Rest up

…But not too much

Rest periods are a great way to change up workouts and change the intensity of a training session. Depending on your goal at the time (strength, size, fat loss) the amount of rest between sets can play a huge role. The human body is always trying to adapt to it’s environment, including your workout. Just as you should be changing the exercises you’re doing and the weight being lifted; rest periods should be varied as well.


When implementing a strength building plan, longer rest periods have been shown to be more effective. In about 3-4 minutes, the body can replenish almost 100% of it’s ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) stores, which is used for heavy, maximum effort lifts and even sprints. So with this training style, you would benefit more from resting for longer and being able to lift maximal loads for more reps and sets.

Size/Fat loss

If the goal is size and/or fat loss, shorter rest periods of between 60-90 seconds seem to be the most effective range. In this rest range, about 80% of ATP will regenerate. Another benefit of shorter rest periods is more volume in less time. Growth hormone levels are also most utilized with shorter rest periods. Studies show that levels of growth hormone and testosterone peak between 60 and 90 minutes after starting training. Additionally, some studies have found that maximum levels of growth hormone are achieved with sets of 10 reps and only 45-60 seconds between sets.

  1. National Academy of Sports Medicine, Optimum Performance Training for the Health and Fitness Professional: Course Manuel, 2008, 332p.
  2. Baechle, T. R., Earle, R. W., Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2008, 58p.
  3. Garret, W. E., Kirkendall, D. T., Exercise and Sport Science, 2000, 152p.
  4. Kreider, R. B., Fry, A. C., O’Toole, M. L., Overtraining in Sport, 1998, 153p.
  5. Frohlich, M., Pruess, P., Current Results of Strength Training Research: An Empirical and Theoretical Approach, 2005, 80p.
  6. Fleck, S., Kraemer, W., Designing Resistance Training Programs, 1997, 20p.
  7. McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., Katch, V. L., Essentials of Exercise Physiology, 2006, 410-411p.
  8. Chandler, T. J., Brown, L. E., Conditioning For Strength and Human Performance, 2007, 119p.

Author: NFShealth

Certified personal trainer, grad student in nutrition. Obsessed about all things regarding nutrition and health.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s