Rest periods and their impact on muscle gain

There has been plenty of debate about how long we should rest between sets. We’ve heard different things from different trainers with different schools of thought.

Should we rest one minute between sets or three minutes?

How will either option impact our gains?

Researchers have questioned this for years and numerous studies have been conducted to try and decipher which methodology is more optimal to assist with muscle growth.

As part of the study, researchers split up the candidates into two separate groups. There was one that rested three minutes between sets and the other that rested one minute between sets for their heavy compound lifts.

Each of the groups trained three times per week focusing on three full body workouts, focusing on compound exercises for chest, legs and back (think deadlifts, squats, etc). Each set was taken to failure in the 8-12 rep range. The study also had the individuals increase their weight to the extent possible every week.

After the study, they measured their muscle growth based on the thickness of their biceps, triceps and quads. They also measured their strength by having each candidate test their 1 rep max (1RM). They also tested their muscular endurance by having everyone do as many reps as possible before failure with 50% of their 1RM.

Guess what they noticed?

Both groups had improvements, but the group that rested three minutes outperformed the other on every measurement, and by a significant margin as well. The researchers believe that the difference in results was ultimately due to the three-minute group doing roughly 20% more training volume than the other, simply because they have more time to rest in between sets. This shows that if you’re training at the right intensity, more training volume can result in more muscle growth. It may not surprise many of us that taking longer rest periods can translate to increased strength, but the fact that it also resulted in increased size can make this an excellent strategy for anyone looking to add lean muscle to their frame.

Many of our clients are busy professionals in Toronto that work in the financial district. We are strapped for time. Some of you may not have the time to wait as long as three minutes in between sets as it can significantly extend the length of your workout. A solution to this could be supersetting opposing body parts so that your muscles are getting in the adequate rest in between sets. This can allow you to efficiently structure your workouts while also you giving adequate rest time before starting your next set.

This goes to show that if you’re looking to gain muscle and strength as efficiently as you can, then you should rest at least three minutes between sets of your heavy compound exercises. If you’re finding that you’re plateauing on your key lifts and not getting bigger or stronger, increasing the rest period may be the simple answer to help you improve. Having your¬†personal trainer customize your exercise program specifically to you is one of the core reasons why you should hire a personal trainer to help you progress safely and efficiently towards your goals.

After all, the focus should be on quality over quantity as this can help maximize your gains.

If you have any questions about your program design, feel free to comment them below and we’ll be happy to help. As always, if you’re interested in getting the ball rolling and working with one of our personal trainers, you can give us a call at 1-888-682-0724 or sign up on our website to start training today and one of our reps will be happy to assist!

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