How long to rest between sets?

Today we tell you what is the optimal rest between sets according to our goals.

It is You may have already asked yourself these questions:

  • How long do you need to rest between sets and exercises for hypertrophy?
  • And to define?
  • What if you want to gain strength?
  • Do you have to control the time?
  • Do you have to adapt rest to exercise?

How many questions … Don’t worry, I intend to answer all of them in this article.

Why do we rest between sets? span>

The breaks during training in a weight room are periods that we use for our body to restore its balance , recreate sources of energy to use and purify the muscles from sc products limb.


Biceps curl

What determines rest time between sets?

Interruptions between sets have been at the center of the debate among athletes and coaches

Strength training experts have sustained up to 10 minutes rest between exercises, while bodybuilding coaches usually use sets composed to increase training density and not rest.

Why is there so much variability? Are they opinions or is there a basis behind it?

The variability is due to the fact that breaks must be adapted to the athlete’s goal:

What are you training for and, therefore, what type of training (exercise, intensity of effort, training intensity and duration) you are doing.


Rest in sessions aimed at increasing muscle mass has traditionally been associated with shorter breaks ; We have always heard it:

“Rest of 45-60 ″ for hypertrophy”

This idea was born for two reasons:

  1. The bodybuilders of the 80s trained with the frequency 1 “Weider routine” where they destroyed the trained muscle, subjecting it to 30 sets or more per day; and of course … Resting 5 minutes between sets with 40 sets per workout is impossible.
  2. The shorter breaks showed a sharp increase in concentrations of post-workout growth hormone.


This second was why bodybuilders cared more.

The 1 minute rest produced a peak higher than 8 times of growth hormone (Kraemer et al., 1990; Henselmans and Schoenfeld, 2014).

However, what athletes still do not realize is that growth hormone The core of the concentrations our body can produce is a chestnut for hypertrophy, so generating a physiological growth hormone spike during training won’t make your biceps grow (West and Phillips, 2012).

And even more … If you want to produce a p icco of post-workout growth hormone by doing a short HIIT session to finish, you’ll get that too, as that spike is due to the lactate produced by extramitochondrial glycolysis (Godfrey et al., 2009).

What is the reality?

Currently it is not clear which interruptions are superior for hypertrophy; We have results that indicate that short breaks are more effective (Villanueva et al., 2015) and others that indicate that longer breaks are more effective (Schoenfeld et al., 2016). My opinion is quite clear: If we consider the principles of formation and the mechanisms by which we generate hypertrophy, we know that the tonnage (total kg moved in a session) is not relevant (Lysenko et al., 2019);

The only relevant thing is the effective serial number and the intensity of effort we apply (Baz-Valle et al., 2019).

Therefore, rest as much as you have need .

  • Rest more if base your training on exercises that involve a lot of muscle mass and, therefore, require a high oxygen consumption (exercises that make you wince with fatigue).
  • Rest less if your workouts are based on more isolated machines and exercises.


Please note that both options are effective for hypertrophy, so pick the one you like best and go!

Strength rest

In strength training, the importance of rest changes and becomes more relevant.

When training with a high load (1-3RM) the limiting factor of the lift is not peripheral muscle fatigue, but the central (nerve) ability to contract the muscle .

We know that the central nervous system requires longer rest periods to continue exercising the same frequency and intensity of discharge.


The two-minute rest allows for greater average strength to be manifested in a series of one-minute resting quadriceps stretches (Bottaro et al., 2010).

When we extrapolate this to reality, the effects are drastic ; after 8 weeks of training with the same strength, the group that rested 3 minutes gained much more strength (1RM) than the group that rested 1 minute (Schoenfeld et al., 2016).

To avoid putting a table full of numbers, in the following graph you can see the effect size of 2 exercises: Bench press and squat in the long rest and short rest group:


If you train strength, rest more .

Adjust the pauses according to the exercise you performed and the intensity (training and effort) you applied.

A variable break between 2 and 7 minutes in the heavier core exercises is fine and will depend on your ability to regain contractile function at maximum post-set.

Conditioning-pauses amento

One of the “basic training sessions” that they teach you in the degree course in physical activity and sports sciences is circuit training, namely:

Have a variable number of exercises divided into stations and perform a series of each without stopping until the completion of a lap.

At this point, rest or not, and a new round begins; until the prescribed training volume is completed.

Well… does that make sense? Somehow yes.

The shorter breaks stimulate a higher oxygen consumption, which is the volume of air ventilated and used by our fabrics to meet the needs.

BUT ATTENTION! This only happens when we perform an exercise that involves a large amount of muscle mass.

Confronto allenamenti

In the previous graph we can see that consumption of oxygen in some chest openings is pretty much the same, let’s rest for a minute or three.

However, when we do a leg press, that changes and oxygen consumption increases significantly in the group that rests less time.


That’s why the cross-training or BPT style protocols work so well to physically condition an athlete, because they use global exercises, involving a lot of muscle mass, with high intensity and short rest periods.

If you are looking to improve your physical condition and become a power hybrid! uses exercises that involve the activation of a lot of muscle mass and short breaks of about one minute.



Rest as long as you need , more or less depending on your cardiorespiratory capacity, the more you “choke” during training, the more rest.

You can use Superseries and Composite Series to train yourself! Click to learn more about its benefits.


You may benefit from slightly longer breaks (about 3 minutes).

However, I advise you not to worry about the weather, as when athletes are asked to rest what they need between sets, we see that the average rest time is 5’57 ” (do Carmo et al., 2018), making it a very adequate amount of rest for strength training.

Physical preparation

Rest less (about one minute) in the most demanding cardiorespiratory exercises (squats, lunges, leg presses, Olympic movements, kettlebell swinging, gymnastics) to induce greater oxygen consumption during and after performing it.

The isolation exercises you perform apply the proposed rest system for hypertrophy.

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