How Much Rest Between Sets

Is it better to take shorter or Longer breaks between your sets if you’re trying to build more muscle? What about for fat loss is it better to move between your sets at a faster pace or do you want to take your time and fully recover before moving on to your next set? Well in today’s video I’ll be going over exactly how much rest you should take between sets in order to achieve the results your after, whether that be building muscle or burning fat, and I’ll give you the ideal rest time to do it in the most efficient way possible. I’ll go over both the pro’s and the con’s of each rest interval and I’ll back it up with scientific evidence to help you decide which is best for you and your goals.

Now even though you can technically set up any length of time for your rest interval between sets I want to compare a short interval which is anything under 60 seconds of rest to a moderate interval which would anything between 1 to 2 minute breaks between sets and finally compare that to a longer interval which would be anything between 3 to 5 minutes of rest.

Let’s start first by taking a closer look at shorter intervals of 60 seconds or less. The biggest benefit you’ll experience when taking shorter breaks is within the realm of endurance. When you near the end of your set your muscles will begin to feel the onset of fatigue. That tiresome burning feeling in your muscles is caused by the build-up of lactic acid, and these lactic acids happen to be the major cause of fatigue especially in activities that require endurance. By training with higher reps for with less break time your body becomes more efficient at clearing out lactic acid from the muscles by boosting your body’s hormonal and vascular systems. Shorter intervals of rest 20 to 60 seconds long will allow you to be more fatigue resistant for longer lengths, it will yield the best improvements in your cardiovascular system, and it will allow you to burn more calories during the workout than you would if you were taking longer breaks due to a constantly elevated heart rate.

However, the downside of these shorter rest times is that you won’t be fully recovered for your next set, causing you to lift less weight than you would be able to lift if you took a long break. This isn’t only because of lactic acid production, but it’s also due to your Atp and pc energy systems. Atp stands for adenosine triphosphate and pc stands for phosphocreatine, and just to make this super simple for you, what you have to know is that these energy systems provide immediate energy and they’re largely responsible for providing energy during the first 20 to 30 seconds of almost any activity. A lot of your strength and power come from these two energy systems, and according to the national academy of sports medicine, 20 to 30 seconds of rest time allows you to recover approximately 50 percent of your ATP and PC. Then at 40 seconds you’ll recover about 75 percent, at 60 seconds you’ll recover about 85 to 90 percent, and at 3 minutes you should have recovered approximately 100 percent. Now if you happen to be a natural lifter trying to build muscle mass you should try to lift heavier weights whenever you can to help stimulate more protein synthesis so you can ultimately build more muscle.

Some experts say that you should aim for breaks that are under 60 seconds long to build more muscle. This is due to a 2009 metanalysis of a couple of studies that showed that greater growth hormone was released from shorter rest times of 30 to 60 seconds. However, later studies, one of which was conducted in 2015, showed that a longer rest of 3 minutes lead to more strength and size gains than one minute. Regardless of the conflicting results many experts still recommend a shorter rest time for building muscle and they want you to aim for a 1 to 1 rest to work ratio for hypertrophy, so that would mean if you spent 45 seconds doing your set you would take a 45-second break before doing another set. However, since muscular strength is tied so closely to muscular growth for natural lifters


My passion for fitness began when I was 14 years old. I naturally fell in love with training and haven’t stopped since. At 18 years I acquired my first personal training certification from ACE after which I opened my first gym in 2011, Gravity Training Zone. I'm now in the process of opening up my third location! I love to share my knowledge through personal training, my online courses, and youtube channel now with almost 1,000,000 subscribers! I'm always here for my customers so if you need help don't hesitate to send your questions to
Founder // Gravity Transformation, Max Posternak