Why you should measure your rest times

You know that you need rest times between sets, but are you just dropping the ball, stepping off the treadmill or walking away from the weights for a few moments before you resume your exercise? Or are you actually taking a scientific approach to your rest times? The benefits of the latter may be more important than you think. Here’s why.

1. Rest times affect different exercises different ways

One of the reasons why it’s so important to measure your rest times? You’re going to need different rest times in order to get the most out of your workout, depending on the workout you’re doing.

When you’re strength training, for example, it’s recommended you measure out a rest time of three to five minutes, so you can perform at your best during your next rep.

If, however, you’re doing some sort of aerobic training, you want to keep your rest times to less than two minutes, to maximize the benefits of the exercise. 

2. But it’s not even that simple

So you might look at that and think, okay, so during strength training, I just make sure I get a rest time of between three to five minutes, easy. 

But that’s where you might be wrong.

While there’s a difference between ideal rest times for aerobic and strength exercises, there are also differences in the rest times you might want to consider for your overall strength training goals.

These longer, three-to-five-minute breaks are ideal if you’re wanting to maximize strength and power during your training session. But, if you want to build muscle size, rather than outperform your last rep (or your peers), you might want to shorten that rest time down to one or two minutes. Taking it even further, if your goal is muscular endurance, then pros recommend you perform higher reps, at a lower weight, but only rest as little as 20 seconds between reps.

3. But what if I just want to lose some weight?

True, there are a lot of people in the gym who aren’t necessarily looking to bulk up or increase their performance. They’re not training for a marathon and their goals aren’t really any more complex than simply losing a few pounds.

In those cases, your rest period will change as well. There are two rest period options to consider when the overall goal is weight loss.

Firstly, you can take the all-in approach, with little to no rest periods, for burning as many calories as possible.

Secondly (and this will help you build a little muscle as well), you can do rest times of a minute or less, but make sure that you’re switching exercises after each rest period. Ideally, you would switch between exercises that work totally different parts of the body.

But whatever you do…

Whatever rest time you find is best for your overall goals in the gym, the verdict is the same: timing your rest periods matters a lot in reaching that goal. So, grab that stopwatch and hit the gym, to start seeing the results you want, faster.