Here’s How Long You Should Rest Between Sets Because You’re Probably Taking Too Damn Long

resting between sets gym


The next time you’re warming up at the gym – either stretching or loosing up on the elliptical – take notice of what other gym members do in between sets.

More than likely, they’re wandering around in a circle looking at their phone or checking themselves in the mirror or bullshitting with a buddy or person absolutely interested in talking.

Distractions make any workout a hundred times longer than necessary. Some are unavoidable like scam phone calls in the middle of a run or crazy people using the treadmills the wrong way.

But what many people don’t realize is that those distractions might be keeping them from making any progress in the gym.

Men’s Health explains that all of that wasted time equals unnecessary rest. “And when it comes to strength training—or any other kind of training for that matter,” they explain, “unnecessary rest equals slower gains.”

Here’s what is actually happening while you’re scrolling for the perfect pump-up song, checking your email, or just zoning out.

“The reason is that every strength and conditioning training goal has a specific amount of rest for optimal results. If you’re trying to increase muscle size (i.e., hypertrophy), you don’t want to rest any more than a minute and a half between sets, for example.

Why? Because any more than that will diminish the amount of metabolic stress that helps to maximize muscle growth.

Excessive rest is even more of an issue if you’re trying to build muscular endurance (e.g., through circuit training or high-rep sets). In that case, resting too long won’t optimally train the specific energy system (i.e., glycolytic) or the specific muscle fibers (type I) needed for that goal.”

The amount of time taken between each set depends on your goal. MH suggests these simple guideline to remember when timing your rest periods.

  • Rest no more than 30 seconds between sets if your goal is muscular endurance
  • For hypertrophy, rest between 30 and 90 seconds between sets
  • And for strength or power, your rest time is two to five minutes of between sets

And the best idea of all comes from yours truly. Get a watch to time yourself and leave the damn phone in your locker.

[via Men’s Health]


Chris Illuminati is a 5-time published author and recovering a**hole who writes about success, fitness, parenting and occasionally pro wrestling. Reach out to him on Instagram & Twitter or email