It might sound like a dream come true – but it was actually recently proved that resting longer will lead to more gainz!
According to a study published in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research1 late last year, resting longer between sets is associated with greater strength improvements and muscle growth.
Dr Brad Schoenfeld recruited 21 men to this study, ages ranging from 18 to 35 years, with at least 6 months of experience in resistance training and a back squat max above their own body weight.
They were split into two groups:
- SHORT were instructed to rest 1 minute between sets.
- LONG were instructured to rest 3 minutes between sets.
Aside from this difference, both groups had the exact same training program: 3 sets of 8-12 reps of 7 different exercises per session. This program ran over eight weeks before they measured the results.
The LONG group had much better results than the SHORT one.
- Their biceps grew by 5.4% vs 2.8%, quads by 13.3% vs 6.9%, and triceps by 7.0% vs 0.5% (though the later wasn’t statistically significant).
- Their squat max increased by 15.2% vs 7.6% and bench press max by 12.7% vs 4.1%.
- Their muscle endurance in bench press increased by 23.2% vs 13.0%.
Dr Schoenfeld proved his hypothesis that longer rest between sets does indeed help when strength training. The team was however surprised to see that it’s also more beneficial for growing muscle.
Previous studies – one on 2 mins vs 5 mins rest2 and another on 1 min vs 2.5 mins rest3 – haven’t been able to show much significant difference between resting short or long between sets. However just resting for only 1 min was actually associated with less hypertrophy than 2.5 mins.
It would be interesting to know what weights the participants were lifting. It’d make sense if they wanted to keep it similar between groups, to avoid that being a confounding factor, but that’d also effectively mitigate one big benefit of resting longer – being able to lift more.
More rest -> stronger lifter -> larger volumes -> greater results
That’s just me practicing bro-science though. :)
To conclude, one big take-away is that the only downside to resting longer between sets is the inconvenience of time waste. You probably don’t want to spend several hours just for one session.
Rest two, three minutes or more if you can. Hell, do ten minutes if you have the time to spare!
- Longer inter-set rest periods enhance muscle strength and hypertrophy in resistance-trained men.↩
- Short vs. long rest period between the sets in hypertrophic resistance training: influence on muscle strength, size, and hormonal adaptations in trained men.↩
- The effect of resistive exercise rest interval on hormonal response, strength, and hypertrophy with training.↩