Rest time between sets

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    Rest time between sets

    I know when it says "up to 2 minutes rests" it doesn't need to be 2 minutes and less is recommended if you are able to. But what if it says "2 minutes rest between sets"? Should I rest straight 2 minutes or is it okay to have less? Or which is best: stick with 2 minutes or let's say 1 minute if I can handle level 3 all 7 sets with 1 minute rests in between? And if the 1 minute route is better, should I stick with a particular rest time throught out the exercises or should I go less rest when I can and more rest when it starts to become too much?

    And exercise level. Should I stick with a particular level throughout the program or can I go at a different level every day? Which is better?

    These are not new questions but I haven't found satisfying answers, so.

    Thank you in advance!

    It depends...

    Not satisfying either?!

    I handle the rests and the levels very fluidly. For me it seems better to rest more and do more reps in the end, than put all power in until I can't go on. But my focus is more on strength, than on cardio/endurance/regeneration. Do what you think works best for you.

    Levels: I focus on my form, so before I lose my form too much, I stop. Most programs change muscle group focus every day. If you can do level 3 with upperbody and level 1 with legs that is totally fine.


      Originally posted by HellYeah80 View Post
      Not satisfying either?!
      People usually just bring up the "it says up to 2 minutes so it can be less," and the "2 min for lvl1, 1 min for lvl2, and 30 secs for lvl3" thing, ignoring the "2 minute between sets" part.

      Like you I am pretty fluid as well. Sometimes I can do lvl3 7 sets with less than 2 minutes of rests in between, but the time might not be fixed. It might be 1 min, 1:30, 1... Just want to clear the uncertainties.


        I use the levels/rests as an orientation and try to do as much as I can with proper form. If there is an exercise in there, which sucks for me I either take more rest, do less sets or reduce the reps of this exercise. In the end it is 'just' a workout, and you might have to personalize it, even if it's a good one.

        I like to have a look when peole do their fitness workout in (boulder)gym, and the do bad form, often, only to reach a certain number of reps. If you can't reach the reps with good form, you are not ready!

        Just my point of view!


          For me it depends on what type of a program it is. With cardio I do the "up to" 2 minutes which can be anywhere between no rest at all and 2 minutes, depending on the workout, how I'm feeling that day, and whether or not I have something cooking on the stove (it happens). I just finished Cardio Blast for example, and as that's a difficulty 2 program it wasn't too challenging, so I'd sometimes do three sets without rest, then take a rest, then another three sets, another two and another to. With strength I try to stick to the rest times better because I think it's more important - often the different exercises train similar muscles and they will do the next exercise better with some rest. But I'll shorten rest times nonetheless to be done quicker. My rule for Ironborn was: I'll take the full 30 seconds between sets and at least 1 minute between exercises.


            We usually encourage to take the full 2 minutes, that's why the more recent workouts will have the wording "2 minutes" as opposed to the older ones saying "up to 2 minutes".
            Taking the full two minutes will give better results in performance and form which in the end will give you more benefits especially when it comes to strength or skill Training (while also reducing the risk of injuries).

            When you're specifically training for endurance, VO2 max or when you're trying to improve your recovery time then reducing your rest time can be a good idea.

            If the two minutes rest is way too much for you then this might be a sign that the workout is too easy for you. In this case you might want to consider making the workout harder (go faster on cardio workouts, go slower on strength workouts, etc...).

            When it comes to exercise level you should always aim for the highest one possible. Obviously there will be days that are easier for you and then there will be days that won't suit you at all, so it's no problem to switch levels as well - if necessary.


              TheRaven Thank you!


                I think it's depends on your goals as well as the goal of the exercise, which is what TheRaven was kind of saying. That is, for strength-oriented training: I'll rest a little longer. Push those muscles really hard during the exercise, then rest and recover. Especially if you're doing weight training. (Hafthor Bjornsson, for example, rests at least six minutes between sets for "heavy" lifts.)

                Cardiovascular and/or anaerobic exercises, however, are all about getting your heart rate up and testing your endurance, so I tend to shorten rest time there, unless I'm really just out of gas.


                  Guys this is turning out to be a really interesting discussion and kandy has raised a question which will, always, have a subjective answer depending on a variety of factors including personal levels of fitness, exercise intensity and personal goals as TheRaven has pointed out. What I would like to do here is broaden it just a little bit because Baston mentioned Hafthor Bjornsson and his rest time. The length of rest time required for strength training is never going to be six minutes. To understand why we need rest times it's important to understand the energy pathways of the body and the way muscles experience fatigue.

                  There are three energy pathways: ATP (what's stored in the muscles), anaerobic (processes during which the body metabolizes carbohydrates and blood sugar to create ATP) and aerobic (the process through which the body uses stored fat to create ATP). Each process is more complex than the last which means it requires more energy at the conversion stage and also more time to deliver results. Muscles experience muscle fatigue when typically they run out of ATP (or cannot get enough sufficiently quickly for the task they have to perform), when they experience metabolite congestion (when an overload of metabolites at the muscle receptor sites creates congestion so ATP cannot get through and be utilized) or when they experience muscle fiber damage due to mechanical stress which impacts their ability to deliver mechanical work.

                  When we are working out in, for example, an HIIT workout, the muscle fatigue mechanism experienced, primarily will be due to the exhaustion of ATP and metabolic congestion. A break of up to 2 minutes will quickly restore us and although we do get 'tired' our performance from say set 1 to set 7 is barely affected. As we get fitter the recovery rate between workouts is faster (and again here the recovery rate is multi-factorial and I won't go into it in this thread). When we, however, perform exercises that load the muscles mechanically so we can increase strength, the muscle fibers degrade from the very first instance and as the load remains constant the degradation (i.e. damage) they experience increases. No amount of rest time is going to make a difference here. What we need is food, rest and/or sleep that are measured in hours as opposed to minutes.

                  That brings us back now to the very interesting point of Hafthor Bjornsson's rest time. Why is that necessary? For the same reason we need rest time. While muscle fatigue in strength exercises is the result of (mostly) muscle fiber damage there is still ATP depletion and some metabolite built up. In order for the muscles to fire up again we need to restore the chemical balance that allows for actin-myosin crossbridge creation (we covered this here) and that takes time. The length of time required is a function of 'fitness' but fitness in this context is a function of the capacity of the heart to pump blood throughout the body and the capacity of the blood vessels to carry it (hence cardiovascular fitness). Bjornsson's 2.06m tall and weighs 180kg. We need about 7 miles of blood vessels per lbs of weight in our body. At 180kg Bjornsson is, I guess, at the very edge of what's possible in terms of being able to adequately supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to his body and still be athletic. We have in total (including the brain) 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the body. If he were to move any faster between exercises that require large expenditure of energy his heart wouldn't find it possible to adequately resupply his body.

                  There are a couple of key takeaways from this: A. Your rest time between exercises is subject to your weight, strength, muscle-to-fat ratio and overall conditioning. The bigger you are the more time you need to recover. B. Rest time required is also dependent on the type of exercise you're performing. Strength exercises, generally, require a lot less recovery time between sets (unless you're built like Bjornsson) while aerobic and anaerobic exercises (like HIIT) require more time depending on cardiovascular fitness, weight and so on.

                  We provide the 2-minute recovery time as a guide because we test each workout and program with a wide variety of audiences. So we say "up to 2-minutes". I hope this helps. (Ask anything further as always).


                    Originally posted by Damer View Post

                    There are three energy pathways: ATP (what's stored in the muscles), anaerobic (processes during which the body metabolizes carbohydrates and blood sugar to create ATP) and anaerobic (the process through which the body uses stored fat to create ATP).
                    One of these is supposed to be aerobic, right?


                      akrotiri yes, I am sorry. Typing too fast on too much caffeine. Corrected now. Thank you!


                        Originally posted by Damer View Post
                        Strength exercises, generally, require a lot less recovery time between sets (unless you're built like Bjornsson) while aerobic and anaerobic exercises (like HIIT) require more time depending on cardiovascular fitness, weight and so on.
                        So how does it align with more rest time for strength training and less for cardio? The rest time for strength exercise doesnt matter?

                        It's probably a stupid question but what's the difference between strength and anaerobic exercise (I think most strength exercise is anaerobic)?


                          No, not a stupid question at all kandy and well, yeah it's right to think that most strength training is anaerobic to begin with (as in we can do it while holding our breath) and then it becomes aerobic (in that it becomes impossible to hold our breath for very long). If we examine it in a little more detail we define aerobic exercise as any exercise that requires oxygen to be delivered to the muscles in order for them to work. Anaerobic as any exercise that doesn't. A 100m sprint, for instance, is anaerobic despite the massive amount of explosive power it releases. A marathon is aerobic. These two perfectly highlight two opposite ends of the spectrum. Strength training that requires maximum load and few repetitions (usually one or two) is anaerobic. But strength training that requires repetitive movements in order to create muscle damage which then will deliver strength gains is essentially aerobic. These are scientific definitions.

                          At a more practical level aerobic is any exercise that places a load on the lungs pushing VO2 Max to the limit and exercising the cardiovascular system. So in that respect strength training is not really aerobic because it will not give you these gains. Your question highlights the impossibility of perfectly isolating 'systems' to train in the body. We are a whole but a whole that is made of systems (in complexity theory they call this a "nested system") each of which is a whole in itself but integrally linked to the whole that is us. So when we train for strength, we place emphasis on strength but we are also training our cardiovascular system and to some extend our aerobic capacity. Or, depending on load and repetitions, our anaerobic capability and our cardiovascular system. Similarly HIIT may train us for endurance and speed but it also helps us build strength.

                          Strictly speaking, for strength training, the rest time required is minimal (usually 60 seconds, maximum 90 seconds) but that depends, per my original comment, on the body's cardiovascular health and efficiency, on how aerobically fit we are, how heavy, how much muscle we have and so on. It is all these factors that make recovery time the best fitness test we can apply as it equalizes differences of sex, age, sport and so on. So, a sprinter, for instance, who can run 100m flat out, come back and 2 minutes later repeat the performance is equally fit to a marathon runner who can run 5km in 20min, come back and 2 min later do it again. While physically they are as different as they can be, from a fitness perspective they are on an equal level because they can both recover so fast.

                          Sometimes, especially in DAREBEE workouts, we set quite some rest time for strength training and we add "Extra Credit" in HIITs for less time. This is by design. By making sure rest time is given during strength training we ensure that different age groups and fitness levels recover from the cardiovascular load strength training places on the body and can focus on the strength training part. Similarly in HIIT we use minimal rest time sometimes to increase the mechanical load muscles are being asked to carry (because they have not had sufficient time to get rid of all metabolites so they function imperfectly) and achieve strength gains as well as better aerobic and cardiovascular health.

                          I hope this has helped clarify it further. It is a complex subject and your questions here have helped open this thread up and it may be of value to others in The Hive as well.


                            whoa....thanks for the posts Damer . Nice explanation!


                              So comprehensive, as always, Damer. Thanks!