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Optimum Rest Period Between Sets

Daniel Brady | December 23, 2012 in Strength
Man Resting in the Gym

If you’re just taking random rest periods between sets, you are limiting your ability to train with intensity. Read on to find out what is a suitable rest period.

When comparing 1 minute to 3 minute rest intervals, the difference is significant. The total reps completed in 3 sets at 80% of 1RM (1 Repetition Maximum) was 29% higher with 3 minute rest intervals than 1 minute rest intervals.[1]

In other words, increasing from 1 minute rest to 3 minutes rest will bring your 80% intensity reps from 4 reps to 5 reps, or from 3 reps to 4 reps depending on the exercise. Is it worth it? Well that depends on your time available for training. The extra reps will help your results, and the extra rest will help you to avoid injury, but only if time permits. If you don’t have time for 3 minute rest periods, then go for 2 minutes.

Now you know: the longer rest period can help you to push out 29% more reps when training at high intensity. Here’s the data for you to browse further.

Repetitions and Rest Period

  1. The effect of two different rest intervals on the number of repetitions in a training session. Rodrigues Bernardo []

Daniel has a strong interest in evidence supported fitness training, preparation and supplementation. His goal is to provide clear information that simply works. He's currently 16 kg of muscle above his starting weight (7kg in the past 12 months), and targeting a continued growth rate of 5kg+ per year.
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