T Nation

Rest Times

Like many, I use a split routine. How long do you rest between sets? Any reasoning behind it?


Abs I rest 1 min.
Legs 2-3 mins. Closer to 3 mins.
All other exercises 1-2 mins. Closer to 2 mins.

Unless I feel dizzy or something, in which case I will take more time. No real science behind it, just following what a trainer told me once.

Hmmm… I don’t know man, there’s a lot of variables. I know a lot of people try to track their time to a T, which I HAVE tried, but I like judging rest times by how my body’s feeling.

I go 15-20 secs between sets, legs abit longer to 45. No particular reason other than wanting high intensity.

I am one of those peope that is very specific on my rests. I actually use a stop watch to time my rests. My reasoning is I want to be able to compare weights and reps week to week. Obviously if I rest for 45 seconds this week and 3 minutes next week the amount I am going to lift on my 2nd, 3rd or 4th set is going to be significantly different.

The rule of thumb I use is baded on how heavy I am going:

Heavy Singles - 3 minute rests
Heavy Sets of 2 to 3 reps - 2 minute rest
Medium Sets of 3 to 6 reps - 90 second rest
Light Sets of 6 to 12 reps - 45 second rest

No real science here, just something I have adapted and stuck to. In my opinion the most important thing is being consistent so you can truely compare one lifting session to the previous one.

I have tried the resting 1 minute between sets and I personally have no idea how people can train in a satisfying way like that, unless you are training to lose fat.

My reps go WAY too low for comfort and I pretty much can’t even progress. E.g, I get 10 comfortable reps on the first set (could get 12 at failure). Then rest 1 min and I do the next set and it’s 6 reps?! And I am pretty much at failure. Then next set I can barely get 4.

SO I said ‘fuck it’, and I rest about 2 min. Works a charm - can progress very nicely, and it just feels right.

You go by how your body is feeling. If you don’t yet feel totally prepared for your next set than why would you do it?

I used to rush between sets. Less intentional and more I just wanted to get back at it. Tried a routine that had two minute rests and I started timing them. Felt odd at first but my progression was better than before. Now, I rest roughly a minute but go by feel most of the time. When you are moving enough weight to hurt you, going too early can have consequences.

60-70 seconds between sets regardless if it’s the same exercise or alternating to a different one

10-15 seconds when switching between exercises in a superset

i don’t use a watch/clock to time it, what i do is take deep breaths at a regular pace such that each inhale + exhale counts as 2 seconds

what i found more important than the amount of time you rest is having deep breathing throughout the entire rest period

Theres a lot of variables.

For strength: 2-3 minutes
For size/fat loss: 30-60 seconds
For endurance: 30-90 seconds

These are really just arbitrary numbers because everyone is different, and you can make progressions based on shortening rest breaks.

Also, if your alternating between two exercise, your increasing the rest breaks.


1A: Squat
Rest 60 sec.
2A: Pullups
Rest 60 seconds repeat

This will equate to about 150 seconds rest or more for each exercise, which is plenty for most goals

The main thing, is that like I stated above, these numbers are pretty arbitrary.

But you could make a general assumption that if your training for pure strength, take longer rest breaks, and if anything go too long, and if your training for hypertrophy, fat loss, or endurance, take shorter rest breaks, and use supersets if necessary to increase the time between sets.

Hope this helps.

[quote]groomey wrote:
I go 15-20 secs between sets, legs abit longer to 45. No particular reason other than wanting high intensity.

What kind of rep range and weight are you using? I cant even fathom doing another set of squats or something 45 seconds after my last set. 15 seconds seems like barely enough time to shake off the “burn” before even beginning to rest.

Are you in fat loss mode or gaining mode?