Rest for Success

Don’t worry I am not going to tell you about how its important to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep to perform at your best. If you don’t know you should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep – now you know.

You’re welcome

I see this all too often in the gym, people flying through a workout in 15 minutes that should take 45 minutes to an hour to complete. Why is this?  Because they take 5 second breaks in between their sets. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a place for little to no rest in workouts, but not when it comes to training for power, strength, and hypertrophy.

The breaks between sets allows for your Creatine Phosphate and your ATP, the two main sources of energy during anaerobic exercise, to resynthesize.

Think of it this way, if I asked you to bench your 5 reps max and then asked you to do it again, with no rest, you could not do it. If you think it takes about 1 second in the eccentric phase (lowering) and 1 second in the concentric phase (pushing) that is 2 seconds it takes to complete 1 repetition on the bench, times 5 give you 10 seconds. Within the first 10 seconds 90% of your ATP is used up and within 5 to 30 seconds 50 to 70% of your creatine phosphate is used up. That does not leave you with much to work with.

It takes 3 to 5 minutes for your ATP stores to refill and 5 to 8 minutes for creatine phosphate. So, if I am going for strength I need as much ATP and creatine phosphate is I can get. That means my breaks are going to be between 2 to 8 minute breaks between sets.

Rest times breakdown as such for exercise goals.

  • Strength: 2-5 min
  • Power: 2-5 min
  • Hypertrophy: 30 sec – 1:30 min
  • Endurance: <30 sec

I know sitting around for 5 minutes sounds like more work then lifting mad weights. There are several things you can do to fill your time between exercises.

  1. Rest it out: get some water, sit around, talk around the water cooler, Anything but looking at yourself in mirror.                                                            

    We look so hard bros

    We look so hard bros

  2. Stretching/mobility work
  3. Super Set: two different exercises back to back

When Not to Rest

As mentioned above, there is a time and a place when we want little to no rest between sets. This may be for weight management, muscle endurance, or being more sports specific. By having little to no rest this will keep the heart rate up and also increase the lactic acid threshold, increasing weight loss and muscular endurance.

Key Point

Proper rest will lead to grater fitness success


Feel free to post your comments and questions. I love talking anything fitness, so ask away. You can message me here, Facebook, and Twitter.


Josh Williams


Posted on December 5, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This is probably a dumb question, but you list separate rest times for strength and power- is there a difference between the two concepts? I think of them as synonyms.

    • The rest periods for strength and power are the same, 2-5 min. The difference between strength and power is that strength is mass x distance and power is strength x speed. The idea of strength training is to be able to move the greatest amount of weight at one time. Where power is trying to move a weight as fast as possible. I hope this answers your question.

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