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BendtheBar 10-26-2011 07:38 PM

"Bulldozer Training" - Rest Pause for Muscle Building
In another thread I mentioned a muscle building system I created for myself a few years back that utilized rest pause. I am posting it for Off Road to peak at. Here are some notes I made in the past:

Original Version

Origins. The Bulldozer Training system is pseudo-mix of Doggcrapp training and Max-Stim training. On the surface, Bulldozer Training doesn’t necessarily look like any of these systems. Here is what I pulled from each…

Doggcrapp Training. Doggcrapp Training focuses on performing 3 sets to failure with a given weight, using a rest-pause system of 10-15 breaths between each set. Bulldozer training uses a similar rest-pause style, but does NOT have you train to failure.

Max-Stim. Max-Stim Training focuses on performing single reps, using just enough rest between reps to be able to perform another. In between ever rep, the weight is set down or racked. Generally, Max Stim trainees perform 20 total reps for each of these rest-pause sets. Bulldozer Training uses the 20 rep per set scheme, but avoids the annoyance of having to rack the weight after every rep. At a point for certain lifts, racking the weight can be more of an effort than performing the reps.

Sets. For a given exercise, pick a weight that you can perform 8-10 reps with. Without training to failure, do as many reps as you can, then rack the weight. Take 10-15 slow, deep breaths, grip the weight, and do more reps. (Again, lifting SHY of failure) Keep repeating this cycle until you hit 20 total reps for that set. There is no need to go beyond 20 reps, but if you still have gas in the tank on your last mini-set, by all means go over the 20 rep total. That’s it. Simple. Effective. And ball-busting.

Mini-sets. A mini-set are the rep units between each 10-15 breath rest-pause. So, if you bench press 205 pounds for 9 reps, rack the weight, then 5 reps, rack the weight, then 3 reps, rack the weight, then 3 reps…you have performed 4 mini-sets on your way to the 20 rep total. I log my sets as such…

* 205 x 9/5/3/3

. Progression of weight is king. When is it time to move up in weight? Generally, when you can perform the 20 total reps for a set in 5 mini-sets or less. I find that for bench press and overhead pressing, it is almost impossible for me to hit 5 mini-sets…my muscles fatigue much easier. So for these exercises I shoot for 6 mini-sets, then I progress in weight.

Deadlifts. I do NOT recommend performing sets above 3 reps using heavy weight on the deadlift. The deadlift is a unique exercise, and should be treated as such. There are three ways you can approach the deadlift with Bulldozer Training…

1. Singles. Perform single reps, rest-paused, up to a total of 10, 15 or 20 reps. Find the rep range that you are comfortable with, or alternate rep ranges each workout. Rest between reps varies. Rest until you feel strong enough to perform another rep. Generally, a 20 rep rest-pause set should take you 10-15 minutes, and a 10 rep set should take you 5-7 minutes. Progress in weight when you start to feel comfortable with your set.
2. Doubles. Perform two rep mini-sets, up to 10-20 total reps. Progress in weight when you start to feel comfortable with your set.
3. Triples. Perform three rep mini-sets, up to 10-20 total reps. Progress in weight when you start to feel comfortable with your set.

Do what feels good for you. If you do want to cycle rep totals, here is a good way to do so…

* Workout 1. Heavy weight, 10 single reps.
* Workout 2. Heavy weight minus 30 pounds, 15 rep singles.
* Workout 3. heavy weight minus 60 pounds, 20 rep singles.

Squats. If you do not feel comfortable performing Bulldozer style sets with squats, it is OK to switch to another rep/set scheme. I recommend two alternatives…

1. 20 rep set. Perform a single 20 rep set of squats.
2. HHLL. perform 4 sets of squats…first, perform 2 heavy sets of 5 reps, followed by two lighter sets of 8 reps. Mileage may vary.

Later Changes - V 2.0

Expanding Rest Periods. The primary training principle of Bulldozer Training version 2.0 is expanding rest periods. Simply put, the longer you progress into a macro set, the greater your rest periods become between mini-sets. Sounds confusing? Let me clear up all the double talk.

In Bulldozer Training version 2.0, you perform 7 total sets for any given exercise, with limited rest between these sets. The 7 sets are known as a macro set. It’s basically one large set with brief, controlled fatigue periods of rest that allow you to regain strength.

Each of the individual sets within the macro set is known as a mini-set. So, if you are bench pressing, you would perform one macro set comprised of 7 mini-sets. Following this? I hope so.

Here is how each set looks. Again, I will use the bench press as an example.

Bench Press Macro Set

225 x 7 reps (This is one mini-set)

…rest 30 seconds

225 x 3 reps (This is one mini-set)

…rest 30 seconds

225 x 2 reps (This is one mini-set)

…rest 60 seconds

225 x 3 reps (This is one mini-set)

…rest 60 seconds

225 x 4 reps (This is one mini-set)

…rest 90 seconds

225 x 4 reps (This is one mini-set)

…rest 120 seconds

225 x 5 reps (This is one mini-set)

As you can see, you performed 7 mini-sets in one macro set. The rest period pattern between sets was 30, 30, 60, 60, 90, and 120 seconds respectively.

The expanding rest periods allow you to continue to use the same amount of weight without generally compromising rep totals.

Rep Ceilings. Bulldozer Training focuses on weight progression. It should always be your goal to perform more reps then your previous workout. Progression is king. Live for it, dream of it, and strive for it.

So when is it a good idea to move up in weight while using Bulldozer Training version 2.0? I recommend that you bump your weight up by 5 pounds when you hit a total of 32-35 reps over the course of a macro set.

In the above example, the total number of reps performed for all 7 mini-sets was 28. The next time into the gym, try to hit at least 29 total reps. And again, when you achieve 32-35 total reps, bump the weight up. You will find that when you hit 32-35 reps for a given weight that you will start progressing in weight much more quickly.

Say you hit 32-35 reps in the bench press with 225 pounds. The next workout you might find that you hit 30 reps at 230 pounds. And the following workout you nail 34 reps with 230 pounds. Once you hover around the 32-35 rep range for a macro set, it should be a while before you hit a weight that causes you to stall.

5 Set Variations. I also use 5 set variations with the following rest periods:

30/30/60/60 seconds between sets.


You can pretty much use this style of training in any split format. I ran it for a year and would perform 2 exercises for major muscle groups each week, and one for minor. It took me 3-4 weeks to adapt to this style of training, but once I did my gains were steady for a long time.

There are many ways to build periodization into this system, but the easiest way is to cycle rep goals. Something like this:

Week 1: 50 rep goal
Week 2: 40 rep goal
Week 3: 30 rep goal

This will force you to use different weights each week.

Rep goals can be anything you want, and exercise specific.

BendtheBar 10-26-2011 07:41 PM

I want to add that this is almost 3 years old and I have evolved the approach in my mind several times. I see applications for fullbody, HLM and upper/lower split.

These workouts are short, sweet and always brutal for me. Enjoy.

Off Road 10-27-2011 10:55 AM

Thanks for posting BtB. Unfortunately I am limited on time, but I will read it thouroughly when I have more time.

bamazav 10-27-2011 11:15 AM


Originally Posted by Off Road (Post 184093)
Thanks for posting BtB. Unfortunately I am limited on time, but I will read it thouroughly when I have more time.

excuses, excuses :D

Off Road 10-27-2011 07:27 PM

It is very interesting. Kind of reminds me a little of Density Training.

I kind of like the original version a little better because it's less complicated. The 2.0 version seems better suited to advanced trainees with its varying rest periods and different rep goals every session, a little more complicated than I care for. But I like the overall theme of extending the sets with high percentages of your max. I also completely agree with your assessment of the deadlift, it is better suited to low reps and straight sets. I see the deadlift as more of an overall strength lift, not so much a muscle-building lift used with volume.

BendtheBar 10-27-2011 07:51 PM

It sounds more complicated than it is. It's simply cluster training with structured rest periods and rep goals to guide progression.

Anything can be adjusted...reps, rest, whatever.

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