Best Rest Between Sets Length Depends On You

October 29, 2012

How long to rest between sets is one of those questions that never seem to get settled. It depends on your goals, of course. One way to change up a stale routine is to increase intensity, and one way to accomplish that is with a shorter rest period. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research weighs the question by examining how your body responds to resistance training.

Low responders don't realize the gains from training that high responders do, and medium responders are somewhere between. After subjects were classified into one of these groups, they performed 4 sets of biceps curls with resistance set at 85% of their one rep max (1RM). Some subjects rested for just a minute between sets while others took a 3-minute breather.

Measurements of creatine kinase, an indicator of muscle damage, showed that low responders could handle shorter rest intervals more effectively than medium and high responders. Because higher levels of creatine kinase might delay muscle recovery from intense workouts, those who respond well to resistance training should work this knowledge into their workout plans. For tips on lightening the load to lift for reps, ready today's Breaking News post at