The Importance of Appropriate Rest Periods

Mike Campanella

I don’t think people understand the importance of taking longer rest periods during training sessions.

There. I said it.

Like anything else, rest periods should match the goals of the client (and the goals of the training session itself). But, I cannot stress this enough; the amount of time and rest between exercises has huge implications on training adaptations!

I find, more often than not, that my clients are too eager to jump from one exercise to the next, with minimal recovery in between sets. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially during conditioning intervals, shorter rest periods do hamper the training adaptations of strength and power development, as well as the pursuit of skill acquisition with new or complex movements.

Not needing, or using, the prescribed rest periods during a workout also means that you are not hitting the appropriate intensity during the set or circuit.

Here are three things that happen when you don’t utilize adequate recovery periods during a training session:

1) You won’t restore short-term energy substrates (like creatine-phosphate) in your muscle cells.
2) Your central nervous system won’t recover, leading to a decrease in power output and technical proficiency.
3) Your muscles won’t have a chance to effectively clear metabolites and waste byproducts, produced from muscular contractions, leading to feelings of fatigue and decreased performance.

In other words, always skimping on rest periods increase your chance of injury during training, decrease your performance and power output, decrease the amount of calories burned during a session as your performance and output declines, and also hinders strength gains from weight training sessions.

Don’t get me wrong, short rest-periods can be beneficial for fat loss and hypertrophy, when used properly, but always rushing from exercise to exercise, without allowing your body to adequately recover in between sets, might not be the best strategy for achieving maximal neuromuscular and cardiovascular adaptations.

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