Rest Periods In Bodybuilding Explained Simply

Rest Periods In Bodybuilding – All You Need To Know

In this post, we’ll unpack all you need to know about rest periods in the context of bodybuilding, defining exactly what they are, the science behind them, the different types, how to optimise them and more.

What Are Rest Periods?

Rest periods (RP), also known as rest intervals, refer to the time spent resting between workout sets in order to allow one’s muscles to recover.

The Science

Muscles are fuelled by three energy systems: the phosphagen system, the anaerobic system and the aerobic system.

The phosphagen system is activated during high-intensity exercise and provides energy for up-to 30 seconds. The anaerobic system system is activated during moderate-intensity exercise and provides energy for between 30-180 seconds. The aerobic system is activated during low-intensity exercise and provides energy for over 180 seconds.

Types Of Rest Periods

Rest intervals can be broken down into three primary categories:

  • Short: 0-1 Minute
  • Moderate: 1-2 Minutes
  • Long: 2-5 Minutes

How Long Should Rest Periods Be?

Rest intervals are an integral element to the success of any bodybuilding training program. The amount of rest you should allow between sets depends primarily on what your goal is. Studies suggest that:

  • If your goal is endurance then you should focus on optimising for shorter periods of 0-1 minute.
  • If your goal is hypertrophy then you should focus on optimising for moderate periods of 1-2 minutes.
  • If your goal is strength then you should focus on optimising for longer periods of 2-5 minutes.


Rest periods refer to the time that is allocated for muscles to recover in between workout sets. Optimising them is key to optimising one’s fitness goals.

Endurance can be maximised with shorter rest intervals between 0-1 minute. Hypertrophy can be optimised with moderate rest intervals between 1-2 minutes. Strength can be maximized with longer rest intervals between 2–5 minutes in duration.

Join My Free Newsletter…