How Long Should You Rest?

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Something many of us are unsure of is how long to rest between sets and exercises.


As with many things in the fitness and health realm, the answer is, you guessed it, it depends. I’ve not usually been one to track rest periods. I don’t think they’re a critical factor in most programs. So long as it’s generally the same or intentionally manipulated as a form of progression or regression, it’s not a frequently discussed variable.

However, recently I have found rest periods to be an extremely effective tool in keeping me focused on a certain pace. The accountability of the timer to keep your head on straight and feet on the ground between sets. Rather than shooting the shit with someone in the gym or scrolling instagram for a few more minutes, the timer keeps me in check and on pace. 

To put actual numbers to it, I’d say a good starting point for most individuals would be 1-3 minutes, depending on workout structure, goals, fitness level, etc.

For those trying to put on as much muscle as possible, longer rest periods are ideal. I’d even say if you’re someone with strength as your primary goal, give yourself however much time you need. Longer rest periods give you an optimal amount of time to recover and gather yourself before another high intensity set.

For those more interested in staying healthy, keeping heart rate, mobility, and just general health and wellness, I’d say 60-90 seconds will keep you right on the money. It’s enough to gather yourself between sets and ensure you can bring a solid effort into your next set.

Typically in most of my programs, an individual will do two to three exercises, then have a dedicated rest period reflecting what their goal is.

As I’ve progressed in the gym and watched clients achieve their goals, I’ve come to appreciate the tools that keep us conscious and accountable more than any fancy gym piece or perfect diet. The timer is a great way to keep your head in the game and ensure you’re moving on pace with your goals!

Do you use a timer or stopwatch modality in your routine?

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alex chris martin

Hi, I'm Alex, the founder of PTC. Hope you found this video helpful. If you need a coach for your goals, let's talk!

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