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How Long Should I Rest Between Workouts? Find Out Here

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Ira Sagad · Updated Dec 30, 2022

    How Long Should I Rest Between Workouts? Find Out Here

    Rest is one of the most important parts of any physical activity. In any training program, rest is necessary to prevent exercise-induced muscle fatigue. Many people would think that rest is counterproductive to their training, but that is not true. The purpose of resting is to let your muscles repair themselves and allow your body to recover after being exposed to the physical stress of exercising. You may wonder, how long should I rest between workouts? Read on to find out.

    What is a rest period?

    A “rest period” is the amount of time spent for recovering in between sets or workouts. The length of your rest period depends on many factors, such as your fitness level and training goals. Rest periods can be active or passive.

    Active rest

    Active rest involves doing any light activity such as jogging in place or jumping jacks.

    Passive rest

    Passive rest is where you just sit or stand still while trying to stabilize your breathing.

    How long should I rest between workouts?

    People who have just started to work out may ask, “How long should I rest between workouts?” In general advanced athletes require shorter rest periods than people who have just begun training.

    The National Strength and Conditioning Association, in their book Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, recommends different rest periods depending on one’s training programs and fitness goals.

    For muscle-building, it is recommended to take 30 to 90-second rest intervals in between sets. A 2 to 5-minute rest interval is suggested for strength and power exercises. For endurance, the best rest interval is 30 seconds or less.

    How long should I rest between workouts: Taking longer rest periods

    There are also studies that suggest longer rest periods are better than shorter ones. A 2011 study on kinesiology found that a rest period of 3 minutes resulted in being able to perform more exercise compared to a rest period of 2 minutes. The participants in the study did 3 sets of 4 common leg exercises using both a 2-minute and a 3-minute rest period during different days. The participants were able to do more sets and reps when allowed to rest for 3 minutes.

    Another study found that a 2-minute rest period resulted in a more constant power output across sets compared to a 1-minute rest period. In the study, the participants were asked to do 6 sets of 6 reps of squats with 1, 2, and 3-minute rest periods between sets. The power output decreased as the workout progressed, as expected. But the average decrease in power output was found to be lower with a 2-minute rather than a 1-minute rest period.

    Generally, you know that you have rested well enough when you feel that your muscles have recovered from soreness. Any physical activity results in mild muscle soreness, so you must wait before this soreness is gone or has improved before beginning your next set or rep.

    You can use a wristwatch or your phone’s timer to time your rest periods. There are also several phone apps that allow you to create custom work and rest periods so you can better tailor-fit your workout according to your needs.

    What else can I do to improve my workout?

    Now that you have an idea of what you can do when you ask “how long should I rest between workouts,” here are some additional tips to keep in mind about rest and recovery:

    Stay hydrated. Hydration is one of the most essential parts of training. It allows your body to work more efficiently by regulating your body temperature and lubricating your joints. This is so that your body is subjected to less physical stress. Not hydrating yourself before, during, and after workout can cause muscle cramps, dizziness, and easy fatigability.

    Eat right. Eating right does not mean eating more. Eat a well-balanced diet before and after workouts to ensure that your body receives the right kinds of nutrition to fuel your body during training. Try to incorporate a lot of protein and carbohydrates into your meals. Carbs give you energy, while proteins enable your muscles to rebuild themselves.

    Sleep properly. Sleeping is a vital part of one’s overall sense of well-being. Sleep allows you to recover and restore your energy after the mental and physical demands of training. It also improves physical performance and cognitive function, both of which are essential in any activity.

    Key takeaway

    In training, rest is just as important as the activity itself. Allowing your body to rest will enable it to function more efficiently, making you a better athlete in the long run.

    Key takeaways

    Learn more about Fitness Motivation here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Ira Sagad · Updated Dec 30, 2022

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