The time you spend resting between sets is the key element in achieving your goals. The most common question related to training is should I rest between sets or not?

The answer is: It depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to develop strength or endurance or maybe just add mass?

The harder you train (meaning doing lover number of reps) longer you should rest. And if your training is light, have shorter rests between sets.

If you are training to gain strength doing sets with one to six reps, then your rest time should be longer even up to three minutes.

When you are trying to develop strength and entice muscle growth the best results will come if the rest period between sets is not longer than one minute.

A rest period that is longer than a minute leads to your heart rate and metabolism slowing down so much that it becomes difficult to maintain the needed intensity.

If you are training to increase endurance, have shorter rest time between the sets. Rest time should be shorter than thirty seconds, but then you cannot use heavier weights to entice muscle growth.

Also, in case you are doing supersets that comprise exercises for different muscle groups without a rest period between them, you still need to have at least one minute of rest period between each superset.

Sometimes the rest between supersets should even be longer than a minute, since those sets are exhausting. When you gain more experience, you will no longer need to measure the time of rest between sets. You will learn how to feel when it is the time to get back to exercising.

The right moment to continue on to the next set is when your breathing gets back to normal and when your heart rate goes down. This is how your body is telling you it is time to continue exercising.

man holding a weight

Time Under Pressure

What you need to realize is that your body can never get used to rest time between sets. The need for a certain amount of rest time between sets remains unchanged.

This means that you will not need a shorter rest time as you gain more experience, because once you gain more experience you will start using heavier weights.

This effect of self-regulation represents the basics of progressive resistance training. The stronger you get, the heavier weights you use, and this maintains the need for the same rest time between the sets, making it more or less constant.

What is also important is that you should not train with the same rest period constantly? Sometimes it is good to include different styles of training into your program, like heavy lifting, for example.

Add a few days to your program when your workouts are extremely hard to give yourself the base for building strength, size and thickness of muscles.

Start with focusing on the bench press, deadlift or squats. When you are doing so use maximum weights with a smaller number of reps.

Exercising in this manner will mean that the rest time between sets is much longer than usual between two or three minutes, sometimes even longer.


Let us go back to the question from the beginning of this article. Should you rest between the sets and for how long? The answer is yes, but the length of the rest period depends on the goals you are trying to achieve with your training.


If your goal is to gain strength, the rest period between sets should be longer, between two and three minutes. This is the optimal time for your body to recover after a set of one to six reps of lifting heavyweights.

If you give your body enough time to recover, you will lift heavier and in that way build up strength. Though never rest longer than three minutes since your muscles might cool down and that will increase the risk of injury.

Muscle Mass

If you want to build up muscle mass, the rest period between sets should be between one and two minutes. Sets should consist of six to twelve reps with moderate to heavyweight.

Why is this effective? One of the key factors in how much your muscles grow is the number of anabolic hormones that your body produces after weight training. Shorter rest periods between one and two minutes cause a greater release of these hormones than longer rest periods.

Also, shorter rest periods cause increased blood flow to targeted muscles, and the increased blood flow helps the protein get to your muscles quicker.


To increase the endurance as quickly as possible, the best rest period between the sets should be between forty-five seconds and two minutes.

Classic endurance training which is fifteen to twenty reps with light weights draws the energy from aerobic metabolism, meaning your body burns carbs and fat in the presence of oxygen.

Endurance training is making your muscles more resistant to fatigue. Fatigue is caused by lactic acid build-up in the muscles and the best way of clearing it by boosting your body’s hormonal and vascular systems.

Recommended work-rest interval is 1:1 or 1:2. A set of fifteen to twenty reps should take you about forty-five seconds to a minute to perform, so rest period should be between forty-five seconds and two minutes.

Don’t limit yourself on just one type of training. Change your training program constantly. Include strength training and endurance training. This is the way to get the best results and achieve your goals quicker.