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How Long Should I Rest In-between Sets & Exercise


An important moment in the life of gym goers is selecting the types of exercises to include in their program and commit to. After this, the main concern should be the breaks in-between these exercises, as well as between the sets.

This is how you get to calculate your breaks – you have to consider the following aspects. You need to aim not only what is convenient, but also what is recommended for muscle growth. Thus, one must find a balance between these because, if the breaks are too short, you risk quick exhaustion and damage. On the other hand, too long breaks will also be counter-productive. According to the body’s response, to one’s fitness goal and personal fitness level, each person’s optimal rest time is different.

Let’s have a look at the factors that will help you identify the best rest times:

1. Reps intensity

The intensity of your weight training matters. Here, the intensity decreases with the number of reps in a set:

  • The bigger the weights, the fewer reps you’ll be able to do.
  • For a high reps number, you need to lower the resting time.
  • For a lower reps number, allow yourself more time to rest.

2. Exercise difficulty

How demanding is the exercise in itself, apart from the weights you are using?

A very demanding exercise calls for more rest. (Examples: squats, pull-ups, deadlifts, presses). A not so demanding one necessitates a short rest time.

3. Your main goal

What do you train for? Are you trying to lose fat or are you aiming to increase your strength? Are you hoping to be a bodybuilder and gain impressive mass? Once you are sure of the answer, find out the recommended optimal rest times. These could range from zero seconds to a solid five minutes.

Resting between sets

  • 20 to 60 seconds of rest time between sets is good for burning calories, boosting muscle endurance and for circuit training.
  • 1 to 2 minutes of rest time favors ‘toning’, body sculpting and muscle building.
  • 2 to 3 minutes favors the same as above, plus increasing strength.
  • 3 to 5 minutes or a complete rest is great for strength, as well as for muscular power boost.

If you are unsure, you can always choose a time in the middle, which would stand between an incomplete and a complete rest. Bodybuilders who are looking to maximize their power are usually going for intervals of 2 to 5 minutes.

Resting between exercises

The rule is simple here. Go for the same rest time as the one you chose for your sets. Thus, if you opted for 3 minutes, then rest for no more than 3 minutes before you move on to another type of exercise.

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