The purpose for the rests, to my best understanding, is to re-energize the mitocondria of the cell for increased power on the next lift...to feed the muscle fiber cells for major muscle growth, and to permit heavier lifting which, in turn, causes greater muscle mass.
During the rest periods (I'm doing Cathe Freidrich STS) I walk around, breathe, stretch, and write on my workout card.
It's working. REST is a good thing
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I haven't started NROL yet but I do tend to fidget between sets--can't just sit there and stare into space! So I stretch, drink water and/or write in my workout log (the writing gets pretty big and funny-looking when I've been working my upper body!).
I dont do it exactly to the directions. I workout at home and figure the rest is for the muscles in use and not necessarily required for you to stand absolutely still. So between sets I wipe off the stove, unload the dishwasher, dust the tv, whatever quick odds and ends that I can do reasonably quickly and closeby.
But yah, I can imagine it be a bit awkward at the gym, especially if you were by yourself. At least with someone with you, you could talk to each other even if its just to discuss your form for that last set.
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