How long should you rest between sets? 1 minute? 2-3? 3-5? Here’s my take on what’s optimal for muscular growth.

Rest between sets is a question I’m constantly asked in seminars, at the gym and online. Everybody wants to know what the magic timescale is in order to maximise muscle hypertrophy and take their physiques to the next level.

 

The truth is, I’ve never counted the time between sets.

 

That’s right, I’ve NEVER counted the time between sets.

 

Despite this, I do have a few key principles which I adhere to in between gruelling HIT-style sets in order to maximise workout efficiency.

 

1: Let the Cardiovascular System Return to Normal

 

You do NOT want to get into a situation where you’re gasping for air at the beginning of a set due to exhaustion from the last set.

 

Since we’re training our anaerobic energy system primarily during weight training, you should allow enough time in between each set to allow your breathing to return to a steady state in order to maximise your muscular effort on the forthcoming set.

 

Remember, we want the MUSCLES to fail - NOT our respiratory system first.

 

2: Don’t take this principle to the extreme

 

At the same time, do NOT allow this to turn into a ten minute rest interval where you’re sat around waiting for your body to return to “normal” both physically and mentally.

 

Training stimulates the CNS as well as the body’s mental and physical energy systems, and we want to maintain some form of tension in this department as well in order to maximise the effectiveness of our workouts.

 

3: Don’t talk about nonsense in between sets

 

Call me old school, but this one really irks me.

 

Don’t sit on your phone scrolling through Instagram - keep your head mentally in the game and focused on your forthcoming set.

 

The gym is like a sacred place for a true HIT disciple, and you’re trying to train your mental state as much as your physical state in the gym.

 

I don’t give a s*** what you did last night or about the latest reality trash on T.V - save that for the ride home and get your head in the game if you want to be in the company of champions fulfilling your potential.

 

Conclusion

 

3 simple rules, based purely on common sense and intuition for maximising muscular growth in between sets. This rest between sets stuff isn’t so complicated after all, is it?