The Proper Way to Rest Between Sets

Hey Angels and Alphas,

It’s time for a moment of honesty. We all take an incredible amount of time to schedule out our routines, structure our workouts, manage our diets, pick our exercises, the number of reps, sets, macros, everything! But what about resting between sets.

Have you taken any amount of time to thinking about this issue, and do you know that even a 30-second change in your rest period can change the entire purpose and result of your workout?

Today, that’s exactly what we’re here to talk about. By focusing on developing the perfect resting window, we’re going to help you transform the amount of results you get from your workout. Let’s talk about it.

Focusing on a proper resting window is one of the simplest ways to achieve your fitness goals faster.

Today, we’re going to talk about some of the best tips you can find on how to determine, control, and get the most out of your resting periods.

A quick note: our body’s primary source of fuel during exercise is adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It’s produced by three major systems based on the length and intensity of your workout. These three major systems are phosphocreatine, glycolytic, oxidative.

Phosphocreatine produces energy for quick, intense exercise. It doesn’t last long, and it recovers rather slowly. For every 10 seconds you go full-on intense, you’ll need around 3 minutes of rest to recharge.

Glycolytic produces energy for medium-duration exercise. It lasts a bit longer and recovers a bit faster. It produces lactate (that creates the burning sensation in your muscles) and depending on how aerobically fit you are, you’ll be able to get rid of that lactate faster.

Oxidative refers to the system that produces energy for hours at a time, as long as you’re doing light exercise such as jogging or just going about your daily errands.

So enough with the technical terms.

Here are the best approximate rest periods, based on your individual goal:

#1 Fat loss: rest between 15 and 30 seconds. As a universal rule, track the length of your last set, and rest for less time than that. This also depends on the type of exercise you’re doing. If you’re doing cardio for fat loss, you’re going to be doing extended runs (12-15 minutes) at medium intensity, followed by 3-5-minute periods of walking and low-intensity activity. But if you’re doing weightlifting to burn calories or HIIT to torch fat, you’ll need to keep your rest periods short.

#2 Endurance: the key here is to rest as little as possible. For light strength training, keep it up to a minute. For jogging, running, and cycling, keep rest periods to the minimum to develop unshakable endurance. Developing endurance will continuously shrink the critical window of how much you need to rest.

#3 Strength: rest between 180 and 300 seconds. Heavy training burns a lot of energy, so you need to let the phosphocreatine system recover before you can utilize it fully again. If you’re doing the heaviest sets of your workout, you might need up to 5 minutes of rest between them! And if you’re someone doing 1 rep maxes in hopes of building strength, you will need to keep your rest periods high in order for the ATP in your muscles to fully restore and be prepared for the next set.

#4 Hypertrophy: rest between 45 and 90 seconds. This way, you’ll tap into your glycolytic system, fill your muscles with lactate, and keep you pumped! You will reach that middle ground in which you will develop a certain amount of ATP that will allow you to hit another set, but you will still have residue stress on that muscle from your last set.

The bottom line is this: intense exercises that use the first two systems requires more rest. Long, less intense workouts require shorter rest periods. Use that to your advantage!