Rest For the best

download (14).jpg

It is common to see well sculpted males at the gym who seem to take long breaks between sets. This may seem like a waste of time to some but regardless of whether they realize it themselves, there is science behind this practice. Resting between sets is important. The number of repetitions one can perform will decrease with each set, but shorter rest periods will result in greater decreases.  By having adequate rest periods between sets, it is possible to limit decrements in performance.

The American College of Sports Medicine's position paper: Progression Models in Resistance Training for Healthy Adults, gives a very simple recommendation on rest periods between sets. A summary of their position is given below:

  • resistance exercise performance may be compromised with rest periods of 1 minute vs 3 minutes, but 3 minutes may still not be enough.
  • 3 to 5 minute rest intervals produces less performance decrements compared to 30 seconds to 2 minutes


ACSM recommendations:

  1. Heavy weight, core exercises (ex. bench press and squats): at least 2 - 3 minutes
  2. Assistance exercises (exercises that complement the major core exercises. ex: bicep curls): 1 - 2 minutes



N Ratamess, et al. Progression Models in Resistance Training for Healthy Adults. ACSM Position stand. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. (2009). Mar;41(3):687-708

George Cho