Shorter rest periods can reduce training volume and result in a lower muscle stimulus compared to longer rest periods. Shorter rest periods can result in more muscle damage than longer rest periods.



  • ·      Shorter rest periods between sets can reduce training volume and result in a lower muscle stimulus compared to longer rest periods.
  • ·      Shorter rest periods can result in more muscle damage than longer rest periods.


Bodybuilders have been training with 60-second rest periods to boost metabolic stress and elicit greater anabolic hormones for the past decade. Short rest periods result in a greater physiological (i.e., increased metabolic stress) and perceptual response (i.e., higher exertion level) than longer rest periods.

New research suggests that shorter rest periods may not be the best to build muscle. Studies have reported that short rest periods (1 minute), despite higher lactate, resulted in less protein synthesis (68%) post-exercise, compared to 5 minutes (139%).(1) Another study found that comparing 30-second rest periods to 150-second rest periods using the same total workload resulted in similar muscle growth. Still, greater muscle growth trended towards the group that took longer rest periods.(2)


Shorter rest periods mean you will perform fewer repetitions than the previous set, resulting in lower training volume. Total training volume is associated with greater increases in muscle growth. Allowing more rest periods between sets will allow you to perform more repetitions and train at a higher intensity, resulting in a greater muscle stimulus for muscle growth.(3)

In 2016, muscle guru Ph.D. Brad Schoenfeld found that lifters who used a 3-minute rest period had greater muscle growth than groups using 1-minute rest periods.(4) A similar study found that training with 1-minute rest periods resulted in roughly half the muscle growth compared to a 3-minute rest period.(5)

rest periods between sets muscle damage


Previous studies have found that short rest periods (60 seconds) resulted in more muscle damage than longer rest periods (3 minutes).(6) Markers of inflammation and markers of immune function are elevated after muscle-damaging exercise due to the process of muscle repair.(7)

A limitation of the previous research is that the studies did not use equal training volume (i.e., reps) because longer rest periods allow more repetitions to be completed. A new 2022 study found that short rest periods can cause more muscle damage than a similar workout with longer rest periods. Researchers had subjects perform five sets of 10 reps performed at 10-RM on the barbell bench press followed by leg press, with either 1- or 3-min rest between sets and exercises. The researchers found that the subjects who rested with 1-minute rest periods had greater muscle tissue damage (i.e., creatine kinase, a marker of muscle damage) post-exercise from 12 to 24 hours compared to the 3-minute rest period group.


The 1-minute rest period group also had greater immune parameters activated by muscle damage after exercises, such as increases in the total number of leukocytes, neutrophils (3–12 h post-exercise), and monocytes (12 h post-exercise). Other markers of inflammation were also increased more in the 1-minute rest period groups, such as increased pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1., TNF-alpha).(8) Increases in inflammation resulting from the intense resistance exercise occur shortly after muscle damage, followed by leukocyte, neutrophils, and monocytes mobilization to the injured muscle tissue.(9)

In sum, a short rest period will require longer periods of muscle recovery than longer rest periods. If you use short rest periods, high-intensity exercise techniques like rest-pause, supersets, dropsets, etc., an extended recovery phase should be included to provide additional rest.

rest periods between sets muscle damage


·      Shorter rest periods can reduce training volume and result in a lower muscle stimulus compared to longer rest periods.

·      Shorter rest periods can result in more muscle damage than longer rest periods.


1.         McKendry J, Pérez-López A, McLeod M, Luo D, Dent JR, Smeuninx B, et al. Short inter-set rest blunts resistance exercise-induced increases in myofibrillar protein synthesis and intracellular signalling in young males. Exp Physiol. 2016;101(7):866-82.

2.         Fink JE, Schoenfeld BJ, Kikuchi N, Nakazato K. Acute and Long-term Responses to Different Rest Intervals in Low-load Resistance Training. Int J Sports Med. 2017;38(2):118-24.

3.         Matos F, Ferreira B, Guedes J, Saavedra F, Reis VM, Vilaça-Alves J. Effect of Rest Interval Between Sets in the Muscle Function During a Sequence of Strength Training Exercises for the Upper Body. J Strength Cond Res. 2021;35(6):1628-35.

4.         Schoenfeld BJ, Pope ZK, Benik FM, Hester GM, Sellers J, Nooner JL, et al. Longer Interset Rest Periods Enhance Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Resistance-Trained Men. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(7):1805-12.

5.         Longo AR, Silva-Batista C, Pedroso K, de Salles Painelli V, Lasevicius T, Schoenfeld BJ, et al. Volume Load Rather Than Resting Interval Influences Muscle Hypertrophy During High-Intensity Resistance Training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2022;36(6):1554-9.

6.         Machado M, Willardson JM. Short recovery augments magnitude of muscle damage in high responders. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(7):1370-4.

7.         Raastad T, Risoy BA, Benestad HB, Fjeld JG, Hallen J. Temporal relation between leukocyte accumulation in muscles and halted recovery 10-20 h after strength exercise. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003;95(6):2503-9.


8.         Senna GW, Dantas EHM, Scudese E, Brandão PP, Lira VA, Baffi M, et al. Higher Muscle Damage Triggered by Shorter Inter-Set Rest Periods in Volume-Equated Resistance Exercise. Frontiers in Physiology. 2022;13.

9.         Peake JM, Nosaka K, Muthalib M, Suzuki K. Systemic inflammatory responses to maximal versus submaximal lengthening contractions of the elbow flexors. Exerc Immunol Rev. 2006;12:72-85.

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