Rest LONGER Between Sets For Faster Muscle Gains

What’s up guys, Sean Nalewanyj, And in today’s video we are talking about
rest time between sets, and why taking too short of a rest is actually reducing your
ability to build muscle at your maximum potential. Before we get started if you find this video
helpful and you want to get even more daily tips and updates from me, then make sure to
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in for that. So this is something you’ll see a lot in different
training plans. You’ll find online or workouts that are posted
on YouTube, where there’s a prescribed rest time in between sets for each exercise. Whether it’s one minute, 90 seconds, two minutes
or whatever. And in a lot of cases the rest times that
are given are just too short. Not to mention that there’s really no good
reason to stick to a set in stone rest time in between sets to begin with. The bottom line is that when you’re in the
gym, your goal, if you want to stimulate hypertrophy to your maximum potential is to lift the maximum
amount of weight that you’re capable of, for the maximum number of reps that you can, in
a proper form. So, I don’t mean that you need to be trained
to failure on every set, or performing super heavy low rep sets all the time. What I just mean is that within the parameters
of your training plan, so maybe on a given lift, your rep range is six to eight, and
you’re training one to two reps short of failure. Within those parameters, your goal is to generate
maximum performance in terms of weight lifted in proper form. The more weight that you can lift in proper
form, using a full range of motion across however many sets you’re doing for that exercise,
and across your entire workout in general, the more growth you’re ultimately going to
stimulate. And the problem is that when you jump into
your next set, before you’ve had a chance to fully regenerate your strength back to
its full potential from the previous one, you end up sacrificing your overall performance
on that upcoming set, which then negatively impacts the overall growth stimulus. Keep in mind that a hypertrophy based workout
is not about getting the biggest pump possible, or the most burn possible, or getting as tired
and sweaty as you can. It’s not about improving muscular endurance
or cardiovascular conditioning. If you want to train for those things that’s
totally fine, but if your goal is to build muscle at the end of the day, it ultimately
comes down to maximizing progressive overload. So if the amount of rest between sets that
you’re currently taking means that you end up lifting less weight, or performing fewer
reps with the same weight than you’d ultimately be capable of if you rested a bit longer,
then assuming you want to squeeze out as much growth as possible, you should be resting
longer. And this isn’t just my random opinion that
I’m throwing around here, although this is something that I’ve definitely seen firsthand
in my own training, especially back in my previous bodybuilding years where I was a
lot heavier, and where I was training for maximum growth. But this is something that’s also pretty clearly
shown in the research, where longer rest times consistently outperform shorter ones. And I’ll link a few studies in the description
box if you do want to check them out. Now I already know what probably a few people
in the comments are going to say, something like, “I only arrest 60 or 90 seconds between
sets and I get great results, or so and so whichever YouTuber or Instagrammer, recommends
two minutes of rest and he’s way bigger and stronger than you are,” or something along
those lines. But keep in mind that I’m not saying that
shorter rest times don’t work, right? Obviously there are plenty of people out there
with great physiques, who don’t rest that long in between sets. I’m just saying that for the average natural
lifter, with average genetics who wants to gain muscle as effectively as possible to
their full potential, longer rest times that allow you to move more total weight across
the workout as a whole, will be superior in the longterm. So this is not a question of ineffective versus
effective. It’s just a question of effective versus optimal. And of course if your goal isn’t to be as
big and as strong as possible, you’re not trying to look like a bodybuilder. Maybe you just want to make some solid gains,
but not necessarily all the way up to that maximum level. And maybe you just enjoy a slightly faster
paced workout, or you have time constraints to where you can only be in the gym for a
set period of time, and you need to move through things more quickly, then of course shorter
rest times are going to be fine and there is going to be some individual variation at
play. Or if you’re just performing some, let’s say,
supplementary work toward the end of your workout later on after your heavier compound
work is done, maybe some higher rep pump type of sets just to squeeze in some more volume. I personally don’t think that type of training
has a lot of value, but if you are including that sort of work, then of course shorter
rest times are going to be fine in that situation as well. But again, if we’re talking about someone
who wants to gain muscle size and strength as effectively as possible, and being in the
gym for a slightly longer period isn’t going to be an issue, then resting a bit longer
is definitely going to be the better option. Especially when we’re talking about the big
basic compound lifts. So in terms of practical recommendations,
I don’t think there’s any necessity to have a pre-set rest time in between sets, where
you’re literally looking at the clock and using that to determine when to do your next
set. I would just say to perform your set, and
then rest as long as you need to in order to feel fully, physically, and mentally recovered
and to where you’re ready to give a maximum effort on the next set. So wait until your heart rate and your breathing
are back down to normal. The muscle burn from the previous set has
subsided, and you feel mentally calm and prepared to train again at your full potential. It’ll probably end up falling into the same
general range over time, but depending on how you feel on any given day or just how
much effort you ended up exerting on the last set. So, whether you went three reps short of failure,
or one rep short, or all the way to failure, and also very importantly what specific exercise
you were performing, those things are all going to influence just how much rest you’re
going to end up needing. If you’re doing a squat or a deadlift or some
other very challenging compound lift, that’s going to require a lot more rest from you
in comparison to a smaller isolation exercise. For an isolation exercise, you might only
need two minutes of rest for complete recovery. Whereas, for a heavy compound set, it could
be three minutes all the way up to four to five minutes or more. And as a general rule, I would say, if in
doubt, rest longer rather than shorter. And another factor to consider is that, not
only does resting longer improve your muscle building results, but it also lessens your
chances for injury as well. If you’re moving through your workout at a
faster pace, and jumping into your next set when you’re still physically and mentally
fatigued from the last one, that’s going to increase the risk for injury because your
form might end up getting sloppy, or you might end up having a sudden slip up and end up
getting hurt. Probably not a big deal for smaller isolation
exercises, but for those big compound lifts that are more technically complex, and where
you’re moving more total weight, especially if you’re training in close proximity to failure,
you want to be going in fully recovered and with a clear mindset, to make sure that your
technique remains as solid as possible. But the ultimate bottom line here is that
when it all comes down to it, whatever training of system allows you to achieve progressive
overload as effectively as possible, and build upon your previous weight and reps from the
last workout on each lift as consistently as possible, that will also be the approach
that adds muscle to your frame as effectively as possible. And taking slightly longer rest times in between
sets will improve your ability to achieve progressive overload in the big picture. And it will be the superior choice if your
goal is to maximize your overall size and strength gains. So thanks for watching guys. Make sure to hit the like button and subscribe
below if you found the information here helpful. If you appreciate the No B.S. evidence-based
content that I put out here, and you want to support the channel while optimizing your
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85 Replies to “Rest LONGER Between Sets For Faster Muscle Gains”


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  2. I definitely agree with this. The longer you rest, the better off you are when lifting heavier weights and you would have more energy for more reps.

  3. This sucks for me because I wish I could rest as long as needed to maximize hypertrophy but I only have a limited amount of time in the gym. Sometimes I even rush through my warmups which I hate because risk of injury.

  4. Well that's good to know that im not that wrong then wen im taking my time in the gym. Sometimes i see people looking wen after 50-60 min are done and leaving. Im doing 7 exercises on upper days and 5 exercises on lower days. With both ill do 2 abs exercises at the end. I think im around 90 to 100 min before i got to the showers.
    Is this to long time – or to many exercises ??

  5. This was an amazing video that people need to come to grips with if they want to actually build muscle. It will suck that you have to be in the gym another half hour longer but to maximize your gains that is what you need to do . No other way around it. Good job by you

  6. Taking more time between sets is a good thing as Sean mentions here. When I worked out in the morning I worked out faster due to being under a time limit. I got cut and shredded but had not enough bulk mixed with that. Also I was working out while fasted. But after work having eaten breakfast and lunch, and taking 2-5 minutes between sets helped me put on more mass and very little fat gain.

  7. I use to have issues with hypotension, and would use an oximeter to gauge my rest periods so I could do the next set without worrying about passing out. It seemed that focusing on oxygen saturation on heart rate recovery gave me an ideal rest period. I don't use the oximeter anymore, but I've conditioned myself to know feeling I'm looking for before starting my next set. I'd say the oximeter is a handy tool to provide some biofeedback when it comes to setting rest periods, at the very least it gives you something beyond just guessing when you're ready to perform again.

  8. Taking more time between sets also helps cortisol levels to stay lower, which in turn keeps testosterone levels higher.

  9. Yup! I just recently started resting for an additional 2 mins and makes all the difference. My goal is to always do straight sets with the same weight. Prior to that, I’d struggle to bench or squat for same reps, forcing me into reverse pyramid, which is still good.
    But with the xtra 2 min rest, i was able to do all reps within 4 sets and not dropping weight. 💪

  10. I average 2-3 mins between sets and have progressively increased my weight without compromising on form. I have noticed that the day i decrease my rest interval my work outs suffer. As always spot on sean.

  11. Longer rest periods, lower rep ranges, lower set ranges, overall lower weekly volume. In gym less is really more. Cortisol low = testosterone high.

  12. I`m 55 years old , this longer rest would probably be recommended , I`m just getting started back to getting into the shape I was in 20 years ago , hopefully my road will not be so long getting to there . BE MAKING IT HAPPEN !

  13. Makes sense I suppose. Build your body for speed or strength or somewhere in between. It follows that your workout style will reflect in your body. Athleticism or size. I rest for 1 minute and my second set onward is always for shit. I would take your advice but I'm in my cutting phase now so cardiovascular is more a priority.

  14. I wonder if there is a target heart rate that would correlate well with proper recovery time for optimal recovery between sets.

  15. If you only need 60 seconds of rests between sets, especially on compound movements, you’re probably not training that hard. I literally feel like puking and my head is pulsing when I get finished with a heavy set. I’m not talking powerlifting either. In the 10-12 rep range set, if you’re really training hard, you’re gonna need at least a few minutes of rest time

  16. This is why ive been resting 2-3 min between sets. Iam able to get in more reps. Lower rest times is optimal foe greater Cardiovascular health, but since my goal is muscle growth and hypertrophy, i prioritize reps and volume

  17. It's interesting how the fitness community flip flop when it comes to fitness training. For years trainers have always said short rest periods between sets. Some still agree with this. However, I hear more people saying it's best to rest for 2 minutes between sets especially for lift heavy and compound exercises.

  18. Great video Sean,
    Those dumb roiders always shit on me for resting 3 min while we are doing bench,yet they are 170cm and my ass is 196cm and we are doing the same weight.
    Ofc you gonna need less rest…

  19. Can you recommend any programs. And can you design one for maximum strength gains.

    I'm doing smolov jr n then 5 by 5 any thoughts

  20. Yo Sean would it be harmful in any way for me to add Splenda to the pre workout? I’m a pussy and can’t chug that shit cuz the taste is alright at best. But I love the the effects and appreciate the dosages lol

  21. Compound 2-4min, isolations 1-2min. Sometimes I take extra 30sec or 1min of rest in the last set cause I'm always training close to failure..

  22. For general guidelines: straight sets for compound exercises rest for 3 – 5 minutes. If you want to save time just utilize superset in isolation exercises back-to-back or just keep 60-90 second rest for recovery. By doing this you incorporate both strategies: maximum natural growth stimulus in compound exercises and time saving in isolation exercises.

  23. I am SO glad and re-assured you did this video. I am 47 and have been training for 10-12 years. As an "older" lifter I find my first heavy set a bit clunky – nothing really feels quite flowing. I have put a lot into it though so will wait several minutes just as you say when I feel almost relaxed again. My second heavy set I find is EASIER thant the first as my body and muscles now feel like they are fully ready. I have found by resting longer enabling me to register more heavy weights over my sets – I get more volume but also my 1 rep max is noteably rising quicker than it used to – which I think pretty much backs up what you said. Also – I could not agree more – if I went from one heavy set to an equaly heavy set lets say 60 seconds after there is no question I would either injure myself or could not perform the lift. Thats my feedback! PS…. Its only watching this video that it makes me feel its ok to do what has felt natural to me (but feels against the normal bro science ) so thank you!

  24. There seems to be a phenomenon I see at the gym where the biggest guys seem to be doing mostly fluff n pump training with their bros. They’ll do a shitload of sets on arms with cables, supersets etc
    Perhaps it’s because they’re on steroids and that’s how “bros” train. Anyone else noticed this?

  25. For isolation exercises 1-2 minutes is plenty. When i do calves, the lactic acid goes within like 45seconds. For compound exercise like a bench or legpress i keep it 2-3

  26. Athlean X is saying resting more than 60 seconds is too much. That’s just crazy of me. I need at least 2-3 minutes on heavy compound lift. Maybe I’ll do 1-2 mins on smaller isolation movements

  27. Havn’t you heard of rest pause training?! You’ll never get a better pump.. But it involves proper taking it to failure which most people don’t really understand how to do… There’s no right way, I know highly successful bodybuilders that swear by rest pause..

  28. This is bang on…. surely common sense tells us that hypertrophy is about performing exercises true to form and progressively overloading weight at a rate that means form is not effected… if you are not resting and you are not then performing the set at an optimum level then you are leaving progress at the door… those who argue this are sadly very must mistaken and even if they say “I’m making great gains on resting 1 minute between sets” the question still would then be…. “okay, so potentially you have great genetics so how many gains have you kissed goodbye focussing too much on rest times than set performance” ?

    Awesome vid again Sean! Great to be seeing you again!

  29. Using a system that involves both long rest times and medium/ fast rest times could be optimal for growth. All muscle fibre types could be targeted for greater mass /endurance/strength and power.
    The most important thing is controlling volume based around protein synthesis and cortisol especially for natural athletes.
    Also controlled heavy at lower reps 4-8 is better for type 2 muscle fibres.

  30. Great video! It begs the question: If someone has a set amount of time, would it be a better muscle-building investment to do fewer exercises heavier with longer rest times, or more exercises a little lighter with shorter rest times?

  31. I genuinely think you are one of the best or the best fitness youtuber I know
    but I am surprised how not many youtubers talk about you.
    Perhaps, it is because you dont involve youtube drama ?
    Just wanted to say you really influenced my life in positive way.
    I hope you do what you do as long as you can.
    Have a great day Sean.

  32. Hey Sean! You've hit the right tune for weights! Its about having calm mind and breathing and hit the weight with proper form! Looking forward to more of your pro viz! Cheers!


  34. Reg park used to rest 2-3 mins (or more sometimes) between sets. Didn’t do him any harm. It all depends. For cutting I rest shorter, no more than 60-90 secs between sets but I do a lot of rest pause sets when cutting, going for as many reps as possible on each set. For mass and strength my rest periods are longer and I keep to more straight sets.

  35. That's why I don't really like training with personal trainers. They push you at warp speed. That instinctively seems dangerous.

  36. Hey Sean awesome video! I know I've heard you preach on this before, and I've incorporated it into my training programs. I'm in the difficult spot where time is always extremely tight for me. Running three businesses and as a dad to three kids, my time to train is usually short. I sacrifice sleep to be able to get more time to train. Which then in inhibits my recovery and muscle growth because of less sleep. I really appreciate your tips, and I'm definitely gonna incorporate these rest times to have longer rest times especially for my compound movements while potentially reducing the number of new exercises that I do within a work out. I found that this definitely helps me focus on increasing the weight and reps on the lifts so that I'm still progressively overloading even though volume might be slightly down for one specific work out. I think for someone with high life stressors it definitely helps you to recover better as well.

  37. In study1 the long rests were 3min.
    If a set takes 1min, then 3 sets take 1+3+1+3+1=9min
    With a rest period of 1min you can do 5 sets in that time!!

    In the study the groups made the same nr or sets, so it is not showing what this guys think it is showing.

    Also, take into account that if you reduce rest to zero it becomes a lovely dropset. Dropsets are undoubtably intense and time efficient at least.

  38. Nice vid! Just a question, what if you’re looking to mix things up and shock the body, would you think there would be merit to changing the rest time intermittently, or just make other changes for muscle shock, like grip or angles, instead.

  39. 24 sets is my target each session.
    3 min rest time between sets.
    That still puts my workouts at a hour and a half.
    Any more rest than 3 mins is too much to be effective with the time I have.
    Upper / Lower 4 days a week.
    Add a 3mile run and stretch session on the off days as time allows.
    Run is done day before upper and two days after lower.
    Ab work part of the lower days.
    This puts it at about 8hrs a week total for all workouts.
    Two weeks strength followed by one week with high reps.

    Deload for a week but through in a bit of calisthenics with extra stretch and run.

    I recommend this for people who are naturally large.
    Without working out I can stay around 250-270lbs.
    Even eating how I want while training like this I stay at 250lbs.

    Hard gainers may want other options.

    Home gym is a must for time savers.
    30 mins to the gym and back 4 times a week is two hrs more you won't get back.

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