You already know that the weight you raise, as well as the number of sets and repetitions you practice, affect the results of your bodybuilding program. But, one variable that attracts little attention is the rest time between sets. Yet it should be adjusted according to your goals and the exercises you practice.
Movements such as squat and ground lift, for example, work with muscle groups and require a lot of effort and energy. After performing a set of squats to failure with 80-85% of your 1-RM on the bar, your heart beats hard, and your lungs struggle to get oxygen. It sometimes takes several minutes, just to get your breath back.
It is, therefore, sensible to rest enough to regain enough shape and achieve a decent performance in the next set. This can mean taking between 3 and 5 minutes of rest (sometimes longer) between the sets.
On the other hand, when you do your warm-up set, the weight you lift is not heavy enough to create great fatigue. So you do not need as much rest, not even as much as it takes to change the weight on the bar.
In short, the heavier the weight is, the longer the rest between your sets.
However, the topo is a little different when it comes to small muscle groups. During exercises like dumbbell curls or side elevations, you do not need to wait several minutes before making your next set, 60 to 90 seconds are usually sufficient.
In addition, adding weight to the bar and/or increasing the number of repetitions, as well as reducing rest times between sets can improve muscle mass gains. The most important lever for muscle growth is increasing weights over time.
But there is a second effective stimulus for growth, which is generally referred to as “metabolic fatigue”, “metabolic stress” or other variation. This metabolic fatigue is obtained by training so that the muscles appear to be very swollen and on fire. And one of the ways to create this fatigue is to reduce the rest time between sets.
So, for example, you can start 90 seconds off, then the next week, 60 seconds, 45 seconds, and so on. Then, when you increase the weight, you can return to 90 seconds of rest and repeat the process.
In summary, there is no universal recommendation for rest periods that is suitable for all persons and exercises. I think it is good to use different rest periods depending on the configuration of the sets and the repetitions of the exercises you practice.
For example, you can begin your session with heavy loads (4 to 6 repetitions) of squat, and rest 3 to 4 minutes between each set. Then you can switch to Bulgarian squat, with longer sets (8 to 10 repetitions) and shorter rest periods (60 to 90 seconds). Finally, you can end up with leg extension, to achieve muscle burn of your legs, with longer sets (10 to 15 repetitions) and very short rests (30 seconds).