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EC on Rest Periods

Written on May 1, 2008 at 5:25 pm, by Eric Cressey

Q: How long do you typically allow your athletes between sets?

A: Rest periods are subject to so many factors that – believe it or not – I never make recommendations. Big guys need longer than little guys, and metabolic conditioning factors play into it as well. In a broad sense, I recommend the following: on strength work (<6 reps), rest as long as you feel you need, and then add 30 seconds (trust me on that one; your CNS takes longer than the muscles to recovery). On higher rep stuff, rest as long as you feel you need or just knock 15 seconds off that figure.

Truthfully, a lot of what we “believe” about optimal (and strict) rest periods is based on the acute growth hormone response to exercise. In the grand scheme of things, though, a few extra seconds between sets isn’t going to impact the acute growth hormone response so much that it markedly changes the efficacy of a program. In fact, in many cases, the extra bit of rest will allow for more loading, which in turns provides for a better chronic adaptation in terms of strength and hypertrophy.

So, if you’re worrying about whether 63 seconds between sets is inferior to 60 seconds, you’re probably studying for the wrong test.

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