DC Training Rest-Pause Sets: The Ultimate Guide!


DC Training rest-pause sets are one of the most powerful training methods ever invented.

They are used by many of the world’s top bodybuilding coaches like Dante Trudel and John Meadows to build muscle mass and strength.

If you want to get jacked and freaky strong then rest-pause sets are for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Low-Volume Rest-Pause Training
  • Part 2: High-Volume Rest-Pause Training

In this comprehensive guide I will show you how to use DC Training rest-pause sets to build muscle mass and strength as fast as possible.

Rest-pause sets are a high-intensity training method invented by the bodybuilding coach Dante Trudel. With rest-pause sets you train to failure 3 times in a row on an exercise with 20-30 seconds rest between sets. Here is a perfect demonstration:

The DC Training Rest-Pause Set

Talk about an intense set! Dusty Hanshaw is using 405 pounds on the incline bench press for his DC Training rest-pause set. He gets 8 reps, 4 reps and 2 reps on his three attempts for a total of 14 reps rest-paused.

Rest-pause sets are so effective because they overload your muscles and your central nervous system at the exact same time.

Many bodybuilders find that they can use rest-pause sets to get stronger while training in the higher rep ranges. Rapid strength gains in the high rep ranges… now THAT is a recipe for rapid muscle mass gains!

There are two ways to design a bodybuilding workout using DC-style rest-pause sets:

2 Ways To Use DC-Style Rest-Pause Sets

  • Option #1: Low-volume rest-pause workouts
  • Option #2: High-volume rest-pause workouts

The first option is to use low-volume bodybuilding workouts. This is exactly how Dante Trudel designed his original DC Training program using rest-pause sets.

You just perform 1-2 exercises per muscle group and perform 1 rest-pause set per muscle group.

Many bodybuilders find that their strength shoots through the roof when they use a low-volume rest-pause training program.

The other option is to use rest-pause sets with a high-volume bodybuilding program.

Some bodybuilders like Dusty Hanshaw and John Meadows have made this work where you perform 4-5 exercises with 1 rest-pause set per exercise. This approach works awesome for advanced bodybuilders who need more training volume to continue building muscle mass.

I hope you found this overview of DC Training rest-pause sets helpful. Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: Low-Volume Rest-Pause Training

One of the best ways to use rest-pause sets is with the original 3 days per week DC Training program. Dante Trudel says that this is the absolute fastest way he knows for most bodybuilders to build muscle mass.

With the DC Training program you train your entire upper body (minus biceps) on one workout and your entire lower body (plus biceps) on another workout. For each body part you perform 1 rest-pause set and an extreme stretch.

Here is what the upper body workout looks like:

The DC Training Upper Body Workout

  • Exercise #1: Chest, 1 rest-pause set —–> extreme stretch
  • Exercise #2: Shoulders, 1 rest-pause set —–> extreme stretch
  • Exercise #3: Triceps, 1 rest-pause set —–> extreme stretch
  • Exercise #4: Back Width, 1 rest-pause set ——> extreme stretch
  • Exercise #5: Back Thickness, 1-2 straight sets

As you can see almost every muscle group is rest-paused. The only exception is back thickness which uses 1-2 straight sets.

Dante Trudel says that you should never perform rest-pause sets for your back thickness exercises because the risk of injury is too high. You don’t want to train to failure on deadlifts, rest 30 seconds and then go again because you could easily injure your lower back.

Dante Trudel says that performing 1 rest-pause set per muscle group is ideal if you are trying to rapidly build strength. Many bodybuilders find that 1 rest-pause set per body part is all they need to get stronger for years at a time.

Here is a sample DC Training rest-pause workout that you could try. Check it out:

Sample DC Training Upper Body Workout

  • Exercise #1: Flat DB press, 1 x 11-20 RP**
  • Exercise #2: Seated military press, 1 x 11-20 RP**
  • Exercise #3: Close grip smith machine press, 1 x 11-20 RP**
  • Exercise #4: Lat pulldown (wide / overhand grip), 1 x 11-20 RP**
  • Exercise #5: Barbell bent over row, 2 x 8-12

**Performed as a DC-style rest-pause set. Aim for 11-20 total reps across your three attempts with the same weight. After the rest-pause set rest 1-3 minutes and perform an extreme stretch.

Here is the training video:

Another way to design a low-volume rest-pause workout is to perform 2 exercises per body part.

You could perform 1 rest-pause set on a big compound exercise followed by 1 straight set to failure on a smaller isolation exercise. This is a strategy that Dante Trudel often used with his more advanced bodybuilders to bring up their lagging body parts.

If you are going to use this strategy then you should probably only train 1-3 muscle groups per workout. Something like a push / pull / legs split or a bodybuilding style bro-split would be perfect.

Here is a chest / shoulders rest-pause workout that Dusty Hanshaw performed using 2 exercises per body part. Check it out:

Advanced DC Training Chest / Shoulders Workout

  • Exercise #1: 30 degree incline bench press, 1 x 11-20 RP
  • Exercise #2: Machine pec dec, 1 x 10-30 SS
  • Exercise #3: Hammer strength overhead press, 1 x 11-20 RP
  • Exercise #4: Machine lateral raise, 1 x 10-30 SS

**Performed as a DC-style rest-pause set. Aim for 11-20 total reps across your three attempts with the same weight.

****Perform 1 straight set for 10-30 reps to failure. This is often called a “widowmaker set” for lagging body parts.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Dusty Hanshaw says that this is his all-time favorite way to train.

The rest-pause set is your heavy “meat and potatoes” movement where you are really trying to move a lot of weight and put a lot of tension on your muscle fibers.

Then you perform the smaller isolation exercise for 1 higher-rep set to really pump the muscle full of blood and attack a different type of muscle fiber in the muscle.

The bottom line is rest-pause sets work awesome when combined with lower-volume workouts with 1-2 exercises per muscle group. However, they can also be used for higher-volume workouts if you know what you are doing!

Part 2: High-Volume Rest-Pause Training

High-volume rest-pause workouts? What kind of sorcery is this

The truth is many bodybuilding coaches have used high-volume rest-pause workouts to blast through hypertrophy plateaus. You still only want to perform 1 DC-style rest-pause set per exercise.

Rest-pause sets are so demanding that you will quickly overtrain if you try to perform more than 1 per exercise.

So how do you get in more volume with rest-pause sets? That’s simple – you just perform 4-5 exercises per muscle group.

Here is a high-volume chest workout that Dusty Hanshaw performed to blast through a size plateau. Check it out:

Dusty Hanshaw Rest-Pause Chest Workout

  • Exercise #1: 30 degree incline smith machine press, 1 x 11-20 RP**
  • Exercise #2: Flat machine press, 1 x 11-20 RP**
  • Exercise #3: Decline hammer strength press, 1 x 11-20 RP**
  • Exercise #4: Flat DB press, 1 x 11-20 SS

**Performed as a DC-style rest-pause set. Aim for 11-20 total reps across your three attempts with the same weight.

****Perform 1 straight set for 11-20 reps to failure.

Talk about a high-volume workout! Dusty Hanshaw performs 4 separate exercises for his chest. On each exercise he performs several warm up sets and then performs his 1 all-out rest-pause set.

It’s a little harder to build strength when you train this way but the extra size gains are more than worth it. The bodybuilding coach John Meadows sometimes uses a similar strategy in his high-volume Mountain Dog Training workouts.

John likes to warm up and then perform 1 all-out set per exercise with as much weight as he can handle for the target rep range. John really likes to go all-out on this last set and use high-intensity techniques like drop sets, cluster sets and rest-pause sets.

Here is a high-volume leg workout where John performed rest-pause sets on every single exercise. Check it out:

John Meadows Rest-Pause Leg Workout

  • Exercise #1: Lying leg curl, 3-4 sets of 4-12 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Machine squat, 5-6 sets of 6-8 reps**
  • Exercise #3: Machine hack squat, 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps**
  • Exercise #4: Machine leg extension, 3 sets of 10, 10, 25 reps****

**Performed as a DC-style rest-pause set. Perform 8 reps to failure, rest 20 seconds, train to failure a 2nd time, rest 20 seconds, train to failure a 3rd time, done!

****Here are John’s exact words: “These might not be 25 full reps – it’s whatever you have to do to get to 25 reps.” In other words, perform as many full range of motion reps as you can, then start busting out partials. It’s 25 total reps or you’re a Candy-Ass Nancy Boy!

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about an intense workout! John performs 4 total exercises for his lower body.

On the first 3 exercises he warms up and performs 1 all-out rest-pause set with as much weight as he could handle. On his 4th exercise he used a modified version of a rest-pause set where he trained to failure and then did whatever it took to reach the magical 25-rep target.

John Meadows is proof that you can use the rest-pause method with your high-volume workouts to blast through hypertrophy plateaus.

Conclusion

The DC Training rest-pause method is one of the most effective training methods ever invented. It works extremely well for building muscle mass and strength.

The truth is you can use the rest-pause method with low-volume bodybuilding workouts and high-volume bodybuilding workouts. I recommend you try both approaches and find the one that works best for you.

Here is one more quote by Dante Trudel to pump you up even more:

“I think rest-pause sets are the ultimate way to train. I’ve never seen a faster way to build muscle mass or strength in advanced bodybuilders.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

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