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.
Check out my client Matt’s transformation where he put on a whole bunch of muscle.
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 buildup 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.
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 met analysis of a couple studies that showed that greater growth hormone was released from shorter rest times of 30 to 60 seconds.
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, a longer rest interval of 1 to 2 minutes between sets may be much better for muscle growth.
The slightly longer rest time will allow for sets that are higher in intensity without allowing the muscle that’s being targeted to fully recover which can lead to greater muscle motor unit recruitment, and a greater pump.
This means that taking a 1 to 2-minute break could be beneficial for building more muscle and while still getting some benefits in the area of endurance.
Now let’s take a look at a much longer break time somewhere between 3 to 5 minutes. A longer break time like this allows for full recovery allowing you to produce the greatest muscular force for each set.
This leads to the greatest absolute strength and power gains from your training.
Having higher natural testosterone levels by lifting heavier weight loads can definitely help you build muscle,
but the main benefit of this rest interval when coupled with a higher weight and less reps lies in the area of strength and power.
Now, what if we select a rest time that’s a little less than 3 minutes? Let’s say 2 to three-minute breaks.
With this kind of a rest interval, we’ll be losing out on the endurance benefits that shorter rest times under 2 minutes provide,
but we will get a little more mix of hypertrophy benefits with strong benefits.
So to sum all of this up we can say that a rest interval of under 60 seconds is great for increasing endurance and burning more calories during your workout,
resting 1 to 2 minutes is ideal for building more muscle as well as getting some endurance benefits, 2 to 3 minutes is ideal for building more muscle and strength,
and 3 to 5 minutes is ideal for pure strength and power purposes.
So you should just pick the rest time that matches your goal right? Well not exactly, let me explain.
By spending time working within the shorter rest interval of less than 60-second breaks you’ll improve the speed at which your body can efficiently clear out lactic acid.
This can help you squeeze out a couple extra reps when you work within a rest interval of 1 to 2 minutes or 2 to 3 minutes,
and maybe it will even help you squeeze out one extra rep at a 3 to 5-minute break with heavy weight.
The benefits of adapting to a shorter rest time transfer over to all the other intervals. You can see the same thing in reverse,
if you were to spend time working within the 3 to 5 minute rest interval and increase your overall strength and power, that would mean that your body would adapt to lifting a heavier weight load.
This increase in muscular strength would transfer over and would allow you to lift a heavier weight load for all the other rest times as well.
Since the unique benefits of each of the rest intervals will transfer over to the other intervals it’s optimal to switch up your rest intervals just like you switch up rep ranges with periodization.
You can spend a period of 4 weeks taking shorter breaks with a lighter weight and higher reps like 12 to 20,
then the next 4 weeks taking moderate breaks with a moderate weight load and a moderate rep range of 6 to 12 reps, and then 4 weeks with longer breaks and a low rep range of 3 to 4 reps.
Mixing it up can help you progressively overload your muscles while hitting fewer plateaus.
If you don’t want to mix it up and you just want to pick the rest time that produces the most muscle growth
Again this why between all the rest times if my goal was muscle growth and I had to choose one, I would go with 1 to 2 minute breaks being the ideal break time for maximal muscle growth.
Now the very last thing I should mention is that according to the research multijoint compound exercises using large muscles….
like the back and legs tend to produce greater results when you take longer breaks around 2 to 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, with Isolation exercises targeting muscles like the biceps, triceps, and shoulders, shorter breaks lasting 45 to 90 seconds may be more ideal for growth.
So to give you the bottom line and simplify everything that I’ve talked about in this video the ideal rest time for muscle growth is 1 to 3 minutes
with more break time given to big compound lifts like squats and deadlifts, and less break time for isolation exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions.
With that in mind you also want to incorporate periods with shorter rest times to increase your lactate threshold, and incorporate periods of longer rest times to increase strength and power because the benefits you get from each will transfer accross.
while keeping in mind that taking a break longer than 5 to 7 minutes will lead to muscle cool down, less neuromuscular efficiency, and an obvious increase in the risk of injury.
That’s it guys, I know I just gave you a lot of information, but I really hope this information has helped you out Also for those of you that are looking for a done for your program that will help you burn fat & build muscle faster than ever visit my website where we’re running challenges designed to help you build muscle or burn fat in only 6 weeks.
You get a workout plan, a custom diet plan, as well as an accountability coach to help mentor and guide you through the entire process. This takes all the guesswork out and helps you hit your goals without any of the grueling trial and error that just wastes time.
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 over 1,000,000 subscribers! I'm always here for my customers so if you need help don't hesitate to send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Short Rest Intervals w/ High Reps – Make the body more efficient at clearing out lactic acids:
Elevated Testosterone Levels from Longer Breaks/ Increased Growth Hormone from shorter breaks
Met-analysis demonstrating increased growth hormone from shorter breaks:
2015 Study Showing Longer Breaks Yielded more Strength and Muscle Growth:
6 Study Comparison: