumbbell curl again to demonstrate how it's done.

As before, do as many reps as you can in your first set. Then you rest—but only for 20 seconds or so. Then, pick up the weight and crank out another 3-4 reps. Rest 20 seconds. Do another mini-set of 3-4 reps. Rest 20 seconds. Grind out a final mini-set of 3-4 reps, and you’re done.

In both cases, the number of effective reps is about the same. But with rest-pause training, you get the job done in less than three minutes, rather than six. You may be thinking: It all sounds great in theory, but where’s the science? In recent years, scientists have put rest-pause training to the test. And while the research is still in its infancy, early results are extremely promising. In one study, a team of Brazilian researchers found that muscle was built just as quickly with one rest-pause set as it was with three normal sets.

For the study, lifters were assigned to one of two groups: traditional or rest-pause training. Both groups trained four days a week, hitting the chest, shoulders and triceps on Monday and Wednesday, and the legs, back and biceps on Tuesday and Thursday.

The traditional group completed 3 sets of 6 reps with a weight that was 80 percent of their maximum, resting for two minutes between each set.

Lifters in the rest-pause group did the same exercises, also using a weight that was 80 percent of their maximum. However, after completing the first set, they rested for 20 seconds, did a few more reps, rested 20 seconds, and so on. Once they’d completed a total of 18 reps, they stopped.

After six weeks, the researchers reported “no significant differences in strength gains and body composition changes between groups.” Put differently, the results from rest-pause training were equal to those achieved with traditional training.

Crucially, the rest-pause group made their gains with less gym time. In fact, their workouts lasted just 35 minutes—roughly half the length of the hour-long workouts performed by the traditional group. Rest-pause training, however, isn’t the only way to get more from the time you spend in the gym.

The second method: Drop sets

There’s also some interesting research to show that drop sets—sometimes referred to as descending sets, or stripping—are an effective way to gain muscle in far less time than traditional training.

To do a drop set, perform as many reps as you can in your first set. Then, drop the weight by around 20 percent and keep going. As soon as you hit the point where you can’t do another rep, reduce the weight again by around 20 percent and continue the set until fatigue forces you to stop.

Much like rest-pause training, you’re squeezing the amount of work you do into a much shorter period of time. As a result, your muscles can be made to grow with shorter workouts than you’re used to. In one studyThey a team of Japanese researchers compared two training programs over a six-week period.

Both groups trained their triceps twice a week. Lifters in the first group did three sets of conventional resistance training. They performed as many reps as they could in each set, resting for around 90 seconds between each one.

The drop set group, on the other hand, performed a single set, reaching failure at around 12 reps. Then, without resting, they dropped the weight by 20 percent and kept going until they couldn’t do any more. The weight was dropped by 20% again, and the lifters continued until they couldn’t complete any more reps.

Both groups gained muscle, with no statistically significant differences between the two. However, the drop set group finished their workout in less than half the time of the traditional training group.

Another study also showed no difference in muscle gain with three months of drop sets versus traditional training. However, the drop set group were able to finish their workouts more quickly. They gained the same amount of muscle with less training time than the traditional group.

What’s the best way to use drop sets and rest-pause training?

The way you incorporate drop sets and the rest-pause method in your workouts will depend a lot on your specific goals and circumstances. Both training techniques demand a lot from your body, and you don’t want to use them on every exercise in every workout, all year round.

You might build a short routine based around drop sets and rest-pause training, which can be your go-to workout whenever you’re short on time and can’t fit in a regular training session. You could also save them for some of the exercises performed later in your workout, once the heavier compound lifts like the squat and deadlift are out of the way.

Exercises like pull-ups, press-ups, seated rows, leg presses, or dips are all suitable candidates for rest-pause training. Exercise caution if you plan to use the technique on movements like squats and deadlifts, as fatigue may end up compromising your form and increase the risk of injury.

If you’re training on your own, drop sets can only be used on exercises where you can change the weight quickly. This usually means machine-based movements, such as the leg extension or triceps pressdown. If you train in a gym where there’s a dumbbell rack, exercises like the lateral raise or biceps curl are also an option, as you can switch instantly from a heavier dumbbell to a lighter one.

The main message, then, is that extending a set past the point where you’d normally stop, be it with rest-pause training or drop sets, is a time-efficient way to deliver the same muscle-building stimulus in a fraction of the time of regular training.

Christian Finn is a UK-based personal trainer who holds a masters degree in exercise science. He blogs regularly at MuscleEvo.


Registered User
Aug 20, 2018
Been doing myo-reps a while now, and they seem to do the trick while keeping low strain on connective tissue and little time in the gym. All about effective reps according to this theory. I'd encourage anyone to try them out. Might be a good change-up or even a staple in a program.


Aug 28, 2005
Great reading. I need to incorporate those theories in my routine just to keep things mixed up.


Mar 27, 2014
Cool read
This could help out big time on those days
I've been having those days lately.
Been getting ready to quit lifting lately but now I have so much new stuff you guys keep posting up to try


Registered User
Mar 1, 2005
Thanks yeah rest pause been around forever but yup only recently has science validated many bodybuilding methods as usually we go by fitness or power studies . Only since mid 2000 science verification on many things . I agree though so many look for magic cycle when you do more by changing routine using varied methods . Also like training heavy isn’t only way to get big . It’s the duration of intensity or methods like rest pause where one uses the bodies own recovery system to shock growth .


New member
Sep 7, 2018
Most exercises for your significant body parts should begin with essential, multi-joint quality preparing practices that enable you to lift more weight by and large, for example, the seat presses for chest...


Registered User
Dec 26, 2008
Anything to increase intensity and shock the muscle is good. You just need to know when to do it. Some lifters do drop sets and rest pauses far too much. I think for certain exercises and on the last set is perfect. Although sometimes it's feels good going in and just crushing a muscle :)


Registered User
Oct 25, 2012
I have started doing more forced reps and drop sets the last few months. That extra intensity really does make a big difference over time.


Registered User
Mar 1, 2005
Great info . Ironically this is great info that has been around for decades and they may change what it’s called . What’s important is you just don’t do the same routine or use same intensity every month . You need to shock the body . Now like author says “ most people “ want to grow . I guess I’m not normal as I look in mirror for years and I’m fine , to me getting better muscle shape , separation , shredding more is my thing . I been bodybuilding for almost 40 years . First 15 totally natural . Hitting each body part from many angles , varying reps and sets speed or varying rest between. The human body operates on adapting to anything you do therefore changing is imperative. So if something works you do it for few weeks to month but then you change , maybe go back to it later . I always have 4-5 different variations of my workouts . Never do the same thing in any way any area . That’s where training with your brains comes in . Knowing or having discipline to change


Registered User
Mar 19, 2018
drop sets are still one of my favorite torture methods
(..giant sets & super sets come to mind too)

nice post & reminder of these methods


Registered User
Oct 14, 2018
Since ive incorporated rest pauses, I'm making Some great gains. Silly that I didn't do it earlier


Registered User
Nov 11, 2011
rest pause, drop sets, giant sets are all used with great results

I agree. I have started doing deadstop reps as well for many lifts. I really like them for chest and shoulder pressing. I usually add in a drop set most training days.


Registered User
Aug 26, 2010
Good tips. I like rest paused reps to prolong a set and increase intensity.