New Study Says Exactly How Long You Should Rest Between Sets for Strength & Size

new study says how long bodybuilders should rest between sets for strength and size

Short rest between sets to maximize metabolic-stress, right? No way, bro, it’s all about sitting back and chilling for a few minutes on the ‘gram. You know, so you can get back to the iron fresh and hit it harder? Cue shouting, screaming, spilled protein drinks, and most probably flying dumbbells.

Bros, love nothing more than arguing about how long we should rest between sets. It’s like a competitive sport to us.

Our feud has finally been settled though, and not by broscience either.

A new study published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine has highlighted exactly how long we should all wait between lifts. Actual scientists save the day once again, this time putting an end to the great ‘rest’ debate that’s raged for centuries.

Here’s what you need to know, bro…

What do we consider ‘rest’ in the gym?

bodybuilder resting in the gym

Rest is the word we use to describe the recovery period between two sets of exercise. Once you have completed your final repetition of 8 squats, there will be a period you wait either actively or inactively, before tackling the next set.

Most standard gym-goers hit the iron purely for hypertrophic gains. In other words, size is the prize for these bros. For years the common trend is to hit a short rest period to really exhaust the muscle, or for the nerdy bunch, increase blood lactate concentration.

Somewhere 30-60 seconds seems to be the standard agreed upon time. it should be noted that almost all other scientific guidelines for hypertrophy agree on this too.

Lifters do not want their muscles to fully recover from lactate build-up before they go again. Because studies show that fatigue caused by lactate production provides hypertrophic-gains, it’s not really a bad idea in theory either.

The ‘pump’, a phrase made popular across the globe by the great Arnold Schwarzenegger, is something bodybuilders also chase. Achieving the pump is much easier with shorter rest times, as they have been proven to increase lactate-production and overall blood flow to the muscles.

As an increased amount of blood fills the area, it swells, showing an often significant size increase during the workout. Ever noticed how much more swole you look straight after training, bro?

New Study Indicates Longer Rest is Better for Weight Training

athletes resting between sets in the gym

However, recent research has now emerged, investigating the effect different rest periods have on full-body resistance training. More specifically, scientists set their sights on finding out just how total load lifted and blood lactate was impacted by recovery time.

Ten healthy young men were selected for the trial, with ages ranging around 23 +/- 6.5 years. The men were asked to perform three randomly selected resistance exercises, with varying rest intervals of either 30, 60, or 90 seconds, between sets.

Scientists chose six full-body exercises for the experiment. Amongst them were standard bro favorites like the bench press, leg press, and back squat. Movements were then carried out for 10 reps over 4 sets at maximum intensity, meaning the last rep was their final possible effort.

Total load lifted and blood lactate was then measured for each session. Interestingly, researchers found that shorter rests aren’t necessarily better after all.

Total Load Lifted Lower with Shorter Rests

bodybuilder deadlifting after longer rest period

By the end of the study, scientists concluded that total load lifted was significantly lower after 30 seconds rest when compared to 60 or 120 seconds. Plus, longer rest intervals showed similar blood-lactate response as shorter recovery times too.

Because 30 seconds rest lowered TLL without increasing metabolic-stress, it turns out that it isn’t superior for long-term muscular adaptations. Simply put, shorter rest is not the best way to go for maximized gains.

Longer rest between sets however increased total workout volume. This was because the healthy young men could lift more for each set due to their replenished energy stores. As we know, volume is king when it comes to packing on pounds of lean mass. So, it’s safe to say TLL plays a significant part in getting jacked.

Conclusion – The Final Verdict

Still wondering how long should you be resting for? Between 60 to 120 seconds says the research team. According to these experts, it’s the optimal amount of time needed to maximize strength and hypertrophy gains.

Make sure to put in the real hard work though. Nobody got bigger just by waiting around, you still need to push the iron hard, bro!


Ready for more mental reps, bro? Check out these muscle-filled knowledge bombs:

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