Rest Periods Between Sets

When it comes to muscle growth there is an ongoing debate whether it is better to use long or short rest periods between sets.

The prevailing opinion is that while short rest periods are provide greater efficiency to your muscle pump and increase the levels of growth hormone, long rest periods are much more suitable for strength athletes.

However, we should have in mind that the metabolic stress triggered by the short rest periods is just one of the factors in stimulating the growth. In order to achieve long-term growth, you also need to pay heed to the load stress and the total training volume.

Evidence that metabolic stress is one of the crucial factors in boosting the muscle growth can be found in the results of blood flow restriction exercises. Short rest periods are, on the other hand, known to provide higher metabolic stress and enhance the satellite cells production.


  1. According to the research, short rest period can curb the total volume of the workout before fatigue sets in.
  2. Shorter rest periods also often lead to increased production of growth hormone. However, if we compare this effect with the one gained from longer rest periods, the difference gradually decreases with each week, and by week 10, and both long and short periods result only in minor changes in production of growth hormone.
  3. According to the studies focusing on growth hormone change, these momentary bursts of growth hormone production triggered by weight training have little to no effect on your gains in muscles and size.
  4. A head to head comparison of the difference of gains in short and long rest periods is insignificant. Even more, many studies have substantiated the claims that long rest periods of 2.5 minutes between exercises can in fact result in greater muscle gains.
  5. All things considered that short and long rest periods can have their advantages. While short rest periods get you increased metabolic stress, the long rest prepares your body for handling increased weights and volume.

Having this in mind, when preparing your training protocols you should take into consideration the rest periods, and learn how to manipulate them. Short rest periods are great at the start of the training cycle as they increase the effectiveness of lighter weight loads, and enhance the growth of satellite muscle cells, thus creating the foundations for later workouts.
As you start handling greater weights, you should turn to taking long rests between exercises, which will allow you a progress in training loads. When you reach rest periods of three minutes, finish off the exercise with a drop set or one high rep set for each muscle group.

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