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  1. #1
    Registered User ChiefJ73's Avatar
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    Ideal rest between sets for gaining mass

    I've seen various articles giving a time range between 1-3 minutes. I am just trying to figure out the optimum rest for lifting heavy to gain mass.
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  2. #2
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    this topic is kind of like what flavor ice cream is the best...everyone has an answer and few are the same.

    some research says 60 seconds elicits the best hormonal response for hypertrophy

    Some research say 90-120 second to give oxygen a chance to saturate

    some says 2-3 minutes because you want recovery time

    other stuff says that you should just use your heartrate and lift again when it comes back into the range defined for each type of muscle fiber

    I like to use breathing as an indicator...if it is controlled you're ready. If you are huffing it means your muscles need O2 and you should let them catch up. For me this just kind of goes with the human response to stress and one that is easy to gauge on myself and clients. (you also have to look at what the goal is with the lifting. I may keep HR up if that's the goal)
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  3. #3
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    This topic has been covered a number of times before. My own vote is for resting until you feel recovered enough to go again. In my case for heavy bench thats about 5 min sometimes even 7min. Same with heavy squat. Most other exercises I find 2 to 3 min OK.

    Are you training for power and strength or for endurance, if the fomer don't worry about limiting your rest period.

    Personally I don't think it hurts to train for both. So if you're training for endurance by all means keep you rest to 60 sec or whatever, but when you are training for maximum power then rest until you don't think further rest will increase the weight you push in the next set. No need to let lactic acid build up limit what you are lifting (unless you are training for endurance).
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  4. #4
    I'll Mod Til I'm Dead ironwill2008's Avatar
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    When your breathing returns to near-normal, hit the next set. Don't allow CV to dictate the muscles' capacity to lift as much weight as possible.

    I'd suggest you simply disregard the clock unless you begin to find yourself taking more and more rest time.
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  5. #5
    Registered User JerryB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ironwill2008 View Post
    When your breathing returns to near-normal, hit the next set. Don't allow CV to dictate the muscles' capacity to lift as much weight as possible.

    I'd suggest you simply disregard the clock unless you begin to find yourself taking more and more rest time.
    This is the method I also follow. I let my breathing return to near-normal. That means I have recovered a large percentage of my oxygen debt.

    If I do watch the clock, it’s only to see how long it takes to return to near-normal breathing.

    The following is an explanation of oxygen debt if the term is new to you:

    Oxygen Debt & Deficit

    These terms refer to a lack of oxygen while training/racing and after such activity is over. To go into these areas of exercise are normal, but the goal is to not go too far into either category. Below is a brief description of each and a chart with will detail the process more clearly than we can explain with words alone.

    Oxygen Deficit. While exercising intensely the body is sometimes unable to fulfill all of its energy needs. Specifically, it is unable to intake and absorbs enough oxygen to adequately 'feed' the muscles the amounts of energy needed to adequately perform the tasks the athlete is requesting from the body. In order to make up the difference without sacrificing the output, the body must tap into its anaerobic metabolism. This where the body goes into a mix of aerobic and anaerobic energy production. While not hugely detrimental, oxygen deficits can grow to a level that the anaerobic energy system cannot cover. This can cause performance to deteriorate.
    Oxygen Debt. This term describes how the body pays back its debt incurred above after the exercise is over. You will notice that even after you are done racing you will continue to breathe hard. At this point your body is still trying to repay the oxygen debt that was created when you were working hard. Technically, it is excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption. That's it.
    Check out the illustration below for a graphical description of these terms.



    Source: http://www.gugly.com/Archmultioxydebt.htm
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  6. #6
    NAS Strongman bigtallox's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ChiefJ73 View Post
    I've seen various articles giving a time range between 1-3 minutes. I am just trying to figure out the optimum rest for lifting heavy to gain mass.
    2:42 is optimal.


    The rediculousness of my answer should indicated that the question really isn't worth asking IMHO, there is no *one* time that's optimal, even for one given person the "optimal" time will vary, that's why you just need to learn to listen to your body.
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  7. #7
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    Originally Posted by ChiefJ73 View Post
    I've seen various articles giving a time range between 1-3 minutes. I am just trying to figure out the optimum rest for lifting heavy to gain mass.
    For me it is the minimum amount of time it takes to achieve my targets for the set, which means it varies by day, body part, whether or not it's a high rep set, or a max, or somewhere in between. How do I know how much time that is? Experience. I can just tell when I'm sufficiently recovered and it's rarely ever exactly the same time.
    2 + 2 = 5 (for extremely large values of 2)

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  8. #8
    Registered User JOHN GARGANI's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ironwill2008 View Post
    When your breathing returns to near-normal, hit the next set. Don't allow CV to dictate the muscles' capacity to lift as much weight as possible.

    I'd suggest you simply disregard the clock unless you begin to find yourself taking more and more rest time.

    if you regard this^^^^^ answer as about the best, and I do, then when you read something like this:


    Originally Posted by REALITY CHECK
    My own vote is for resting until you feel recovered enough to go again. In my case for heavy bench thats about 5 min sometimes even 7min. Same with heavy squat. Most other exercises I find 2 to 3 min OK.

    I have to say: REALITY, buddy: if you need 5 to 7 minutes after a heavy bench press, then something is wrong amigo....

    with the exception of squats, and maybe, some supersets, it normally takes my breathing about 30-40 seconds to return to complete normal....

    even 2-3 minutes for upper body exercises, to me, is an inordinate amount of time for your breathing to return to normal....

    when I bench, I superset it immediately with a LAT cable movement of some type and it still only takes me under a minute to do the next superset....so, you have to take a closer look at this 5 -7 minute thing of yours...
    Lift as MUCH as you can, for as MANY reps as you can,
    while in complete control of the exercise.
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  9. #9
    Kettlebear Marius_Ursus's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bigtallox View Post
    2:42 is optimal.


    The rediculousness of my answer should indicated that the question really isn't worth asking IMHO, there is no *one* time that's optimal, even for one given person the "optimal" time will vary, that's why you just need to learn to listen to your body.
    I'm going with this, ratcheer. Sometimes my CNS recovers faster than a set time or a physiological response (breathing or pulse), and that's something I can't control to much extent. Whenever I feel like I'm ready to hit it again, that's when I go.
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  10. #10
    Potentate DaddyR's Avatar
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    A recent article on MD's web site suggested 3 minutes but included a reference to a study stating that it takes an average of 4 minutes for muscle phosphocreatine levels to return to normal after a heavy set. I think the basic advice to do what feels right to you is probably best. I find I need longer rest between sets for larger muscles like quads and lats than for smaller muscles like delts. Likewise longer rests needed for exercises like squats and deads that stimulate multiple muscle groups heavily. At least for me that is true.
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  11. #11
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    Above and beyond the after you have caught your breath ...I will add when you are mentallyfocused for the next set. As mentioned times are different for all. But for me rest time varies greatly on each set as well
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    I have to be a slave to the clock. If I don't, I find myself taking longer and longer breaks in an effort to push more weight. I have to keep everything else constant. That way, the only variable in the equation is the weight, and I can truly quantify progress.

    60 seconds for me.
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  13. #13
    198 or bust Getsum's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ChiefJ73 View Post
    I've seen various articles giving a time range between 1-3 minutes. I am just trying to figure out the optimum rest for lifting heavy to gain mass.
    I tend to wait between 1-3 minutes myself. I have no idea if it's optimum. I tend to take longer breaks when I workout at home and shorter breaks when I'm at the gym.
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    Why limit yourself to just one way? My guess is to train in a variety is best. Just like mixing up the number of reps and sets every so often, why not mix it up as a way to vary intensity?
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    Originally Posted by JOHN GARGANI View Post
    I have to say: REALITY, buddy: if you need 5 to 7 minutes after a heavy bench press, then something is wrong amigo....
    ....so, you have to take a closer look at this 5 -7 minute thing of yours...
    No need to look at anything, just a different philosophy. Could I go again before 5 min if I really had to? Sure probably after 3 (in fact I could go again after 30sec and rep a few more out), but I wouldn't be hitting my max reps on my next set. I prefer to err on the side of resting too long rather than too short.

    John can you bench 225 lb for 14 reps (free weight flat bench not a machine)? If you can more power to you, but I find when I do that I need a good 5 min rest to feel recovered (not breathing that recovers after about a 30sec- in fact I don't get out of breath benching in the first place).

    I am suspicious that people who don't believe in resting 5 min between heavy sets aren't lifting heavy enough to know what lifting heavy means.
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  16. #16
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    Originally Posted by Reality_Check View Post
    I am suspicious that people who don't believe in resting 5 min between heavy sets aren't lifting heavy enough to know what lifting heavy means.
    oh holy moly...hope you are ready for the sh*tstorm that is likely to come your way for that one
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  17. #17
    Registered User Reality_Check's Avatar
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    Another way to put this. My standard bench press workout goes

    8 x 135 (lb), 14 x 225, 8 x 225, 7 x 225, 6 x 225

    and I rest 5 min (7 if I feel like it) between each set. You're saying you can do that too, except in your case you rest a mere 2 to 3 min?

    There are people who can do the above and rest only 2 min between sets (that would include myself 14 years ago) but in such cases the above would not be taxing them and doing the weight that does tax them would require the longer rest. For example 14 years ago I was benching 4 sets of 5 times 315 and yes I needed 5 min rest then too, no way I would be doing that and resting only 2 to 3 min. At 43 I can't bench the volume I used to but the weight that does tax me to the limit does require 5 min rest. Like I said I don't think people are lifting seriously heavy (bench or squats) if they can rest only 2 min and be fully recovered.
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  18. #18
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    Originally Posted by cmbg View Post
    oh holy moly...hope you are ready for the sh*tstorm that is likely to come your way for that one
    Not really...I plan on making a quick exit before that happens Its the truth though.
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    Registered User Reality_Check's Avatar
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    Not wanting to overstate a point but if you think that the only reason to rest after a set is to get your breath back...you ain't been lifting heavy.

    I'll tell you what though if I don't get anyone backing me up on the 5 min rest bit I'll leave the forum...because it would be a sign that no serious lifters were left (they were here once).
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    Originally Posted by JOHN GARGANI View Post
    if you regard this^^^^^ answer as about the best, and I do, then when you read something like this:

    I have to say: REALITY, buddy: if you need 5 to 7 minutes after a heavy bench press, then something is wrong amigo....

    with the exception of squats, and maybe, some supersets, it normally takes my breathing about 30-40 seconds to return to complete normal....

    even 2-3 minutes for upper body exercises, to me, is an inordinate amount of time for your breathing to return to normal....

    when I bench, I superset it immediately with a LAT cable movement of some type and it still only takes me under a minute to do the next superset....so, you have to take a closer look at this 5 -7 minute thing of yours...
    In regards to this I have to disagree with you. When lifting for strength, I think it is extremely effective to take long rest periods IF that is what you need to recover for the next set. I am sure you heard of Mixelflick, an extremely educated bodybuilder with impressive stats and the author of the Blueprint. He advised me once and gave me some insight into his program, so without giving away too much of what he said, here is a quick quote on his belief of rest duration when trying to improve one's bench:

    "I find a one on, one off frequency pattern do-able and probably the most
    aggressive. Perfectly acceptable to go to a one on, two off or one on, three off if
    you need to. I like to rest anywhere from 5-10 minutes in between sets but the
    goal should be to rest long enough to recover your strength between sets.

    Sincerely hope that helps you."

    Obviously it works for him and I have found that it works for me. Not saying you are wrong, just demonstrating how longer rest periods can help one achieve strength gains.
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    Originally Posted by Reality_Check View Post
    Not wanting to overstate a point but if you think that the only reason to rest after a set is to get your breath back...you ain't been lifting heavy.

    I'll tell you what though if I don't get anyone backing me up on the 5 min rest bit I'll leave the forum...because it would be a sign that no serious lifters were left (they were here once).
    ^^

    Just backed ya a few seconds ago haha
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  22. #22
    Master Yourself First NYkarate's Avatar
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    Long rests like that is real old school stuff. I still think it is best to mix things up and train your muscles in many diffeent ways.
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    Originally Posted by NYkarate View Post
    Long rests like that is real old school stuff. I still think it is best to mix things up and train your muscles in many diffeent ways.
    Totally agree with you. Depending on the day, the bodypart, what I am trying to achieve, etc. I constantly switch it up. I love shocking my body and keeping it guessing. Just wanted to show how long rests CAN be effective, especially when aiming for strength increase.
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    Originally Posted by Reality_Check View Post
    Not really...I plan on making a quick exit before that happens Its the truth though.
    No it's your opinion, that makes it "the truth" only to you. In my training a five minute rest between sets would not work. But thats just me.
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    Originally Posted by Reality_Check View Post
    Another way to put this. My standard bench press workout goes

    8 x 135 (lb), 14 x 225, 8 x 225, 7 x 225, 6 x 225

    and I rest 5 min (7 if I feel like it) between each set. You're saying you can do that too, except in your case you rest a mere 2 to 3 min?

    There are people who can do the above and rest only 2 min between sets (that would include myself 14 years ago) but in such cases the above would not be taxing them and doing the weight that does tax them would require the longer rest. For example 14 years ago I was benching 4 sets of 5 times 315 and yes I needed 5 min rest then too, no way I would be doing that and resting only 2 to 3 min. At 43 I can't bench the volume I used to but the weight that does tax me to the limit does require 5 min rest. Like I said I don't think people are lifting seriously heavy (bench or squats) if they can rest only 2 min and be fully recovered.
    Throw some max singles up. Then talk to me about heavy benching.
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    Originally Posted by Reality_Check View Post
    Another way to put this. My standard bench press workout goes

    8 x 135 (lb), 14 x 225, 8 x 225, 7 x 225, 6 x 225

    and I rest 5 min (7 if I feel like it) between each set. You're saying you can do that too, except in your case you rest a mere 2 to 3 min?

    There are people who can do the above and rest only 2 min between sets (that would include myself 14 years ago) but in such cases the above would not be taxing them and doing the weight that does tax them would require the longer rest. For example 14 years ago I was benching 4 sets of 5 times 315 and yes I needed 5 min rest then too, no way I would be doing that and resting only 2 to 3 min. At 43 I can't bench the volume I used to but the weight that does tax me to the limit does require 5 min rest. Like I said I don't think people are lifting seriously heavy (bench or squats) if they can rest only 2 min and be fully recovered.
    Are you really 313 lbs?
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    Originally Posted by ChiefJ73 View Post
    I've seen various articles giving a time range between 1-3 minutes. I am just trying to figure out the optimum rest for lifting heavy to gain mass.
    Many roads that lead to success in this area. Consider though, the following:

    There is one, fundamental law of hypertrophy and it is this; overload is required to stimulate an adaptive response from the body, leading to larger/stronger muscles. You want myofibrillar hypertrophy (the growth of real, new contractile muscle proteins) vs. sacroplasmic hypertrophy.

    Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the growth of the sarcoplasm (fluid like material, largely H20) and non-contractile proteins resulting in little to NO muscular strength manifesting. In other words, these are the phonies playing the "NO2" inflate/defalate game...

    How best then, to accomplish this? Charles Staley's EDT and related training protocols are excellent investments, in your ongoing lifting education. Solid grounding in the fundamentals of progressive overload, intensity, volume, frequency and time/density management.

    One last thing... I'm going to PM you a little gift from The Blueprint to assist in this effort.

    No strings attached...
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    My post reflects only my opinion and is in no way considered required practice - in whole or in part. Specific medical advice should be obtained from a licensed health care practitioner PRIOR to beginning ANY new diet, exercise, supplementation or training program.
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  28. #28
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    So much is dictated by the CNS. Everyone tens to overlook this factor in so many other functions also. It needs to recover just like the muscles but even moreso. Resting is dictated by the way your body feels between sets. It takes a long time to get this concept. Take benching for instance.. You just completed a heavy set and now you're resting. You want to attack the next set when all systems are ready, mind, muscles and nerves. It may be 30 seconds it may be 3 minutes. The bigger the lift the more resting time has been my experience over the years.
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    Originally Posted by Mixelflick View Post
    Many roads that lead to success in this area. Consider though, the following:

    There is one, fundamental law of hypertrophy and it is this; overload is required to stimulate an adaptive response from the body, leading to larger/stronger muscles. You want myofibrillar hypertrophy (the growth of real, new contractile muscle proteins) vs. sacroplasmic hypertrophy.

    Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the growth of the sarcoplasm (fluid like material, largely H20) and non-contractile proteins resulting in little to NO muscular strength manifesting. In other words, these are the phonies playing the "NO2" inflate/defalate game...

    How best then, to accomplish this? Charles Staley's EDT and related training protocols are excellent investments, in your ongoing lifting education. Solid grounding in the fundamentals of progressive overload, intensity, volume, frequency and time/density management.

    One last thing... I'm going to PM you a little gift from The Blueprint to assist in this effort.

    No strings attached...
    I have been alternating my work outs for years between a heavy poundage week and a moderate poundage week to emphasize myofibrillar hypertrophy for the former and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy for the latter. The rep ranges are higher for the moderate week. The rest intervals between sets are determined the same way for both work outs… how long it takes to return to near normal breathing.
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