So you have your workout program and you’ve made it to the gym. You warmed up, made it over to the squat rack, and you're ready to go. When the first set is complete, you start to wonder ... how long should you rest between sets?
I've been there too. I knew exactly what my exercises were going to be and what order I planned to do them in. But, what I didn’t know was how long I should rest between sets.
30 seconds? A minute? 2 minutes? Is it better to rush into the next set? Or ... is it better to have a quick dance party, scroll through my social media feeds, and wait a few minutes to get going again?
Does it really even matter?
Believe it or not, the amount of time you take to rest in between your sets does matter. So, how long should you rest between sets?
The answer is ... it depends on quite a few variables. For the most part though, it actually depends on your goals.
Let's talk about it, and in just a few short minutes, you'll have the perfect answer for you and your goals!
How Long Should You Rest Between Sets?
Like I just mentioned, this comes down to what you're looking to accomplish with your workouts.
Are you training for strength and power? Are you training for muscle hypertrophy (muscle building)? Are you training to build endurance?
The truth is, each of these scenarios has a different answer to the question: "How long should you rest between sets?" That's because each of these training styles uses your body's energy systems differently.
The important thing to focus on is giving your body enough time to refill those energy stores. That way, you can hit the next set with the effort and intensity required for the best results!
These recommendations come directly from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and their Optimum Performance Training® Model (OPT Model) [1, 3].
Let's dive into each...
How Long Should You Rest Between Sets For Strength and Power?
If you're training to increase your strength and power ... you have to train with heavier weights.
If the focus is on strength, the goal is to overcome a particular resistance. If the focus is on power, the goal is to overcome that resistance as fast as possible.
However, because the weight is heavier, and because you're exerting a lot of effort and energy ... that also means you'll need to rest longer in between sets. This gives your muscles more time to replenish energy for your next set.
In one study, when training between 50-90% of your one-rep max, 3-5 minute rest periods allowed for more reps over multiple sets .
This also happens to be what the NASM recommends for strength and power gains: 3-5 minute rest periods.
This makes a lot of sense. If you’ve ever tried to lift really heavy weights, I’m sure you know why too. It’s hard to lift heavy, wait a few seconds, and then try to do it again. Your body needs more time to recover!
Trust me, when you're moving a lot of weight, you'll need it!
How Long Should You Rest Between Sets For Muscle Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth)?
If you're looking to maximize muscle growth, it's recommended you rest for 30-60 seconds. The NASM recommends 0-60 seconds with a proposed rep range for muscle growth of 8-12 reps at 75-85% of your 1-rep max.
Let's be real though, nobody rests for 0 seconds, or even 15 ... you should probably be resting for at least 30 seconds.
But why shorter rest for muscle growth? Well, the combination of moderate-intensity sets with short rest intervals is believed to be effective because of the greater levels of growth hormone during these workouts .
How Long Should You Rest Between Sets For Muscular Endurance?
For muscular endurance, let's say your goal is to increase your muscular endurance. Well, in this case, shorter rest periods could potentially be more beneficial.
Since training muscular endurance typically requires lighter weights for a greater number of reps, less rest is required between each set in order to achieve the same number of reps for the following set.
While the answer here is still widely unknown, 20-30 seconds seems to be the general rule of thumb when it comes to how long you should rest with a muscular endurance goal in mind.
I do want to mention though, there isn’t a ton of solid research to support the effects that rest intervals have on muscular endurance . Just something to keep in mind!
Can You Rest For Too Long?
A lot of people wonder ... is there such a thing as resting for too long? The answer is both yes and no.
It really goes back to the type of training you're doing. If you're training for power or strength, this may not have as big of an impact.
If you're training for muscular endurance, it may have an impact on your endurance, yes.
In general though, you probably don't want your rest periods to go on for too long. If you rest for too long, your workout will suffer at some point ... simply because it won't be intense enough.
Otherwise, as long as you're not resting for over 3 minutes, the answer is likely a no for you.
A Few More Things You Should Know...
The truth is, if you're really trying to accomplish a specific goal ... how long you rest probably shouldn't be your number one concern.
There are far more important things to consider when it comes to your training. These are things like your training volume, intensity, time under tension, and of course, your nutrition and recovery.
That's what we're here to help with!
No matter what you're working to accomplish, we have your back. In fact, that's why we created the 1st Phorm App.
It's the ultimate tool you need to help reach your health and fitness goals. Inside the app, you get access to pretty much any resource you can think of:
• Nutrition tracking
• Workout programs
• 1-on-1 messaging with your own advisor
• Educational live streams and content
• Progress tracking
You even get the opportunity to enter and compete in our Transformation Challenges! You could win $25,000 and completely transform your life for good!
But, no matter what phase of your journey you're on, we're happy to help out and answer any questions you may have.
You can reach out to us anytime, and we welcome it! We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Certified Nutrition Coaches who will point you in the right direction. Just give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com.
Now go out, crush your goals, and earn the results you've always wanted!
 https://www.nasm.org/certified-personal-trainer/the-opt-model "The Optimum Performance Training® Model." nasm.org, 05/09/2023
 de Salles BF, Simão R, Miranda F, Novaes Jda S, Lemos A, Willardson JM. Rest interval between sets in strength training. Sports Med. 2009;39(9):765-77. doi: 10.2165/11315230-000000000-00000. PMID: 19691365.
 https://blog.nasm.org/uncategorized/determining-best-rest-periods-resistance-exercise-training-goals "Determining The Best Rest Periods Between Sets During Training." nasm.org, 05/09/2023ABOUT THE AUTHOR