One of the most overlooked parts of weight training is the bit where you do nothing…your rest periods. It is crucial for a beneficial weight training session to allow muscle growth, improved strength, and power.
Many people focus on how hard they work during their workouts which is great however to get the most out of your visits to the gym, you must make sure you rest.
First of all there are two types of rest periods that we need to discuss. One is the rest period in between each set, and the other is the rest period in between your visits to the gym.
Rest periods between each set
Rest periods between each set depend on what type of training you are doing. In short, the heavier the weight, the longer your recovery should be. This is because different styles of weight training use different energy systems and each one requires a different amount of time to replenish its energy stores.
How much rest should I take?
Here are the rest periods you should be taking based on the type of weight training you are doing.
Strength training (1-6 reps) – 3-5 minutes
Hypertrophy training (8-12 reps)– 1-2 minutes
Endurance training (15-20 reps) – 30-90 seconds
Why rest for the sufficient amount of time?
As mentioned before your rest periods are to replenish your energy stores that are used during each type of training. Strength training requires the use of your ATP-PC system, Hypertrophy training uses your ATP-PC and glycolytic system, and Endurance training uses your aerobic system.
Your ATP-PC system takes around 3 minutes to fully replenish and be ready to go again. If you decrease your rest period below this time frame then the quality of your next set would decrease. Longer rest between sets maximises your gains in strength.
When it comes to hypertrophy training your 1-2 minute rest period is the optimum amount of time.
This is to allow your ATP-PC system to replenish slightly however as you are lifting a lighter weight than strength training and you are also using your glycolytic system, not as much recovery time is needed.
The other reason why you should take this time to rest is because it is the optimal time for the release of anabolic hormones that help your muscles grow.
Endurance training uses your aerobic system. As you are well aware, using your aerobic system means that you can keep going for long periods of time.
By lifting weights for over 15 repetitions you will improve your muscular endurance which is beneficial for those of you who are participating in activities that require the use of the muscle for a long period of time.
Only 30-60 seconds is needed in this type of training as the idea is to keep working the muscle over and over again so they are well conditioned.
Rest periods between each workout
The next thing we need to talk about is your rest periods between each workout. In short the heavier you lift; the longer you should rest that muscle group for.
When you lift weights you are causing mini tears in the muscle. The human body is an amazing machine and it realises that it needs to be stronger so it repairs the damaged muscle to create a bigger and stronger version than previously. This can only be done if you give your body the time needed to repair your muscles fully.
If you do not rest for the sufficient amount of time then this recovery process will not be able to take place. It is crucial to your development when weight training.
Strength training is generally completed one body part at a time which gives you plenty of time to recover. This is because you will only work each muscle group out once per week so a big rest is given to each working muscle.
The minimum amount of time you should give is 48 hours however it is advised to give plenty of time to allow full recovery and avoid injuries.
Hypertrophy training is once again a tough workout and plenty of recovery time is needed. Similar to strength training 48 hours is needed for your muscles to recover. You can train each muscle group twice per week if hypertrophy training.
Most people tend to work out each muscle group once per week however it depends on what works for your body. Sometimes when hypertrophy training, one week recovery is too long which is why you should aim to work each muscle group twice per week.
Endurance training does need recovery time however because the weight you have been lifting isn’t as much as strength or hypertrophy training, you don’t need as much time. You can train each muscle group for two days and then rest for one day.
People who do endurance training would normally be completing a full body workout. As long as you are taking rest periods then it is not crucial to rest for a long period of time between each workout.
Resting your muscle groups doesn’t mean not working out. It basically means you alternate working out different parts of your body. For example, you might work out your upper body on one day, then work out your lower body the next day.
Keep in mind that even if you are switching up your muscle groups worked each session, you should take a rest day to allow your overall body to recover its energy stores fully as it takes a lot of energy to repair tissue every day.
Common mistakes with rest for weight training
Not having enough rest in between sets
As discussed during this article, it is essential in the muscle building process to take sufficient rest between each set. Without this the progress you make will be affected.
Having too much rest
Once again having too much rest can have a negative effect on your weight training session. Stop chatting and start resting for the optimum amount of time.
Not having enough sleep
Sleep is the king of rest. When you are sleeping your body is in full recovery mode and this is where the magic starts to happen. A good nights sleep will help your body recover fully and allow your muscles to repair to the best of its capabilities.
Not consuming enough protein
Protein is needed to allow muscle growth and repair. Make sure that you intake protein after your workouts and during your recovery to enable the best repair of your stressed muscles.
The ideal amount of protein intake is 1g per kg of bodyweight. If you weigh 80kg then aim to consume 80g or more of protein each day. Don’t over do it though as the maximum your body can intake is 2g per kg of bodyweight.
Protein shakes are a great way to intake protein straight after a workout as you just mix it up with water and off you go.
Being too busy
If you are running around like a headless chicken all day everyday, you will not be recovering as well as chilling out on the sofa. High stress levels can have a negative effect on the recovery process so sometimes reading a book or watching a movie can be beneficial for your strength training workouts.
What you should be doing
- Rest for the required amount of time
- Consume sufficient protein
- Don’t overtrain
- Get plenty of sleep
- Train smart
- Take time off training
- Enjoy yourself
Hopefully you have a greater understanding of how to rest in between sets during your gym workouts and how to recover in between your weight training sessions.
Rest and recovery is just as important as training hard in the gym. They work well together and if you get the mix perfect, then you will see maximum gains in strength, growth, or toning.