Rest Intervals

Rest Intervals Are Just As Important As The Work Intervals

I think we are all guilty of getting in the mindset of less rest more work. While this may feel immediately rewarding to our psyche, it can easily get us off track on our program.

It is the rest intervals that determine the state at which we enter the next set. This affects how metabolically recovered we are going in to the next set. The metabolic conditions at which you do your work are one of the most important things in determining how that tissue will respond to that set. Whether your goal is to increase fat metabolism, partition nutrients, promote protein synthesis, or increase strength through neurological adaptations, the rest between sets is a vital variable in making sure you accomplish that goal.

As coaches, programming exact tempo and rest intervals can seem tedious, and following them in the gym can be the same. That does not change the fact that they are extremely important for achieving your goal.

In fact at N1 we teach a whole system of programs that rely almost entirely on the impact of the rest intervals. These are some of the most powerful programs we design and often result in 1 week transformations that look like they would have taken 6 weeks.

Not resting enough can have profound increase in the inflammation produced in a workout, which is not good when that is not the goal.

Resting too much can drastically decrease the metabolic stimulus of a workout, which can decrease the adaptations to the cells metabolism, and nutrient uptake.

This is why we stress the importance of adhering to the rest intervals of our programs with our clients. We know it’s not entertaining to watch the seconds go by, but sometimes obeying the clock is exactly what you need to do to get more results in less time.

Things to Know About Rest Intervals

Rest between two different body parts and the same body part are very different things. So don’t transfer rules about rest from one to the next. Sometimes they overlap, but they also differ a lot of times as well.

Rest intervals should be lower in metabolic programs, and higher in more strength based programs. For hypertrophy there are many way to manipulate rest, so a broad range can be used, however they should not be all over the place within a single session or phase of training.

Rest over the course of several sets should be examined as a work:rest ratio when determining the metabolic effect. Intensity is a factor in quantifying that work as well as time though.

If your program does not include fairly precise rest intervals, then it’s time to move on to a better program or coach. Ranges of 30 seconds are often used for hypertrophy programs, and little to no rest is used in metabolic programs with the exception of at the end of giant sets or similar style programming. For neurological training phases, rest is very dependent on the individual, even more so than the training program. The more advanced a person is, the more rest they will tend to need when training lower reps. What could be 3 minutes for 1 person may be 5 or longer for another when training very low reps.

Intensity and rest are often correlated. The higher the intensity of the sets (and by this I mean loads) aka lower reps, heavier weights, the longer the rest periods.

The lower the intensity the sets, the higher the work:rest ratio. This can come in the form of short rest between moderate length sets, or a longer rest after a very long giant set. Because there are so many ways to structure it, if your not an expert, at least evaluate the work:rest ratio.

Keep in mind that there are always rare scenarios that require things outside the norm in programming, but those should be the rarity in your program, not the normal occurrence in your programs.