Rest Periods for Hypertrophy when Time-Poor?

Hi Christian,

I’ve enjoyed your interviews and articles for a couple of years now. Thanks for sharing the hard-won knowledge.

I have a question based on your recent articles on recommended rest periods. Being time-poor but recognising that hypertrophy demands larger rests, can you give me a critique of a training circuit that would use an EMOM (or every 75 seconds) for 3 or 4 circuits of 6 or seven compound movements i.e. what would be the pros and cons.

For example if someone did the following circuit 3 times, starting each exercise on the 75 seconds mark, could they gain size (I realise it may not be optimal):
A Hinge movement
A Squat movement
A horizontal pull
A horizontal push
A vertical pull
A vertical push

Assume, a warm up and cool down and this is still around 45 minutes I estimate. Could this be a good compromise for someone who is time poor and wants to get some hypertrophy as well as some secondary benefits.

thanks for your time.



Not CT, but maybe this would interest you.

90 seconds rest is plenty of time. I set a timer for 60 seconds and probably get moving again around the 70-80 second mark.

Circuits are generally to save time or add a conditioning aspect to your training.
You’re going to end up with a minimum of 9 minutes between sets of the same exercise if you do a circuit like you laid out. It might be a good GPP program but not the best approach for hypertrophy.

I recommend you just do straight sets of each exercise with 60-90 sec rest between sets.

3-5 sets of 10 with this rest does the best to release testosterone and HGH naturally in the body.

That’s definitely an interesting article, thanks for sharing.


I was basing the circuit on Christian’s article for rest periods for hypertrophy advising 2 minutes between sets which I interpreted as a minimum (perhaps wrongly) and also Eric Helms’ Pyramid book that advised longer rest periods were better for hypertrophy. But I can see that my circuit is not ideal for hypertrophy and the approach you are advising would most likely be better.

Thanks for the advice.

Even with 2 minutes rest I think you’d be better off running straight sets OR doing combo sets where you alternate between one upper body movement and one lower body movement (or a push and a pull).

Stacking 5-6 exercises in a row just takes a long time before you get your 2nd set in.

You could split the circuit you laid out into 3 combo sets and try resting 1 minute between each exercise. If you did squat with a vertical pull then you’d get 2+ minutes rest between sets of squats but the overall workout would still be faster than straight sets with 90-120 seconds rest.

Which CT article?

Nevermind. Found it.


I wasn’t as clear on my original post as I should have been, my mistake.

I meant starting every 60-90 seconds, so the rest period is actually significantly less. I did this circuit on the weekend, with 7 exercises (because I was working out at home and did single leg so 2 slots to do legs). I started each new exercise every 1 minute 15 seconds, and 4 circuits took 35 minutes. The duration of work per 75 second slot was between 30 and 45 seconds. Even with a warmup and cool down which I have to take a while with due to past injuries, I was done in 55 minutes.

Problem is, as you correctly identified, it’s over 7 minutes before I hit the same exercise although that is mitigated a little by the fact that most exercises are big movements which I guess work more than just their primary focus.

Your recommendation of combo exercises are a good option I think, I could superset with very minimal rest within the superset and still do it in about the same time.

I guess reframing the original question, what degree of hypertrophy can a GPP circuit achieve?

thanks again

That’s a good question and probably best answered by trial and error :wink:

Hypertrophy is somewhat dependent on reaching the right level of fatigue/failure. CT cited a study that found that hypertrophy was pretty much the same between groups going to failure with 8 reps and 30 reps. The strength gains were better in the 8 rep group.

The takeaway is that hypertrophy is dependent on reaching failure. How you get there isn’t set in stone.

Pick one main lift and take your time and then everything else superset or 30 secs rest -gives a good conditioning effect as well as big pump.

Guys like John Meadows sometime even recommends 20 secs for small moves like arms isolation/side delts etc

Good template here also…

Why would you say that I personally take very short rest intervals when training for hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is mostly about creating muscle fatigue and accumulating growth factors, two things that are done well with shorter rest intervals


Ah okay, I must have misinterpreted the article about rest periods for hypertrophy. Thanks.



It stemmed from this:

That tip is taken from an old article before I learned more about muscle fatigue and growth factor release. Not untrue for big compound movements though, but if you focus on accumulating fatigue to build muscle, shorter rest periods will still work