Rest periods

by Adam Gethin


There are many variables to a training programme you can utilise to have a dramatic effect on your results – one of the best and easiest ways to do this is to focus on rest taken between sets. Sure changing rest periods between sets is nothing new but I wanted to go into a little more depth than usual as to why you should do it and outline some benefits you may not necessarily know of.

Again this is something that I really believe in both from experience and research.

IGF Levels

IGF is one of the most anabolic hormones within the body, of that there is little doubt! Insulin-like growth factors are something which certainly help with muscle growth therefore training in a way which will naturally stimulate the production and secretion of IGF is going to interest many of you.

Studies show that by using 120 second rest periods between sets allows for maximal IGF production during training. Personally I think the fact that you are resting for 2 minutes means you will be lifting pretty HEAVY with a repetition range of 10-12, which in my opinion is why IGF levels become spiked.


Simply by choosing a different rest period you are able to completely change the type of hypertrophy (to a degree) you stimulate. If for example you rested for 30 seconds through the entire workout between sets you are going to predominately stimulate sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. If on the other hand you’re training hard and heavy with 2 minute rest intervals then the chances are you are going to achieve more myofibrillar hypertrophy.

Knowing this is great because in an ideal world for ultimate body composition results achieving a mixture of both hypertrophies is the main goal.

Fat Metabolisation

Changing the rest periods between sets can have a massive impact on body fat utilisation both during and after your workout. We know high intensity training causes a great post-workout oxygen debt leading to a huge calorie expenditure post-training. With that said does it matter if the rest periods are short or not?

In my opinion the best thing to do with rest periods for fat metabolisation is to always change them! Week 1 I would use 30 seconds, week 2 60 seconds and week 3 120 seconds – not necessarily in that order.

If rapid body composition changes are your goal then understanding how changing your rest periods between sets can impact your physique is very important. Like I said above, for the best results the secret is to rotate rest periods in my opinion – this always seems to deliver the best results from experience with clients.

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