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Share The Knowledge: Rest Periods

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Usual Disclaimer applies here:

I am not liable if you take this information and hurt yourself etc etc.

Common sense is recommended

See a doctor etc etc

Rest can be broken down into two main portions:

1. Rest in between workout sets

2. Rest between workouts themselves.

This post will cover the former of the two.

The first thing to realise is that rest periods will vary depending upon your goals.

Want to gain strength:

Increase the rest period so that you are able to safely lift maximal weight each set.

This has the consequence of extending the length of workouts.

Want to build cardiovascular conditioning:

Decrease the rest periods and/or build in supersets and circuits into the program. This will keep the heartrate up and lead to increases in conditioning.

However, Rest periods are not concrete. They are an adjustable tool to put into your fitness and weight lifting arsenal and it is important to know how your body reacts to various rest periods:

A couple points:

  • Rest periods will usually vary from 45 second to 5 minutes.
  • The heavier the weight the longer the rest period will need to be
  • Decreasing rest periods will make workouts much more taxing mentally and physically, they may or may not lead to increases in strength gains or weight loss

The topic of rest periods is extremely vast and is a hotly debated subject.

However, in the interests of accessible information:

Conditioning: Keep the rest sets less that 45s Super Set the movements and keep the rest periods as short as possible to avoid winding and/or injuring yourself. (Side note, use movements here that are inherently safer i.e. lower weight, "stable" exercise).

Hypertrophy: Try to keep rest sets between 60s to 90s. This is primarily due to the desire to keep workouts within a certain time frame.

Strength: Aim for 2 minutes to 5 minutes between sets. I'd be lying if I said that I hold this as gospel. The aim with strength training is to lift the maximal amount of weight as possible in a manner that ensures progression. Thus, avoid burnout and hurting yourself but don't be afraid to test the bounds of what you are comfortable with

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Great information Dantes. I can personally attest that when I got my squats up to 280lbs + bar 5x5 a little over three months ago (lol currently I'm back to 235lbs + bar and keeping it below 250lbs weight just to save time), I would rest 3-5 minutes in between sets just so that I could physically accomplish them. Any less and I would've stalled.

Right now, my goals are a mix of Strength and Weight-Loss so I try to keep my rests in between sets to a maximum of 1 minute, unless the weights are getting heavy. Now I feel affirmed what I'm doing is okay, good to know.

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