How Long to Rest Between Sets for Building Muscle or Losing Fat

One key factor that is often overlooked in weight training is how long you should rest between each set. Well the answer depends on what your goal is, building muscle and burning calories require two completely different approaches.

Taking the right amount of time resting between sets though can make all the difference to your workout results.

Burning Calories and Losing Weight

If your training goal is to burn as much fat as you can you need to rest for a short time between each set. Now generally people who are trying to lose weight perform mostly cardio exercises like running or cycling but you can burn calories with weight training too. You can also strengthen and tone up while your at it.

Studies have shown that resting for only 30 seconds can increase total calories burned during a workout by 50% compared to when subjects took 3 minute breaks. That’s a truly massive difference so if weight loss is your goal, aim to rest for around half a minute between sets if you feel able to.

Building Muscle and Increasing Strength

If like most people who do weight training, your trying to build large amounts of muscle and become significantly stronger you need to take your time. In one University study which compared muscle gains over a 10 week period, the amount of time you rest between sets was again shown to be a huge factor.

While the subjects were taking 2.5 minute rests between sets their gains in arm size were double that of when they only took one minute rests. Just think how those extra gains would add up over the months and years, this evidence shows rest time between sets can really make all the difference.

Although the study only used 1 minute breaks compared to 2.5 minutes it may also be worth trying slightly more than that like 3 minutes, especially for particularly demanding movements which use a number of muscle groups.

Like with anything in body building and fitness, you should experiment to see which gives you the best results.