The ideal break in between workout routines

If your breaks in between workout routines are too long or too short, you may not see the results you would like. The goal is to find the right amount of rest. Rest times typically vary from 0 seconds to five minutes, which is a broad range, but can be narrowed for each individual situation. These steps will let you find your best rest time.

There are 3 factors that influence the ideal rest time:


The fewer reps done in an exercise, the higher intensity it is. This has an effect on the rest time you need between exercises. Lower intensity exercises require less rest time than higher intensity exercises. For example, if you’re completing eight reps per exercise set, you need a longer rest period between sets than if you’re doing fifteen reps per set.


Exercises that demand more of your body require a longer rest time. Exercises for large muscle groups such as the legs and back typically require more rest between sets than exercises for biceps and calves. Even if you’re doing an isolation exercise such as lateral raises or bicep curls for a large muscle group, it still requires a shorter rest period than a compound exercise for the same muscle group.

Your Primary Goal

A complete rest time is longer in duration than an incomplete rest time and allows your central nervous system to recover. This lets you maintain your work capacity and maximize your strength to able to lift the highest weight for the highest number of reps. The amount of fatigue and metabolite accumulation, however, is then typically lower. Incomplete rest times are shorter and allow for more accumulated fatigue and various metabolic benefits. However, this means your strength from set-to-set will be lower.

What is best for you?

Rest times do not need to be uniform. You can do some complete and some incomplete rests in order to receive the benefits of both. Resting 20-60 seconds between reps is ideal for muscular endurance and metabolic training. Where you fall in this range depends on the demand of the exercise. To increase strength and maximize power, resting 2-5 minutes between reps is best. To build muscle and get toned, it is best to rest for 1-3 minutes between exercises.

Sometimes you need a little more or a little less time to recover, depending how your body feels. If it ends up taking an extra minute to feel ready for the next rep, take that time. Try to stay consistent as possible, but listen to your body.

3 Comments on "The ideal break in between workout routines"

  1. Steven Campbell | March 11, 2016 at 9:46 pm | Reply

    When I asked about rest periods, I was told that for each 15 minutes, regardless of the workout, you should rest at least 10. Does that work?

  2. Richard Dennis | March 11, 2016 at 10:07 pm | Reply

    Great tips. This is very important because you do NOT want to get hurt while working out. Resting periods are made to help your body get ready for the next workout, if you get hurt, you cannot workout either way.

  3. Eduardo Wright | March 11, 2016 at 10:26 pm | Reply

    I like to workout for an hour straight. I take a breather as I move around the gym, but I only workout 3 times per week, so I feel that is plenty of rest time.

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