European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 295–308 | Cite as

Short rest interval lengths between sets optimally enhance body composition and performance with 8 weeks of strength resistance training in older men

  • Matthew G. Villanueva
  • Christianne Joy Lane
  • E. Todd Schroeder
Original Article



To determine if 8 weeks of periodized strength resistance training (RT) utilizing relatively short rest interval lengths (RI) in between sets (SS) would induce greater improvements in body composition and muscular performance, compared to the same RT program utilizing extended RI (SL).


22 male volunteers (SS: n = 11, 65.6 ± 3.4 years; SL: n = 11, 70.3 ± 4.9 years) were assigned to one of two strength RT groups, following 4 weeks of periodized hypertrophic RT (PHRT): strength RT with 60-s RI (SS) or strength RT with 4-min RI (SL). Prior to randomization, all 22 study participants trained 3 days/week, for 4 weeks, targeting hypertrophy; from week 4 to week 12, SS and SL followed the same periodized strength RT program for 8 weeks, with RI the only difference in their RT prescription.


Following PHRT, all study participants experienced increases in lean body mass (LBM) (p < 0.01), upper and lower body strength (p < 0.001), and dynamic power (p < 0.001), as well as decreases in percentage body fat (p < 0.05). Across the 8-week strength RT phase, SS experienced significantly greater increases in LBM (p = 0.001), flat machine bench press 1-RM (p < 0.001), bilateral leg press 1-RM (p < 0.001), narrow/neutral grip lat pulldown (p < 0.01), and Margaria stair-climbing power (p < 0.001), compared to SL.


This study suggests 8 weeks of periodized high-intensity strength RT with shortened RI induces significantly greater enhancements in body composition, muscular performance, and functional performance, compared to the same RT prescription with extended RI, in older men. Applied professionals may optimize certain RT-induced adaptations, by incorporating shortened RI.


Hypertrophy Maximal dynamic strength Sarcopenia Acute hormonal responses Physical function 



Analysis of variance


Androgen receptor


Clinical Exercise Research Center


Coefficient of variance


Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry


Effect size


Lean body mass


Repetition maximum


Resistance exercise


Resistance training


Rest interval length in between sets


Star excursion balance test



The authors would like to thank the study participants, University of Southern California Clinical Exercise Research Center staff, and Adriana Del Padilla for their contribution to the successful completion of the experimental protocol. This study was funded by the National Strength and Conditioning Association Foundation (NSCAF). The results of the present study do not constitute endorsement by NSCA.

Conflict of interest

For all authors, there are no conflicts of interest, which might lead to bias in this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew G. Villanueva
    • 1
  • Christianne Joy Lane
    • 2
  • E. Todd Schroeder
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, Clinical Exercise Research CenterUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Preventive Medicine, Division of BiostatisticsUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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