How Much Rest Is Needed Between Bench Press Sets To Build Muscle? Here’s What Study Reveals

Strength training has become one of the most popular physical activities for increasing characteristics such as absolute muscular strength, endurance, hypertrophy and muscular power. Research has indicated that the rest interval between sets is important, but how much should you rest? Read on to know what study reveals.
How Much Rest Is Needed Between Bench Press Sets To Build Muscle?

How Much Rest Is Needed Between Bench Press Sets To Build Muscle? (Image Credits: iStock)

A new study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences reveals that while gymming if you have a tendency to take long breaks between reps then you could actually be maximizing your gains. Yes, you read that right. The authors of the study have found that to build strength and muscle, longer rest periods between reps are actually optimal. Just like reps and loads, rest periods can be tailored to help you reach your fitness goals faster. During the study, researchers found that for peak performance, rest periods of up to five minutes between sets of bench press exercises provided better results than rest periods of one to three minutes.
The research team took 23 physically active participants which consisted of 15 men and 8 women. They were then divided into three groups that were instructed to rest for one, three, or five minutes between sets on a Smith machine bench press.
The study involved six workout sessions with four sets each, performed at around 75 percent of their maximum lifting capacity. In the initial three sessions, participants were instructed to cease bench pressing with roughly six reps left, while in the last three sessions, they stopped with about four reps remaining. To assess the proximity-to-failure, researchers took note of the participants' bar velocity.
The researchers came to the conclusion that longer rest periods provided overall better strength training performance than shorter rest periods. Researchers found that a three-minute rest was still adequate while lifting lighter weights.
"The results suggest that to maintain bench press mechanical performance, five-minute inter-set rest periods are necessary when sets are terminated close to failure, while three minutes may suffice when sets are terminated farther from failure," the study's authors wrote.
The reason longer rest periods are beneficial when it comes to heavier weights is that the human body relies on different energetic resources for activity sessions with varying durations. The muscles and central nervous system would require additional time to bounce back from lifting heavier weights, as compared to endurance-focused sets with lighter weights.
The findings suggest that different rest periods support different goals such as endurance, hypertrophy, strength, and power.
"When it comes to working out, timing is everything," Joe Stankowski, C.P.T., a trainer in Wilmington, DE told Men's Journal. "The amount of time you rest between sets can have a major impact on how the exercise you're doing affects your body."
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