Yay! super exciting. A technical article on resting between sets. Buckle up here comes fun! OK, seriously though, I get a LOT of questions about ‘how long should I rest’. Simple answer as long as you need! Complex answer…. it depends on your training goal, your age, your gender, your personal recovery rate, how well fed/rested/hydrated you are, how heavy you’re lifting… etc etc etc.
As a general rule men take longer to recover than women, older lifters take longer to recover than younger ones, heavy lifts require more rest than light ones. Lifting for strength, the focus needs to be on maximal effort. Lifting for size, both time under tension and training density are important. Never sacrifice quality and technique for fast turn around on sets though. That’s when injuries occur, bad movement patterns get learned, and muscle imbalances develop. If you need more rest to do your training properly, take more rest.
These are just my general rules for rest. But they are only that – general rules. I know there’s plenty of other trainers and training programs which will differ greatly – and that’s fine. This works for me and my clients. I tend to stick more closely to the hypertrophy times than the powerlifting ones – especially as one of the ways I like to increase difficulty in hypertrophy routines is to increase training density in an overload week.