¨When I´m doing an exercise, how much time do I have to rest in between sets?¨, it´s probably one of the questions I get asked most often. And the answer to this question depends on a lot of factors, but first, let me explain what repetitions and sets are. Repetitions are the number of times you are going to perform an exercise. So, if I tell you to give me 10 push-ups, 10 are the repetitions. Once you are finished with the 10 repetitions, that would be called a set. So, if you did 3 x 10 repetitions, that would mean you have done 3 sets and each of those sets consisted of 10 repetitions. Ok, now that we got that out of the way let´s answer the question.
Well, the answer is ….it depends on your objective (also intensity and volume are very important but I will not get into that today). You see, depending on what your objective is (losing weight, gaining muscle, gaining strength) you will rest more or less. So, resting too long or too short can negatively affect your results.
Rest intervals can be classified into 3 categories: (Resistance Training)
- 30 seconds or less,
- 1-2 minutes,
- 3 minutes or more.
Resting 30 seconds or less – is beneficial for endurance and size because metabolic accumulation increases and this enhances the body´s anabolic (building) environment. The bad thing is that short rest intervals do not allow enough time to regain your strength. And according to different studies, a loss of 50% in strength in the following sets is seen when rest intervals are limited to 30 seconds. Meaning, it is difficult to build a lot of muscle(1-2).
Resting 1-2 minutes – allows you to recover most of your strength and according to different studies, is the best way for developing more muscle. In other words, this is best for hypertrophy (1-3)!!
Resting 3 minutes or more – allows your muscle to completely restore its strength on a given exercise. Full recovery allows you to train with the heaviest weight. On the other hand, any metabolite buildup that may have been created disappears over the course of the rest period, this is good for strength but not for size(1-3).
So to summarize:
- I would rest 30 seconds or less if I wanted to build up endurance and gain a bit of muscular size. Resting 30 seconds or less keeps your heart rate up and will lead you to burn more calories. High Intensity Interval Training bases itself a little on this method (https://sports-diet-pain.com/2013/10/18/high-intensity-interval-training/)
- It´s been scientifically proven that for muscle building the best is to rest in between 1-2 minutes(1-2).
- And if I wanted to gain strength I would rest 3 minutes or more.
Rest Interval is very important to obtain your goal, but it´s only a small piece of the puzzle. Intensity (the amount of weight lifted), volume (the total amount of repetitions), effort (the energy you expend during a set), tempo (the velocity in which you do the exercise), frequency (the number of exercise sessions you perform in a given period of time), and exercise selection (the exercises you decide to do) are equally important! Work on all these pieces and you will obtain your goal!!
- Willardson J. A brief review: Factors affecting the length of the Rest Interval Between Resistance Exercise Sets. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2006;20(4):978-84.
- de Salles BF, Simão R, Miranda F, Novaes Jda S, Lemos A, Willardson JM. Rest interval between sets in strenght training.Sports Med.2009;39(9):765-77.
- Schoenfeld B. The Max Muscle Plan. Human Kinetics.2013
- Fat Loss Workout: High Intensity Interval Training (justingordon8.wordpress.com)
- How To Build Muscle With High Intensity Resistance Training (fastweightlossex.blogspot.com)
- High-Intensity Interval Training, Learn to love them… (tiffanysfitnessandfoodtips.wordpress.com)