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There’s one question that it seems like no one really knows the answer, put 3 coaches in a room and you’ll get 3 different answers. How long should you rest between sets? Should you try to spend only a few seconds between sets to fully work the muscle and increase the “burn”, or should you wait longer until your muscles have fully recovered from the last set?

Which way is best to increase growth? Should you ever change the amount of time between sets over time, or stick to one, proven method?

So unfortunately there’s no one answer-fits-all here and there’s nothing we can say that would answer your needs. Today we’ll provide you the WHAT, and you’ll take it from there.

What does it mean?

We’ll tell you what each rest period does to your body, and you’ll decide which one to choose.

Some of you want to be stronger, more muscular and other just looking to increase your stamina. The most important thing here is that you should only focus on ONE of those at a time.

Below you can find a specified “guide” or you can also watch this amazing video (we’re not affiliated to it, just find it very informative and straight to the point):

Strength Training

To get stronger faster, the best rest period is 3 to 5 minutes between sets.

This is because much of the energy your body consumes during traditional strength training (heavy weight, 1 to 6 reps) comes from the Adenosine Triphosphate Phosphocreatine system. Your body has a very small phosphagen reserve, which lasts about 15 seconds. It takes your body about 3 minutes to fully replenish phosphagen stores.

In other words, if you give your ATP-PC system at least 3 minutes to recharge, you’ll lift more weight and get stronger faster.

Hypertrophy Training

To get bigger quicker, the best rest period is 1 to 2 minutes between sets.

Typical bodybuilding/hypertrophy training (moderate-heavy weight, 6-12 reps) draws energy from the ATP-PC and glycolytic system (the glycolytic system gets most of its energy from the carbs you eat). The aerobic metabolism plays a very small part as well.

Think of the ATP-PC system as a racehorse and the glycolytic system as a steady, dependable Clydesdale. Because your glycolytic system has come to the party, your body doesn’t need to rest as long between sets as when you’re strength training.

Endurance Training

To increase muscular endurance as quickly as possible, the best rest period is 45 seconds to 2 minutes between sets.

Classic endurance training (light-moderate weight, 15-20 reps) draws much of its energy from aerobic metabolism. This means your body burns carbs and fats in the presence of oxygen.

Coaches from a variety of endurance-related sports usually recommend a 1:1 or 1:2 work-rest interval to increase your body’s lactate threshold (Sleamaker & Browning, Winbourne, 1998, Horswill, 1992). A strict set of 15 to 20 reps should take you between 45 seconds and 1 minute to complete… which works out to a rest period of between 45 seconds and 2 minutes.

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