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Positive, equal and negative rest

Last month, I introduced you to the burpee. A huge, full-bodied, compound movement, the burpee can be an excellent choice for high intensity or interval workouts.

This week I will start to teach you how to design your own workouts, that don’t require equipment (except a watch) or expensive gym membership fees!

By now you should be familiar with the burpee proper, as well as the progressions and regressions that you can choose to suit your current level of fitness and ability.

When designing a workout, there are a number of “tools” that we can use to add progressive overload to your routine.

You could (among many others) increase the amount of repetitions being completed, increase the number of sets you complete, as well as alter the tempo of the exercise (more on these another time).

This month I want to introduce you to the concept of positive, equal and negative rest, and how you can use these principles to increase your fitness and conditioning.

Firstly, choose the type of burpee suitable for your fitness level.

Then you need to set yourself a rep target. You should be able to complete the first set comfortably unbroken.

A good start point would be 15 reps.

Next you need to time yourself how long it takes you to complete the rep target.

E.g. 15 burpees took me 45 s.

So 45 seconds would be your “working set” time.

Now you know your working set time, you can use that time to determine how much rest you want.

To start, I would recommend “positive rest”.

Positive rest is where you rest for longer than the working set:

E.g. 45 s working set – 1:30 rest

In the example above you are resting for twice the duration of the working set, this therefore, should be relatively manageable as a starting point.

You could complete 5 working sets and see how you feel at the end of the workout.

If you could complete all the sets within the original “working set” duration (45 s), you would be ready to reduce the rest.

For your first progression, you could reduce the rest and still remain in positive rest:

E.g. 45s work : 60s rest

If you can still complete all working sets in the original time, you could then try “equal rest”.

Equal rest as it suggests, is simply resting for the duration of the working set:

E.g. 45s work:45s rest

If you can complete all five sets in the same duration, you’re ready for negative rest..

Negative rest is the hardest of the lot, as you get less time than it took you to perform the working set:

E.g. 45s work : 30s rest.

Having a bench mark to start with, and then using a simple principle of rest times, can give you a real sense of progression and you will see you’re getting fitter! However, be strict with your form, and don’t try to progress your workout if you can not adhere to standards you started with… this will help avoid unnecessary injuries or over training.

Remember, train to fatigue, not failure!! And keep a diary so you don’t forget your workouts and can see your fitness improving.

TNT  News Thomas Barber, Performance and Movement Coach

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