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Worth the Time? Why It’s important to schedule for appropriate rest between sets and time your workouts!

September 27, 2021 2 min read

Worth the Time? Why It’s important to schedule for appropriate rest between sets and time your workouts!

When was the last time you set the stopwatch and timed the duration of time your set lasted for? The duration of your rest periods between sets or the time it took for you to recover from your training sessions. Appropriately timed rest and sets can tell us a great deal about our recovery, training status and the intensity of the exercise we are performing.  

When working towards your strength or resistance training goals, the training volume you are completing, force production and recovery between sets are important considerations and the rest between sets. When you rest between sets, this serves the importance of allowing anaerobic energy systems time to recover, allows you to reintroduce the stimulus with good technique. Depending on your training goals, you can shorten the rest period to increase the physical demand on the body. However, if you are looking to develop absolute strength, longer rest periods are crucial for the complete regeneration of Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) for short term energy production.

Regardless, timing your workouts is an effective way to track and standardise the amount of time spent resting between sets. Suppose you are lifting the same weight with good technique for ten repetitions after 5 minutes rest and two weeks later at 3 minutes rest. In that case, that is a progression in itself that inhibits the ability to quantify progression without monitoring. You may be disheartened by the fact you aren’t noticing results. However, if whatever reason, you were in a rush or resting less than normal but failed to monitor this, it can cause reduced motivation. It is similar to an individual consistently checking the scales but failing to recognise the changes in their blood markers or waist circumference with consistent adherence to a physical activity program.

Repetitions performed with each set is a prescriptive parameter that is historically used to determine the duration of the set. However, another potential option you might like to consider is time under tension (TUT). This refers to the amount of time that a muscle or group of muscles is under stress for long periods of time when lifting, generally speaking, longer periods of time (40-60 seconds ) under tension are associated with increased musclehypertrophy! So if your goal of training is to develop muscle, then TUT may be another reason for you to consider timing your sets, not only your rest periods between sets.

Furthermore, it is also worth considering longer-term recovery rather than the acute phases in and between working sets. Optimal adaptations in strength, muscle hypertrophy and performance are achieved with 48-72 hours recovery. This will be influenced by other factors such as individual fitness and training status. A worthwhile consideration when it comes to the periodisation of your training towards specific goals,

If you are struggling to plan your workout or training regime effectively or are worried about whether a particular exercise is suitable for you, reach out to a Professional Exercise Physiologist. They are University Qualified Allied Health Professionals that prescribe exercise to apparently healthy and chronically diseased populations to manage, treat, or prevent chronic disease. They will no doubt be able to help you effectively time and periodise your training!

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