The Value of Rest Times

There is no question that exercise is vital for developing fitness. Exercise is basically a form of stress which, by breaking your body down, triggers a rebuilding process called anabolism. As a result of exercise, the structures and systems of your body become stronger and more efficient so that, the next time you exercise, your body is better able to do the work required of it.

While exercise is the trigger for improved fitness, your body only adapts to exercise during periods of rest and recover between training sessions. For fitness success, you need to consider not just exercise but rest as well.

Different concepts of rest

In exercise, rest means a number of different things: rest between sets of exercises, rest between workouts and rest between periods of hard training. Ignoring any of these forms of rest can result in burnout or, at the very least, slow or minimal fitness progress.

Rest between Sets

Have you ever seen a couple of guys training where, after each set, they stop and chat for five minutes before continuing with their workout? Maybe you’ve seen the gym goer who punctuates every set of their workout with a text message or by updating their facebook page? Chances are, these exercisers will make little or no progress and will look exactly the same this time next year.

For exercise to be effective, it needs to provide overload – in other words, push you slightly beyond your comfort zone. By taking long breaks between sets, these lollygagging exercisers are almost fully recovered from one set to the next which reduces the overall intensity of their workouts. Too little intensity equals next to no stimulus for improved fitness.

It really pays to keep an eye on the clock (and off your phone!) if you want o get the best results possible from your workouts. How long should you rest between sets? It depends on your training goal. Here’s a handy guide of the most commonly accepted rest periods according to your training goal…

  • Muscular Endurance – 13 to 20 repetitions, 30 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Hypertrophy (muscle building) – 6 to 12 repetitions, 60 to 120 seconds rest between sets
  • Strength/power – 1 to 5 repetitions, 3 to 5 minutes rest between sets

As you can see, having a chat or texting will probably mean you fail to comply with these rest periods which can all but derail your training progress. Sticking to these periods means that each and every workout you perform will be much more productive.


  1. shawn b
    • F&P Admin
  2. Tamer Badawi

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