Rest periods are an integral part of any training. Some people have overlooked rest, not knowing that it is important to the success of any training.

People who are new to an exercise regimen would often ask how long they should rest after each set of exercise. The rest period one must take after each routine depends on their training goal. They may want to get stronger, get bigger, or increase their endurance.

Here is a guide as to the duration of recovery between sets for each exercise. 

Strength Training

Exercises that increase strength include deadlift, squat, bench press, and shoulder press. For these exercises, a rest period of 3 to 5 minutes is recommended.

This is because the strength that you use when performing the exercises comes from the Adenosine Triphosphate Phosphocreatine or the ATP-PC system. This system uses phosphagens, which allows it to produce energy in the absence of oxygen.

The human body has only a small store of phosphagen which can only last for 15 seconds. Resting for three minutes between each set is the time needed to replace phosphagens that have been spent so that you will have the energy for the next set again.

It is a fact that production of testosterone level goes up during strength training. While resting, the amount of testosterone released increases, leading to bigger muscles.

For squats, the needed rest period is also 3 minutes. People who rested this long improved their squat strength considerably. However, resting longer than three minutes can cause your body to cool down, which increases the risk of getting injured while performing squats.  

Hypertrophy/Body Building Training

This training is done to make muscles grow bigger in a quick way. This includes pull-ups, barbell shoulder press, seated cable row, dumbbell bench press, dumbbell flyes, barbell curls, and skull crunches. Exercises are repeated three 6 to 8 times for each of the three sets to be done.

For this type of exercise, the recommended rest period between sets is between one to two minutes. This training uses energy from the ATP-PC and the glycolytic system or from the carbs that you have consumed. The more carbohydrates you consume, the shorter rest period you need than when you are doing strength training.

Another advantage to having a rest period of just 1 to 2 minutes between sets is that your body releases a bigger amount of anabolic hormones, which are responsible for the rapid growth of your muscles. If you rest longer, the quantity of anabolic hormone produced is reduced.

A short rest period results in increased lactate and blood flow to the targeted muscles. Blood carries the protein to the muscles, which makes them grow faster. Lactate acid production is believed to contribute to the growth of the muscles. 

Endurance Training

Endurance training keeps your muscles from feeling tired or fatigued. The energy used in endurance training comes from burning carbohydrates and fats in the presence of oxygen or what is called aerobic metabolism.

Workouts that are known to increase a person’s endurance are brisk walking, swimming, biking, jogging, running, dancing, climbing stairs, and playing sports such as basketball, tennis, football, baseball, or racquetball.

The recommended rest period for endurance training is one to two minutes per set. If you observe the 15 to 20 reps per set, a rest period between 45 seconds to two minutes is most effective. This applies to all exercises that are known to increase endurance.

For those who take long jogs or runs, more rest time is needed for the muscles to heal. Some may feel up for another sprint after 48 hours of rest. However, if your muscles are still sore, you must wait until the soreness is gone before embarking on another run.

Active rest is also recommended after running several miles. This means taking 5 to 10 minutes of brisk walking or slow jogging to cool you down. Hydration is important and so you need to drink plenty of water.

Final Thoughts

Those who are new to these training programs must remember that they need more rest than those who have been performing the exercise routines for months or years. Those who have stopped training due to injury or other reasons are advised to take it easy at first until they are already in good physical condition. Don’t forget about rest days as they are also important to help you recover after doing physical exercises.

Also, check out this article if you ever wonder how many times you should workout in a day and this article for an example of one week of workout.