How Long Do You Rest Between Sets?
Tue, 3 Nov 2009
Rest interval between sets in strength training
Strength training has become one of the most popular physical
activities for increasing characteristics such as absolute muscular
strength, endurance, hypertrophy and muscular power. For efficient,
safe and effective training, it is of utmost importance to understand
the interaction among training variables, which might include the
intensity, number of sets, rest interval between sets, exercise
modality and velocity of muscle action.
Rest Intervals Between Sets is a Key Factor
Research has indicated that the
rest interval between sets is an important variable that affects both
acute responses and chronic adaptations to resistance exercise
programmes. The purpose of this review is to analyse and discuss the
rest interval between sets for targeting specific training outcomes
(e.g. absolute muscular strength, endurance, hypertrophy and muscular
power). The Scielo, Science Citation Index, National Library of
Medicine, MEDLINE, Scopus, Sport Discus and CINAHL databases were used
to locate previous original scientific investigations. The 35 studies
reviewed examined both acute responses and chronic adaptations, with
rest interval length as the experimental variable.
In terms of acute
responses, a key finding was that when training with loads between 50%
and 90% of one repetition maximum, 3-5 minutes' rest between sets
allowed for greater repetitions over multiple sets. Furthermore, in
terms of chronic adaptations, resting 3-5 minutes between sets produced
greater increases in absolute strength, due to higher intensities and
volumes of training. Similarly, higher levels of muscular power were
demonstrated over multiple sets with 3 or 5 minutes versus 1 minute of
rest between sets. Conversely, some experiments have demonstrated that
when testing maximal strength, 1-minute rest intervals might be
sufficient between repeated attempts; however, from a psychological and
physiological standpoint, the inclusion of 3- to 5-minute rest
intervals might be safer and more reliable.
When the training goal is
muscular hypertrophy, the combination of moderate-intensity sets with
short rest intervals of 30-60 seconds might be most effective due to
greater acute levels of growth hormone during such workouts. Finally,
the research on rest interval length in relation to chronic muscular
endurance adaptations is less clear. Training with short rest intervals
(e.g. 20 seconds to 1 minute) resulted in higher repetition velocities
during repeated submaximal muscle actions and also greater total torque
during a high-intensity cycle test.
Benefits of Short Intervals Between Sets
Both of these findings indirectly
demonstrated the benefits of utilizing short rest intervals for gains
in muscular endurance. In summary, the rest interval between sets is an
important variable that should receive more attention in resistance
exercise prescription. When prescribed appropriately with other
important prescriptive variables (i.e. volume and intensity), the
amount of rest between sets can influence the efficiency, safety and
ultimate effectiveness of a strength training programme.
Credits: Sports Med. 2009;39(9):765-77. doi: 10.2165/11315230-000000000-00000.
de Salles BF, Simăo R, Miranda F, Novaes Jda S, Lemos A, Willardson JM.
for Clinical and Experimental Research in Vascular Biology (BioVasc),
Biomedical Center, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro,