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    The Lifter's Guide to Resting Between Sets

    Resting between exercise sets is just as vital as the actual exercise. Muscle recovery is an important part of building endurance, developing overall strength and overall general well-being.

    However, each of these goals requires a different amount of rest. How experienced you are at exercising also factors into how long you should rest when exercising.

    Confused yet? Don't worry, we're going to help you learn exactly how long you should rest between exercise sets based on your goals and experience.

    Goal Setting

    Most people have a reason for exercising , whether it's broad like "lose weight" or specific like "increase bicep size." Determining exactly how long you should rest between exercise sets impacts how successful you'll be at meeting your goals. (The National Strength and Conditioning Association provides specific recommendations for rest intervals based on fitness goals and the style of training.)

    Resting between sets can take one of two forms: Active rest and passive rest. Active rest involves continuing to move in some way in between sets, like jogging in place or jumping rope. Passive rest is exactly what it sounds like: total rest in between sets. Generally, active rest is great for experienced gym-goers while those new to the workout circuit should use the rest interval to slow their heart rate.

    Strength Building

    If you're looking to build strength, your rest periods between sets should be two to five minutes. Giving your muscles a longer time period to recover from the intense work will quickly improve your ability to lift more weight. If you're new to strength training, definitely start with a longer rest interval and work your way up to shorter rests. The shorter rest periods, closer to two minutes, will also help build endurance.

    Sample Upper Body Strength-Building Workout

    Dumbbell Chest Press

    Reps: 10 to 15

    Sets: Two

    Rest: Two to five minutes

    Lateral Raise

    Reps: 10 to 15

    Sets: Two

    Rest: Two to five minutes

    One-Arm Dumbbell Row

    Reps: 10 to 15

    Sets: Two

    Rest: Two to five minutes

    Triceps Extension

    Reps: 10 to 15

    Sets: Two

    Rest: Two to five minutes

    Bicep Curl

    Reps: 10 to 15

    Sets: Two

    Rest: Two to five minutes

    Increasing Muscles

    If you're looking for those big, defined muscles, you'll want to take a different approach to rest intervals. For best results, rest between 60 and 90 seconds between sets. The short rest interval gives your muscles little time for recovery, which keeps them engaged and primed for growth. Of course, if you're new to lifting, start with longer rests and build up to shorter rests.

    Sample Lower Body Muscle-Building Workout

    Squats

    Reps: Six to eight

    Sets: Three

    Rest: 60 to 90 seconds

    Split Squats

    Reps: Eight to 10

    Sets: Three

    Rest: 60 to 90 seconds

    Calf Raises

    Reps: 10 to 15 reps

    Sets: Three

    Rest: 60 to 90 seconds

    Lying Leg Curls

    Reps: 10 to 12

    Sets: Three

    Rest: 60 to 90 seconds

    Abdominal Crunches

    Reps: 10 to 15

    Sets: Three

    Rest: 60 to 90 seconds

    High-Intensity Training

    High-intensity training, sometimes called high-intensity interval training or HIIT, is a combination of high exertion exercises, weight lifting, and designated rest periods. It's a popular exercise style for endurance, weight loss and muscle toning. HIIT works best with active rest, though if you're new to exercise generally or HIIT specifically, you might want to start with passive rest and build up.

    Since HIIT combines weight lifting and aerobic exercise, people might do it for different reasons with different goals. If you're aiming for strength, stick with the two to five-minute rest interval. Looking to get large? Try a shorter rest of 60 to 90 seconds.

    Sample HIIT Workout

    Jog in Place

    Time: 45 to 60 seconds

    Sets: Four

    Rest: 90 seconds

    Forearm Plank

    Time: 45 to 60 seconds

    Sets: Four

    Rest: 90 seconds

    Reverse Lunge

    Time: 45 to 60 seconds

    Sets: Four

    Rest: 90 seconds

    Skater

    Time: 45 to 60 seconds

    Sets: Four

    Rest: 90 seconds

    Pop Squat

    Time: 45 to 60 seconds

    Sets: Four

    Rest: 90 seconds

    Tips for Beginners

    Are you totally new to the world of weights? You're going to want to rest longer thank you think between sets. Conditioning your muscles appropriately and building your endurance slowly will keep you safe and help you avoid injuring yourself.

    Always start with the longest recommended rest interval. If you're still struggling on the next set (to the point of possible injury), go ahead and increase the interval length. You'll build your endurance quickly and then be able to shorten that rest interval.

    Sample Beginner Weight Lifting Workout

    Push-Ups

    Reps: Five to 10

    Sets: Two

    Rest: Three to four minutes

    Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

    Reps: Five to 10 each side

    Sets: Two

    Rest: Three to four minutes

    Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

    Reps: Five to 10

    Sets: Two

    Rest: Three to four minutes

    Tricep Extensions

    Reps: Five to 10

    Sets: Two

    Rest: Three to four minutes

    Russian Twists

    Reps: Five to 10

    Sets: Two

    Rest: Three to four minutes

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    **These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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