Rest Between Sets

"Longer Interset Rest Periods Enhance Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Resistance-Trained Men" from

Key Points:

  • "The study period lasted 8 weeks with subjects performing 3 total body workouts a week comprised 3 sets of 8–12 repetition maximum (RM) of 7 different exercises per session."
  • "Testing was performed prestudy and poststudy for muscle strength (1RM bench press and back squat), muscle endurance (50% 1RM bench press to failure), and muscle thickness of the elbow flexors, triceps brachii, and quadriceps femoris by ultrasound imaging."
  • "Maximal strength was significantly greater for both 1RM squat and bench press for LONG compared to SHORT. Muscle thickness was significantly greater for LONG compared to SHORT in the anterior thigh, and a trend for greater increases was noted in the triceps brachii (p = 0.06) as well. "

"This study provides evidence that longer rest periods promote greater increases in muscle strength and hypertrophy in young resistance-trained men."

I found this study interesting because they used real life exercises that promote the best change in musculature (squat and bench press). Most other studies use leg extensions or bicep curls which isn't really a strong indicator.

I personally am a strong believer of 3min rest periods. It takes on an order of 3-4 minutes for 90% of ATP to be recovered. This is important because with fully replenished ATP we are allowed to strongly and completely activate each individual muscle fiber to its full capacity without being cut short, again and again until each fiber is TRULY damaged and not by perception of lactic acid which we would otherwise fall victim to when we use shorter rest periods (thus not allowing full work capacity for each set).

I don't personally understand why meatheads all do 30 second drop sets, or 60 second sets. Maybe it is good for the temporary pump and glycogen enhancement, but that means little to nothing to real muscle growth, e.g myofibrillar hypertrophy. I take advantage of 3 min sets, and I do 10 sets for an exercise (similar to A-GVT), that way the excruciating volume with high intensity (4-6 reps) would optimally give me the best possible myofibrillar hypertrophy as well as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

So the take away message is, if you have the time, and you should if you are serious about working out, then spend the two hours in the gym session (I spend 2 hours on average 5-6x a week) and incorporate something similar to A-GVT with 3min rest periods and train no longer than 6 weeks without a full week of rest.