Is one minut of rest between sets enough? New research

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Many strength athletes are taught that for optimal muscle growth you should wait one minute between sets. But what does the latest research say about this?


That research concerns a meta-analysis of 9 studies, which is relatively small. The outcome: to maximize muscle growth, it is best to rest a minute and a half between sets. Resting shorter is not optimal; it is unclear whether resting longer will do anything.

We can make some comments about this study:

  • The outcome suggests that when resting less than one minute between sets, additional sets are likely to be needed to maximize the hypertrophic response;
  • The analysis also shows that the lower body may respond more favorably to longer rest intervals (i.e. > 2 minutes) than the upper body. That is why it is better to use rest periods of around 2 minutes for lower body training;
  • Practice shows that a minute and a half of rest during (heavy) compound exercises is usually not sufficient. For example, for bench pressing you use 2 minutes, for squats and deadlifts even more than 3 minutes. See also our central article on rest times;
  • The training intensity also plays a role in determining rest times. If you train completely to muscle failure, then one and a half minutes may be too little;
  • The optimal rest time is something that varies per exercise and set, and what you should actually feel instead of using the stopwatch;
  • If you have enough time to train, you can safely take longer rest breaks. This way you can be sure that you can achieve optimal sets.


Because it is not easy for everyone to get the right amount of rest, we give you the following guidelines:

  • isolation exercises: 1.5 minutes rest for upper body (e.g. biceps curls), 2 minutes for lower body (e.g. leg extensions);
  • most compound exercises: 2-3 minutes rest;
  • barbell squats and barbell deadlifts: 2-5 minutes rest.

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