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Do I need to rest between sets when working out?

Rest periods in between exercises and sets are an important factor to consider when wanting to lose weight. The more time your body has to recuperate the fewer calories will be burned. In order to maximize the calorie burn potential of a workout, the rest periods should be minimal but still within safe levels. A safe level of rest depends on your current level of conditioning. In a beginner-level program, the recommended rest period is between 0-90 seconds. Use as much rest as you need to be able to continue the exercise, but keep in mind that less rest promotes higher calorie burn and weight loss.

Depending upon your goal, you may want to forego the rest between sets as long as you feel you can continue on with the exercise. I usually recommend circuit training for those who are trying to lose weight. Its a great way to keep your heart rate up during your resistance training, and you burn more calories. The circuit would consist of performing an exercise for one muscle group, then moving onto the next muscle group, then the next based upon which muscle groups your are working on a given day. At the end of the circuit, you should take at least a 30 second break to rehydrate prior to repeating the circuit.

However, if your goal is to bulk up, you will need to take a break between sets in order to rebuild your energy stores prior to repeating the exercise for the muscle group you are working. The fancy term for the energy stores is Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). It takes 30 seconds for your body to restore 50% of your ATP and 3 minutes to restore 100% of ATP to your muscles. If you are performing heavy sets or power sets, you will want to give your muscles enough time to recover prior to starting your next set. I have seen some body builders allow up to as much as 5 minutes between sets, but that usually is not necessary.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.