weight training and rest breaks

July 19, 2020

How effective are you with your workouts and rest breaks either doing cardio or weight training? Some of you may be thinking “I don’t even workout!”. Many of you may be reading this and haven’t really thought about how long you should rest between exercises or more specifically between sets (example: a set of 10 reps of squats).When it comes to optimizing your training program, there’s a lot of variables that need to be considered. How much time you rest between sets is one of the more important variables yet is often overlooked.

Clients at Energy Fitness are paying for a trainer/coach for a set time slot so many want to be as efficient as possible as they are invested and held accountable. What about when clients or you workout on your own time, are you getting the most out of your efforts? We keep the personal training sessions moving along at a good clip and try to get in as much as possible in the 30 minutes.

When I go out of town and workout at other gyms I am reminded that It can be amusing to both the trainer and other clients to see how some individuals or clients catch more break time between sets.

If you are looking for results and not getting them maybe you should increase your intensity by moving along faster through exercises.

Here’s what we see as stalls for extra time
or as I call them “mini-breaks”

Where do you fit most of the time
and are your results showing? Here’s to a giggle…

  • purposely put your water bottle or coffee further away so you can use that walk to it as a break
  • sipping too much beverage
  • readjust your weight gloves
  • flexing in the mirror
  • weighing yourself
  • deciding what your are going to do next as you don’t have a plan and do whatever comes to mind
  • chat it up or tell a story to a buddy, fellow training client or trainer
  • fein to your trainer that you need another demonstration of the exercise as you weren’t watching the first time
  • explaination from your trainer or workout buddy of why you need to do an exercise you hate
  • take too much time journaling your weight and sets
  • read a magazine
  • check your smart watch for messages
  • check your phone for calls, messages or emails
  • watch TV for news, sport or financials updates
  • at home virtual workouts – pet the dog or cat

Now that you’ve had a good chuckle let’s talk real time between sets so you can get the results you want.

Learn EXACTLY how long to rest between sets to maximize muscle growth and long term strength gains?

Ideally we want our clients warmed up at least 5-15 minutes before with as we age needing more time as you can exert more force upon the muscles when they are warmer.

For weight training:

Longer rest period 3 minutes for full recovery means that you will have enough time to recover and be strong enough to lift when it’s time for successive sets.This is training for power 3-8 reps (typically 3 sets but body builders doing as many as 10 sets) and means heavy weights especially for compound movements like bench press or squats.Trying to build muscle mass then try this for 4-8 weeks although you won’t be able to fit as many exercises in and likely you will have to lift at least 3 days per week and each workout will take longer. Scientifically you are waiting for recovery from a cellular level to happen and that takes time or some additional supplementation. You could however choose to try this for one particular muscle group for a shorter workout say bench press incline and flat then in between sets you could work legs or core.This would be a good use of time and you could mix the shorter rest periods as explained below with this longer rest period.

Training for strength, 10-12 reps typically 2-3 sets means lifting moderate to heavy weights and can fall in the shorter-moderate rest period category.with a rest period of 1 min – 90 seconds. This means that you will create more metabolic stress to your system feeling like you are getting a killer workout as you will feel the fatigue more, but it comes at a price. With a shorter rest period, you’re not going to be able to lift as heavy a weight or perform as many reps as you would be able to after a longer rest period. You may have experienced this first hand especially if you had to go down in weight by the third set. You will be getting lots of different exercises completed with this method. This is the majority of training we do with our clients and how I train myself with a pepper of heavier sets thrown in. This can be performed by choosing 3-4 exercises and rotating through them. You can even throw in a few core moves if you have moved through the exercises faster than 90 seconds. An example of this might squats, lunges, dumbbell row, shoulder push ups. This set would give your body the 90 seconds because the lunges and rows are unilateral training which takes longer. If you did squats, leg curl, outer thigh and leg extension then you would want to have more rest before you went straight back to squats again so you might do some plank or back extensions to rest the legs.

Endurance training for weights is performing 15 reps and above and typically is shorter rest period category because you can go straight from one exercise to another without the worry of dropping a face on your face or foot because it’s lighter. An example would be doing 2 exercises back to back and if you feel like you need more rest throw in a core exercise.

CARDIO REST PERIODS – Setting out to do cardio hit / interval training means periods of work and rest. Since I was a cross country and track collegiate athlete I can relate this best by giving examples and why different rest periods are necessary. Early in the season a base of miles is obtained and speed work like doing quarter mile or half mile repeats need longer rest between sets. As you get more conditioned your body recovers faster and you need to stress if if more, so shorter rest periods are necessary to duplicate the racing stage that will have no breaks. For general hit training in which we highly recommend and has been proven to be effective examples are doing 10 sets of 30 second effort and either 15 or 30 seconds of active recovery or if you are killing it then passive recovery. This type of training can be done 2-3 times per week. For weight training for clients coming to us wanting to run a long race like a half or full marathon they need to lift heavy and phase to lighter and more endurance weight and reps closer to the race. Of course if this is their first time lifting weights then we must go through a moderately heavy phase being cautious with the joints, consider the age of the client and previous or current injuries as well.

So what type of training do you do?

Being in tune with your body may be your biggest clue. Knowing your body type, genetics, trial and error or hiring a trainer can be less frustrating and more motivating when it comes to getting the best from your body.

Remember I said there are lots of variables when it comes to getting results? Steps in personality and lifestyle choices. You may know what you need to do but just don’t do it or aren’t getting the right nutrition or sleep to muster up the energy or brain power to make it happen. Just do it slogan really needs to get in your brain!

Remember, as for rest and muscle building that doesn’t mean that you just sit around and do nothing or watch a timer? Not in my books as a trainer. You can do some other muscle groups or core exercises that don’t involve those muscles and still be pressing on towards your fitness goals.

Not sure what to do or where to start? We can help!

You can get an onsite or virtual assessment so we can access the quality of your body’s movement and discuss your goals. We have streamlined our custom take out fitness programs in a way our clients really like and come back for more. How? We assess them, ask what equipment is available if any, write program for them, send via email or text along with a short 5-10 minute video demonstration of the 2 programs. Interested in this? Call or text to see how we can help you 901-466-6242.


Call, text or email us to get started today!
901-466-6242 or energymemphis@gmail.com






Tonya Tittle, M.S., ACSM
Owner/Dir. of Training, Energy Fitness (established 2002)
ACSM, TPI Level 1 Certified, Rock Tape, Rock Pods (cupping therapy), Rock Tape Blades & Blades Advanced
FMT Basic, Metagenics FLT

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