How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

Rest Time, Goal, Exercise, Weight Training

How Long Should I Rest Between Sets? Apart from the number of exercises that should form a training plan, the rest time between sets is undoubtedly one of the points in which there is a greater discrepancy between the experts.

In this sense, I will leave the recommendations for what purpose, be the time necessary to rest.

Factors Involving Rest Time

There are basically three factors that relate to the time needed to recover after a set.

Intensity of the Exercise: How much load you’re using.

How demanding is exercise: The amount of muscle involved. It will not be the same a set of squats that a curl of biceps.

Priority objective: You can identify between increasing strength, losing fat, building muscle, …

Based on these points, rest recommendations will vary, even from 0 to 5 minutes.

How does Intensity Affect Rest Time?

The lower number of repetitions performed in a set, the higher the intensity, as the load will be higher.

If the number of repetitions was high, it means that the weight is light and allows us a longer duration of exercise, so the intensity would be low.

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If you raise the bar 3 times means that the weight is considerably high, but instead, if you are able to do 25 repetitions possibly the weight is not the most appropriate for your size.

Thus, the implication of intensity and rest time would be according to:

A high range of Repetitions = Low Intensity = Shorter Rest Time Between Sets
A low range of Repetitions = High Intensity = Longer Rest Time Between Sets

How does The Demand for Exercise Influence the Rest Time?

In the compound exercise, in which large numbers of motor fibers are to be recruited, would have a high percentage of our recovery capacity, and this should wait longer.

The example is very clear, if you commit more amount of muscle, your body will globally notice the effect of work with loads.


The greater the demander is the exercise = more Rest Time
The less demanding is the exercise = shorter Rest Time

Exercises involving large muscles such as the leg, chest, and back will belong to the first group, while “small” muscles such as biceps, triceps or shoulders will need very little time to return to the load.

Exercises Involving Longer Rest Periods are:

Dead Lift
Bench Press
Military Press
Pull ups/Chin ups

However, when it comes to isolating a large muscle in a way, it also increases the rest period.

This would be the case of quadriceps extensions.

How does the Goal Affect Rest Time?

Actually, the biggest factor that has relevance to the time of rest will be the specific goal that you’re looking for.

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The rest period between 2 sets you can classify it as:

Complete & Incomplete.

Both have their own characteristics and have repercussions in one direction or another.

Complete Rest (Almost)

It is a long rest and allows greater recovery of the CNS (Central Nervous System). This results in being able to make very heavy sets, reaching up to the maximum force to develop, and carrying the heavyweights.

The negative point would be the amount of metabolic fatigue that builds up, while the aesthetic part, ie fat reduction, and hypertrophy do not lend itself much emphasis properly.

Incomplete Rest

This type is very short, and allows to accumulate fatigue to which it is associated with greater increases in the hormone of the growth, and thus with other metabolic benefits.

On the other hand, this strategy does not allow you to perform high-weight series since your neuronal recovery capacity would not be realized, and you might not be able to complete the planned set.

How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

Depending on the person’s objective, a complete & incomplete rest or a combination of both may be chosen:

Rest between sets: 20-60 seconds

Type of stay: Incomplete

Ideal for: muscle endurance, metabolic training/circuit burn extra calories

Rest between sets: 1-2 minutes

Type of stay: Incomplete / Full

Ideal for: creating muscle, aesthetics

Rest between sets: 2-3 minutes

Type of stay: Incomplete / Full

Ideal for: creating muscle, aesthetics, increased strength

Rest between sets: 3-5 minutes

Type of stay: Full

Ideal for: strength and muscular power

Conclusion: How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

You already know that you should pay special attention to your rest times between sets.

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Of course, there are exceptions and you can adjust the time according to your goals and personal characteristics.

You could be more flexible, and maybe add a few extra minutes, to achieve your goal.

The experience and the knowledge of yourself will help you to know what your optimal rest times are and you can adjust them to your needs. Cheer up!

This article is purely informative, in ONE we do not have the power to prescribe any medical treatment or make any kind of diagnosis or advice. We invite you to go to a doctor or expert in this field in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

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How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?
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How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?
How Long Should I Rest Between Sets? Apart from the number of exercises that should form a training plan, the rest time between sets is undoubtedly one of the points in which there is a greater discrepancy between the experts.
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