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Proper Rest Between Sets Training Database Advanced Training Tips Proper Rest Between Sets

How to Utilize that Time Between Sets.

In kindergarten, we knew it as “quiet time”. In high school, it turned into “study time”.

At work, it’s often referred to as “down time”.

And at the health club, it’s usually known as “social time”.

We’re talking about that few minutes of time when the work is at bay, and it’s finally time to play. You’ve just finished that gut-wrenching set of leg presses. As soon as you wipe the sweat off your forehead, you turn to tell your pal to engage in a set of a far different variety – a set of lips and gums. You start blabbing to him about every subject under the sun – the big ballgame coming up, the hot date from the night before, the upcoming Democratic Convention, the difference between Sprite and Seven-Up, you name it.

However, all babble aside, the rest you take between sets is certainly a crucial aspect of your everyday workout; both the quality and the quantity of the seconds and minutes that elapse during this period of inactivity can vastly effect your output.

First off, there are certainly more productive ways to spend the moments between sets. While it may seem like this time has nothing to do with your workout or the progression of your body, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

To keep your mind in synch with your workout, you should stay in tuned with the mission at hand. It will be difficult for your body to remain engaged in the workout when your mind is lost somewhere in a downtown nightclub or on a faraway beach. When you’re amid the jungle of plates, dumbbells, and barbells, think one thing and one thing only:


This is one four-letter word that will never be forbidden in your gym. Take your time between sets and reflect on your goals, the body you want to acquire, the work that has to be done, and the intensity you will be investing into the very next set.

Another fitting way to spend these precious moments is to stretch. While stretching is usually regarded as only a pre-workout activity, it has been concluded that stretching during the workout itself is a great way to accelerate the blood flow and trigger an increase in muscle strength. Partake in a mild stretch of the body part you are working, but taking precautions not to overextend this process.

Also, venture up to the water bubbler and consume a small amount of water. Maintaining fluids during your workout is great for keeping your system replenished and your strength intact. Dehydration is one of the worst nemeses that your body can encounter during the sweat session. Also, that walk to the bubbler alone is better for keeping your body warm and your system active, rather than to remain stationary in a seated position, where your body can quickly become comfortable and thus, inactive.

The amount of time you reserve for resting between sets will vary, depending on your particular goals.

If your goal is to gain strength and pack on the muscle mass, the ideal amount of time between sets is roughly 3-4 minutes. Allowing this amount of time will provide ample recovery time for your muscles, and thus, refuel your muscles with the strength it needs to conquer the next grueling set.

For the more toned, defined look, cut back the rest time to 1-2 minutes between sets, keeping the tension on the muscles while carving them into that sharp, chiseled look you so willfully desire.

Take care,

Matt Canning

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