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Why You Should NOT Track Your Rest Time Between Sets

Seriously… it’s useless for the majority.

Find out why you should not track your rest time between sets.

If you have been to the gym long enough, you have heard about rest periods between sets. Resting is important so that you get enough strength to perform the next set. Resting too little and you will probably not be able to do the necessary reps with proper technique, and rest too long and you are just wasting your time, correct? So, in that regard, you would think that having a stop watch to know when to stop resting is the best for you.

Well, according to Mike Israetel, you shouldn’t track your rest periods.

Dr Mike Israetel, PhD in Sport Physiology and co-founder of Renaissance Periodization, is a well-respected professor in the bodybuilding community. He doesn’t only talk about workouts and fitness tips, he often dives deep into health and nutrition.

See more details below of why you should not track your rest time between sets.

Why You Should NOT Track Your Rest Time Between Sets

According to Israetel, there are only 2 upsides of tracking your rest time between sets.

  1. It can help you restrain yourself from doing other things like flipping through the phone or talking to someone else
  2. It can help with some intentional rests, like a 30-second rest on a giant set every once in a while
athlete looks at wrist watch with optical heart rate monitorSource: dusan jovic on Unsplash

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However, why you should not track your rest time between sets have many more downsides, as Israetel explains. The following points highlight his insights:

  1. Unproductive Focus on Time: Utilizing a rest timer can inadvertently shift the focus from the critical indicators of readiness to a mere number on the clock. Dr. Mike underscores the importance of the Four-Factor Rest Model, which comprises breathing, neural strength, synergist recovery, and target muscle readiness.
  2. Ineffectual Data Collection: Tracking and analyzing rest times for their own sake can lead to an overload of unnecessary data. The act of measuring, recording, and storing this data consumes valuable cognitive bandwidth, which could be better utilized for more meaningful tasks.
  3. Variable Requirements: Different sets of the same exercise and various exercises for the same muscle group often demand varying rest intervals. A uniform rest time between sets fails to account for these differences, potentially compromising the quality of the workout.
  4. Redundancy with Four-Factor Rest Model: The need for a rest timer diminishes when applying the Four-Factor Rest Model. This model stipulates that readiness for the next set is determined by factors such as cardio recovery, neural strength, synergist recuperation, and the target muscle’s capacity for additional work.
  5. Individualized Timing: Rest times should be personalized based on individual responses, the nature of the exercises, and the muscle groups involved. Adhering rigidly to preset times fails to account for these nuances and may impede optimal performance.
  6. Outcome-Oriented Approach: Rather than relying on a set rest time, an approach focused on achieving the best possible results should be adopted. This means listening to the body and gauging readiness based on the Four-Factor Rest Model.

Dr. Mike’s perspective underscores the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to rest intervals between sets. He encourages practitioners to rely on their body’s signals and utilize a more holistic readiness assessment rather than becoming fixated on a specific time duration. Ultimately, the effectiveness of a workout hinges on factors beyond a clock’s ticking.

Watch the video below for a full explanation from Israetel himself on why you should not track rest time between sets.

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How Many Times a Week Should You Work Out?

So, how many times a week should you work out? As expected the answer is not simply a straight-up number. That is because people are looking for different outcomes when working out and that, alone, can already differ the answer for one person and the other.

The more you train, the more your muscle grows. That is true, to a certain extent. However, there is something called junk volume training in which once you hit a certain point, the more you lift the worse it gets for hypertrophy.

So, in the end, it is all about training volume. If you have time to train 5, 6, or even 7 days a week, you can split your workout into specific muscle groups – chest and back one day, leg another day, and shoulder, arm and abs the next day, take a day off, and repeat. If you can only train three times a week, with a day of rest in between each of them, then train your entire body during every session.

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How Many Times a Week Should You Work Out

However, if you can only train once a week, you will still get some results, but they will be far inferior compared to people who train three times per week according to different studies.

In one particular study, participants performed the exact same amount of training. One group did the entire thing in one giant session, while the other group performed the movements divided into three days – the latter group saw an increase in lean body mass by 8% while the 1x a week group gained 1% of lean body mass.

If you go to the gym three times a week, but each day you train only one different specific muscle group, you are actually training each muscle group only once a week, which is less than optimal for muscle growth.

Working out more often, between 4 and 7 times a week, can provide additional benefits in terms of recovery if structured correctly. You can go to the gym every day, as long as you leave 48-72 hours of rest to recover from your last workout. This is where the bro split mentality comes from, where you can focus a training session entirely on one muscle and hit the gym the next day because you are training a different part of your body that is well-rested.

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You can also try out different ways to divide your workout. It can be an upper-lower body training routine, bro split, or full-body workout. It depends on how much time you have available, just make sure you are hitting the same muscle group more than once a week to get results faster.

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So, how many times a week should you work out? At least 3, if you want to see faster results. Depends on how much time you have and, from there, you can choose what kind of workout routine best works for you.

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