Bodybuilding Fitness

How Long Should You Rest Between Sets?

How long should you rest between sets?

I already answered 3 very important bodybuilding and fitness questions like:

1. How often should you work out per week? (1)

2. What is the best time of day to exercise? (2)

3. How many sets and reps should you do? (3)

Now, it’s time for the 4th important question.

How long should you rest between sets?

So, let’s start.

Rest Between Sets – What Do You Need to Know?

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The rest between sets depends on your goal and shape.

You need to find a balance between a too long and a too short rest.

When you manage to do that you will get the optimal amount of time for a rest.

Let’s see how long you should rest depending on your goals.

Rest Between Sets During Strength Workout

Strength

This type of workout is characterized by doing many sets with a few reps (1-6).

That’s because for strength workout you use energy that’s stored in your muscles and it’s called ATP molecule.

There isn’t a lot of ATP stored and the muscles spend it very fast, for about 15 secs of an intensive workout.

To renew ATP stores CP (creatine phosphate) needs at least 3 minutes rest.

You shouldn’t rest more than 5 minutes because then your body starts cooling down and it’s not ready for submaximal weights and strength training. (1)

Rest between sets during hypertrophy workout (for muscle mass)

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You should have 60-90 secs rest when you are building your muscles.

This type of workout includes 3-5 sets with 8-12 reps.

Your body uses energy from anaerobic sources- ATP just like with strength workout, only here your body also uses glycogen reserves.

ATP reserves are spent fast and this type of workout requires more reps, longer workout with weights, so your body mostly uses glycogen (carbs) energy.

This means that you need less time to rest.

In the beginning, have a 90 secs rest between sets and then gradually decrease to 60 secs rest.

Rest between sets during a fat-burning workout (weight loss)

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To reduce fat tissue you should do circuit training workout without rest between exercises.

Change the exercises to activate the big upper body and then the lower body muscle groups and that’s enough for your muscles to recover without resting.

Working out without rest and activating big muscle groups will help you burn more calories and boost your metabolism.

A circuit workout is one of the options if your goal is reducing fat tissue.

A more demanding option is HIIT (high-intensity interval training), a workout with complex exercises and a very short rest between reps.

What are my recommendations?

  • When you are doing deadlifting, squats for strength 1-3 reps with heavy weights: 3-5 minutes rest between sets.
  • When you are doing 8-12 reps for muscle mass, strength with lighter weights: 1-2 minutes rest.
  • And when you are doing a fat-burning workout a minimal rest, 10 – 20 secs.

So, what’s the bottom line?

You shouldn’t do sets without rest, but you also shouldn’t do a set and talk on the phone for 20 minutes.

Make sure your rest is long enough to do the next set right, and then add another set or different technique to reach muscle failure.

That’s good for strength and hypertrophy or to speed up fat loss if that’s your goal.

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