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 was looking for something to augment my 20+ year yoga practice with a focus on strength conditioning. I am friend’s with Jon’s sister in-law and over the years always heard great things about JKC, especially with respect to the top quality trainers they have and programs they run. After talking to Jon about my goals, and hearing his thoughts on a training plan, I knew that this was going to be an awesome experience … and it sure has been. JKC stands out from other gyms because of the attention to detail, the high quality of the staff and the facilities. Also, the amazing people that train there. And no one posing and taking selfies. I’m 41 years old and I started in Dec 2021.

I was referred to JKC by my sister-in-law and had heard good things about it from many people in the running community. I also saw Jon’s picture on the wall at lululemon years ago! I really like the personalized training and the variety the guys provide. I started for strength training for running. I love cardio and do tons of it but wasn’t motivated to do much strength work on my own. Jon mixes up my strength work week to week so I don’t get bored but also lets me work in a hard circuit for the last 20 minutes of most sessions to get my cardio fix 

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.

lisa jumping onto a box

JKC was recommended to me by a fellow runner. I was experiencing injuries, and feeling weak and fragile. When I started with JKC, Jon asked me about my goals and my focus. I wanted to concentrate specifically on running, and preventing injury. Jon developed a program for me that has enabled me to focus on my form and strength and has been flexible enough to enable me to train for many different races. I have been training with JKC for six years, and during that time I have enjoyed Jon and Thomas’s expertise in a very warm and supportive atmosphere.

I recently turned 40, and I have been training at JKC since the summer of 2020. My partner Michael had already been training at JKC, so it came highly recommended. We had set up a home gym at the start of the pandemic, but needed to mix it up after the first lockdown. JKC differs from other gyms because of the personalized workouts. Jon, Thomas and Craig are great at challenging me to do more than I would on my own.

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