Rest Time Between Sets

The all too neglected rest times. Yup, even these are important to see the results you want. Looking to gain strength and build muscle or how about keep your fat incinerator on full blast? If can answer “yes” to either of these be sure to read on…

If you’re serious about exercise and going to the gym isn’t a social event then it’s time to cut out the lollygagging and focus on what you came for.  Now, that doesn’t mean you need to tear through all your sets in a whirlwind of sweat but you do need to stay focused on your next set while resting.

To understand the purpose of the right amount of rest you need to understand a few things about muscles.

Your body is composed to two types of muscle fibers:

Slow twitch- muscle fibers which are primarily used when lifting light weights for a high number of repetitions or performing cardiovascular exercise.  They are quick to recover and ready for another round with a short rest time. When performing a high number repetitions aim for a rest time of one to two minutes.

Fast twitch- These are the primary movers when it comes to lifting heavy. They generate the most force but will fatigue the fastest and take longer to recover. Therefore, they require a longer rest period before they’re ready to go again. When performing exercises targeting fast twitch fibers you want to rest anywhere from two to five minutes.

For a quick breakdown:

1-3 reps: rest 3 to 5 minutes

4-7 reps: rest 2 to 3 minutes      

8-12 reps: rest 1 to 2 minutes

13+ reps: rest 1 minute or less

Now this only describes the amount of rest needed before working that same muscle or muscle group again. It doesn’t mean you can’t exercise another muscle during that rest time. By combining two or more exercises, you can workout more efficiently. With a little strategy, you can cut your workout time without sacrificing results. Check out the next step in the Beginner’s Guide Different Types of Weightlifting Sets for more information.


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