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Short vs Long Rest Periods for Muscle Growth

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When it comes to short vs long rest periods for muscle growth, which is better for you and your goals? Jeremy Ethier explains.

Short vs Long Rest Periods for Muscle Growth

“When it comes to optimizing your workout program, you have to account for every variable – one often overlooked variable is how long to rest between sets. Your rest periods between sets have a major impact on how well you perform during each set of your workout, and as you’ll see plays an important role in hypertrophy and strength.”

“Short rest periods have the advantage of inducing more metabolic stress, which is important since we know it’s one of the main drivers of muscle growth. However, long rest periods have the advantage of enabling you to achieve more total workout volume since you’re better rested for each of your sets.”

mat fraser during 2018 crossfit games final with yoke carry Short vs Long Rest Periods for Muscle GrowthSource: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

“They also lead to better strength gains in the long run. But how long should your rest periods between sets be? Well, it depends on the type of exercise you perform and how heavy you’re lifting. For compound movements like the bench press, squat, deadlift, and overhead press, etc. – at least 3 minutes of rest is ideal.”

Short vs Long Rest Periods for Muscle Growth

“And when performing these movements for very low reps and heavy weight (e.g. 3-5 reps), then resting even longer (4-5 minutes) would be ideal. Whereas for isolation movements and less taxing exercises, rest periods of around 2 minutes would be ideal.”

“Adding in a few sets with very short rest periods towards the end of your workout is also a smart move, since it adds a little more metabolic stress to your workout without negatively impacting your total workout volume.”

“All in all, longer rest periods seem to be the better option for mass and strength gains. But as always, experimentation is key. It’s vital that you try things out for yourself and see what works best for you.”

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