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Theresa Giarratano is a retired US Army NCO studying Middle Eastern affairs with special emphasis on global terrorism. Her current status is assisting the Kurdish people by disseminating information regarding the fight against ISIS via social media platforms.
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Now that you’ve made a commitment to be fit and find yourself in the gym on a regular basis, you find yourself becoming fatigued in the middle of your workout, especially between weightlifting sets. Giving your body time to recover between sets ensures you’re getting a good quality workout out instead of one that just completely wipes you out and leaves you fatigued.
I’ve asked my personal trainer, Sean Smith
, to give his expert opinion on the reasons why a rest period is crucial between sets:
“Proper rest intervals during a workout can be the difference between efficient kinetic chain interaction and improper form resulting in altered movements, and possibly injury. There are many factors that come into play when it comes to rest periods: experience level, intensity, training goals, and status of essential recovery like nutrition and sleep. During rest between exercises and sets of exercises the body tries to recuperate by restoring adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and phosphocreatine (PC) supplies that were utilized during activity. Depending on intensity—and other factors—30-60 seconds of rest could replenish ATP and PC levels to 50-90% and 3 minutes approximately 100% (NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training). Someone more experienced with exercise will utilize the fatigue of lower rest intervals to train for specific adaptions to strength endurance, however, they would not push themselves to the point of compensations in form and bad habit. A heavy max lifter and even those looking for hypertrophy will utilize longer rest periods up to 5 minutes to ensure full recovery and increase potential for force production with heavier weights. For those looking for general fitness I always suggest adequate rest times between sets/rounds to ensure proper technique and increase efforts through the workout.
In a nutshell, resting between sets allows your muscles to ‘recharge’ – not giving your muscles an adequate time to rest in between sets can hamper progress and possibly lead to an injury.
Ultimately, a workout should be about quality and that quality starts with knowing how your body reacts and behaves when it’s working and/or resting. Basic human physiology can be easily researched on the internet or if you prefer, hire a knowledgeable, certified personal trainer who will explain/educate you on how the body reacts to exercise. Additionally, the information here covers only the basics and is not meant to be construed as something “tailor-made” for individuals; more experienced athletes/fitness enthusiasts will use their own set of recovery/rest guidelines in their respective training regimens.
* The information provided here by the author or Sean Smith is not a substitute for direct, personal, professional medical care and diagnosis. Before starting any exercise plan, be sure to consult your primary care provider first. The information in this article is for information purposes only*