How Long Should You Rest Between Sets?

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Oftentimes, you hear about an optimal resting time for certain goals in fitness – some say to rest 2-3 minutes to maximize hypertrophy; others say to rest 3-4 minutes to maximize strength.

However, the correlation between resting time and muscle growth is more complex than that. It is a combination of muscle fiber composition, intensity, and muscle groups worked.

When training smaller muscles, like your biceps or calves, you should aim to prioritize high intensity workouts and rest for a shorter period of time, such as 90 seconds to 3 minutes.

For compound exercises that target many muscles at once, like the bench press or the back squat, you should aim to prioritize time under tension (TUT) and rest for a longer period of time, anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes.

The reason for this is because you expend more ATP energy as more muscles are involved. It’s harder on your cardiovascular system and you lose water more quickly. Therefore, prioritizing a longer rest time will ultimately result in faster strength and hypertrophy growth.

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