Intensity is King when determining how effective your training session will be. Next to that would be exercise selection, followed closely by the execution of your reps followed by the pace of your workout. That right there is the formula for a productive training experience. Most people have the two middle components down but falter with the first and I believe it is because they fail to pay attention to the pace of their workouts which has a direct impact on intensity. The time you put yourself under tension does play a part in how long your workout will take but it's your rest times that really dictate the length of your workouts and subsequently, the level of intensity for which you are able to maintain. So how do you determine how long to rest in between sets and what to do in that time so that you are productive the entire time you're in the gym? Read on to find out.
What Type of Trainer are You?
There is a lot of information out there pertaining to how much rest an individual needs in between sets and much of it has to do with the type of trainer you are. If you're a strength athlete and setting PR's or working towards setting PR's is a priority at each training session, then conventional wisdom says that you need a fairly decent amount of time in between sets to recover strength and power levels so that you have all the energy you need to employ as much strength as possible. If you're an endurance athlete, then you're focusing on being able to move at a heightened pace for extended periods of time which means the length of your rest times will be quite short by comparison. If you're a bodybuilder, you probably should be somewhere in the middle of the two just mentioned because you don't want to lose your pump, but you want to be able to move a good amount of weight to overload muscles for new growth. So if I had to put numbers on it, for strength athletes I would say 3-5 minute rest times in between sets, for an endurance athlete, 30 seconds to a minute and for bodybuilders I would say a minute and a half to two minutes max for working sets. By following these guidelines your physical output should line up with your mental approach so that you can keep those intensity levels roaring sky high.
Where is Your Focus?
Unbridled focus is what you need to maintain intensity. There should be no limit as to how zoned in you can get when in the midst of a workout. So once you have determined the length of your rest times in between sets, the next thing you have to establish for yourself is what you're going to do during that period of rest to maintain your laser-like focus. Are you going to make eye contact with everyone around you inviting others to spark up a conversation? Are you going to watch the televisions that are mounted on the wall in front of the cardio equipment? Are you going to walk over to the water fountain to get a drink? Or are you going to prepare for battle by tightening the laces on your Tactical Trainers, pulling the hat brim down low, loading up the bar for the next set and then sit or stand there eyes to the floor, music blasting through your head phones while building a quiet yet highly volatile form of aggression which is about to explode while showing no signs of distraction and just pure unadulterated rage for what is about to happen next? If you answered yes to that question, you are good to go my friend.
Rest times embedded within a training session are just as important as anything else you formulate for your workout. You most likely don't go into the gym and just wing it with respect to what you're going to do for that session so why do that with your rest times? Just like you took the time to put together a great workout for yourself, put together a solid strategy for your rest periods as well. It will pay off with dividends, I guarantee it. It's all about productivity and progress so make sure you're doing everything you can to ensure this happens each and every day.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.