Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Rest between sets

I have been getting a lot of questions about how long to rest in between sets during strength training.  I will try to clarify this for most of you so that you can maximize your workout time.

Rest intervals as I like to think of it can vary greatly depending on your goals and type of training your engaged in.  If your focus is on explosive and intense multi-joint movements like squatting, deadlifts and cleans, then you could take up to 5 minutes of rest between sets.  However, most casual exercisers that incorporate strength training as part of their workout regimen will be fine with a 2-3 minute rest between sets, assuming your only working one muscle group at a time.

A more popular training style involves virtually no rest between sets.  Things like compound sets or supersets, or even whole-body circuit training, focus on shorter, higher-intensity workouts where rest in minimized throughout the workout.  These days people want to get in, get out and go home, so the only rest they get occurs during transition periods from one exercises to the next.  I'm a big believer in maximizing time in the gym so I personally use lots of supersets with clients.

The  moral of the story is that if you are looking to enhance strength and power, allow for more rest time between sets, but if a more cardiovascular type of strength training is your focus keep the rest periods relatively short.

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