JP Mullowney

As you are moving through your workout, you may have, at some point, wondered how long you should rest between exercises and what you should be doing for those rest periods. What may seem like common sense is actually quite far from it and the amount of research that has been conducted on rest periods only proves this point.

The Science:

In the fourth edition of the Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) recommends that rest periods be based on the trainee’s goal. For example: for those seeking to improve muscular strength, the rest period should range from 2-5 minutes. For those who seek increases in muscle hypertrophy (size), the suggested time is 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes. Finally, for people interested in muscular endurance (fat loss or increased cardiovascular adaptations), the suggested rest period is only 30 seconds.

This can be a lot to remember, so for a more generalized approach, Gonzalez (2016) suggests taking 2-3 minutes of rest between sets for multi-joint exercises (think: squats, bench presses or deadlifts) and 1-2 minutes of rest between sets for single joint exercises (think: bicep curls and lateral raises).

In addition to research on the length of rest periods, researches have also identified the optimal activities to perform during rest periods to maximize the results of your workout. For example, in their 2016 study, Ouellette et al. examined the effects of seated, lying down, and treadmill walking on physiological recovery and energy output. Interestingly, they found that those who were seated or lying (passive rest) experienced superior recovery of their heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen consumption when compared to those who performed treadmill walking (active rest) during their rest periods. Also, Ouellette et al. (2016) found that those performing passive rest exhibited greater mean rates of energy output during successive sets than those who performed active rest between exercises.

The Take Home Message:

The amount of rest taken between sets is a critical consideration for your workout. The rest period is dependent on your goals and the amount of time you feel that you need to adequately recover to optimally perform on the next set. If you feel that you are too rushed or that your rest period is too long during your workout, please ask Jon or Thomas for ways to make your rest periods better suit your training goals.

References:

Gonzalez, A.M. (2016). Effect of interest rest interval length on resistance exercise performance and muscular adaptation. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 38(6), 65-68.

Ouellette, K.A. et al. (2016). Comparison of the effects of seated, supine, and walking interest rest strategies on work rate. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(12), 3396-3404.

NSCA. (2015). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (4th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

Prepared for the JKC blog by Coach Thomas.

Photo credit: JP Mullowney

I’m 40 years old & started training at JKC in 2015. The gym I was working out at closed and my husband recommended JKC. JKC meets you where you are in your fitness journey and tailors the work to help achieve your goals. I’ve trained with Jon & Thomas pre pregnancy, while pregnant and now post baby and they have helped me enormously to stay fit through all life phases.

I joke with the guys often that I’ve seen no change in my fitness level since joining the gym, but the reality is I’m in far better shape at 40 than I ever was at 30 thanks to them.

Not having much if any experience with professional gyms I though it would be along the lines of going to a facility and doing your own thing, getting some instructions from time to time, if you asked for it, and for most part working out on your own, in a large impersonalized setting. I was a bit apprehensive as I figured I’d be standing around a lot looking at all this equipment wondering what to do with it, or worst doing something to hurt myself. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Both Jon and Thomas are very attentive, professional trainers, who lay-out an exercise program, from start to finish, for you. They demonstrate the exercise they want you to do and then watch you do it to make sure you got it right. Jon and Thomas are very thorough, patience and non-assuming.

I’m 35 and I started at JKC in November of 2019. I was coming off the win of the Royal St. John’s Regatta in 2019, and our crew was chomping at the bit to be stronger and faster for 2020. The reputation of JKC leached into our group and away we went! Unfortunately the regatta was cancelled due to COVID-19, but I just loved JKC so much I stuck around. JKC is different from other gyms because the level of experience the team has is unparalleled. Jon, Thomas and Craig all mesh well together and mentor me in a way that I know they love what they do and are genuinely excited to guide me towards my goals (and beyond). I really enjoy the atmosphere, the sense of community and all the positive vibes that I experience in every session. There’s never a time I don’t want to go because I’m motivated by the team’s coaching style and I get results.

I had spent a fair bit of time in gyms in my teens and twenties but I turned away from the gym to focus on activities that I enjoyed more. What keeps me at JKC is that I do really enjoy it. I always feel that I’ve accomplished something when I leave at the end of my workout. The environment is really positive and focused on challenging yourself whatever your level of comfort and fitness. I’ve also seen results that I’m really happy with; having someone who really knows what they’re talking about to guide your workouts makes them way more effective and focused than just “going to the gym”.

Shortly after I started at JKC, I sustained a fairly major injury that took me off my feet for several months. When I started to get back to activity, it was very difficult. Jon and Thomas worked hard to tailor my workouts to my goals and what I could do. With their help, I’ve been steadily building back strength and function.

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