Duration of rest between exercises and sets

The duration of rest breaks between sets is directly dependent on your chosen program objectives. The rules are as follows:

  1. The nervous system needs more time to recover than the muscles and metabolic processes.
  2. Incomplete metabolic recovery of processes increases the release of growth hormone, which has a significant effect on changes in tissue composition (builds muscle, burns fat). Incomplete recovery can also include more motor units (muscle fibers), although it is more likely to be slowly contracting muscles. But if your goal is maximum muscle mass, then this may be useful to you.
  3. Full recovery of the central nervous system is necessary for the best development of strength indicators. So in training for the strength the rest pauses between sets should be large enough, so that the quality of the exercises is as high as possible.

The choice of rest period is influenced by the intensity of the workout and the type of exercise (you will recover faster after the triceps extension than after squats). The following table displays the effects of different periods of rest:

Relaxing period20-30 seconds30-60 seconds60-80 seconds90-120 seconds2-4 minutes
Central nervous system recoveryInsignificantSmall (30-40%)40-60%60-75%80-100%
Metabolic recovery30-50%50-75%75-90%100%100%
Key pointsThe accumulation of metabolites and oxygen deficiency, which leads to the release of growth hormone and other growth factorsStill a significant accumulation of metabolites, but a greater metabolic recovery allows you to take more weight for training for hypertrophyA good compromise between the accumulation of metabolites and sufficient rest to work with large weightsAllows you to work fully in training for hypertrophyComplete recovery of the central nervous system and contractile structures allows you to lift maximum weights
Best useFat Burning (range of strength endurance)Fat burning and gaining muscle mass (range of endurance and hypertrophy)Gaining muscle mass (hypertrophy range)Muscle gain and strength development (range of hypertrophy and functional hypertrophy)Strength development (range of development of absolute and maximum strength)

Thus, depending on your chosen Goal and intensity of training, the optimal rest periods between sets will be as follows:

Relative Strength Range (1-3 reps): 3-4 minutes *

Absolute Strength Range (3-5 reps): 2-3 minutes *

Range of functional hypertrophy (6-8 reps): 90-120 seconds *

Hypertrophy range I (9-10 reps): 60-90 seconds *

Hypertrophy range II (11-12 reps): 45-60 seconds *

Strength endurance range (13-20 reps): 30-45 seconds *

Endurance range (over 20 reps): 30 seconds or less*

“*” – between sets of one exercise

These are general recommendations, as people are different and the rest time can decrease and increase. But for the majority, it’s better to take these ranges first and adjust as necessary.

Pay attention to the footnote. This means, for example, that when working on hypertrophy after 60-90 seconds, you do the second set of the same exercise. For a consistent approach execution scheme, everything is simple:

  • Bench press 4 x 10 reps, 90 seconds of rest.

Four sets of ten reps with a rest of 90 seconds between sets. All is very simple.

If you use alternating execution of sets, it becomes a little more complicated, but not too much. We will alternate bench presses with a T-bar lifts:

A1. Bench press 4 x 10;

A2. T-bar lifts 4 x 10.

We still need to rest 90 seconds between sets of one exercise, so we will insert between the bench press and lifts for 45 seconds:

A1. Bench press 4 x 10, 45 seconds to rest;

A2. T-bar lifts 4 x 10, 45 seconds to rest.

Now we have a break of 90 seconds between the presses and 90 seconds between the lifts, however, the training density has increased, which gives additional metabolic effects (fat burning, body remodeling).

If you are conducting circular exercises for burning fat, then break for the rest from 10 to 45 seconds between exercises (simulators), which correspond to the range of endurance and strength endurance. This type of training, causing the production of lactic acid, should be considered a workout for energy systems (“cardio”) with weights, and not a typical “work with iron.”

Rest between exercises

If you train in according with consistent execution of sets (the most popular option), then the rest time between exercises should be approximately 2-3 minutes. You must be rested before starting the next exercise, your heart rate and respiration should be normal.

Read the main article: How to make a training program

Read also:

  • Compilation of a split program
  • The number of sets per muscle group
  • The number of exercises per muscle group
  • Rest between workouts
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