Happy June everyone, I can already feel the days flying by as it looks to be a busy one for this guy. Today I wanted to answer something I've been asked about, a few times lately. Rather than reply to a couple texts and an e-mail with the same spiel, I'd put it up here for all to read, now let's get to it!
It’s a mysterious thing to some and even to those that are in the field, it’s still a bit of a conundrum. Rest between sets is vital when you train, but there are times it needs to be down to a science, and times that there’s an allowance for wiggle room. When those times are and all that is mostly down to the individual.
According to the NSCA’s Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, rest should correspond as follows
Strength- 2-5 Minutes
Power- 2-5 Minutes
Hypertrophy- 30 seconds-1.5 minutes
Now those are pretty wide ranges, certainly for the first 2 at least. Fortunately we are not all robots pre programmed to these standards, so things aren't cut and dry as that. It goes more like this, if you’ve just squatted in the neighborhood of 95% of your max, you may want to consider giving it longer than 2 minutes before you attempt another set. On the other side of it, you certainly shouldn’t be waiting around for 5 minutes plus on every single set. There won’t be much of a training effect going on if you go that route.
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There’s so much that effects the rest period that is right for YOU; training age, training goals, actual age, body type, diet, on and on at nauseam. Here’s the key things you need to consider.
Body Type- Bigger guys and gals need more time to recover. More body to feed, more distance for the signals to travel, yada yada. It’s just facts, of life, the not as big folks tend to recover faster for the opposite reasons.
Training Age- Experienced lifters are usually pushing the weight a little closer to the edge because they’ve been able to dial in their technique. An experienced lifter doing a set 95%+ will REALLY be doing something closer to that percentage, in terms of what their body can physically handle, as opposed to a novice. A novice who is still working on technique should still take their time, but probably doesn’t need that 5 minutes of recovery that’s written on their paper for their max.
General Guideline- I’ve always liked the guideline that Eric Cressey used, rest for as long as you think you need it, then add 30 seconds, when strength training at least. For the most part, the additional 30 seconds is for your CNS to catch up to the rest of the kids at the starting line.
Do you remember that time you “felt” ready for your next set after nailing the previous one? You went in for that next one and totally tanked it. This my friend is likely the culprit, if the CNS isn’t ready then the message to squeeze this or tighten that or press into this, won’t be received by all the required parties.
It's a bit like a car going up a steep hill with some not so reliable fuel lines. You get it started and then when you really need to give it some gas, womp womp, and not so great things happen to the care (you). Just wait that extra bit, you’ll be good to go.
There are situations that call for timing your rest because, it's been decided to be the appropriate time for you (or your client) to get the desired training effect. Examples are things like speed work, cluster sets and super sets. For the most part timing it down to the last second isn't necessary though.
Hopefully this helps some of you out there answer this timeless question and I saved you several long hours looking up articles on rest, believe me been there done that. Have a good day and month of June all. Go out there and get after it.
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS