How to Rest Between Sets

Don’t you hate it when you see people just walking around the gym, talking on their phones, chatting with friends, or texting? You’re there huffing and puffing and sweating, and they’re just chilling between sets. It’s important to rest the right way between each set, but do you know what that means? Many people have no idea how to rest between sets, but we’ve got some answers for you!

30 to 60 Seconds

For the average person, the ideal time to rest between sets is 30 seconds. You’ve pushed your body hard in the last set, and 30 seconds will give your body time to send blood, nutrients, and energy to your muscles in anticipation of your next set. If you’re really working hard and need to take a break, up to 60 seconds is fine. The reason that you want to keep your rest so short is because you want to keep your heart rate up. If you can keep your heart rate about 125 BPM, you can burn over 1,000 calories in a single hour! Plus, you’ll get through your workout a lot more quickly, spending far less time at the gym every day.

60 to 120 Seconds

If you’re going for VERY high weight and low reps, your muscles need more time between each set. As you work on building serious muscle mass and strength, your muscles will need to recover more completely between the sets. The very heavy weight breaks down a lot of the fibers in your muscle, so a longer break between sets gives your body a chance to make minor repairs. But be warned, this is ONLY for heavier, low rep sets. When working for stamina or endurance, you need far less time to rest between sets.

Take a Seat

If you want to achieve maximum recovery between sets, it’s a good idea to take a seat between every set. Why is this? Sitting will help you to recover more completely, and it will enhance your performance on the next set. A team of researchers at the University of Utah examined the effects of seated resting on a group of CrossFit participants. The group performed strength training and high intensity cardio, then followed it up with walking slowly, lying on the ground, or sitting on a bench. The groups that laid down or sat on the bench performed 7% better in the following set than those who continued to walk around. Their heart rate and breathing rate decreased much more noticeably than those who walked. The extreme rest will help to get your body back on track in preparation for the next exercise. Note: This is usually best with HIIT training, rather than the standard weight training.

Continue the Workout

If you are hardcore, you can continue working out between eat set. You don’t need to sit and take a break, but you can switch back and forth between muscle groups. For example, after each set of bench presses, do Pull-ups to work your back muscles. Between each set of barbell curls, do a set of Military Presses for your shoulders and triceps. You can also do a bodyweight or light weight set of exercises for the same muscle, which helps to kick the pump into high gear. Working out in your “rest” time is not restful, but it will help you get through your workout more quickly and will keep your heart rate up. Keeping your heart rate high is the key to burning A LOT more calories during your workout!



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