Skip to main content

Rest Interval between Sets in Strength Training

Abstract

Strength training has become one of the most popular physical activities for increasing characteristics such as absolute muscular strength, endurance, hypertrophy and muscular power. For efficient, safe and effective training, it is of utmost importance to understand the interaction among training variables, which might include the intensity, number of sets, rest interval between sets, exercise modality and velocity of muscle action. Research has indicated that the rest interval between sets is an important variable that affects both acute responses and chronic adaptations to resistance exercise programmes. The purpose of this review is to analyse and discuss the rest interval between sets for targeting specific training outcomes (e.g. absolute muscular strength, endurance, hypertrophy and muscular power). The Scielo, Science Citation Index, National Library of Medicine, MEDLINE, Scopus, Sport Discus and CINAHL databases were used to locate previous original scientific investigations. The 35 studies reviewed examined both acute responses and chronic adaptations, with rest interval length as the experimental variable. In terms of acute responses, a key finding was that when training with loads between 50% and 90% of one repetition maximum, 3–5 minutes’ rest between sets allowed for greater repetitions over multiple sets. Furthermore, in terms of chronic adaptations, resting 3–5 minutes between sets produced greater increases in absolute strength, due to higher intensities and volumes of training. Similarly, higher levels of muscular power were demonstrated over multiple sets with 3 or 5 minutes versus 1 minute of rest between sets. Conversely, some experiments have demonstrated that when testing maximal strength, 1-minute rest intervals might be sufficient between repeated attempts; however, from a psychological and physiological standpoint, the inclusion of 3- to 5-minute rest intervals might be safer and more reliable. When the training goal is muscular hypertrophy, the combination of moderate-intensity sets with short rest intervals of 30–60 seconds might be most effective due to greater acute levels of growth hormone during such workouts. Finally, the research on rest interval length in relation to chronic muscular endurance adaptations is less clear. Training with short rest intervals (e.g. 20 seconds to 1 minute) resulted in higher repetition velocities during repeated submaximal muscle actions and also greater total torque during a high-intensity cycle test. Both of these findings indirectly demonstrated the benefits of utilizing short rest intervals for gains in muscular endurance. In summary, the rest interval between sets is an important variable that should receive more attention in resistance exercise prescription. When prescribed appropriately with other important prescriptive variables (i.e. volume and intensity), the amount of rest between sets can influence the efficiency, safety and ultimate effectiveness of a strength training programme.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Table I
Table II
Table III
Table IV

References

  1. 1.

    American College of Sports Medicin. Position stand: progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002; 34: 364–80

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    American College of Sports Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009; 41: 459–71

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Kraemer WJ, Noble BJ, Clark MJ, et al. Physiologic responses to heavy-resistance exercise with very short restperiods. Int J Sports Med 1987; 8: 247–52

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Kraemer WJ, Marchitelli L, Gordon SE, et al. Hormonal and growth factor responses to heavy resistance exercise protocols. J Appl Physiol 1990; 69: 1442–50

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Kraemer WJ, Fleck SJ, Dziados JE, et al. Changes in hormonal concentrations after different heavy resistance exerciseprotocols in women. J Appl Physiol 1993; 75: 594–604

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Robinson JM, Stone MH, Johnson RL, et al. Effects of different weight training exercise/rest intervals on strength,power, and high intensity exercise endurance. J Strength Cond Res 1995; 9: 216–21

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Larson GD, Potteiger JA. A comparison of three different rest intervals between multiple squat bouts. J Strength Cond Res 1997; 11: 115–8

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Pincivero DM, Lephart SM, Karunakara RG. Effects of rest interval on isokinetic strength and functional performanceafter short-term high intensity training. Br J Sports Med 1997; 31: 229–34

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Pincivero DM, Campy RM. The effects of rest interval length and training on quadriceps femoris muscle, part I:knee extensor torque and muscle fatigue. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2004; 44: 111–8

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Goto K, Nagasawa M, Yanagisawa O, et al. Muscular adaptations to combinations of high and low intensityresistance exercises. J Strength Cond Res 2004; 18: 730–7

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, et al. Short vs long rest period between the sets in hypertrophic resistance training:influence on muscle strength, size, and hormonal adaptationsin trained men. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19: 572–82

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Bottaro M, Martins B, Gentil P, et al. Effects of rest duration between sets of resistance training on acute hormonalresponses in trained women. J Sci Med Sport 2009; 12: 73–8

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Ratamess NA, Falvo MJ, Mangine GT, et al. The effect rest interval length on metabolic responses to the bench press exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 2007; 100: 1–17

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Hill-Haas S, Bishop D, Dawson B, et al. Effects of rest interval during high-repetition resistance training onstrength, aerobic fitness, and repeated-sprint ability. J Sports Sci 2007; 25: 619–28

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Willardson JM, Burkett LN. The effect of different rest intervals between sets on volume components and strength gains. J Strength Cond Res 2008; 22: 146–52

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Willardson JM. A brief review: factors affecting the length of the rest interval between resistance exercise sets. J Strength Cond Res 2006; 20: 978–84

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Hopkins WG. Olympian impact factors: top journals in exercise and sports science and medicine for 2008. Eur Sport sci 2008; 12: 22–4

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Rhea MR, Alvar BA, Burkett LN. Single versus multiple sets for strength: a meta-analysis to address the controversy. Res Q Exerc Sport 2002; 73: 485–8

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Peterson MD, Rhea MR, Alvar BA. Applications of the dose-response for muscular strength development:a review of meta-analytic efficacy and reliability for designingtraining prescription. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19: 950–8

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Kraemer WJ. A series of studies: the physiological basis for strength training in American football: fact over philosophy. J Strength Cond Res 1997; 11: 131–42

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Richmond SR, Godard MP. The effects of varied rest periods between sets of failure using bench press in recreationallytrained men. J Strength Cond Res 2004; 18: 846–9

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Willardson JM, Burkett LN. A comparison of 3 different rest intervals on the exercise volume completed during a workout. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19: 23–6

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Willardson JM, Burkett LN. The effect of rest interval length on bench press performance with heavy vs light load. J Strength Cond Res 2006; 20: 396–9

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Willardson JM, Burkett LN. The effect of rest interval length on the sustainability of squat and bench press repetitions. J Strength Cond Res 2006; 20: 400–3

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Miranda H, Fleck SJ, Simaã R, et al. Effect of two different rest period lengths on the number of repetitions performed during resistance training. J Strength Cond Res 2007; 21: 1032–6

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Theou O, Gareth JR, Brown LE. Effect of rest interval on strength recovery in young and old women. J Strength Cond Res 2008; 22: 1876–81

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Faigenbaum AD, Ratamess NA, McFarland J, et al. Effect of rest interval length on bench press performance in boys,teens, and men. Pediatr Exerc Sci 2008; 20: 457–69

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Weir JP, Wagner LL, Housh TJ. The effect of rest interval length on repeated maximal bench presses. J Strength Cond Res 1994; 8: 58–60

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Matuszak ME, Fry AC, Weiss LW, et al. Effect of rest interval length on repeated 1 repetition maximum back squats. J Strength Cond Res 2003; 17: 634–7

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Harris RC, Edwards RH, Hultman E, et al. The time course of phosphorylcreatine resynthesis during recovery of thequadriceps muscle in man. Pflugers Arch 1976; 28: 137–42

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Abdessemed D, Duche P, Hautier C, et al. Effect of recovery duration on muscular power and blood lactate during thebench press exercise. Int J Sports Med 1999; 20: 368–73

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Mccall GE, Byrnes WC, Fleck SJ, et al. Acute and chronic hormonal responses to resistance training designed topromote muscle hypertrophy. Can J Appl Physiol 1999; 24: 96–107

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Buresh R, Berg K, French J. The effect of resistive exercise rest interval on hormonal response, strength, and hypertrophywith training. J Strength Cond Res 2009; 23: 62–71

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Anderson T, Kearney JT. Effects of three resistance training programs on muscular strength and absolute and relative endurance. Res Q Exerc Sport 1982; 53: 1–7

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Campos GER, Luecke TJ, Wendeln HK, et al. Muscular adaptations in response to three different resistancetrainingregimens: specificity of repetition maximumtraining zones. Eur J Appl Physiol 2002; 88: 50–60

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Stone WJ, Coulter SP. Strength/endurance effects from three resistance training protocols with women. J Strength Cond Res 1994; 8: 231–4

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Stull GA, Clarke DH. Patterns of recovery following isometric and isotonic strength decrement. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1971; 3: 135–9

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Yates JW, Kearney JT, Noland MP, et al. Recovery of dynamic muscular endurance. Eur J Appl Physiol 1987; 56: 662–7

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Sahlin K, Ren JM. Relationship of contraction capacity to metabolic changes during recovery from a fatiguing contraction. J Appl Physiol 1989; 67: 648–54

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Bilcheck HM, Kraemer WJ, Maresh CM, et al. The effects of isokinetic fatigue on recovery of maximal isokineticconcentric and eccentric strength in women. J Strength Cond Res 1993; 7: 43–50

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    García-López D, De Paz JA, Moneo E, et al. Effects of short vs long rest period between sets on elbow-flexor muscularendurance during resistance training to failure. J Strength Cond Res 2007; 21: 1320–4

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Dr Roberto Simão would like to thank the Brazilian National Board for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and Research and Development Foundation of Rio de Janeiro State (FAPERJ) for the research grant support.

The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Roberto Simão PhD.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Freitas de Salles, B., Simão, R., Miranda, F. et al. Rest Interval between Sets in Strength Training. Sports Med 39, 765–777 (2009). https://doi.org/10.2165/11315230-000000000-00000

Download citation

Keywords

  • Strength Training
  • Bench Press
  • Rest Interval
  • Muscular Power
  • Acute Elevation