T Nation

Rest Between Sets Time


Hey guys

Quick question on rest between sets, I bought a Heart rate monitor / timer with the strap etc and have been making my rests between sets the same so that I know if I'm lifting heavier and gaining etc or just feeling fresher from waiting longer!

So now I have found that on squats I get around the following (Kg's)

Bodyweight squats and stretching to warm up
70x10 - 120s rest
80x10 - 120s rest
90x9 - 240s rest (rep5 was feeling gassed, needed to pause)

Problem that I see is that hitting 100x8 my heart rate hits 182 and I feel totally spent till I catch my breath

question is - Is this what I think it is, my cardio letting me down (currently be lucky to do 5-10 minutes on the treadmill a week)

or do I just / also need to leave a longer time in between sets - which sort of moves away from what I hear is about the appropriate rest period for bodybuilding

anyone have any thoughts?


I usually lie down on the floor just under the bar for about five minutes after my last set of squats. No idea what my heart rate is or whether I'm actually conscious or not, really. I just lie there until I think I can get up.

It's just called hard work

About the rest between sets: I keep my work-up sets pretty strict. 2 minutes is all I get. Before my last set, I take all the time I need. I'm not about to let something like that hold me back from lifting more weight or getting more reps.


Rest long enough to let your muscles recover enough to give MAX EFFORT in the next set. But not longer than that. Unless you are doing some ghey circuit training shit.

Rest periods will vary. A lot.


If you're doing supersets, there's no rest. If you're doing high volume, id say approx 30secs. If you're doing heavy lifting, 2-3mins. If you're doing maxes, 5-10min.

Or, you do what most do- Your rest is equal to the time it takes to change the weight, grab a drink of water, and suck down a little air. Go when you're rdy, dont force/rush things.


Alright then

Kinda feels like I'm cheating on some lifts in a way!

I really thought that longer rests was more for strength only training, along with reps in the very low (3-4) range

as opposed to muscle building / body building

I'll take my time a bit more then :wink: thanks guys


Load and rep range dictate rest period. Other than that, though, it's as BONEZ said. As per usual.


The way you are doing squats your using them more as a density/metabolic training tool rather than a strength gaining one. Could be good for a certain phase of a program if you are working on these attributes for a month or something, giving yourself a break from lifting heavier weight, but you need to rest.

This type of routine will work fine when the weight is at a very low percentage of your ceiling, but will quickly fall apart when you get much stronger than that.


Another thing. I have clients that are always saying after a complex or interval, "man, I
m outta shape! That shouldn't make me that tired!" Uh... no matter how fit you are, there is always something that will easily crush you. The difference is you feel the same now at twice the power output you started with and you will recover faster. Doesn't mean your unfit.


Not entirely sure what you mean by density/metabolic - and I'm not strictly after strength but my approach has always been - if strength is going up, muscle is going on.

Is my rep range too high? weight too light? 100kg is about 220lbs - not a massive effort but not dismal, I hope

muscle mass is primary and strength a secondary I guess, but always thought the two went together mostly - I don't have any aspirations to be a power lifter!

should I be moving into 4-6 reps and 5-6 sets instead?

Its tough early on figuring out what works, being I've only lifted for just over a year in any real way so I'm always re-evaluating with a view to changing routines every 12-16 weeks where I feel I'm not benefiting


When you are doing large muscle group exercises, you need to rest longer than 2 minutes. What I was saying is that, when starting out, you can get away with rest periods that short because you are so far away from your ceiling. The limiting factor in your muscle gain/strength gain goal is that you are not resting enough. What you are doing is more akin to pedaling on a bike with really high resistance; sure to put on some muscle, but only so much, then the lack of rest becomes a limiting factor because you will only be able to use so much weight. Now your rest periods are not THAT short, but you should rest longer, say 3-4 minutes, or as needed. Time yourself to see how long your resting, but go by how you feel when determining when to go.

What you were doing is good in that you were trying to keep one variable constant so you could look at what you were doing and attribute strength gains to improvements in yourself, not added rest time.

Next time you lift, try this. Do the same thing you have been doing, but increase rest by 1 minute or so on your last 2 sets. You should be able to use more weight, and may end up feeling pretty similar in terms of fatigue. Now that you have removed the time constraint as a limiting factor, you are free to use more weight and gain more muscle...


added time

felt damn good

lifted heavier


as you all said really - leave adequate time on the heavier / later sets