What’s your routine between sets?
Wander aimlessly around the gym? Check your Insta feed? Cast a quick glance at the good sort on the elliptical trainer?
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, it seems the best thing you can do between sets is to take a chair – or even lie down. In the study, people who sat or lay down between sets completed more work in the remainder of the session than people who stood or walked around between sets.
“If you rest passively between efforts, your heart rate and breathing rates come down faster and lower than if you stand up and keep walking around,” says Kristen Ouellette, study author and assistant professor of exercise science and sports studies at Springfield College.
This finding supports a growing number of strength and conditioning coaches arguing that, in the modern trend for high-intensity interval training, people aren’t resting sufficiently between bouts of exercise.
“Rest periods are one the most overlooked components of training,” Sabrena Jo, senior exercise scientist for the American Council on Exercise, recently told Women’s Health. “Many people end up lowering the amount of resistance they’re using because they’re too fatigued by their second set, but often times, that fatigue could be eliminated by extending their rest break.”
So how long should you rest between sets if you’re looking to build strength and size? Renowned Sydney-based strength coach Sebastian Oreb recommends rest periods of 4-5 minutes for full-body movements like squats and deadlifts, and 2-minute rest periods for upper-body movements like bench press, shoulder press and rows.
Rest, it seems, is not for the weak…