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Rest between sets: Why is it important and for how long


When we decide to workout, we always have a set of goals. Some might be thinking of weight loss and others endurance. When you hit the gym, all your focus must be on the number of sets you will do and intensity of the exercise. Irrespective of the fitness goal and your experience, there is one thing that people tend to ignore or forget. Not many focus on taking breaks while working out. However, you should know the amount of rest you need between sets. Tailoring the rest to specific fitness goals can make a world of difference in achieving desired results. Read on how long you need to rest between sets.

Importance of rest between sets

The thought of pushing yourself to the limit and sweating it out may seem appealing. However, neglecting adequate rest between sets can hamper progress and increase the risk of injury, says fitness expert Varun Rattan. You might be giving your 100 percent to an exercise, and just stopping in between to catch your breath. Well, resting between sets is more than just a time to catch your breath.

Woman wiping off sweat during workout
Rest between sets is important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

It’s a much-needed pause that allows your body to replenish energy stores, clear metabolic byproducts and prepare for the next bout of exertion. This recovery period is important to optimise performance and maximise gains.

Resting time for beginners

Beginners are always told to take it slow when it comes to exercising. As a general guideline for taking breaks, beginners should aim for a rest period of 30 to 60 seconds between sets, Varun Rattan tells Health Shots. This allows for sufficient recovery without losing the momentum of the workout. Too little rest can lead to premature fatigue and compromise form. Too much rest, on the other hand, can diminish the intensity of the workout.

Resting between exercise for weight loss

Rest periods play a strategic role in maintaining a high-intensity workout, which is key for burning calories and promoting fat loss. A shorter rest period of 30 to 60 seconds would keep the heart rate elevated and metabolism firing.

Endurance training and rest

Endurance training focuses on building stamina and the ability to sustain prolonged physical activity. In this context, rest periods should be kept relatively short, typically between 30 to 60 seconds. This allows for a continuous challenge to the cardiovascular system, promoting adaptations that build endurance.

Woman resting between sets
Be it 30 or 60 seconds, your body needs rest. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Hypertrophy and rest

A rest period of one to two minutes is recommended for those who are seeking hypertrophy or muscle growth. This ensures that subsequent sets can be performed with maximum effort, leading to muscle building.

There are some points you should remember while resting between sets.

1. Monitor fatigue

You should adjust rest periods based on your fatigue level. If you are still feeling breathless or unable to maintain form, extend the rest period slightly, says Rattan.

2. Listen to your body

Be mindful of your body’s signals. If you are experiencing excessive fatigue or pain in any part of your body, take a longer rest or consider modifying the workout.

3. Experiment and adapt

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to rest periods. Experiment with different durations and find out what works best for you and your fitness goals.

During these rest periods, make sure that you are actually resting. Don’t move around or do unrelated stretches. Also, keep your phone away to stop you from getting distracted. Sit down, have some water and focus on preparing yourself for your next set.



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