How Long to Rest Between Sets

If you take the advice from some online armchair expert or “guru” in the gym that tells you that you MUST rest for 1 minute between each set for optimal muscle growth, what’s going to happen as you progress through your workout?

You’re going to get burned out, fast!

Imagine your first set is flat bench press and you perform an intense 10 heavy reps to failure. You rack the bar, sit up feeling pretty smashed and rest for 60 seconds. Now, you’ll be lucky if you’re able to get another 10 reps of the same weight with good form on your second set.

By the time you reach your third and fourth set you’re completely fatigued. You have to drop the weight, reduce reps, form breaks down and intensity takes a nose dive

So, how long should you rest between sets?

The answer… as long as you need, to recover enough that each set is performed intensely and with good form. Everyone is different, some people may recover enough within 1 – 2 minutes, and other people may need 3 – 4.

Just find the best rest period for YOU so that you can sustain a consistent number of repetitions without having to drop the weight across ever set.

It’s pretty simple…

If you’re rest time is too short, you won’t leave enough fuel in the tank to complete your workout with enough intensity to stimulate maximum growth.

If you’re rest period is too long, by taking more time than you need, you could end up extending your entire workout time beyond the optimal 45 minutes. (Studies have shown that after 45 minutes of intense weight training, the body starts to inhibit anabolic growth hormones (testosterone, growth hormone, insulin) and the ratio of catabolic hormones (cortisol) increases.

Your rest duration will also depend on the muscle being worked. For example, bicep curls take less effort than squats. So you may just need 2 minutes rest between curls but 4 or 5 between squats.

If you’ve got chest training routine that requires you perform 4 sets of bench press at 8 reps per set, then that’s your target goal for your training that day. If you take too short a rest between sets you’ll find that you get burned out and will need to modify your training program by reducing weight, reps and sets.

It’s time to stop clock watching and worrying about rest times between each set. Take just enough rest to keep powering through sets with intensity and in the desired rep range, focus on getting the job done!

Last Updated on September 12, 2017