Rest Between Sets | Tim Nassen

Posted on February 15, 2022 at 12:00 AM

One of the most common questions for gym goers is “How long should I rest between sets?”  Our TEAM PEAK athlete and personal trainer Tim Nassen is here to answer that question.

Hi, this is Tim Nassen and one of the questions that I get asked a lot in the gym deals with rest time between sets.

My thoughts on rest time between sets is going to be in correlation with what your goals are.

Are your goals...

  •     To build your strength?  
  •     To build more muscle mass?  

Rest for Strength Training  

When focusing on strength goals, you're going to use somewhere between one and three-minute rest period between sets.   For my first and second sets, which are my warmup sets, I'm going to take about a minute of rest.  Between my second and third set, which is still what I consider to be a warmup portion of the lift, I will take between one minute or one and a half minutes. Between my third and fourth sets, as the weight gets heavier, I'm going to go ahead and increase that rest time to two minutes.   

Once I get closer to my maximal effort sets near the end of the exercise I'm going to go ahead and probably use three minutes of rest.  When lifting for strength I want my muscles to be fully recovered to fire at their maximum efficiency.

Rest for Building Muscle

If I'm training for hypertrophy, I'm going to take somewhere between 45 seconds and a minute between sets.  The reason for this is that I want to keep the blood in the muscle while I’m lifting. If I take too much time in between, I'm going to lose that pump between sets. Keeping the pump or blood in the muscle helps to force growth or change in the muscle.   

Structuring Your Training

The way that I structure my workouts to utilize both techniques of training for strength and hypertrophy is I will almost always do a heavy compound movement for the first few exercises.  Then I will focus the majority of my workout on hypertrophy movements.

I hope this helps you out.

Tim Nassen, TEAM PEAK athlete / Personal Trainer / Master's Bodybuilder








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