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How Much Rest Between Sets

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Bodybuilding and Fitness Newsletter 7/14/2021

How Long Should You Rest Between Sets to Build Muscle with HIT?

How Much Rest Between Sets

One important aspect of working out that can definitely affect your results but is often overlooked is workout pace, or how fast you move through your routine.

While the topic is a subject of much debate in fitness circles, each particular training protocol does to have a fairly well-defined answer to workout pacing.

So, if you’re following high-intensity training, how long should you rest between sets? The answer can be found in the basics of HIT itself.

HIT Refresher

High-intensity training usually involves performing one set of each exercise to failure, and often the entire body is trained in each session.

Even if you split your training, though, you’re going to move from the largest body parts down to the smaller ones, performing 1-3 exercises per muscle group.

At the maximum, your HIT routine should consist of 10-12 sets.

To Rush or Not to Rush?

Because you won’t be performing more than one set of each exercise with HIT, there is no such thing as between-set rest for a given movement. You do one exercise and then it’s off to the next.

When you only do one exercise for a body part, you don’t need to wait around for it to recover, because it’s done after one set. Even if you do multiple movements for a muscle, you have a little more leeway with your rest periods since different motor patterns will recruit different muscle fibers.

Couple this lack of need for local recovery with the inherent “warming up” that comes with performing big movements first in your workout, and you have the basis for something that the HIT crowd calls the “rush factor.”

The thinking goes that you should be able to move from exercise to exercise within an HIT routine with a minimum of rest in between, usually only as long as it takes you to get to the next “station” or grab the next pair of dumbbells.

Training in this way will get your heart rate flying, and keep it elevated throughout your session, a phenomenon that has led some to claim that HIT is “ more aerobic than aerobics.”

Ah, but can you really have the best of both worlds — big muscle and a healthy heart — by speeding through your HIT workouts?

Bitten by Specificity

If you have a minimum of time to devote to training, then applying the rush factor in all or most of your workouts is a pretty good way to get in shape and stay there, assuming that you have your diet nailed down.

On the other hand, if you are MOST interested in developing your strength and muscle size, then that should be your focus. The human body is incredibly adaptable, but it’s also very specific in how it adapts.

Train for strength and muscle, and that’s what you’ll get, again assuming the rest of your house is in order. Trying to eek out conditioning from your weight training, too, will most likely frustrate your growth efforts.

That’s not to say that you want to plod your way through workouts, though.

For the best muscle-building results, you should rest long enough between sets so that your heart rate and breathing come back down to a conversational level, but not much longer.

Don’t let your body cool down, but don’t lower your lifting poundage for the sake of “rushing” through a workout. In general, a good, well-paced HIT routine covering the whole body should take you about 30 minutes to complete.

If you need to lose fat or want to add cardio, choose an activity that you enjoy and hit that on a different day.

In short, tailor your training to meet your specific goals. In the case of pacing for HIT, that means striking a good balance between lift performance and workout speed, with most rest periods falling around a minute or slightly less.

If you want to learn ALL about the best high-intensity training workouts of all time, checkout this new eBook called "Greatest HITs: The Best High Intensity Workouts" at https://www.muscle-building.com/

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