Weight Training Rest Intervals
Weight Training Rest Intervals avatar

How Much Time In-between Sets?

As a member of the wrestling team, I can remember going to the weight room and  busting through the Nautilus machines at a break-neck pace with very little rest between sets.  I now know from my studies that only having a 10- to 15-second rest before moving on to the next set didn’t do a whole lot to improve my strength, which is what I needed.  Instead, it helped my endurance.  I can assure you that our coach didn’t know much about the science of resistance training back then.

So, how long should you rest between sets?  That depends on your goal.

There are five reasons that people do resistance training.  Those goals are general fitness, muscular endurance, muscle hypertrophy, muscles strength and power.  Depending on your goal(s), you need different recovery times for your muscles to recover.  Creatine phosphates need to be replenished and will do so at a rate of 50% in the first 30 seconds, 75% in the first minute, and 95% in the first two minutes.  Heavy loads may require up to five minutes if you are working at 1-RM (1 Rep Maximum or the heaviest weight you can lift one time).

Below are recommended rest intervals based on industry reasearch:

Recovering between sets is important to replinish energy stores in the muscles.

  • General Fitness – 30—90 seconds
  • Muscular Endurance – ≤30 seconds
  • Muscle Hypertrophy – 30—90 seconds
  • Muscular Strength – 2—5 minutes
  • Power (strength x speed) – 2—5 minutes

General fitness, endurance and hypertrophy (muscle size), require lighter loads that can be lifted 8—15 reps for 1-6 sets.  People who set strength and/or power as their goal are lifting heavier loads of 1—5 reps for 3—5 sets.

If you are working with a personal trainer or workout buddy, push yourself to add resistance.  They can spot you if the load is too much for you to handle on your own.  If you can easily do 15 reps, then the load is probably too light.  Increase it by 5% until you have to struggle to get reps 12-15.

Most importantly, determine your goals before you start a workout routine.  If you don’t, you may not be seeing the results you desire.

To Your Health!

Please see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.

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