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How Much Time to Rest Between Sets of Strength Training Exercises

Resting Between Lifting Sets Is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

Whether you're strictly into using dumbbells to strength train, or you like to mix it up by also including resistance band exercises, weight machines, kettlebells, and moves that require no equipment, how much time you rest between sets can affect the type of workout you get. So here are some guidelines:

  • Rest three minutes: If pure strength development is your priority.
  • Rest two minutes: If strengthening your muscles is your priority, but also muscular endurance.
  • Rest one minute or not at all: If you want to burn calories and add cardio to your session, while also strengthening your muscles and increasing muscular endurance.

As you can see, resting less between sets maximizes your workout. Just keep in mind that since it's more taxing on your muscles not to rest, you still don't want to compromise your form or risk injury just to say you didn't take any breaks. So start off small and rest three minutes between sets, and if you want to make your sessions harder, gradually decrease the amount of time you rest between exercises so your body has a chance to get used to it.


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Join The Conversation
lucky_karabear lucky_karabear 6 years
I feel like if I rest that long I'll be in the gym for houuuurrrrssss. I'm already in there for quite a while as it is.
Spectra Spectra 6 years
I don't like resting for long in between sets because I want to keep my heart rate up during my strength training. Plus, if I rest for too long, I tend to get bored and de-motivated to keep going.
nancita nancita 6 years
Wow, I had no idea I should be resting that much. Great to know. Now I'll just get more annoying dudes at the gym asking if they can work in.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 6 years
45 seconds to 1 min. for me between sets.
aimeeb aimeeb 6 years
One minute for me!
jessie jessie 6 years
i was told my a trainer not to rest in between..cuz it keeps your heart rate i don't rest..i just keep pluggin along
miss-malone miss-malone 6 years
Interesting.. I never knew this before.
nia0nia nia0nia 6 years
I hate resting between sets - i strength train at home and don't want to lose momentum in the session by resting... or I just might not start again! I usually do one round of excercises like; bicep curl, lateral raise , tricep dips etc then start over again. I thought that by doing this the main muscle in each excercise would be resting for 5 min or so before the next round started. I s that a good way of doing it, or should I really be reading the paper between sets of eg bicep curls?
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