How Long Should You Rest Between Sets?

Timing Your Rest Breaks

Different fitness goals require different periods of rest time between sets. Always time your breaks with a stopwatch or a timer.

For fat loss, circuit workouts and metabolic conditioning with 30 seconds or less between exercises are great for maximum calorie burn. Programs like P90X and Insanity use these formats that keep you moving and keep your heart rate up.

For muscle gain, 60-90 seconds rest between sets is a good guideline to follow for a typical format of 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

Rest BreakFor strength gain, 3-5 minutes between sets is necessary in order to allow your muscles adequate recovery before attempting to lift heavy again on the next set. Studies have shown that when lifting between 50%-90% of your 1-rep max, 3-5 minutes rest produces the greatest increases in absolute strength, due to higher intensities and volume of training.

Yours In Health,

Coach Brian Donovan

Winner of Chicago Reader magazine’s “Best Personal Trainer” award, Best Of Chicago 2014 edition. Available for personal training in the Chicago neighborhoods of Andersonville, Bucktown, and Lakeshore East.
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