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What is the importance of rest between exercises?

May 22, 2017

Christian Agudelo, ACSM - CPT

Rest is undervalued in exercise; however it plays a very important role in every workout and exercise program. The amount of rest time needed between sets and exercises will vary depending on the type of program the individual is on and should not be taken for granted. Rest allows your muscles to recover properly after a vigorous set of exercises. Without proper rest between sets you risk the integrity of the exercise and its purpose in your overall goals. Proper rest allows good quality sets with proper form which also prevents the risk of injury. For example in a strength phase the purpose is to gain maximal strength while lifting moderate to heavy loads at each set. Without the proper rest time you risk not being able to lift heavy on each set because your muscles aren’t properly recovered to perform the exercise as it was intended. The same works in a calorie burning program. If you’re circuit training the goal is to burn as many calories as possible within a given time. Because you are trying to keep your heart rate high your rest time will be substantially shorter than someone trying to put on muscle mass. Each phase of resistance training has precise rest times that fit the workout and the needs of the individual training. Discussing these types of details with your trainer is very important. It allows for better communication in the room and it gives an overall picture of what to expect during the workouts. Knowing how long you need to rest is just as important as knowing how many sets and reps you will be performing that day. It prepares the individual both mentally and physically and allows for a great training session.

Earvin Bahena, NSCA - CSCS

Rest during exercises is much more than taking a break from your workout. It is an important and overlooked factor when it comes to reaching the goal of the set program. Not every single workout program has the same amount of rest, each vary depending on goal for that certain phase. If someone is working towards fat loss, they should lean towards doing continuous sets of exercises with little or no rest between them to keep your heart rate up. That way you are burning as many calories as you can. Where someone working towards muscle gain or strength their rest period would be longer. These individuals are lifting heavier weights and taxing their body so they need a longer rest period in order to repeat the same exercises at their full potential. Ensuring the proper rest is given also means an individual is able to maintain proper form and avoid injury. You want to be able to feel the full effect of a workout and be as efficient as possible when you work out and having the right rest periods is a step in the right direction.


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