Rest Between Sets

Here is all the information you need to know about rest periods!

And if you dont want to read, you can just check out this video!



The length of your rest periods is going to be dependent on what type of exercise you are doing. Generally the harder the exercise is – the longer you will have to rest in between.

So im gonna go over all the scenarios, so you know exactly what to do!


Heavy low rep work

That means all the compound lifts and other really high effort exercises that really tax your body both physically and mentally.


For these types of exercises you usually hear that you should rest between 3-5 minutes, but you can rest even longer if you feel like you need to, its always better to rest more, than to not rest enough.


Light high rep work

This basically includes all the isolation exercises, that are usually performed with lighter weight so thats why they are not very taxing for your body overall, usually you only feel the burn in the local area – which is gonna disappear pretty quickly right after you finish your set.


That is why the rest periods can be very short. It can be anywhere from 20 seconds all the way to 2 minutes, depending on what type of exercise you are doing.

For example if you are doing triceps pushdowns, and even after a minute you still feel like you cant even bend your arm because of all the lactic acid in your muscles, then just rest a little bit more!


Standard sets

And lastly we have the middleground between the compound and the isolation exercises.

Lets call them "standard sets".

They are usually around the 8-15 rep range.

Here, as the word middleground suggests, you want to be somewhere in between the      2 rest periods i mentioed in this article.

So if you want a concrete number, i would say 3-4 minutes between the "standard sets" is the sweetspot.


There is more to it!

But there is more to it than just these prescribed numbers, yes they are a good baseline to go off of. But there are couple of questions that you should ask yourself before you want to do another set.

First question that you should ask yourself, is:

Is my cardiovascular system going to limit my next set?

This means that if you are still heavily breathing you should for sure rest a little bit more.


Next question that you should ask yourself, is:

Is the main muscle that im targeting in this exercise fully recovered?

This means that if the muscle that you are targeting is still feeling weak and burning, which would result in you not being able to perform another high quality set, then just rest a tiny bit more!


And the last question that you should ask yourself, is:

Are the muscles that support the exercise that you are doing  fully recovered?

For example, if you are doing a bicep curl, and you feel like your forearms are so fatigued that in the next set, they would give in before the main muscle you are targeting, which in this instance is biceps - then that means that you should rest a bit more.

Until the main and ALSO the supportive muscle groups are recovered to the point where you can perform the next set in the same quality as the first one.



In the end, i just want to say, that if you are new to the gym, you dont need to stress about the rest times, you should first get all the basics in check, and then you can worry about stuff like rest times.

Until then, just do the next set when you feel like you are recovered enough!


Try applying all of this knowledge to your training plan, and im sure that you will see much better results..or you can just try one of my training plans!

And if you still have any questions about this topic, or about anything else that is related to bodybuilding, join my Patreon, and i will answer all of your questions!


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