T Nation

Rest Period Length

What is everyone’s opinion on rest period length for hypertrophy, strength, or both?

I have been focusing a lot on weight moved and volume for the past couple months and have let my rest periods get longer and longer.

This past week I started focusing more on getting perfect form (feeling the muscle worked really well) and doing much shorter rest periods (around 30 - 60 seconds). My weights have dropped dramatically, but I feel the muscle a lot better and have been getting great pumps. Also, I sweat a lot more.

We’ll see how it works out though. I’m going after plain ol’ hypertrophy with this method.

What’s everyone’s opinion on rest periods. I’m not looking for a definitive answer, I would just like to know about others experiences.

I feel, like reps and sets, that rest periods should be cyclyed for best results.

I know when I do my low reps as in the powerlifts or olympic lifts, I rest 2-4 minutes or more. When I go back to HIT type work, I rest only long enough to set up the next exercise. Actually using my setup time as the (active) rest.

The general rule for rest is it’s inversely propotionate to reps. That is the lower the reps (heavy weight), the longer the rest.

However, “general rules” do not need to be and should not be followed as dogma.

For hypertrophy I rested only 1 minute between sets…sometimes less.

For strength with submaximal weights (5 reps: 80-85%) I would rest 3 minutes between sets. For the same rep range when training the competitive lifts I would rest 4 minutes.

For strength training with maximal weights doing triples (90%) I would rest between 4-5 minutes.

For 1RM attempts or heavy singles for power (95% or higher) I would rest 8 minutes between sets.

Sorry to get off-topic but Raw Power, that is one sweet avatar you have there!

I’m not one of those guys who really obsesses over rest periods (hanging onto a stopwatch in between sets), nor do I really even think about it in terms of time.

I take just as long as I feel I need to in order to put in another solid effort under the bar. When I’m training in the lower rep ranges (for “strength” - around 3 or so), I feel I need to take a little longer than in the higher rep ranges (for “size”).

Obviously, I don’t do a set, go take a shit, make a few calls, and then go back for another, but if I feel I need a little more time in order to put in a good effort, I don’t really sweat it.

I don’t like it when routines tell me to wait 60 seconds between exercises or sets, as I like to lift based upon whether or not I feel I can at least ballpark my reps around the number I’m aiming for.

Of course, if I had to take a stab at it, it generally works out to around 2 - 2.5 minutes or so for “strength” work, and around 1 - 1.5 minutes for “size” work.

As a general rule, a long rest period between sets is better for strength while shorter ones are better for hypertrophy.

However, there are other factors that can affect those things like rep schemes, TUT, supersets, rest-pause, etc. General rules, therefore, should not be taken as a be-all end-all, but as a starting guide.

If you want my experience on the matter, I train cluster style, 3x5, with a 2 RM weight. My rest period is short between my reps, or what I like to call “sub-sets” (about 12 seconds) while my rest period between sets is long (3-5 minutes). I also train with supersets, 3x4 supersetted with 3x6, with a 3-5 minute rest in between supersets. Using these, my strength and size increased faster than it ever did before.