How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

Have you ever wondered how long you should actually be resting in between sets during your workouts? Most people have no clue and simply wing. If you're trying to be in the best shape possible, it's very important that you are optimizing rest times to meet your goals. Below I will outline the ideal rest times for different fitness goals.


Strength/Mass: 3-4 Minutes

  • If your #1 priority is to increase your strength and put on some size, you need to be resting the longest. This is one of the ONLY times it is acceptable to be the "talker" in the gym... you know the guy/girl I'm talking about!
  • When you rest for 3 minutes in between sets, it allows your energy stores to be fully ready again so you can lift as much weight as possible.
  • Tip: This rest time is ideal for your BIG lifts such as squat, deadlift, bench press and power cleans. Keep those reps in the 3-6 range and rest, rest rest to increase that strength and power!

Fat Burning/Endurance: 45 Seconds - 1:30

  • If you are in an endurance sport or are looking to shred some fat, keep that rest time minimal. This is ideal for any type of heart rate training and will increase the calories you burn significantly.
  • Remember those wind sprints you had to do for your team sport conditioning? This is the weight room version - it is really tough at first if you're on the lower end of the rest time but it gets easier and more "normal" over time.
  • Tip: Implement supersets! Supersets are when you alternate exercises from set to set. Example: If you are supersetting Bench Press with Tricep Pulldowns, you would do one set of bench and then one set of tricep extensions and alternate until you have finished however many sets you planned to do. This is great for keeping the heart rate up and always moving during workouts. It is also great for making those workouts a bit quicker.

Maintenance/Recomposition: 2 Minutes

  • If your main goal is to maintain the current weight you are at and/or burn fat but stay in the same weight range, this is for you.
  • 2 minute rest time allows that ATP store to be refilled and gives you time to get the heart rate down.
  • Tip: Be sure you are challenging yourself on weight - lift a weight that is tough to complete those last few reps on!


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