How Long You Should Rest Between Sets

Optimizing your workouts means more than crafting exercises for each muscle group and choosing the right weights — it’s also about how long you rest. Ask any health and fitness professional and they’ll tell you, rest is key! At Golden Era Nutrition, not only do we work to offer the best fitness supplements on the market, but we also strive to give you all the information you need to make the best workout and nutrition decisions. In today’s article, we’re talking about rest and how you can make the most of it.

Why Rest Matters

Not only should you establish a rest day during the week, but you also need to rest in between sets during your workout. This gives your body time to recover so you can catch your breath and come at your next set with renewed purpose and energy. Keep in mind that your rest period doesn’t have to look like someone else’s. You can choose an option for passive rest, such as standing, sitting down, or light walking, or you can choose active rest like jogging in place or jumping jacks.

You don’t want to rest so long that your heart rate drops and your body cools down, which could increase your chance of injury, but aside from avoiding that risk, the amount of rest you choose to take (and what kind of rest you utilize) should depend on factors such as:

  • Your fitness and experience level
  • The weight you’re using
  • The number of repetitions you have planned
  • Your fitness goal

Your Goal: Strength

If you goal is to get stronger faster, then you want to choose a longer rest period. Strength training with heavy weights and fewer reps utilizes the ATP-PC system — the adenosine triphosphate phosphocreatine system. This energy system provides your body with a lot of power, but it only lasts for a short period of time. If you wait several minutes, you give your body the opportunity to fully restore its phosphagen stores so you can attack your next set with similar levels of power and energy.

Your rest period: 3–5 minutes

Your Goal: Gains

If you are seeking muscle growth and gain, then consider a moderate rest period. During bodybuilding training, when you are using moderate to heavy weight for 6 to 12 reps, your body is drawing from both your ATP-PC system and your glycolic system. You get plenty of power, but you can also workout longer, because your glycolic system doesn’t fatigue as quickly as the ATP-PC system.

A shorter rest period has been shown to boost many muscle-building properties, like lactate production, the release of anabolic hormones, and blood flow to the muscles, but it exhausts your muscles faster and prevents you from lifting heavy. A longer rest period allows you to restore your strength and continue to lift heavier weights, but your muscles don’t tire as much, which is an important component of muscle growth. A moderate rest period allows you to get the best of both worlds.

Your rest period: 1–2 minutes

Your Goal: Endurance

Is your goal endurance? Then you likely already know that a long rest period won’t help you achieve your aim. Endurance training means learning to power through hard workouts and making your muscles more resistant to fatigue, and that means you want a much shorter rest period.

Many trainers and other fitness professionals recommend a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of work to rest for endurance training, as well as using light to moderate weight for more reps. Higher reps help your body optimize its ability to clear lactic acid and boost your hormonal and vascular system. Fifteen to 20 reps will likely take you between 45 seconds and one minute to complete. For a 1:1 ratio, that would be equivalent to about 45 seconds of rest, while a 1:2 ratio would mean about 2 minutes of rest. The decision is up to you!

Your rest period: 45 seconds to 2 minutes

Your Fitness Level

Another factor we mentioned that you should consider when calculating your rest period is your fitness and experience levels. Those with less training experience will often need longer rest periods to maximize their workout and stay safe. After six months or so of consistent training, you can start to experiment with rest periods to find what works best for you and your goals. Pushing yourself too far and too fast too soon can lead to a disappointing lack of ability to continue to lift heavier weights as well as sloppy form and the risk of injury. It’s worth it to wait for your practice to catch up with your ambition!

How to Rest Between Sets

As we mentioned, there are a number of ways you can rest between sets if you don’t feel like standing around. There are also a number of ways to help you perfectly time your rest period. Aside from using a timer or a watch, you can always keep an eye on the clock in your gym or use your cell phone. There are plenty of interval training apps available now that allow you to set the rest interval you’re aiming for, and you can set them to vibrate or chime when it’s time to rest or get back to work.

Optimize Your Workout With Golden Era Nutrition

Finding the right workouts and the right rest period for you is only part of the equation. Nutrition is also an important component toward reaching your goals, and Golden Era Nutrition is here to help with expertly crafted fitness supplements. Find the ingredients you need for a better workout, whether you’re fueling before, during, or after you exercise, and enjoy the great taste of our favorite blends! Place your order today to get started.